To handicap or not to handicap?


this is something that I’ve talked a little with my “go-guru”, who was introduced me to this game (and is about 2k in strength), has been playing go long before there where go servers :stuck_out_tongue:

The question is “how do you progress faster?” We both agreed that (obviously) you should play stronger opponents, but he thinks it is better to always play with handicap. I think it is better to play a slightly stronger opponent but without a handicap and this is what I always do (i choose opponents which are 2k stronger then me).

Maybe I’m biased, as handicapped games feel a little odd and artificial to me, I feel like I’m not playing “a real game”.

What do you think is a better way to progress?

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My opinion on the matter is kind of summed up here: :slight_smile:


if its one or two stones difference i guess its not such a big deal, especially at the ddk level where someone might improve a stone strength during the game. but much more than a few stones and a non handicap game is going to be kind of a bore for the stronger player. unless you’re doing correspondence and they can just make a move without any thought and move on to their other games. I think its just a sign of respect to the stronger player to play the game with handicap.

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For a teaching game no handi is best, because you actually get to learn the importance of an efficient opening. High handicaps make fuseki uninteresting and you won’t enjoy the full learning experience. Why is that important? The fastest way to progress is to expose yourself to all aspects of the game. What good does it do to have stones on the board already? It either makes the player over defensive or over aggressive.
Also, if it is a teaching game, I think it’s more important for the person learning than it is for the person teaching, so if the teacher is bored, go find a new teacher.

That being said, if it is a genuine game against a strong player, it’d be your choice. Out of respect, have them is better.


and anyway if you ever plan on playing in a tournament anywhere in real life, get used to giving and recieving 1 or 2 handicap at least


My view is inherited from when younger i practiced a martial art.
It’s essential to differentiate the practice time and the competitive time.

During practice you ask for progress or fun more as to be this or that level. Handicap is fitted to give more balanced game and interest for both players.

During tournaments, games have to be given at the same condition and you have to cash your progress. It’s time to prove what your are able to be. Handicap is out of question in this situation.

This is my experience from the real world. That dichotomy existed in the face to face go world between the goclub where you know everyone and some care had to be taken to make each evening a fruitful and fun experience and the weekend tournaments a few times every year. There came the real go where you met different and new ways to play the game and where all was open to let you prove who you are.

The online world is coming in with different space and time between players. It looks hard to keep that balance between practice and competition. I see beginners rushing to get their levels playing only rated games from the start. I see rated games between players of so distant levels. I see a lot of differences between the two worlds.

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Right. In the larger clubs where I played around 1990 there were different competitions, one serious club competition with longer (90m + 1x30s) even games that counted towards official ratings (as tournaments), and more casual club competitions with handicap for less official internal club ratings with maybe separate blitz (10-12m) and live competitions (60m + 1x20s).
And ofcourse the friendly unrated games in the bar after the club evening, or when visiting a go friend at home (with or without handicap and with or without time control).

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