American Go E-Journal

The Empty Board: The Real Go Player

Monday December 15, 2008

THE EMPTY BOARD: The Real Go Player
by Bill Cobb

At a lecture at this year’s U.S. Go Congress, Takemiya Masaki (right) 9P insisted that it is very important in go to play where you want to, not where you think you ought to. He said that no one believes he is serious about this. It’s easy to understand why. The issue here is what it means to be a “honte” go player. First, think about why we play the game. Surely it’s because we enjoy it: no one is forcing us to play. Those of us at the Congress paid a lot to attend. Takemiya assumes we all agree with this, but he notices that a lot of players often seem to find playing an unpleasant and frustrating experience. He suggested this is because we are worried about where we should play next in the game. For many of us this worry is based in a concern about our ratings, which is what drives us to worry about winning the game we’re playing. It may well be that the excessive focus on ratings so characteristic of the current AGA culture – player rank was the most visible part of Congress ID badges — is the greatest barrier to enjoying playing. The solution is to quit worrying about ratings and winning. Instead, look over the board carefully, and play wherever you want to. Of course, this approach may lead to losses, but it’s the only way to become a real go player, playing your own style of go. This approach requires two essential things, which is where your feelings for the game come from: studying seriously and reviewing your games carefully. Seeing what does and doesn’t work shapes your feeling for the game in the direction that leads to better play. So don’t worry, be happy. Follow your feelings when you play and you’ll not only enjoy the game more, you’ll be a real go player and not someone who only thinks they are a go player.


Categories: U.S. Go Congress