Studies and future plans

Time sure flies! It’s already one month since my last post. Unfortunately, I don’t have anything very productive for this update either, but I thought it best to write about what’s going on.

As you may by now guess, my current biggest time constraints come from my university studies that have been going on since the start of September. I’m attempting to get my bachelor’s degree done during the current year, which means that in addition to my otherwise big number of courses to complete, I also have a bachelor’s thesis to write. Luckily for me, however, the thesis is related to go: its subject is vaguely “expertise: what is it, and how does it develop — approached from skill-based board games’ point of view”. In roughly one and a half months, I should have about 25 pages of literature research written!

While I am indeed busy with studying, I cannot let myself have a break from go. So, while I’ve cut down on my online go activities, I still quite regularly attend Finnish go club meetings, review pro games and do tsumego. Also, eg. during the following weekend, I’ll play at the second Finnish championship preliminary. You should in fact be able to follow some game relays on KGS!

The next Gooften essay is still on its way, though I’m starting to have an idea for it in my head. Also, lately I’ve been fiddling around with the idea of writing a go book — I’ve done quite a bit of go teaching during the last few years, and together with the theory of expertise that I’m studying lately, I get the feeling I should be able to write something more or less instructive. If I were to start writing the book, it would approach the game from very general points of view, explaining fundamental strategy and tactics on several levels. Imagine Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go, but with somewhat different topics, and maybe going more into detail. In fact, I might co-write the book together with the other Nordic Go Academy teachers.

That’s all I’ve to share for now. Hopefully I can soon get back to writing more here!

9 thoughts on “Studies and future plans”

  1. Hi Antii

    I really enjoy reading your Blog. Always instructive and entertaining.

    Just a thought on your book: as a low grade amateur with little time for study (around 7 kyu currently), I would be very interested in a book which dealt with reading techniques. I also play chess where I am around 1900 ELO, but there the techniques for reading out a position and variations seem to me different from Go. Partly it is that in chess you have to visualise sequences of moves, leading to certain power combinations (weak squares, control of key squares and diagonals, that sort of thing). I only started playing Go with any degree of seriousness a couple of years ago and feel that a key to Go reading is visualising future shapes, (how to inflict dead shapes on the opponent, setting up Kos and snapbacks etc.) Professional Go games seem almost never to show the players getting into messy, heavy stone formations, as if they develop a fantastic instinct for what will later turn out to be a weakness, a cutting point or a difficult formation to defend. Is it all doing endless tsumego practice? Or is it something deeper?

    Is this something you might consider writing about?

    All best and keep blogging!

    Philip

    1. Hi, and thanks!

      You’re spot on in the fact that go reading has to deal with visualizing future shapes. A particularly important skill later on is to almost be able to “see” not-yet-existing stones on the board, which is critical in calculating liberties when the game moves into close-combat fighting. Pattern recognition of shapes is of key importance, too. Part of this all develops by doing tsumego, but I wouldn’t say that professional players avoid trouble by just reading everything through — they have a huge library of stone patterns in their head, and they can intuitively pick the right moves to a position given the stones on the board. Most of this is thanks to the content they have stored in their memory. Still, tsumego too is needed to make for a bigger memory library.

      I certainly could include some topic along these lines in the book. I’m not sure if I could create actual exercises for developing this part of one’s skill set, but if I could, that could prove really useful to the reader — meaning that I’ll at least see if I can whip up something! In any case, I would cover the topic at least descriptively to give a general picture for the reader.

      See you!

      1. A good friend of mine (John Knott) has written the standard book on blindfold chess, i.e. where the players play without sight of the board, simply visualising positions. Speaking with him, he insists that blindfold chess does not involve “seeing” the pieces in your mind’s eye, but more remembering (or visualising) patterns and relationships of power between pieces. So there is no need, he says, to “see” a successive pattern of positions. Having tried it myself, I find it extremely difficult to apply his technique, and the most that I can manage is to plan 5-6 moves ahead in calculating variations.

        I suspect it is easier to do this in Chess than in Go, as the pieces have individual characteristics while in Go, the stones seem to me to “exist” only in relation with their companion stones or close neighbours. Also as they all look indentical, it is harder perhaps to visualise/imagine Go stones than, say, a Knight or a Rook.

        What I would be interested in knowing is how a good Go player plans ahead, in particular what are the steps in calculating variations. In chess, blindfold experts refer to a sort of “stepping stone” technique, where the player calculates a certain move and then builds on from that move with further and more distant analysis. But in Go, is there something similar? I remember reading some article where Michael Redmond was claiming to be able to work out in his head moves going several dozen moves ahead, to calculate some endgame objective. I was wondering therefore if you might consider a series of exercises where the reader is asked to plan ahead and visualise/imagine different variations.

  2. I think that would be incredible if you could come out with a book that is similar to Lessons on the Fundamentals of Go. Definitely a favorite of mine and I would definitely love to see more books that follow its teaching method!

    Meanwhile, best of luck with your university studies and look forward to hearing about how the tournament goes in a week!

    1. Technically my thesis is on expertise, and I’m utilizing my experience as a go player on the subject to produce some new research (however shallow it ends up being — the bachelor’s theses at our school are mainly literature overviews).

      It may be somewhat interesting that while I’m studying at a university of technology, my major being industrial engineering and management, my thesis can still end up being something that touches upon go. :)

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