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I was once 11 kyu and improving, but I realised I was getting totally absorbed in the game. As a latent obsessive compulsive I gave it up. I'm pretty sure it was the right choice, but I retain deep respect and admiration for the game. Far, far better than chess.

Deep down I wish I still played ...




You made the right choice :)

I got to about 7 kyu, and then it suddenly hit me. Balance is key. Therefore you should concentrate on those aspects of your life which have become more urgent. I haven't played very much after that realization.

In my view, Go (or any other hobby, really) would stand in one corner of the board. Your family, personal life, and work would be at the other three corners. As the situation on the board evolves, you would choose your best play. Focusing too much on any one area would leave you over-concentrated. It would be too inefficient. You'd easily secure one corner but lose the other three.

But then, if you spread yourself too thin all over the place, trying to please everyone, including yourself, that would leave you with a vulnerable position that could fall apart at any moment. That's clearly not good either.

However, if you patiently settle your stone formations before moving on the next area, if you gain strength in one corner/side before expanding towards another, if you are fluid in your decision making process when choosing a direction (life does throw you stumbling blocks doesn't it?), THEN you'd be a wise man indeed :)

I do make it a point to participate in a local yearly tournament (five games over two days) whether I feel ready or not. One day, though, I will come back to Go in full-force.

I'm also ludwig on KGS, btw. If anyone fancies a game, you can always reach me via twitter (@ludwig1024).


With all due respect, I don't think it was the right choice at all. As I've studied go, I've learned large "life lessons" in an almost 1-to-1 correspondence. Even now, having hit diminishing returns at 5d, I still find it to be a wonderful exercise in metacognition; I can play a game to quickly see where my head's at.

That's certainly not how everyone looks at the game, but for me, go is easily the most enriching subject of study.

Just my 2c!


I've tried to make one of these life lessons explicit, answering a question on Reddit http://www.reddit.com/r/atheism/comments/c1fb7/hey_ratheism_...

How do you come to terms with death?

Learn to play Go. The game has an opening, a middle-game, and an end-game. You can take them as metaphors for the stages of life.

The opening involves playing in the corners and around the edges of the board, perhaps on the third line emphasising territory, or on the fourth line emphasing influence. Metaphorically this is childhood and education. Perhaps going for a vocational qualification, such accounting or law is like going for territory, while studying philosophy or travelling round the world is like going for influence. Or perhaps such direct parallels are over-literal. The opening moves in a game are worse than difficult; the opening is down-right mysterious. Which makes it a lot like growing up. And it creates a situation as you enter the middle game that is different in every game. Much as every adult has their own baggage left over from childhood.

Perhaps the middle game is like adult life because things keep going wrong. Your opponent invades your territory or steals the eyes from a group. You have to fight back, invade his territory or sacrifice a weak group. Adult life makes similiar demands on your flexibility and fighting spirit. If you lose your job perhaps you can find a new one with a rival company for more pay. Or change career and become happier.

The middle game may see victory or defeat, just as life may come to a premature end in illness or death. Often though one survives to the end game. The boundaries of the territories must be decided and there is still time for ingenuity and an upset. It is the time of memoirs and collected works, of playing with grand-children and of making partial amends for past errors.

If you play in tournaments there is a clock, but it is set to 1 hour, not seventy years. There is time to think about your opening, to estimate the score and plan a path in the middle game, to look for some clever moves and to save time here and there with the obvious safe play. After 40 minutes you can estimate the score again. If you think you are ahead you can try to hold onto your lead through the end game. If you think you are behind you must chose between trying to catch up with some clever end game moves or perhaps a do or die invasion. Time matters. If you are short of time you will be unlikely to be able to think for long enough to come up with clever moves. But you should be ahead, having put the time to good use earlier.

Tournament play with 1 hour instead of 70 years is the heart of the metaphor. Both the game and real life have a narrative arc and time limits. You have to manage your time and act your age, taking the big points in the opening and leaving the end-game moves for the end-game, if you make it that far.

So my advice is practical advice and not the uplifting advice that you requested. It emphasises the practical issue of getting the hang of managing a limited stock of time.


I think it probably was the right choice. I see it as a game that I will enjoy in retirement, and look forward to it.

I actually played it instead of doing well in my math degree. I am only about a 4ku in real life (played in the odd competition). I gave up after the degree for similar reasons.

I love the game as compared to chess there is real strategy involved. I am dyslexic and I find calculating locally hard i.e the kind of calculating you do in chess (dyslexics are bad at sequencing). However, in go, you have full board considerations and I am above my grade in those. In go that means I need to take a lower (than my grade) handicap from stronger players but am bad at fighting.




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