Saturday, January 10, 2009

Reading Basic Techniques of Go

I have many books in my go library to which I have not paid adequate attention.  Some of them are just too advanced for me.  Some of them I have read earlier and at some time decide to read them again.   Basic Techniques of Go is a book  that I read previously and skimmed very quickly at the time.   I have picked it up again recently, and am finding it interesting the second time around. 

I have learned something from this book, however, about my shortcomings in digesting written go material.    With anything but the most simple diagrams, I seem to be unable to follow the addition of stones on the board that the diagrams show.   My problem seems to be an inability to "clear" the diagram of the numbered stones in advance of reading the stones one by one as they are added.   I am sure that this disability is a symptom of my inability to read well during actual games.  It is a matter of poor visualization.   Yet, when I find myself looking at a diagram that challenges me, I tend to get frustrated and move on to the next diagram.

In Chapter 1: A Survey of Tesuji, I found myself skipping over diagram after diagram due to my inability to "clear" the stones.   Obviously my visualization skills need to improve, and I imagine that a dan player reading the same material would experience no such problem.   Yet, I want to benefit from the material, so I either have to get out a board and place the setup stones to read this chapter, or I need to make an SGF file to refer to as I read it.   I am not sure yet which would make more sense.  The board and stones are more like real life, yet the SGF lasts longer, and I can go back to it later.

Chapter 2: Principles of Even-game Fuseki, on the other hand, I found very easy to read.  Starting diagrams were simple, and so few stones were added in follow-up diagrams that it was easy to "clear" the stones and see the stones as they appeared one at a time.

I wonder if most go books are meant to be read with a board or not.  Obviously no one would read a kifu without a board, or at least I think they would not.  But go books?  I wonder.

1 comment:

seigen blues said...


That mental skill, being able to clear & visualize the moves from a diagram, i think is at the heart of reading. I remember (very slowly) learning to do that with Davies' Tesuji, and quickly going from 5k to 1k as a result. My brain definitely had to "retrain" and i had weird dreams, etc. while i was working on it, but the visualization sped up a great deal.

I haven't heard or found any better way to get it than the hard, difficult, frustrating practice of it. I also scaled my time limits up faster and faster, and still tried to keep my reading depth the same.

good luck & may your brain be plastic!