Gaining 2 stones in 3 months!

The 17th season of the American Yunguseng Dojang starts in just a few days! At this point, I’m unlikely to hit my stated November goal of KGS 4 kyu by the end of the year, but that’s OK by me. In an effort to play more briskly as well as solidify what I learned over the past three months, I’ve been playing many games on IGS. I had an old provisional 10 kyu account I never used beyond following Japanese pro events, so I decided to see how well I would do. After 20 games I now have a solid 8 kyu rank, which, as far as I can tell, is quite comparable to KGS 5 kyu and the ratings comparison chart seems to confirm this. My rated win/loss on IGS so far is 16-5, so I feel confident that my KGS rank is close to the mark with respect to my current ability.

Considering this and looking at my KGS rank graph over season 16, I can say with even more certainty that I think investing in AYD was the right idea for improving my game. Still the cost isn’t insignificant, and I think to get the most out of In-seong’s system you have to really take advantage of the materials provided and be ready to put some time in outside of the scheduled AYD events.

What follows is an idiosyncratic take on how to get the most out of In-seong’s online school. Don’t assume that other members of AYD would agree with anything I say here!

Online reviews

I wish I had done this earlier - you should try to play your AYD game at the scheduled time. Getting feedback right after your game while it’s still fresh in your mind is important. Even if your game isn’t reviewed you should absolutely stay for the reviews of the other games in your league band. While you may initially believe that your mistakes are somehow unique or special, sitting through other game reviews will quickly disabuse you of that notion. Within a league band, you will see many, many similar mistakes whether opening theory, patterns, direction of play, endgame, and of course life and death. It’s watching other game reviews that convinced me to revisit my approach to life and death. I no longer feel that there are go problems “below” my level.


In-seong’s lectures rock. It’s a solid mix of theory, philosophy, and practical technique. However, at first I thought I should go out of my way to make it to the lectures. Now that I have a season under my belt, I can say that missing a lecture is not a big deal - not like missing the live reviews. You can always watch these later if some reason your life schedule makes it hard to attend.

None of this is to say the lectures are not a critical part of AYD, in fact, quite the opposite. AYD is more like a school less like a one-on-one teaching environment. Game reviews rarely go longer than 15 minutes, so In-seong will often identify a knowledge or technique gap and point out a previous lecture you should watch to fill in those gaps. You should take this advice seriously and queue up some time to go over this content, likely, a couple of times.

Books & Tsumego

You should probably continue whatever self-study schedule you had before, just make sure it’s guided by whatever you’re picking up from AYD. For me this has been about studying patterns, evaluating a position, and doing tons of easy life and death. Currently I’m on Essential Life and Death Volume 2 and working my way through the 1000+ Wbaduk advanced easy problems. The Wbaduk problems are slightly harder than Graded Go Problems For Beginners Volume 3. Speaking of which, I went through that book for the 4th time over a few days. It’s a good set but I’m now convinced that the Jump Level Up! series is a superior approach for understanding these kinds of life and death problems.

Play lots of Games

You’re not going to improve very quickly if you only play AYD games. It’s important to play faster games outside of AYD to solidify what you’ve learned as well as stretch your ability.

I played 28 games so far this month, 2 on Tygem, 5 on KGS and 21 on IGS. A few were complete disasters like my two blitz games on Tygem, but for the most part my games were reasonable wins and losses. I currently have a tentative plan to use Tygem for warmup blitz, KGS for medium pace games, and IGS for more thoughtful games (Canadian time is just better suited for it).

Well that’s that. I’m looking forward to seeing how much I improve in season 17. If you’re curious about AYD I recommend trying it out for a month like I did. As you can probably tell, I ended up pretty hooked!