In terms of visible personal Baduk progress April didn’t have much to offer. My Yunguseng record last month was 3-2 and I’m back to IGS 8k+ after a month long losing streak. Yet my stalled rank doesn’t blemish the strong internal sense of forward momentum.
Perhaps that’s because this month I’ve been focusing on two particularly important Go skills - mind control, and attitude. In truth these two skills differ only in scope, the former is with respect to individual games, and the later with respect to overall results when actively striving to gain a stone.
The very first golden rule of Go is a psychological tip as well as a tactical one - Greed does not give victory. For a game so rich with calculation, a significant factor in a playing a good game lies in controlling your emotional state. Why invade when you can reduce? Why kill when you can win? If you’re constantly invading and fighting you are playing an unreasonable game and bad results are to be expected. When your opponent finds a great tactical counter, it is only fair. Baduk is a game of balance - there’s nothing to be frustrated about.
If you expand mind control to cover emotional state with respect to improvement then you get to attitude. If you are greedy to improve then you’ll likely feel significant disappointment when you don’t. Recently I read through the Life in 19x19 threads on rates of improvement and it was clear that for a great many people improving even one stone required two, three hundred, or even five hundred games! If I’m being honest with myself reaching 4 kyu KGS or 6 kyu IGS could easily take 5 months of continuous effort at my current rate of 40-60 games a month.
If I know it’s going to take 4 or 5 months, what’s the rush? If it takes longer what’s the big deal?
My internal indicators of progress are beginning to overtake the external indicators in terms of importance.
But in truth, not all my progress has been of the internal variety. When I say I haven’t seen much in the way of results, I’m really talking about the upper bound of my play. Your rank is an average of your best qualities and your worst qualities. So while I’m having trouble improving at the top end, I find I’m doing a pretty good job ditching old bad habits and pulling up the low end. I’ve moved pretty smoothly through Foxy 6 kyu when hardly two months ago I was really struggling against Foxy 8 and 9 kyus. I’m now Foxy 5 kyu and finding the games a bit tougher than before. But that’s OK, I just want to keep playing interesting games.