Saturday, December 18, 2010

Getting better at the game of GO

Strategy for Raw Beginners (30 kyu - 21 kyu)
Just relax; it's only a game and you're only a beginner. Don't worry about winning or if you're not improving fast enough. Your game is an extension of your personality and emotion at the time of each move. Tensing up will only cause you to lose even when you don't have to.

If you aren't having fun then there is no point in playing. The more you let yourself enjoy the game the better you will become.

Rule Number 0: Play LOTS of games. Play during every waking moment that you can. Try to play people stronger than you. They will defeat you, but they should teach you, and show you how to become better as well. Play computer programs. They will defeat you, but they are always ready to play (you can find them by just looking online). Books do exist for the absolute beginner (Such as Learn to Play Go by Janice Kim), though their use is rudimentary. Get a better feel for the game, then go after the theory.

Rule Number 1: The best thing that you can do at this stage is play and lose the first 50 games as fast as possible. Play a move within 5-10 secs and see what happens. Should you stop and try to think about every move, stronger opponents will become frustrated and decline to play with you in the future. Think of it from their perspective: they wait and wait for you to play, and then they see a flaw in your play very quickly and play, only to wait some more. As you play more games in this manner, your intuition, ability to read ahead quickly, and ability to recognize threats will all improve very quickly. As an added bonus, stronger players will agree to play you more often and will show you new shortcuts and situations, helping you to improve even faster.

Rule Number 2: Territory comes first. If one of your stones is in atari, the best move might be to ignore it and aim for that tasty side dish. This is not always the case as individual stones can be important, but your intuition on this will improve as you play more games. It might be the case that you're trading the 1 point of territory and 1 prisoner for a 20-40 point side.

Rule Number 3: Do not be afraid to take risks. You don't understand the game enough at this point to say, "that is overextending myself". Just drop a stone in there and see how it fares. Do try to avoid doing so when you know that one of your bigger groups is in mortal peril.

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