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 Post subject: Why do some people stay at the same rank?
Post #1 Posted: Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:56 pm 
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I've seen individuals stay at the same rank for over thousands of games over multiple decades?

If you are that consistent, what are some of the reasons you would not improve naturally?

Are they playing rote moves without thinking deeply each game? I doubt that it's a matter of talent since kyu ranks are hardly the limit of improvement for anybody (I could understand as you get into the mid-dan ranks, where margin of improvement decreases). Over multiple years, you are bound to improve slowly but surely, if you put in the effort. Perhaps, many people are simply happy where they are and just want to enjoy playing the game.

But that is just pure speculation on my part. What do you think?

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 Post subject: Re: Why do some people stay at the same rank?
Post #2 Posted: Tue Sep 15, 2020 7:23 pm 
Honinbo

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There may be multiple reasons:

1. Becoming satisfied with your level of play
- A lot of people reach some sort of milestone (SDK, 5k, low dan), and feel the sense of achievement. There may be less drive to go further. Maybe the milestone isn't with rank - maybe it's beating a certain person at your local club.

2. Subconscious heuristics
- Nobody reads out the entire game, and as you gain experience, you learn certain shapes or tricks that seem to work. When you see a similar situation, you can apply that knowledge quickly. The downside is that those tricks and shapes may not always be optimal. But it can be hard to distinguish on move 40 of a 250 move game.

3. Level of opponents
- If you often play weaker players, you might get used to them falling for whatever tricks. Then you don't push yourself to find something better.

4. Overall attitude
- You may get into a certain mode of thinking, or even get in the habit of making mistakes under pressure. Your overall psyche may make a difference.

---

These are all speculations on my part. I've lamented about being stuck before :-)

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 Post subject: Re: Why do some people stay at the same rank?
Post #3 Posted: Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:33 pm 
Oza
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negapesuo wrote:
...

If you are that consistent, what are some of the reasons you would not improve naturally?
...

Consider the possibility that you cannot "naturally" improve at anything. Improvement requires effort. Even not improving requires effort! As the red queen told Alice, "It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!"
:D

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 Post subject: Re: Why do some people stay at the same rank?
Post #4 Posted: Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:15 pm 
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EDIT: The topic seems to involve rankings on the go servers. I don't give a fig about my online rank on any particular server. Dans in my club say I play around 12k, that's good enough for me.

I’ve been playing go for more than forty years, from long before the servers existed. I’ve quit go a couple of times. About ten years ago I had the dual epiphanies that I was probably never going to get any better than I was at that moment and that I was totally fine with it.

I enjoy go much more these days after deciding competing, even against myself, is unnecessary.

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Last edited by bogiesan on Wed Sep 16, 2020 6:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Why do some people stay at the same rank?
Post #5 Posted: Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:53 pm 
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I think the same phenomenon can be observed in many activities (learning maths, playing tennis, golf, a violin, etc). At some point it becomes very hard to improve, even when you keep practicing and studying. Even staying at the same level takes some effort, because you forget things that you don't encounter often.

The peak level is different for everybody. It depends not only on effort, but also on learning ability, opportunity and talent.


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 Post subject: Re: Why do some people stay at the same rank?
Post #6 Posted: Wed Sep 16, 2020 12:26 am 
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negapesuo wrote:
I've seen individuals stay at the same rank for over thousands of games over multiple decades?
(...)
Are they playing rote moves without thinking deeply each game?


I don't know what is in other people's head, and I have been playing go for less than a half decade, but I know that playing without thinking frequently occurs in my games (and I believe also in my opponent's games, around KGS 2k), like:

  • Not defending a group that needs to be defended.
  • Defending a group that does not need to be defended.
  • Attacking a group that does not need a defensive move.
  • Not seeing that a group can be easily attacked with profit.
  • Cutting without thinking, or almost without thinking.
  • Not cutting because I didn't care to check if cutting would be of some use.
  • Looking at only part of the board.
  • Playing a shape move just because it's a shape, without checking if it works.
  • Starting a sequence without reading enough, only to realize afterwards that a ladder which doesn't work appears 3 moves deep.
  • Invading without reading to check if the invasion works.
  • Not invading because I feared it wouldn't work but didn't actually check.

