Tsumego that are difficult for you

When you study tsumego that you can’t (Quite) read out, how do you handle that? Do you have any tips?


Just don’t. Solve many more easy first and then return.


I mean if you can’t correctly solve it. Often its possible to solve by intuition, without reading.

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It might depend on the level of the Tsumego.

If the answer is only a few moves long, it might be that it’s just one key move or idea that’s making it hard for you.

One option is to play it out on a board, or look at the solution. It might be the case that the time is better understanding why that idea works, how it can come up in other ways, or why you couldn’t see it, as opposed to having to figure it out yourself from scratch.

It might be rewarding to do so of course, and ultimately it might help reading to be able to do it, but it might also take an arbitrarily long time to reinvent an idea that solves the puzzle.

Other cases, like longer/harder puzzles (lots of possible moves or variations) it might be that you try out silly or too simple looking moves first, find the opponents best or key move, and then look to take that move away instead.

Inseong Hwang had discussed an idea like this with 1-2-3 reading

Another thing, which I need to work on, for again harder puzzles with a lot of options and longer variations, is being able to solve easier variations, and then rule out responses to other moves based on whether they turn into a simpler already solved variation. So there’s a kind of tree pruning to searching the possible variations.

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It’s a bit like for a game, you can watch it but you can’t play it.
So yes better find problems at your level.

Precisely, just give up and go to the next one. If this situation repeat, the collection is too hard, find another one. If not , try to solve the avoided problem later again. Just don’t spend a too long time and energy on it.

Sometimes it’s about lack of experience, for exemple you may have few experience on play under the stones, but with a little bit of experience gained by a small set of problems you can solve then others (still need to be at your level). Classified collections like in some books may prove to be useful. Like in “basic techniques of go” or “tesuji” or… Kind of short selection of problems which try to be little bit exhaustive on basics.

Authors may vary on their categorisation (thinking of LeeChangHo , FujisawaShuko, ChoChiKun… ) so something to explore too.

Last thing is don’t get confused by the given levels of problems which are in many cases wrong (in the puzzles here, in some Nihon Kiin books etc…). You can believe a problem for high dan or for beginner is what it is but in between it’s usually not very reliable.

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mkay, sometimes finding the easy ones like the others recommend first is fine,
but there is a value to doing hard problems that you can’t solve quickly

And if you wanna spend the time to crack one,

the first step is to relax, there are no time limits, there’s no reason to get frustrated, try to breathe if you can, this may sound like a silly step, but it’ll help you think more clearly for a sustained period of time

The next might be to set it on a real board, sometimes the physicality that comes from playing around with stones on a real board helps you both remember what you’ve covered, and gives ideas for how to continue

The third is to review what techniques might apply. Move ordering and “key point” stealing are often very helpful in subtle ways, add in any relevant tesujis you can think of

The fourth is to record what branches you’ve covered. If you’re solving the problem over a long term it’s easy to forget what you’ve gone over, this will help you if you ever feel like you need to do an exhaustive search, which might happen if you’re not familiar with the techniques involved or just need to make sure your result is the best result

And lastly, give yourself breaks. Breaks are important, as your brain will try to “clean up” some of the things that your brain was thinking about that are no longer relevant, while working the problem in the background.

And once you’ve solved it, reward yourself! Make yourself feel good for taking on the work necessary to find the solution! You deserve it!


you may train imagination by doing that, but it will be useless for Go skill itself. It is just stupid brute-force. You try every possible combination instead of understanding. Time limit is important. It forces you to use intuition, because there is no time to try everything. And if you click wrong spot on 1st try, its better to just see the answer and then try to solve more easy tsumego.

I very much disagree, when you have to work to find a solution before you know all the techniques involved, it helps you remember in the future better and longer.

Plus, I highly recommend doing hard tsumego on real-board or paper formats, don’t let yourself click away critical thinking


A bit exaggerated. At least it’s a reading training.

Not sure on this either. Maybe works better if you have a small collection of similar problems for a follow up.

