Your beginnings with Go

So I had my first game around two weeks ago. I don’t feel like I’m doing as good as I would like to, I’m a bit flustrated, which is why I want to ask about others’ expirience in that matter.
I play igowin at three stones handicap, I won around 50% of games since the beginning (started 8 days ago, had only 3 games before that). I went as far as to 16kyu (I know it’s not accurate), so two stones handicap, but I can’t get past that.
I feel like my play is all over the place, I can’t defend when someone barges in my “already secured” territory, have trouble with life and death problems and killing my opponent’s stones… I felt off the rythm after playing someone with aggresive style recently, so I’m feeling even more bad about my games. Like I don’t know what I’m doing anymore, lol.
Well, I will add that I don’t have much expirience with mind games, not even with chess. I’ve read it might actually have something to do with our progress on a long range or something.

So my questions are:

  1. How long have you been playing Go?
  • How were you doing at the beginning?

  • How old were you when you started? (Btw, I’m 18, almost 19)

  • Why did you pick up Go, how you got in touch with it for the first time, what was your motivation at the beginning?

  • How do you think a person should do at the beginning? What would you expect from a beginner in the first few weeks since they started?

  • How you progressed since the start?

Well, you don’t have to answer all of it :joy:

I don’t really know what to expect from myself, which is why I’m asking. I know it’s different for everyone, but I have to start to worry at some point and idk if I’m at the right track or not :weary:


I picked up Go this Christmas. I’m 50+

My motivation was to be able to play with my teenage children, who started at that time.

It’s taken me these 4 months, playing a couple of games a week, to get to 20k.

There are some big help things that I found:

  • InSente’s beginner go series

These were definitely best “getting started” thing I found.

Note, though, that this series takes you only so far: really beginner stuff. It’s great for that. It changed me from always losing to my son, to being able to beat him for a while.

InSente’s other material is good, but not “the best”. “The Best” I found are:

  • Dwyrin and Nick Sibicky video lectures. Especially Dwyrin “basic shapes” series

These are pitched at “DDKs” as if that term means “beginners”. But an 11k person is a DDK. An 11k person is a guru compared to me and you. Me and you are really “TPKs” … twenty plus Kyus … and we need much more basic help, like InSente’s :slight_smile:

But after InSente’s, you do need “the next level” which Dwyrin and Nick supply. So you have to pick the material and just not get lost in the advanced stuff.

What worked for me:

  • Learn the rules on 9x9. I found I was quickly impatient with this, so I quickly went on to…
  • … try 19x19 for the feel of it. You can have some fun games stumbling around, until you realise you have no idea about life and death (tsumego)
  • Go back to 9x9 with a goal of getting excellent at tsumego.
  • When you can count liberties and fight, go back to 19x19
  • Find out what “corners side centre” means, and what “big moves” means, and do those
  • Look for “basic beginner joseki” videos, to give you some grounding in how to respond in openings
    … but don’t get to hung up on memorising. Just be aware that they exist and the most basic ones you can expect.
    … Sensei’s library has good coverage of these too: eg… from this page, you’d only really need the first one to start with (low extension)
  • Same with fuseki (standard openings). The only reason for a “TPK” to know one or two of these is to have some clue what the opponent is doing, but don’t get hung up on them. I read somewhere that “The first 10 moves of Kyu games don’t even matter”. Obviously that is an exaggeration, but maybe it illustrates the point.

That gets you to 20k :slight_smile:


Two weeks is very very short in go time. Dont sweat it youre not going slow


I would expect that a complete beginner would not recognize problems with their shape being poorly connected and easily cut apart. Not recognizing where there are potential liberty issues, which inevitably leads to huge groups of stuff dying all of a sudden. It happens, we’ve all been there.

I suggest watching the Dsaun shape lecture video on Youtube, which talks about basics of good and bad shape.


I have started around 4 weeks ago, so I’m still a newbie but I do my best to learn and get better


For someone your age, you’re still incredibly impatient to be feeling down after just a week. I started the same age as you so no worries if you think you’re starting too old.

I would really caution about taking Insente’s video advice word for word as the fellow spouts bad advice on a constant basis (probably not on purpose but simply because he doesn’t know better) and acts confident about them.