It's not that every move is like that, but playing several moves per game without thinking is enough to get stuck at a certain level. Despite that the reasons mentioned above are pretty basic, knowing why you play bad moves doesn't mean you stop making them. The mind is lazy, and overcoming laziness is difficult. The same could be said about any other human activity.

Why do some people keep playing the same simple pieces of music with the same wrong notes? Why do some English native speakers keep confusing "their" and "there"? Why do some non-English native speakers keep saying "ze" instead of "the" (*)? Why do many students keep believing that the equality (a+b)2=a2+b2 is always true?

(*) This reminds me of someone talking about the go book "sink like a pro".


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 Post subject: Re: Why do some people stay at the same rank?
Post #7 Posted: Wed Sep 16, 2020 1:36 am 
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Actually,if the game is not studied and you play randomly you surely get worse at a certain level


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 Post subject: Re: Why do some people stay at the same rank?
Post #8 Posted: Wed Sep 16, 2020 2:48 am 
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Perhaps it takes work to stay at the same level? I mean the openings evolve, so you have to keep pace with that. The joseki are also evolving. If you don't keep up with that, you're going to fall behind.

Other factors are going to come into play though. I think that everyone has their own upper limit. Not everyone has the time to invest to put in the work needed to progress towards that limit, nor indeed the motivation to do so.

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 Post subject: Re: Why do some people stay at the same rank?
Post #9 Posted: Wed Sep 16, 2020 5:59 am 
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Well, what shall I say …

Hovered around 13k for one and a half year ~3–4 years ago, then strode up again, 12…11…10k … then plateau again (I prefer “plateau” to “wall” ;-) ); then, by last year’s end, got better again, 9…8k earlier this year, 7k for a week or so … and then fell back quickly (but it also was two losses on time) so now back at 10k :roll:

If I had real “ambitions” about ranking up it might be different, but as it is, there are LOTS of other things in my life that call for attention, or that are also “interesting” but seem just a little bit more “important” … and I often enjoy just how relaxing it is to simply sit back and read a book … or to take a walk … or talk to the plants on the terrace … to watch the birds and try to understand what they’re saying (both plants and birds sometimes seem easier to communicate with than humanimals ;) ) …

I really love strawberries, but I can’t eat them all the time :)

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 Post subject: Re: Why do some people stay at the same rank?
Post #10 Posted: Wed Sep 16, 2020 6:23 am 
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jlt wrote:
[…] "ze" instead of "the" (*)? […]

(*) This reminds me of someone talking about the go book "sink like a pro".
LOL, I’m German but began speaking English at age of four, so at least my pronunciation is not “Germlish” (though my grammar may sometimes be) … some anglo people at first don’t realize that I’m not a native speaker (which makes me happy, of course :D ) … but I get a lot of fun by mocking Germlish.

BTW, in one of my former lives I taught English to senior citizens, and they were very embarrassed about their inability to pronounce the “th” properly. So I suggested that they simply substitute the “z” (in “the”) with a “d”, and the “s” (in “thick”) with a dental “t” (German “t” is more palatal) until they got it right :D and told them that many native speakers also did it that way (just imagine getting old and losing your teeth), that everyone would understand them and not immediately suspect they were “Dschörmen”.

Anyway, what I actually wanted to say was that reading “sink like a pro” immediately triggered the memory of a graffito I used to read daily in one of the elevators in the “Philosopher’s Tower” at the University of Hamburg, Germany (where also Linguistics as well German and English Studies and Literature Sciences resided), around that time (must’ve been early and mid-80s):

Think or thwim!

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 Post subject: Re: Why do some people stay at the same rank?
Post #11 Posted: Wed Sep 16, 2020 10:59 am 
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Improvement is logarithmic. The longer you perform, the slower you improve. Only fundamental changes in the amount of time, the quality of training, or preferably both, can increase the slope again. If you have played for 25 years like me, there's so much bad habit ingrained in your playing, that it's almost impossible to still improve.


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 Post subject: Re: Why do some people stay at the same rank?
Post #12 Posted: Wed Sep 16, 2020 11:59 am 
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Knotwilg wrote:
Improvement is logarithmic. The longer you perform, the slower you improve. Only fundamental changes in the amount of time, the quality of training, or preferably both, can increase the slope again. If you have played for 25 years like me, there's so much bad habit ingrained in your playing, that it's almost impossible to still improve.


