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 Post subject: How to play games ?
Post #1 Posted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 10:15 pm 
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I had a few questions about how a beginner should play games.

1. Should I aim to maximize the number of games I play a week (maybe ~6-7 in my case, given other time constraints) or would it be more advantageous to just play a few "good" games (around 4 per week let's say), with peak concentration, sufficient time for thinking (~ 30secs-1min per move say), and subsequent review (oneself and/or a stronger player) ?

2. Since I'm playing mostly to learn things, and not with an aim to win games, should I play stronger opponents with no handicap ? This is what I have been doing so far; I play someone around ~13k usually and also get some normal/teaching games from a couple of SDK- 1-Dan friends at the University Go club.

3. Any other good beginner attitude(s) to be mindful about while playing ?

Thanks in advance...

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Post #2 Posted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 10:43 pm 
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Mage, very good questions.

(1) If you have finished less than 100 games total (since you started Go),
Try to finish 100 games as quickly as possible.
Any size is OK: 9x9,... 13x13, ... 19x19.
Smaller boards mean you can finish more games sooner. :) (*)

About thinking time -- another eternal question (browse other threads).
Don't think too long (e.g. 3+ minutes on every move is too long.)
Don't play with zero thinking (e.g. 3 seconds or less on every move is too fast.)

(2) At this stage (less than 100 games), it doesn't matter.
Just play whoever (or whatever programs) you want. Enjoy.

After 100 games, reviews can become much more useful.
Whether the reviews are by pros or amateurs, your mileage may vary... a lot.

From kyu players, you can get good reviews... or not.
From dan players, you can also get good reviews... or not.

Repeat: your mileage may vary... a lot.
Quality of reviews is another eternal discussion here and on KGS, etc.
You can read more about it in other threads. :)

(3) My personal suggestion: follow the golden rule -- don't do unto others
what you would not want them do unto you. Use your common sense.
Expect a lot of frustrations (and pain) and questions. But also have fun. :)

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(*) There's nothing magical about the number 100 games.
It's just a ballpark figure.


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 Post subject: Re: How to play games ?
Post #3 Posted: Mon Apr 01, 2013 6:52 pm 
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Mage wrote:
I had a few questions about how a beginner should play games.

2. Since I'm playing mostly to learn things, and not with an aim to win games, should I play stronger opponents with no handicap ?


These teaching games are less useful than a good review of a real game.

Best way to learn Go is to feel the pain loosing a game a game by a blunder or a good tesuji of the opponent. Play handicap games and try to reduce the number of stones step by step!

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Post #4 Posted: Mon Apr 01, 2013 7:28 pm 
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murksomat wrote:
Mage wrote:
I had a few questions about how a beginner should play games.

2. Since I'm playing mostly to learn things, and not with an aim to win games, should I play stronger opponents with no handicap ?


These teaching games are less useful than a good review of a real game.

Best way to learn Go is to feel the pain loosing a game a game by a blunder or a good tesuji of the opponent. Play handicap games and try to reduce the number of stones step by step!

I disagree. I doubt that there's a general rule for which kind of game teaches you the most. Losing to a sharp tesuji teaches one way, losing to a steady flow of sound, confident moves teaches another way. The main thing, no doubt, is that if you play the games you and your opponent like best, you'll play more and more, and continue to improve.

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Post #5 Posted: Tue Apr 02, 2013 4:49 am 
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Mage wrote:
1. Should I aim to maximize the number of games I play a week (maybe ~6-7 in my case, given other time constraints) or would it be more advantageous to just play a few "good" games (around 4 per week let's say), with peak concentration, sufficient time for thinking (~ 30secs-1min per move say), and subsequent review (oneself and/or a stronger player) ?

I only started to find longer games useful when I hit about 8 kyu. But maybe that's me. I tended to find that, if I spent too long on a move, I was panicking rather than making sound positional judgement or reading deeply. I still do find that.