Expect to fail a lot, like everything else that you just start out in. If you have no experience in strategic or mind games then expect your progress to be slower than others. Also ask yourself how long you’re willing to devote to this.

Aptitude + Time Devoted = Your Rank

If you hated studying and school then Go is not the game for you. You need to study and do homework if you want to improve to a decent enough level.


I feel ya (and I am 5k :P). All of those sound like how I feel about Go… maybe they never go away. Except maybe the last one, I know people who like playing calmly against aggressive people.

In answer to your question 5 (“How do you think a person should do at the beginning? What would you expect from a beginner in the first few weeks since they started?”), I think it varies hugely. How often are you playing? Who is teaching you? How hard are you studying? What are you studying? What else are you occupying your mind with? All of these matter.

It sounds like you are doing fine.

As I implied with my (truthful) comment at the beginning, Go is hard. That is the beauty of it - you can improve strongly and continuously for years, and it will always be hard. And it will always be fun.


Go is hard. That is the beauty of it - you can improve strongly and continuously for years, and it will always be hard.

This is so true!

What really astonishes me is that someone who is 22k is measureably better than someone who is 24k - likely will beat them most of the time - and so with 20k to 22k, and with 18k to 20k and … so on!

That tells you that there is so much to learn and so many ways you can improve, yet there will always be more…


If you hated studying and school then Go is the game for you. You don’t need to study and do homework if you want to improve to a decent enough level. “Decent enough” is up to you not someone else. It will probably take longer to reach a target level but if that’s not what’s most important to you and you still enjoy playing, so what? After all, everyone reaches their limit. If that’s the reason for playing, when you do it is time to quit unless the new goal relates to how you manage the plateau or decline that follows.

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You must be 1 of those idealistic folk who hate hearing the ugly truth to improvement? That all play and no work gets you somewhere? Ok, that is up to you. Decent enough is indeed up to you if you wish to follow your own standards, but to the general public that is the average level of the entire amateur Go population. 5k- 1 Dan-ish.

Even those that reach that level and beyond without study do review their games themselves or at the very least think about their mistakes to learn from them.
If not, then have fun being a ‘decent level’ where you still fail at basic eye space living and 3-3 invasions even if you become a Dan level with a brutish overplay method.

If you do know those, guess what? You’ve studied at least a little!

  1. about 3 years actively
  2. throwing stones on the board without seeing any meaning, thus losing badly
  3. played my first game here day after turning 25 :3
  4. watched hikaru no go around 2006, learned the basic rules and played <5 games on small board. but felt like playing enough to improve would have been too timeconsuming, so decided to pick it up again when i had more time to spare. (yeah it was my 25th birthday when i realized i finally have enough time to spend on go)
  5. to lose bazillion of games XD
  6. i think it took me about 2 months to get a hang of it, and till i got my rank up for the first time. now i’m 4-5 kyu :wink:


  1. Three years ago.
  2. I was awful (still am).
  3. I’m ~25.
  4. I had been fascinated with it for a long time (not sure about the first contact), but I never got around to play it. Then I had a bit of time on my hands, and I wanted a new hobby. Boom!
  5. I think a person should have fun playing. I would expect them to learn the rules, be able to count liberties of any given group, recognize an atari and count territory (for 9x9).
  6. Beginner → ~7k. (I was a lenient player in the last year though.)

Go is a peculiar game, it can be very frustrating and unrewarding at first, because it lacks quick feedback and the connection between cause and effect is tough to see (that’s why it is generally recommended to start on 9x9).


Just something to say about InSente, since I recommended those and an experienced person said they are flawed.

After some time, and looking at further of his material, I too realised that they were flawed, and he makes no secret that he isn’t an expert.

So just to emphasise that it’s his “Beginner Series” that I found most helpful. Even if there are errors in there (which I’m not aware of BTW), the whole basic pitch of them is exactly what I needed at the time that I knew the rules but nothing about what to actually do. At that point, the odd error in advice, if it existed, was outweighed by the benefit :slight_smile:

They took me from having to clue and just trying stuff to having something to work with and winning against my son who was also learning at the time (until he looked at them too and overtook me again :smiley: :S )

The other generous experts who teach online (Dsaun, Dwyrin, NickS) have a gap here. They put up materials for “beginners” targetted at “DDK” and they mean “10-15k”. From where they sit, 15k is like a baby. But there is a galaxy wide a gap down from 15k to a “TPK” (20+k).

