Skip to Content

Mission accomplished

I mentioned in a previous post that I'd set myself (last October) the goal of reaching 15k on KGS by 1st April. I wanted to make sure it was a stable 15k so I added the secret proviso that I had to keep the rank for 3 successive games. Today was the third game, which I lost, but I didn't drop below 15k - so mission accomplished!

An interesting corollary of this was that, having won two very close games, I was sure I was due for a close loss (and indeed so it proved). But I felt a strong reluctance to play, for fear of losing the game and missing my goal. I think this is natural, but something we should try to get over.

Takemiya puts this very well:

“When you sit down to play a game is your aim to win the game or to become stronger? You probably think you can do both, but these are quite different projects.

The problem with trying to win – besides the fact that it makes it hard to enjoy the game – is that you don’t trust your feelings about where to play. When you look over the board there’ll be a place find you want to play, but if you’re concerned about winning, you’re not going to trust your feeling. You’ll think and analyze and nervously play somewhere else. This is a terrible way to play go. You should look at the board and play wherever you want to. This is the way to get stronger. I say this everywhere I go, around the world, but no one believes me. Nevertheless it’s true."

-- Quoted in American Go Journal, 2008

Equally, I think we ought to play without fear of losing, as far as possible. When you win, you win. When you lose, you can learn something and get stronger.

Getting too concerned about rank and rating is a sure way to become over-focused on winning games at the expense of developing as a Go player. After all, what's more important: your rating, or your true strength? If you become stronger, your rating will eventually catch up.

Having said that, ratings are a helpful indicator that you're making progress. I want to set a new goal now, to achieve KGS 12k by 1st July (3 stones in 3 months). I think that's ambitious, but achievable with some serious study and play, and I shan't worry too much if I don't achieve it. At any rate I will be a better player for trying, and that's what it's all about.