Mage wrote:
2. Since I'm playing mostly to learn things, and not with an aim to win games, should I play stronger opponents with no handicap ?

Ed has already answered this well enough, so let me just give a caveat: players more than a few stones stronger than you will be able to beat you very easily (this is just a fact of go that you may not realise yet), so may be unwilling to do this often. That is, take no-handi teaching games if they're offered, but you might annoy people if you continually ask for them. :) Of course, I also don't think it's the best way to improve, at your level or at any other: I learn a lot from all sorts of evenly matched games, with or without handicap, with too much or too little handicap, and so on, and often the skills you learn are very different.

Mage wrote:
3. Any other good beginner attitude(s) to be mindful about while playing ?

Image
Don't do this.


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 Post subject: Re: How to play games ?
Post #6 Posted: Tue Apr 02, 2013 6:53 am 
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billywoods wrote:
Mage wrote:
3. Any other good beginner attitude(s) to be mindful about while playing ?

Image
Don't do this.


Hey... the nuclear tesuji is a classic gambit!

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 Post subject: Re: How to play games ?
Post #7 Posted: Tue Apr 02, 2013 8:56 am 
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Mage wrote:
2. Since I'm playing mostly to learn things, and not with an aim to win games, should I play stronger opponents with no handicap ? This is what I have been doing so far; I play someone around ~13k usually and also get some normal/teaching games from a couple of SDK- 1-Dan friends at the University Go club.


When I started playing, I played better players with inadequate handicaps. (Not my choice, BTW.) It was 9 months before I won a game. ;)

One nice thing about that was that I did not pick up many bad habits from my opponents. (I developed my own. ;))

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 Post subject: Re: How to play games ?
Post #8 Posted: Wed Apr 03, 2013 7:00 pm 
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Ok, so I'm going to try maximize the number of games I play ! I have only played maybe around 20-25 games... so definitely far less than the 100 threshold :tmbdown:

I want to try maintain some level of concentration though :sad: ; apart from typical beginner mistakes that are technical, I very often slip into "auto-play".

Apart from the natural tenacity one develops with prolonged play, how do you maintain concentration over long periods ? (Lots of green tea during games ? :D )

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 Post subject: Re: How to play games ?
Post #9 Posted: Wed Apr 03, 2013 7:19 pm 
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Mage wrote:
Apart from the natural tenacity one develops with prolonged play, how do you maintain concentration over long periods ? (Lots of green tea during games ? :D )


Concentration is a skill you can exercise to improve.

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Post #10 Posted: Wed Apr 03, 2013 8:20 pm 
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Mage wrote:
I very often slip into "auto-play".

Don't we all? :)

(I think playing go has improved my concentration slightly in general - not just in go.)


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 Post subject: Re: How to play games ?
Post #11 Posted: Wed Apr 03, 2013 11:17 pm 
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Mage wrote:
Apart from the natural tenacity one develops with prolonged play, how do you maintain concentration over long periods ? (Lots of green tea during games ? :D )

I practice it mainly by doing problems in sessions ranging from 30 minutes to one hour. Just sitting still and solving them ups my concentration, I experienced.
Apart from that I tend to concentrate less in the opening because I always play the same first moves with both colours. The same goes for the endgame, here I just don't know enough to play sound moves, so no reason to ponder endlessly.

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 Post subject: Re: How to play games ?
Post #12 Posted: Fri Apr 05, 2013 11:44 am 
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Will try some of these suggestions out.

A related question - Any of you diligently use a game clock to finesse your play pace ?

I'm of two minds to get one, to stop vacillating between quick-play and taking too long :sad:. This thread :

viewtopic.php?f=19&t=1003

as well as

http://senseis.xmp.net/?Clocks

were useful.

Any updated opinions ? The "MeijinSen" looks awesome...but a "bit" ;-) on the higher $$$ ! "Excalibur" looks doable but not sure is ideal or if the beeping etc. is just going to confuse things.

