Will I ever get to single digit kyu?

I reviewed a bit your last game. Your main weakness seems to be the middle game, your stones are too disconnected by leaving cutting places, that’s the main problem in this game.


Playing high handicap games against strong players is a great way to improve in this area


I never seen those puzzles in my life, and I’m almost not quite dan. At least for the few first ones you mostly need to know L groups and read the rest.

And remember: being good at go and being good at puzzles is not the same thing.


I checked too, there is much more variety as only the L group. And the level of difficulty seems correct around 10-12k.
Anyway if problems are too difficult or boring, change collection, there are plenty of them.

Yes solving problems are not a must do. A good motivation and interest on various aspects of the game and a auto eliminate your worst moves can generate a natural progress into the middle sdk.

Studies=videos, books, lectures, watching pro games,… on go except doing life and death or reviewing your own games.
I believe in this too, but that is not a great help for the OP. (Besides you don’t study but use what others studied for you, that you can see when playing them…)

When someone is losing patience, a bit of advices for some more efficiency on the road of progress can’t hurt.


I’m 8k and find most of the puzzles you linked to challenging. (I can get some right away, some after a minute, but for some I stare at them for a few minutes then still click the wrong answer.

So don’t feel bad if they are hard for you too!


Don’t be afraid to solve the same set several times. After some practice you will see the vital points much more easily. However seeing is not enough, you have to check your intuition by careful reading.


I am a 5k at Pandanet, and I am stuck around 5k to 6k for about 150 games compared with my total 500 something game, and I play a couple of games a day, and I have been trying to be serious. Recently, I picked up basic level volume of the 3-volume “Go Classical Tsumego Problems 3600” again, the reason is that I am wondering if do not improve my reading skill, I will never make it to 1d. And I realize the basic level of tsumego problems are not that easy for an SDK player, let alone for a DDK one; of course, I can now better understand them, such as what a TTYK (ten thousand year ko) is. However, there are different types of problems: in addition to life-and-death problems, there are tesuji problems, shape problems, end-game (yose) problems (also opening problems, mid-game problems), you can benefit from them as well, I used to benefit from a book called “Yamada Style Strength Training”, which helps me with the kind of reading for “straight attacking sequence”, an example of it is a “loose ladder”. I recently found another great tesuji book: “Tesuji Dictionary” by Segoe & Go, which has 3 volumes and 1000 problems, and I think this book is more urgent than the “Tsumego 3600” book.
Also, I think the ups and downs of ranks at go servers are a benefit, not a drawback, since you can test and see your improvements from time to time and retain the momentum, compared with many other skills which do not have so many levels of ranks that you can test with. Of course, a losing streak is frustrating, but that is quite normal as well. For me, I only play with equal strength players, so that I can see my improvements, if any. Similarly, I do problems with similar levels, but in the meantime, I try to do problems which help my games with higher priority. Hope this makes some sense.


Passing that step [6-5k] is another story!

You should get valuable benefits from a regular practice of problems.

Besides i advise to have simple opening and games so to understand your failures and correct them.
When practicing reading, a new taste for fighting comes with, but provoking can lead to more upsets. It’s enough to keep patience and use your newly acquired power only when you have to.

Try to respect all the fundamentals the most possible.

  • Like urgent before big, dont let hane on 2 or 3 stones, keep your liberties, play away from strength, push your opponent to the strength, leave the tail to keep the main, live quickly, check balance power vs balance territory, make clear what is moyo and what is territory, use miai and test moves, enjoy kos and aji, etc… etc…

Analyse your direction of play after each game.

With that should climb to 3-2k

Refering to your wish to play more serious, maybe play a bit less, and more focused?
If you do like 1 or 2hrs/day of problems reading, 1 game (or 2 at most)/day is enough to exhaust any serious player (and after that like 30mn min reviewing)

As conclusion, the way before 2k is to grasp how to build a simple game with solid tools.
If you get that feeling that you commit 4 failures and your opponent 3 and because of that he won, you are then on the right tracks.
At 2k one can start investigating more like complicated josekis and other moves in the corner… (Enlargement) But this is again another story!


@Groin may I suggest adding a second post after a while, because if you keep editing the same one it ends up confusing to follow.

Unless it’s against some posting policy or something, of course.


Well i am sorry, i am bit perfectionist especially for this kind of post. But ok i just finished editing.

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Sometimes I keep something as draft until I complete my thoughts, maybe this will help you?

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On my phone it’s a bit difficult. I have another idea to simply write a warning like “ still editing, please wait” when i can guess that i will proceed like this.

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Maybe a note app and then copy paste it?

Thanks for your comments.

