Tips: Easy Ways to Improve

Since a lot of people are trying to improve their Go game, here are some easy ways that you can improve your game that don’t take thousands of hours to master or practice. It’s just tips and tricks that can help you improve your game. Let’s start!
###No Autopilot
The first thing I would recommend for people to work on is the tendency to autopilot. Many players autopilot on several different situations. When people autopilot, they’ll stop thinking at some point during the match and they’ll go into their autopilot reaction style or something where the moves don’t have much thought behind them. That will be detrimental at times because a lot of situations and a lot of different play styles require precise thought to be dealt with. When you go on autopilot, it means you were not dealing with your opponent’s play style and you’re not connected to the moves that you’re doing, and you end up losing more points than usual and playing more poorly.

A good way to stop playing autopilot is to focus hard on the match and be conscious of every move you do. “My opponent capped me. I’m gonna do this.” And you do that. Then your opponent runs away from you. “I’m gonna do this. And if they do this, I’m gonna do that.” Make a plan in your mind and try to follow through to that plan and make it to a point that you always do this. Devise a plan  follow it through. Make conscious decisions, not autopilot. You need to focus on that.

It’s hard for a lot of players to deal with this, and even some advanced players struggle with this. So make sure you develop a plan and stick to it. It’s the only way to deal with autopilot.

###React to Your Opponent

Another important thing you have to keep in mind is that you should consider your opponent over yourself. A lot of people, even good players, will sometimes keep looking at themselves and their own groups. You have to remember you’re playing a fighting game and you have to pay attention to every detail your opponent does to keep up in the fight. You have to check your opponent’s intention. Are they trying to keep their distance from you? Are they trying to attack you? Are they building influence to goad you into a fight? Are they employing defensive tactics and just taking territory? Pay attention, and don’t look too hard at your own stones. Make sure that your movement and reactions to their play style are second nature. The only way to do this is to play a lot. But in general, if you’re looking at your own moves more than your opponent’s, you’re making a mistake.
###Review Your Games
Reviewing games is one of the biggest things you can do. Just take a look; open a game record—maybe a tournament game, maybe a match against a stranger who accepted your game, anything really. Just review the game. See why you’re losing points. Maybe you’re getting pressed down a lot. Maybe that’s because you’re focusing too much on territory. So grab less territory and start jumping out more. Maybe you’re playing too risky and you should play safer. Maybe you’re playing overly safe and keep losing sente, so maybe try taking sente more. All these things become obvious once you start paying attention to the general trend of why you make mistakes and why you’re losing points. Just look at the game. I can’t watch the game for you. (Well, I can, but let’s not get too technical.) The point is to be able to identify your own mistakes.

I remember when I was getting better as a player when I was SDK I would review a ton of my games and take notes of what happened. That helped me a lot, and I think you should consider doing that.
###Play the Position
Also, play the right move for the respective situations. I see a lot of people try to play their own play style into a situation when it’s incredibly hard. For example, you’re in a position where your opponent has a lot of thickness. Thickness is designed to hoard strength and minimize attacks. But maybe the player is trying to play aggressively in that position when the thickness was designed to punish aggression and its main strength is to push invaders toward the thickness. Same with frameworks. Frameworks exert lots of influence, so moyo players get a lot of benefit from players attacking them. So why would you play aggressively? I’m not saying it’s a bad idea, but I’m saying you should play to your position’s strengths. You should learn and abuse the kinds of moves that are good in your position. For example, your opponent likes to play on the third line, so you should think about playing from the fourth line and pressing them down because that’s where shoulder hits and caps are designed to shine. Try to exploit your opponent’s position as much as you can.

I see a lot of people trying to project their own play style into a position so hard that sometimes they play to the weaknesses of the position. For example, I see some people playing aggressively against a thick position and the whole purpose of attacking is lost as a result. At the end of the day you’re playing a weaker version of your play style. If you’re an influence player, know that you can’t take influence all day. You have to make tactical use of territory at the right times and take influence at the right times. It’s not just entirely territorial or entirely influential. That’s a wrong way to play across a variety of situations. I stress to you all to understand the whole point of the position you find yourselves in and to play to the position. It goes a long way, and it was one of my issues starting out.

