Improvement is essential when playing the game of Go

If you have just started playing, you’ll get better very quickly; but there’s a moment when you hit the plateau, meaning you can’t get better anymore. And that’s very frustrating.

When it happens, we start thinking things like: “Why is this happening?”Is my brain too small?”, “Am I doing something wrong?”…

Some even stop playing the game of Go because of that. But I don’t want you to be in that category, so that’s why I’ve decided to write this post.

In this article, you’ll learn how to get better at Go.

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Ways to get better at Go

Ways to get better at Go

There are many ways to improve the game quality. Here, I list the general recommendations to play better Go.

After that, you’ll see the tips for each Go rank, to individualize the concepts you have to learn in order to get better.

Analyze your games

First of all, you have to look at your own games and analyze the mistakes you’ve made.

There are 3 ways to do that:

  • Do it yourself
  • Ask a friend who has a higher rank
  • Let AI help you.

Maybe you missed some forcing moves or played too greedy in certain situation. The main thing is, you can learn something from EVERY game you’ve played.

Even if you’ve won the game, there must be some parts when you’ve played better. No one can play the “hand of God”.

You should analyze opponents mistakes as well. Doing it will help you to think rationally.

Play long games

By that, I don’t mean to play correspondence game that lasts 1 month. That isn’t bad, but the optimal length of the game is 40-90 minutes.

When you play blitz game (length: 5-20 minutes) you only play with instincts, not with your mind.

You have to think very carefully before placing a stone on the board. Imagine at least 4 potential moves in your mind to determine whether the move seems a good move or not. But don’t be paranoid about it.

Another thing I want to mention is that even if you play the game with a long-time period, but your opponent plays very fast, you tend to follow the rhythm of the speed and automatically play fast as well. This KILLS your game!

If you want to get better at Go, always try to control yourself.

Study Joseki

Joseki is very important if you usually play on the 19×19 board. If you don’t know, Joseki is the combination of the moves in the opening when none of the players get an advantage.

So why should it be that important if no one is getting an advantage?

First of all, if you don’t play joseki correctly, your positions will get disadvantageous. If you ask a professional player, when you make one mistake during joseki, the game is most likely lost.

Also, learning Joseki will help you understand the “vibe” of the game. You’ll feel what is the meaning of each stone you place on the board.

Study Fuseki

This is a bit advanced strategy, so if your rank is lower than 10 Kuy, you shouldn’t worry about studying it.

Fuseki is very important to make frameworks in the openings. The opening establishes the game’s basic structure.

In contrast to moves made in the middle game or in life-and-death situations, there are many ways of playing ins the opening, and each in its own way is correct.

So, studying Fuseki will definitely help you improve the game.

Solve Tsumego problems

Tsumego, also known as life and death, is one of the main ways to improve your tactical skills.

I recommend solving 10-20 Tsumego problems per day. Always try to play the sequence in your mind and not just try your luck by playing the first move wherever you feel it’s right.

If you don’t feel like sitting and just solving problems, then play 9×9 games. After that, it will definitely improve your Tsumego skills all by itself.

Study Tesuji

The closest definition of Tesuji is pattern recognition. During the game, you recognize the position and play the combination of moves that is profitable for you.

For example with Tesuji, you may be able to kill a group, cut the groups off, or make a profitable exchange.

Studying Tesuji will be very profitable for you. Sadly, there is no exact theory that you can follow to recognize all patterns. Though, by studying them, you develop a skill that tends to find good moves in certain situations.

Study endgames

Endgame is a very important part, but sadly, the value of it is underestimated.

Many people think that endgames don’t have high value but professional Go players don’t think so.

By playing perfectly in endgame, you can even reverse the lost game.

You can get better at endgames by calculating the value of every move and deciding which move gets Sente or gets more points.

How to play better at Go

How to play better at Go if you are…

25-20 Kyu

  • Play frequently
  • Play some 9×9 to understand basic concepts of the game
  • Don’t play very fast

20-15 Kyu

  • Start solving basic Tsumego problems
  • If 19×19 is still too big for you, try 13×13
  • Practice more

15-10 Kyu

  • Start solving Cho Chikun’s Go problems (First 100)
  • Study basic Joseki
  • Don’t be over-aggressive
  • Start analyzing your games

10-5 Kyu

  • Solve Cho Chikun’s Go problems (Fully)
  • Learn intermediate Joseki
  • Study basic Fuseki
  • Study basic Tesuji
  • Analyze your games

5-1 Kyu

  • Solve advanced Tsumego
  • Study 3-4 variations of each Joseki
  • Learn Intermediate Fuseki
  • Study Intermediate Tesuji
  • Study endgames
  • Analyze your games

1-3 Dan

  • Frequently solve advanced Tsumego
  • Study most of the Joseki theory
  • Learn advanced Fuseki
  • Study advanced Tsumego
  • Study endgames
  • Analyze your games

3-7 Dan

  • Get a professional or high Dan teacher who knows what you should do better than me

That’s all folks, I hope now you know how to get better at the game of Go.

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About the author

Irakli Khizanishvili

Hi, I'm Irakli from Georgia.
I've been playing the game of Go for a few years now. During that period I've read lots of books about all aspects of this interesting and beautiful game.
On this website, I'm glad to share my game knowledge and experience with you.
I hope I'll be able to help improve your skills and proficiency in the magnificent game of Go!
Remember, it's never too late to learn new things!

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