I do myself too, but i dunno i am not from the new generation who even don’t have a board and stones at home.

This is my understanding of the cognitive science involved, that not only is making mistakes good for learning, but so is spending a long time on a problem with delayed feedback


There are a lot of information around this topic in the forum.
Here one of them you may find interesting

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I do understand there is a lot of anecdotal evidence on the subject on the forum, but as Making it Stick by Henry L Roediger III et al points out, many of the things that create good results memory-wise (spaced repetition (as opposed to cramming), interleaved learning (as opposed to massed learning), creating difficulties to accessing the information such as a difficult-to-read font, letting yourself make mistakes, etc) often feel less effective to many students in the moment undertaking it


Have you tried https://tsumegodragon.com ?

Not too difficult puzzles.


Next time you are stuck, you can put the problem here and we could have a look together?
Maybe sharing the way we try to solve it may help for further reading.


Maybe try to work things out in your head, and if you are not sure of your solution, check it on a board? I know that most experts recommend to solve everything in your head and never look at the solution, and that you should train your visualization skills, but I don’t believe that playing out a small percentage of tsumegos is harmful. Perhaps seeing real stones even helps to visualize them later?


Not to mention the actual movements involved in placing real stones tend to create more memory bonds via “haptic memory”, so if you really want to try to memorize the solutions, doing so would be one of the tools to have in your kit


I assume that “most experts” are self acclaimed experts. (By the way, in general the “truths” of self acclaimed experts often evolve over time.)
Do what works best for you. So if playing it out on a board works for you, why not do it?

That this doesn’t work out well in real life situations is another problem. But building up a sort of mental shape library this way is not wrong. It can be a first step to solving everything in your head.

Never looking at the solution seems to me like missing a chance to discover another (maybe even more elegant) solution. Quite often there are more ways that lead to Rome.

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Bejamin Teuber (EGF 6d) recommends not to look at solutions:

On the other hand, his sentence “After repeating a book two to three times, almost all of the problems will be very easy for you” doesn’t work for me. After repeating a book two or three times, most problems which were hard the first time are still hard. So perhaps his recommendations are adapted for the most talented players, not for ordinary ones?

I’ve tried several methods, but I have no way of determining which one works best since progress was so slow. The only things I’m sure about:

  • At DDK level, solving many times (>10) sets of very easy tsumegos, i.e. problems that you can solve in less than 5 seconds, helps a lot to improve intuition and see vital points.
  • Just solving problems is not enough, you need to learn classic life and death problems (L-shape, J-shape, etc) and techniques (throw-in, snapback, two-stone edge squeeze…)
  • The danger of going over the same set of problems too many times is that you end up relying on memory instead of reading. So don’t do that too much and practice reading.
  • If you need to look at the solution, don’t look at it before you’ve spent several minutes on the problem, otherwise you won’t understand or remember the solution.
  • When reading a sequence, read it until the end, some surprises may appear.
  • In a real game, just finding a way to live is not enough, perhaps another sequence allows you to live in sente instead of in gote, or to live with more points. Similarly, if you found a way to kill, maybe another way allows to kill with fewer moves, thus giving fewer ko threats to the opponent. Or some “killing” moves only kill part of the group while others kill the whole group.
  • Don’t just consider “natural” moves, don’t forget to consider unexpected moves (from you or from the opponent).

If you count yourself as ‘ordinary’, what am I? I think I have to be offended now! :wink: :rofl:

Never heard of this guy. Should I be impressed because he is a 6D, that he does a video series on tsumego or has his own page on Sensei’s Library?

I am always just a bit suspicious of teachers who are absolute in their teaching.
Their logic is: it worked for me (because now I am a high ranked dan), therefore It also MUST work for you.
This is a logical fallacy: appealing to authority (someone wrongly claims the source for the evidence or facts in an authority on the subject.)

In my opinion: a good teacher opens doors for you, so that you can find things out for yourself.