How to get better - Beginner

How to get better - Beginner

Go for beginners

You'll often hear players give advice about doing more go problems in order to improve. Any one who says this to a new player has forgotten what it is like to look at a board and not see the shapes and intricacies of the game.  Imagine telling someone who just learned a splattering of words in a foreign language, and ask them to test themselves on their ability to write poetry. It would be frustrating, and often fruitless. There needs to be a certain amount of mastery of the grammar and language before you can do something abstract with it, much like with Go and solving problems. That being said, Go problems certainly have their place in helping a player to improve, but there needs to be a basic understanding of how the rules overlap before you go that route. 

As with most mind sports, there is a steep learning curve when you first start playing Go. After teaching the rules to someone they typically ask me, "what is the best way to improve?" I tell them that the best way to improve is to play about one-hundred games as quickly as possible. The number may sound arbitrary, but it really isn't. After about one-hundred games you build up a sort of mental memory, and you'll begin to see recurring shapes and traps that you might not have at the onset.

But even more so than just playing the one-hundred games, I want you to play the way you want to play. Don't try to imitate moves that you see others play (especially not professionals). Learn the reasons first hand as to why your moves may, or may not be good. Don't play it safe and constantly respond to your opponent's moves. Take the initiative! Cut when you want to cut, protect when you want to protect. Do not care about whether you win or lose. These games are not about dangling your feet in the water, they are about dunking your head fully under so you get used to the cold quicker.

The games should last no longer than a half hour… forty five minutes, max. Let your instincts take over as opposed to deep reading. Play the first move that pops into your head, take about five seconds to make sure it's not wildly stupid, and then play it.

Once you have gotten to that one-hundred game marker you'll notice a marked improvement in your playing ability. You will actually be able to look at a game and have a grasp of what is going on, instead of just looking at a piece of wood and some stones...

Lose your first hundred games quickly so you can win your next thousand!

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