That’s why I was grateful for and recommend InSente’s Beginner Series (only). Once you learn a little and are ready for more, probably like me you’ll actually be able to see the limitations of the other InSente material and move on to the other guys.

  1. Just over a year. I played my first game after hearing about AlphaGo in March last year. I actually watched all of Michael Redmond commentary on the 5 AlphaGo vs Lee Sedol games before playing my first game here :slight_smile: I had no idea what was going on in the commentary but I did get an appreciation for the rules + complexity and Mr Redmond’s enthusiasm for the game was contagious.

  2. Everyone is awful at the beginning by definition. And yes I am still awful at this game.

  3. 22

  4. See my answer to question 1. I had not heard of this game before AlphaGo. My motivation at the beginning was trying to understand what the all the hype in the AI community was all about.

  5. Everyone does badly at the beginning but a desire to learn is a great start

  6. Just hit 5 kyu OGS for the first time today which I am really proud of myself for! (but am really somewhere between 6-7 kyu OGS)


Oh do please enlighten me what I’m lacking. In Go or are you perhaps referring to some deep life lesson that my inferior being cannot fathom?

Why? Simple. You used my line word for word and spun pretty tales to keep your audience dazzled. Well I’m a realist that just shared that it objectively wasn’t true and I also did agree that your point is valid if you want to see it your way so I thought it was clear that I agreed to disagree so I have no idea why you chose to focus on ad hominem as if that was the whole basis of my reply. Your tone shows that you yourself can’t accept my view or you would have stopped when you realised I agreed that your view was valid as well. If I need help, you’re no better off. :grinning:

Wow you caught me hook line and sinker! Were you attempting to look smart with that last line? :joy:

Ok, of all the things to get worked up over… It’s totally fine if someone doesn’t want to put in the time to study go. It’s a game, you should be playing it to have fun. If you’re someone who derives pleasure from improving and playing very competitively, great! If you’re one of those people who enjoys just playing and couldn’t care less about their level, great!

Go is small enough in the western world that the majority of active players fall into basically one sprawling chess club. However, for games with a larger western presence (like chess), most people don’t study how to get better. They’re ok being decent enough to enjoy pickup games at the local brewpub or something, and recognize that they’ll never do well against someone who plays competitively. Extending this analogy further. Many people (not me, but many people) enjoy playing golf. It’s a relaxing pastime, and while gradual improvement is certainly a goal, they’re not interested in investing more than a couple afternoons a month to the game. This is fine. They don’t plan on playing competitive golfers, at least not without handicaps. They play to the level they can reach with a comfortable investment and just enjoy the game.

I guess what I’m really trying to drill down to here is:

Go is a game - don’t mock people for not wanting to invest as much in getting better at this game than you think is reasonable.

Seriously, that sort of attitude of “if you’re not studying you shouldn’t bother playing” is not going to attract new casual players and increase popularity of the game.


If you truly wish to help anything and not look like a fool. Read. Read. Read. And not put words in other’s mouths.

Telling someone the truth of improving at the game is not mocking.

Seriously, this sort of political correct attitude of “let’s sugarcoat the truth” and slandering people whilst acting like a good Samaritan is sickening.

“If not, then have fun being a ‘decent level’ where you still fail at basic eye space living and 3-3 invasions”

That’s unequivocally a mocking tone.


Yes I did mock. I mocked the fact that the guy believes that you can get to that sort of level without study when even simple self-review is considered studying, self-studying. Nowhere near talking about time invested in the game.

So what you say is still false and putting words in my mouth. If you like using words out of context completely then both of us can play at that game. :smiley:

It’s amazing how quickly you get from this to that. I came to this thread hoping to see how everyone got started with Go and instead I see something more akin to a bathroom stall: you just want to take a piss and you’re stuck looking at profanity on the wall and crude explicit drawings. It’s very strange. Please be civil or I’ll lock this thread.