I’d like to raise a point which seems to be also seen in the learning of other skills or disciplines: first learn and then secure with doing problems. This is particularly the case when we learn physics, in which we have to do a lot of problems to secure our knowledge learned in the textbook. Similarly in go, if we want to learn the “attack” skill, reading a book or watching a video alone is not enough, we have to practice it until we are confident about it. Unfortunately, some skills in go do not have enough problems available for learners, in this case, usually we have to use the examples in the book or video as problems and think before reading or watching the correct answers, and maybe we have to read several books or watch several videos to cross-check the solidity of our knowledge learned. On the other hand, there are a lot of tsumego and tesuji problems accumulated over the past 100 years, so we can leverage them as much as possible to secure our grasp of many skills of go.


It’s really important to remember that tsumego are just ONE SKILL you need to play Go well. Think of it as having different tools in your arsenal to address different challenges.

Tsumego are most useful either during endgame or when

  • you need to live small in a tiny enclosure
  • your opponent is trying to live small and you need to kill them
  • you need to make seki, etc.

However, there are LOTS of other skills you need to learn in order to play a 19x19 game well

  • understanding sente and gote (on a whole-board basis)
  • understanding when your stones are settled, or when to leave your stones unsettled because there’s a much bigger sente move on the board
  • learning how to play a balanced opening
  • learning how to navigate the transition between opening priorities (corner > sides > middle) and early midgame priorities (push your potential away from the edge to create moyos)
  • understanding the various stages of the game, and how your strategic thinking needs to adapt along the way
  • understanding the various concepts that underlie shape, and seeing how those concepts adapt to the various stages of the game

Studying tsumego all day long will teach you NONE OF THESE. In other words, you could rank up to single digit kyu level tsumego, and still lose to a lower ranked player who understands how to play a balanced opening, or knows how to use shape effectively.

If you’d like to learn to play this game, I strongly encourage you to GENERALIZE rather than SPECIALIZE. Try to learn all of the different skills involved rather than over-focusing on one at the expense of the others.

That’s my 2 cents. Good luck!


If you would like additional resources that can break these skills down to manageable pieces, I’ve been writing a handbook for beginners, specifically aimed at 19x19 games. It doesn’t have “problems” per se, but invites the reader to follow along with example games that try to demonstrate some of these concepts.

I’m written 6 articles so far, and am currently working on the Shape article.

19x19 FOR BEGINNERS SERIES: Introduction: Making sense of Go

Part 1: Sente and Gote

Part 2: Settling your Stones

Part 3: Playing a Balanced Opening

Part 4: Joseki Basics

Part 5: The Stages of the Game

I hope this helps.

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I’d like to add some more skills where practicing tsumego hardly helps (there is some overlap between different items, also with items that @tonybe mentioned). Some may not really apply to ~10k level, but I added them anyway.

  • timing, when to go ahead immediately and when to wait
  • understanding aji and aji-keshi
  • tesuji (not really the same as tsumego, although there is an overlap)
  • counting / evaluation
  • endgame (often underestimated and/or considered boring)
  • positional judgement
  • understanding probes

General competitive skills (for situations like playing in live tournament games)

  • game experience and / or knowledge (lack of one may be compensated for by an excess of the other)
  • tactical intuition (emerges from game experience / knowledge)
  • time management (if you tend to get in byoyomi early and then bleed many points under time pressure, you are using too much time, but if you tend to blitz under live time control and always end up blundering the game away with a lot of time on your clock, you are using too little time)
  • self-control (recognize and manage detrimental emotions like anger, fear, impatience)
  • know your strengths and weaknesses
  • for competitive games where the result is particularly important to you, specialize in some specific openings, middle game fighting or endgame, to fit your strengths and weaknesses and to save time during the game
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@kakuna17 That said, I had a quick look at your game 0027 and clearly you need to practice tsumego. For instance at move 207 you should have recaptured T13, otherwise you don’t have two eyes.

In addition, you really need to work on shapes. You allowed this bad shape several times:

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Also could be useful


I bought about 25 go books over the years, and got to 15k. There is only so much a beginner can grasp by going through an expert game, or by exploring go puzzles, or learning specific strategies such as life/death, links, zones, and good shape.

Then, later, at OGS, I tried something new: I started analyzing my own games after playing. If I won, I made sure I understood why. If I lost, I found bad moves that made me lose. I started improving really fast. I never skipped this analysis. This simple action resulted in a steady improvement. I also stayed with 9x9, to make the analysis easier. That got me to 7k, which qualifies as a single digit. I haven’t had much time to play in recent months, yet seem to be staying at 7k okay, still on 9x9. I’m happy here.