I had my second Yunguseng Dojang review on Thursday which I was actually able to make this time around. I hoped In-seong might have some positive things to say about my win. He started off the review with “many broken theory moves”.
Wow. The whole review was an humbling eye-opener and I’ve already watched it a second time thanks to the recorded video.
My baduk game has serious flaws which will need to be addressed if I hope to improve. In short In-seong believed that my playing style was unstable. He said to imagine assigning a rank to the quality of each move played. On average a 7 kyu player will make 7 kyu moves. Occasionally they might make moves that are up to 5 stones stronger or down to 5 stones weaker, but on average their moves are 7 kyu moves. However, In-seong said my play demonstrated a much wider variability of quality. This kind of variability leads to an unstable game without a clear narrative. In his judgment the game should have been over after I killed the lower left, but white not only was able to get back in the game but in fact could have won if not for the missed life and death situation in the lower right.
While he sympathized with the fact I played the latter half of the game in byo-yomi, he pointed out that my instincts were often wrong. What does this mean? It means my knowledge of fundamental technique is full of holes. He suggested I spend more time on patterns. Not life and death, not opening theory, not even joseki. Patterns.
To be absolutely clear, In-seong’s approach to criticism is direct, not harsh. The best thing about having a teacher is that they can identify your weaknesses and push you to address them. In-seong has done exactly that.
Cho Hun-hyeon on the left
He didn’t give a specific suggestion with respect to studying patterns, so I wondered the best way to go about it. Suddenly I vaguely recalled browsing the preview of Cho Hun-hyeon’s Lectures on Go Techniques available on SmartGo Books. I had decided it wasn’t for me because it seemed “too basic”. These days I’m discovering again and again it’s in the fact the basics that I need to focus on. So I purchased both volumes and started studying.
The book opens with a couple pages of review on each of the following topics:
- Surrounding and Escaping
- Connecting and Cutting
- Tigers (Hangs)
- Empty Triangles
- Hanes at the Head of Opponent’s Stones
A 7 kyu should know all this stuff right? And perhaps I do, but not enough to be instinctual. For example, my last two games demonstrated a consistent violation of “Cross-cut then extend”. If you asked me in person what I would do after a cross-cut, I would say extend. But if you actually cross-cut my stones in a game I might very well atari or maybe tenuki.
So I’ve swallowed my pride and thrown myself into really absorbing the fundamental patterns. Cho Hun-hyeon’s book so far is exactly what I need. An inaccurate assessment of the book would be that it’s about the opening or joseki. This is not the case. After the short and crystal clear review of fundamental techniques the book contains 45 “problems” to demonstrate the correct application of fundamental technique. Each answer consists of diagrams of four or five incorrect solutions in addition to the correct one. Yes nearly all the examples are in fact joseki, but the point is that joseki arise from fundamental technique. Instead of memorizing joseki the book pushes you to discover the joseki yourself through fundamental technique.
As soon as I finish the book I intend to start over from the beginning. I think four or five reads of this book are in my near future.
My next American Yunguseng Dojang opponent is a KGS 4 kyu. This will be a very tough game for me. While I may lose, I intend to play it with better instincts. I’d much rather lose playing good moves than win playing bad ones.