Playing many games will make you strong?

I’ve recently leared that that both Ootake Hideo 9dan and Iyama Yuta 9dan assert that “in order to get strong, you should play lots of games.”

I was shocked to see that because in my experience lots of adults kept playing lots of games and developed their own styles that are mostly common mistakes.

I have great respect as some of the best pros, but I didn’t understand why they say that.

I decided to investigate what they mean and their experiences.
So I read Ootake’s biography and that of Iyama’s.

Then I leared the following:

1. Both Ootake and Iyama had wonderful Go teachers when they were kids.
2. They started learning Go when they were little, so they learned everything very quickly. (Often talented children learn something once and never forget that.)
3. They both were extremely talented Go players.

When Ootake was a child, he went to a Go club near his house and played with many adults. But he had a 5dan Go teacher. Many years ago 5dan was worth today’s 7dan or higer. His Go teacher had a very good Go training, so he could teach Ootake not only basics, but also advanced things.

Ootake kept learning very good tesuji, shape, etc. from his teacher. Later he became an apprentice of Kitani Minoru 9dan.

Iyama also had a good Go teacher. More importantly he was introduced to Ishii Kurnio 9dan pro and played with him many times. Of course, he had proper lessons.

Ootake and Iyama had wonderful Go teachers, played lots of games, had reviews from their Go teachers. They also loved Go, so learned everything very quickly.
There are significant differences between them and most adults, however, as you can see below:

1. Most adults don’t have very good Go teachers. So they cannot learn proper tesuji, shape, joseki, etc. for a long time.

2. When adults learn tesuji, shape, joseki in a Go class, they cannot remember it. (Kids who are a dan level canlearn shapes, tesuji, patterns and remember them for a long time. )

3. Most adults are not talented Go players like Ootake or Iyama.

In my experience it takes adults time to learn one tesuji; it may take a month. That never happened to Ootake or Iyama. They learn one tesuji and could use it in their games immediately, and they never forget it.

Also there are lots of children who are not as talented as Ootake or Iyama. There are quite a few children who stops playing Go because they cannot improve quikcly.

I’ve recenlty had a conversation with Mimura Tamoyasu 9dan. He runs a Go school for children. Quite a few students at at 20kyu or 10 kyu leave his school because there is not a Go teacher who could teach kids at 20kyu or 10 kyu.

I’ve met quite a few adult Go students at the age of 40s, 50s, 60s who started playing Go in their teenagers in a local Go club (“Gokaisho” in Japanese) and played lots of games, but never learned basics. They were in a Go club where most people kept playing common amateur mistakes, loved killing stones, and never cared about basics.

Naturally my adutl students also developed Go with lots of common amateur mistakes. Until they had lessons from me, some of them never even looked at basic Go books. Since their mistakes were ingrained in their mind for many years or decades, it was really hard to get rid of them. Even if they learn basics, their common amateur mistakes always came up when they play a game.

I do have great respect for Ootake and Iyama. But considering their experiences as a child, and considering my experience of teacing adults over 15 years, their advice seems to work only for certain talented children who have a good Go teacher.

via Go, Igo, Weiqi, Baduk. Kaz’s original Igo-advice & fundamentals of Igo

March 31, 2015 at 12:48PM


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