Finding Time for Go

Weekly Go Wednesday, Issue #22

Credit to Lifehacker

When I first started playing go, it was right around the time I started graduate school. Like most other enthusiastic players, all I wanted was to spend every waking moment studying and playing the game. Unfortunately, in the mad dash of trying to do well in school and find a job, I couldn’t find the time to keep up with go the way I wanted to. As a result, I ended taking a break from go.

With graduate school behind me, I have to say that I’m not any less busy than I was before. In fact, I might even argue that living on my own while having a full time job and strong obligations to the people around me has caused me to be even busier than before. So the question becomes, how do I find time to continue my study of go?

For those who have kept up with my blog since the beginning, you know that I have run very hot and cold with my go study. There would be time where I would be extremely ambitious in my go studies, and then times where I suddenly had to stop and take a break. So I am speaking from personal experience when I say that the key to finding time for go rests upon one aspect: have realistic expectations for yourself.

There is a difference in one’s “aspirations” and having “realistic expectations.” For example, most players would agree that they aspire to be achieve dan status. However, that does not mean people should be trying to achieve dan status within a month. After all, each player’s ability to grow and availability to study varies. To further clarify, I will use myself as an example.

  • I want to be a dan player in less than a year.” - This started out as an expectation I set out for myself, but in reality it is an aspiration that is very hard to truly grasp. There is no formula for becoming a dan player. As a result, trying to turn this aspiration into a goal was actually demoralizing since there were multiple times where I couldn’t tell if I was improving anymore.

  • I will practice 25 life and death problems each day.” This is a realistic expectation. Not only is it measurable, but it pinpoints an exact area of skill that I would see improvement over time. In addition, having realistic expectations like this one would feed into the overall aspiration of becoming a dan player.

Once you set realistic expectations of yourself, it will help to keep you motivated to find pockets of time here and there so you will continue to improve. In addition, here are five additional pieces of advice that could help you out:

Advice #1. Do life and death problems every day. And in case you’re wondering how to do that, here’s what I found to work best to prevent it from feeling like a chore..

  1. Determine a set number of problems to do at a regular interval. For example, I make sure that I practice at least 20 life and death problems a day. If I have more time, of course I will practice more problems; but at least I am practicing everyday. Based on my experience, you should choose between 10 - 50 problems if you want to be consistent. Any more than that and it might become overwhelming.

  2. Attempt each problem for at most 30 seconds (or three attempts). The reason I don’t recommend spending too much time on each problem is that your goal is consistency. If you insist on spending longer on each problem, I would then recommend reducing the number of problems you do at a time.

  3. Once you look at the solution, move on if you are correct. If you are wrong, go back to the problem and practice reading out the correct solution 3 times for repetition. The goal is to expose yourself to new ideas and helps reinforce them in your mind.

Advice #2. If you find that you don’t have time to play a full game of go in one sitting, it’s time to give turn based go a try. Even though it can make you a little antsy in regards to waiting for your opponent’s next move, it’s going to keep those go gears in your brain greased up and ready to go when you have time to play again.

Advice #3. Find a go topic that you’re interested in and pick up a book on it to read in your spare time. This will help to continue to sharpen your skills while helping you continue exposure to new ideas. If you just want a generic one to pick up and read whenever you have a few minutes, my top recommendation would be Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go. It’s extremely well rounded and will serve you well as a portable book that you can read at your leisure.

Advice #4. Read about other people’s go progress / journey. When studying or playing becomes out of the question, there are quite a few other go blogs out there to help remind you of how incredible the game is. In addition, other bloggers’ journey could serve as the necessary push to eventually find time to play or study once again. Not to mention, oftentimes their journey will help you learn some things about yourself that will be useful for when you have more time.

Advice #5. Watch Hikaru No Go. It might not be the same as playing, but you get entertainment value while being able to multi-task on other things. Not to mention it’ll be a great reminder of how intense and fun go can be.

And if none of the above work for you, just try to find some way to consistently expose yourself to a little bit of go. It doesn’t matter if it is a few problems here, or replaying a professional game every now and then. Either way, the consistent exposure to go will definitely marinate and reward you in the future. Best of luck in your search for more time for go!

How do you make time for go in your busy schedule?