This is interesting. So do you believe that there is some sort of time limit on how fast you can improve from the time you first pick up a go stone?

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 Post subject: Re: Why do some people stay at the same rank?
Post #13 Posted: Wed Sep 16, 2020 12:16 pm 
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At a deep level, I think we know very little about why people improve or don't. Not just in go, but in most activities.

Something else that comes to mind is Dan Luu's claim "95%-ile isn't that good". We're mostly arguing about why people aren't moving up within that 95th percentile.

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 Post subject: Re: Why do some people stay at the same rank?
Post #14 Posted: Wed Sep 16, 2020 12:26 pm 
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I also believe that improvement tends to follow a pattern of diminishing returns from investment of effort.
I think the attached chart shows what Knotwilg means. I left out units of effort and level, because those will differ for different people.


Attachments:
level.png
level.png [ 5.77 KiB | Viewed 647 times ]


Last edited by gennan on Wed Sep 16, 2020 1:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Why do some people stay at the same rank?
Post #15 Posted: Wed Sep 16, 2020 12:34 pm 
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I think that graph should actually be (almost) asymptotic instead of logarithmic, more like the improvement graph of AlphaGo Zero (where effort has units of training days and level has units of Elo).


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 Post subject: Re: Why do some people stay at the same rank?
Post #16 Posted: Wed Sep 16, 2020 1:12 pm 
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See also pages 6-9 of https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/read/ ... oforbundet. Figure 4 is very close to what gennan is suggesting.


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 Post subject: Re: Why do some people stay at the same rank?
Post #17 Posted: Wed Sep 16, 2020 1:59 pm 
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My EGD graph so X axis is time not effort. If X axis was "games played on KGS" or "number of tsumegos solved" it would probably be quite a bit closer to linear. With "Words written on online Go forums" is pretty similar to time now.
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 Post subject: Re: Why do some people stay at the same rank?
Post #18 Posted: Wed Sep 16, 2020 3:10 pm 
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Looking at my time at the Winchester Go Club from 2015 to 2018, the social aspects of meeting friends and playing Go in a good pub were really important. Perhaps just two people went to occasional tournaments out of about ten players. Yes, becoming stronger, would have been nice, but it's all about priorities.

Age and commitments such as work and family life play a big part.

I think many players had deeply ingrained bad habits, which would require a fair amount of unlearning. One or two players actually got upset if you tried to point out basic mistakes.

I put in a lot of effort to become stronger in the early 1970s but hit a wall around 1-2 dan and stopped playing. I recorded lots of games, had them reviewed, but perhaps above all I lacked a teacher. I also studied the wrong things and didn't play enough.

John

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 Post subject: Re: Why do some people stay at the same rank?
Post #19 Posted: Wed Sep 16, 2020 3:43 pm 
Judan

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Shin Jinseo says logarithm-schmogarithm, asymptote-schmasmyptote:

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 Post subject: Re: Why do some people stay at the same rank?
Post #20 Posted: Wed Sep 16, 2020 7:33 pm 
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Knotwilg wrote:
Improvement is logarithmic. The longer you perform, the slower you improve. Only fundamental changes in the amount of time, the quality of training, or preferably both, can increase the slope again. If you have played for 25 years like me, there's so much bad habit ingrained in your playing, that it's almost impossible to still improve.

I think that improvement is linear (well, affine) but rating scales are logarithmic, which comes to the same thing but is significantly less depressing. If you use a Bradley-Terry model (if my rating is a and your rating is b, my chance of winning is a/(a+b)), then you hit diminishing returns at some point; it makes a much bigger difference in your results to go from a rating of 5 to 6 than to go from 50 to 51, and going from 500 to 501 is basically imperceptible.

Most rating systems, like Elo or dan/kyu, are effectively the logarithm of Bradley-Terry. The nice thing about taking the logarithm is that a difference of some particular value between two ratings always means basically the same thing (in Bradley-Terry, you have to look at the ratio). The downside is that it appears that your rate of skill increase slows down as you improve.

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