Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Guo Juan's Internet Go School Training System

Anyone who has visited Guo Juan's Internet Go School knows that she has hundreds of audio go lectures. You can rent them individually for a month at a time, or you can subscribe for a year of unlimited viewing. I think the year subscription is the way to go. I have subscribed in the past, and I have always had the best of intentions about watching and learning. The content is great and I always start off strong. It is hard, however, to stay focused especially if you are a weaker player life myself. I didn't feel as if I was retaining the information the way I should. As a result I allowed my subscription to lapse about a year ago.

Now the team over at the Internet Go School has come up with a way to help all of us commit their great content to memory using a new Training System. The system is based on a learning technique called spaced repetition which is applied to problem sets created to reinforce the content of the individual lectures. There is a new link called Training System where you can read up about this and experience the system free for yourself before you choose to subscribe. There are two free lectures with problem sets that you can try. This is enough to give you the experience of the Training System.

I tried the samples and subscribed to both the lectures and the training system the same day. That was August 28th. It's been over a month, and I'll tell you about my experience. You can see my statistics below:

I have enjoyed doing the problems and have fallen into a routine of completing them very early in the day. My usual routine is coffee, problems, breakfast. Then I get on with the rest of the day. They say it takes 30 days to ingrain a new habit. I can tell you that this study habit has become firmly ingrained because I not only enjoy my problem sessions, I crave them.

Within days I found myself watching more audio lessons than I ever would have imagined. I wanted to keep adding to my problem set. Of course, I'll only be presented with so many new problems per day, but I have nearly 1,000 problems in my set now.

You can see in the upper right of the above image that I have 931 problems enabled, 657 of which have not yet been presented to me. New problems are fed to you each day, and you can change the speed at which they come to you, but doing so might be overwhelming, so I have left the default parameters in place, trusting the system, and being patient.

I quickly got used to rating the problems. I like how the system moves problems that are easy farther back for review. I have some problems that won't show up again for over 40 days because I remember them each time they are presented. Above you can see that if I found this problem easy it would not appear again for 43 days. If I had forgotten it I would see it again in ten minutes.

I love that the problems appear in random quadrants, and in relatively random order. The color of the stones also changes. This ensures that it is the problem itself you are remembering by way of the configuration of stones, not the orientation on the board or the stone color.

Below you can see the lectures that I have watched in the past month since resubscribing to the audio lectures.

Yes. That is a total of 69 lectures viewed so far in about a month since resubscribing.

I'm retired, so aside from a little cleaning and cooking I can devote all of my energy to quilting and studying go, so the number of lectures I have watched is high. I specifically wanted to keep up with the Joskeki for Beginners series, and the new Life and Death series.

What I am finding is that I am clicking the forgotten button more often than I would like on some of my earlier problems, especially in the Joseki series. My intention is to replay those lectures again to gain a better understanding of the context of the problems. I could stop watching new lectures right now and still have new problems coming to me for quite some time, so I can afford to go back and view lectures for a second or even a third time.

I know that the Training System is enriching my love of the game. That's what it is all about for me. Using this system is the first step in the creation of a study plan for myself which I will add to over time. I highly recommend this system to any go player. It is a great way to become familiar with joseki and to review basic principles.

Aside from creating new lectures with problem sets, Guo Juan and her team are adding problem sets to existing lectures. In addition to that, the Step By Step Course is being totally revamped.

Thanks to Guo Juan and her team for a great new resource in the Training System.


Darrell Malick said...

I'm addicted to the Training System too -- it really makes the lectures so much more useful and fun. And playing Go really feels different - less effort - since I started using it. Thank you for doing this great review! I'll look forward to hearing your progress in future posts.

Darrell Malick said...

Hi Terri! I'm addicted to the new Training System too. Studying is fun now. And playing has changed - now I *know* I'm playing correct moves more often, I don't have to struggle over every single move. And I'm winning more! Thank you for this really great review. I look forward to reading your future posts and hearing about your progress!

Benjamin Hong said...

Great review! I am definitely considering it after hearing your thoughts on it. Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

Terri said...

I am glad I have interested you in this. I want to spread the word about it. If you try the training system I hope you will review it also.

Terri said...


I am sorry about the comment moderation. If I blog more frequently and keep on top of things maybe I can stop moderating and just be diligent about checking for spam instead. I am leaving both of your comments because this blog posts deserves as many comments as it can get.


Terri said...

In the spirit of making everyone's voice feel welcome I have suspended moderation for the time being so people can see their comments appear immediately on the site.

Cynthia said...

Hi Terri,
I am also doing a problem set daily. When I find a problem that puzzles me I note the lecture that it came from and listen to that. It is really exciting to have this interactive way to cement the lecture information into my head. I often hope someone will play a certain joseki I have just learned so I can practice the ideas but rarely in a real game does it go the way I had studied. The problems give me a chance to recall the information. Recall is a different brain function than comprehension and recall is what we need in a game setting.
Easy to see the answer when it is pointed out harder to come up with it on ones own.
Keep up the blog. I enjoy reading it.

Darrell Malick said...

I have a suggestion Terri: It looks like you are WAY ahead in your lecture watching, so you're not seeing the problems from a given lecture until long after. Also, since you have enabled so many lectures at once, you are probably getting the problems from many lectures randomly on your first viewing.

My suggestion is that you watch a lecture. Enable the problem set. Do the problem sets daily until you've used up all your unseen lectures. Then repeat. This way, you get all the problems that go with a given lecture pretty quickly after watching the lecture.

But it sounds like you're enjoying it the way you're doing it, in which case - do it your way!

Also, you might like to slightly raise your "New problems per day" setting to 15.

Cynthia: I played in a tournament in Marseilles France about a month ago, and no less than 5 of the joseki mistakes explained in the Joseki for Beginners series were played by my opponents. Very gratifying. And these were French 2 kyu players, not what I would call "beginners." Don't worry, very soon you'll discover that the things in the problem sets come up a *lot* in real games!

Terri said...


I have thought of doing some of the things you suggest.

I'm unlikely to increase my new problems per day because I don't want to overwhelm myself with too much new material at once.

I will consider disabling some of the problem sets and adding them back in gradually. The only thing that might prevent me from doing that is that the randomness of the influx of new problems emulates the randomness of how situations arise in one's game. So there is a certain value in that. I also like seeing that large number of problems in the upper right hand corner.

I think the temporary solution for me might be using cramming mode more often.


Darrell Malick said...

Yes, IMO, going through the problem set once in cramming mode after watching a lecture is a good idea and only takes a couple minutes.