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Post #13 Posted: Fri Apr 05, 2013 2:43 pm 
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Mage wrote:
"Excalibur" looks doable but not sure is ideal or if the beeping etc. is just going to confuse things.
Yes, the Excalibur has some pros and cons.

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Post #14 Posted: Fri Apr 05, 2013 2:49 pm 
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The Chronos is a nice clock.

http://senseis.xmp.net/?Clocks#toc5

It's a bit on the pricy side though. I like that I don't have to push on anything, but it messes with other people to not have the feedback if you have the touch version.

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Post #15 Posted: Fri Apr 05, 2013 7:41 pm 
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@Mage: Winning (or rather, losing) your first 100 (or 200) games is the first thing you should do. This way you obtain enough first hand experience to make sense of what goes on in a game of baduk. In any case, playing games on a regular basis is vital to getting stronger. To improve your reading and establish good playing habits, do plenty of problems across all skill sets. Tactical ones such as tesuji and life & death will be easier to master and are important because a strong command of tactics is needed to support whatever strategy you are pursing. Opening and endgame take a bit more effort to master, especially the endgame since accurate calculation of the relative sizes of groups on the board is needed to know which techniques to apply and in what order, but doing whole-board problems is a good way to begin developing those skills. Finally, after make replaying of professional game records part of your training régime. This way you can observe what a game of baduk between good players is like and find ideas for your personal game. Progressively your baduk skill will improve and you'll win more and more games. (I'm guilty of not doing enough problems and not replaying enough pro game records :oops:)

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Post #16 Posted: Sat Apr 13, 2013 8:59 pm 
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Playing 3-4 games per week now. Following SoDesuNe's guide and reading "In the Beginning" and "Opening Theory Made Easy" parallely, along with re-solving GGPB Vol. I. Also got this :


Attachment:
Meijinsen.JPG
Meijinsen.JPG [ 79.86 KiB | Viewed 4880 times ]

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Post #17 Posted: Sat Apr 13, 2013 10:12 pm 
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Mage wrote:
Also got this:
Attachment:
Meijinsen.JPG
Mage, congrats. Could you kindly write a review on the Meijinsen, as you use it after some period of time?
The pros and cons of it, from your experience. Thanks. :)
That looks like a nice table, too. From your photo, I suddenly realized
the narrow footprint, no doubt a very desirable feature in real-estate conscious Japan.
(Also very useful in coffee shops and big tourneys!)

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Post #18 Posted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 9:38 am 
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EdLee wrote:
Could you kindly write a review on the Meijinsen, as you use it after some period of time?
The pros and cons of it, from your experience. Thanks. :)



I will certainly do that Ed. I have also uploaded a scanned PDF copy of the quick start guide in the old clocks topic.

EdLee wrote:
That looks like a nice table, too. From your photo, I suddenly realized
the narrow footprint, no doubt a very desirable feature in real-estate conscious Japan.
(Also very useful in coffee shops and big tourneys!)


The table is from IKEA ;-) I usually sit on the floor with a yoga mat though, while playing; seiza is not very comfortable for me, but the lotus position is comfortable for long durations...

Once I lose my 100 games and my reading improves :grumpy: , I want to try your method of playing out online games concurrently on the board. Currently it's very distracting and self-defeating for me.

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Post #19 Posted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 9:15 pm 
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Mage wrote:
Once I lose my 100 games and my reading improves :grumpy:, I want to try your method of playing out
online games concurrently on the board. Currently it's very distracting and self-defeating for me.
Mage, thanks. Yea, finish your 100 games first. :) Later, you can enjoy the real set even for online games.

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 Post subject: Re: How to play games ?
Post #20 Posted: Tue May 28, 2013 10:02 pm 
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I was told once that 1 game reviewed is worth 2 or more played. Try an learn from every game. Naturally this would slow down a pace of back-to-back games but it's more important to step back and understand why you won or lost and what you or your opponent could have done better, even introspectively.

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