If you have any questions or anything, let me know in comments below and I’ll make sure to answer a few questions when I can.

I hope you can share your own tips and tricks, too.


(This is kinda the same as “play the position” thing, but as a kyu, i see other kyus making this this mistake far too often)

Are you winning or losing?

Ask yourself what is the whole board situation and what do you need to do. Many times i have seen players making risky and careless attacks when they don’t need to, if you are in lead, you don’t need to turn the game more complicated and risk losing something big.
Same goes for other way, if you are losing the game, playing moves that make your small territory safer is not (usually) winning tactic. There is no glory about losing by 10 points instead 30, so always try to fight for victory and don’t wait for the silver medal.

I agree that it’s really hard (like everything else in go…) sometimes to see who is actually winning, but i’ve noticed some players giving me easy time game after game by not attacking me when they are behind.

Tip by 8 kyu xD


Let me share a few additions to the points that @mark5000 has already made:

###No Autopilot
Another hint that I can give if you can’t seem to get rid of the habit: sit on your hands until you know exactly where your move will go. Only then grab the mouse and click that move (not any other!).

###React to Your Opponent
Boy, what a great piece of advice! Go allegedly reflects the players’ human virtues. This one is about empathy.
Put yourself in your opponent’s shoes. I believe that all good Go players play the game with both colours equally in their head, even if they only place one of them.
I myself am very bad at this. Most of my own strategic failures could be fixed by a quick pondering of the other person’s point of view.

###Review Your Games
Don’t just do it by yourself either! Take your most puzzling losses to a better player, preferrably in person. If you don’t have a sensei, or s/he doesn’t have time for you, get help from the internet. This very forum has a Review category. I always love to plug this site: by @cloudbrows. You can have your game commented by several people at once.
Some people have unbelievably stupid reasons for not doing this, like “my games are too embarrassing” (why else would you need a review?) or “I don’t deserve to take a stranger’s time like this” (yes you do, and nobody is forcing us). Like the good old “I’m too weak to play humans on 19x19, I’ll stick with bots on 9x9 :frowning: ” (*smack*!)

Here’s one that is not already on the list:

###Be Honest
Be honest with your opponent. Don’t play a bad move on purpose because you don’t trust them to refute it. Don’t play moves to “distract” their attention from another move you are hoping they won’t play.
Be honest with yourself! When you consider a move, evaluate the position objectively. Is it really the best move you can find, or do you have some other motive, like greed and wishful thinking? “Normally I’d one-point-jump out, but I can get further using a two-point jump! I’m so good :smiley: ” - If you want to get rid of an overplay habit or a small-move habit, you must get a more honest, objective perception.


One caveat about reacting to your opponent: Don’t do so mindlessly. Instead, you should always ask yourself whether responding to your opponent is the biggest move on the board, or if you are better off playing a bigger move somewhere else. Or, if you feel you must respond to your opponent, ask yourself if you can respond in a way that is likely to get you sente, possibly at the price of giving up a small number of points.


Always be ready to trade

this applies mostly to situations in which i feel pressure from my opponents move(s). in many cases this pressure arises from the feeling of losing something that i thought was mine. it can be very helpful in these situatios to let go of this feeling of owning things (it is probably not true anyway :slight_smile: ) and be prepared to accept the loss and instead look for a trade. sometimes it is even possible to gain more out of an attack than the attacker (at my humble level that is).

so i guess the advice is instead of thinking “thats mine” try to think “fine with me, but ill get something for it”

Ps: 11k advice so take with a grain of salt :wink:

Edit: this also makes for fun games since it can have the feeling of “dodging” attacks… like whack a mole in a way.


I like this, and it sometimes is a hard lesson for the greedy player that I am.

Related: sacrifice

Also related, I think, is this Go proverb I once read “Discard the small and take the big!”

p.s.: ~10k comment :wink:


the greed is strong with me as well :blush: