WGW 32: Seeing Results Now Now Now

Credit to Adavita-Vision

Weekly Go Wednesday, Issue #32

One of the things I’ve been dealing with lately is the narrow sightedness at seeing the fruits of my efforts as soon as possible. And as time has gone on, I felt more and more like my ability to play go deteriorated as each move became more rushed and every failure to gain easily recognizable profit (i.e., a large dead group in your moyo) only resulted in dismay and frustration with the game.

To be honest, I think a lot of this has to do with the culture that we are living in today. Everything is now now now! And in the case of most entertainment, such as video games, the results of what you do can usually be seen within a few minutes or even seconds. For example, in League of Legends, the moment you engage an opponent, there will be a clear outcome of whether your play was a good or bad one (i.e., you kill your opponent, your opponent harasses you more than you anticipated and you have lower health, you overextend and get ganked by the enemy jungler, etc.). However, with go, it’s the complete reverse.

What do I mean by this? Simple. When your opponent misplays a joseki or makes some huge overplay, does it translate to an automatic win or huge advantage on the board? To stronger players and professionals, they might respond with a resounding yes. But based on my experience as a weak amateur player, the advantage that you gain is small and cannot be used to snowball you into victory. In fact, if the advantage if not taken into consideration for future play, it might end up being negated or your opponent’s overplay might end up being a “good move.”

Contrary to conventional forms of gaming, go is one of those games that requires more patience than most games by far. When you gain a large amount of thickness, unless your opponent rashly plunges into your moyo, it’s hard to necessarily see the immediate benefits of having it. And in fact, this obsession with seeing immediate profit is a guaranteed way to making sure your game remains incredibly rigid and unable to grow. And to be clear, this is not a slight at people who play territorially. After all, that is a valid and strong play style that has its own merits.

In fact, as I write about this, I realized that this issue is just as much about being narrow minded and tunnel-visioned about the board. And in fact, perhaps my commentary on this corrosive mindset applies more to players who tend to gain thickness in their play as opposed to territorial players who are focused with secure profit and invading living in their opponent’s moyo.

Regardless, the point I am trying to make is that go is a game of patience. Trying to rush and see the immediate results (i.e., territory) of your efforts (i.e., placing stones on the board) will often lead to a protective mindset as opposed to a creative one that can adapt. After all, the go board is an ever-changing environment. Groups “die,” then come back alive, only to be sacrificed for greater profit later on. What you once considered yours might become your opponents, but then perhaps the profit you gain from letting your opponent live in “your” area results in a victory instead of a ragged resignation as a result of being unable to kill the group.

Hope that this helps you in your own games!