As someone who has taken his fair share of sabbaticals from the game, one aspect that has always troubled me was how to get back into the game. After all, I had no obligation to do so and could have easily pursued other things instead.
Yet, like so many other people out there, the call of go always beckons and here I am yet again. So I wanted to write about why I’m getting back into go, in hopes that it may be of help to someone in the future.
Read/Watch Hikaru No Go. This is the easiest and most common advice given. And as someone who has gone through that series countless times, it has held up every single time. To this day, the drive it is able to evoke in me continues to astound me every time.
Avoid 19x19 ranked games. Most people lose interest in the game because they feel they have stopped progressing. So naturally, you want to avoid reminding yourself of that frustration if you’re trying to get started again. So if you really need to play, play with a friend where there is no pressure or just play some 9x9 games against a computer. Whatever it takes to keep the game fun and light-hearted.
Solve go problems instead of playing. Again, playing a game can carry all sorts of negative associations and memories. So as your interest in the game is starting to increase, so should your level of investment in the game. And it doesn’t get much less than solving a handful of problems from time to time. In fact, when I was starting to get back into the swing of things, I only did six problems a day. That’s it!
Replay games from your favorite professional(s). This is a particularly fun method since it allows you to fully appreciate the game without any personal anxiety of winning or losing. And as a side benefit, you’re inadvertently studying the game which will ultimately lead to improvements in the long run.
Stay in touch with the community (even if from a distance). Last, but certainly not least, community have been a critical piece to my renewed interest. I cannot tell you how many times a request for a game and hearing about friends playing have served as powerful incentives that ultimately led me to where I am today.
Finally, no matter what, remember that go should never feel like a chore. If you’re feeling that way, continue to keep distance and simply watch from afar. Even something as simple as reading the weekly American Go Association newsletter is often just enough to fill the curiousity. And in due time, I think you’ll find your way back just as I always have.