I remember back last August (8 months ago) when I started really studying go that, if I ever made it to SDK (single-digit kyu) status, I'd celebrate, maybe buy a nice go set or something.
There were a couple of things wrong with that idea:
- I thought it'd be years, not months.
- As I already have a reasonably decent go set (2" hiba table board, glass stones) that is never ever used, it would seem silly to get a more expensive luxury set that will also never ever be used.
- Unlike, say, a birthday, or passing the bar exam, it's really difficult to say when you've reached a go rank milestone.
- There are different rank systems.
- Your rank can go up and down.
There are all sorts of different rank systems, but there are only three I care about (look, another enumeration!).
my DGS rank has recently tipped over into SDK territory, which is a big milestone. Actually, it's the second time it's done this (it then dropped back to 10), leading to my next point.
Interestingly, this slice of the rank system differences is from Sensei's Library:
AGA KGS DGS
12k 11k 16k
8k 8k 12k
6k 6k 9k
12k 11k 16k
8k 8k 12k
6k 6k 9k
13k 11k 9k
So... this makes no sense! According to the SL chart, DGS is several stones (3!) harder than both AGA and KGS! I'm 2-4 stones weaker on the other ones than DGS, that's about 5 stones off!
- I play a lot more on DGS than I do on KGS, and exponentially more on either than the 4 games every quarter or so in an AGA rated tournament. So, maybe the other ratings are simply lagging behind.
- Getting tired doesn't apply to DGS, if I'm tired I won't play. I get worn out in live games, and can fall apart (especially in the longer AGA tournament format).
Your Rank Can Go Up and Down
Sure, you'd expect it to go up and down, but with some rank systems (usually the online ones), the fluctuations can be quite rapid. You could be 10 kyu, then 9, then 10, then 9, then 10, all in one day. And this could go on for a while.
When do you 'celebrate' being 9 kyu? When have you made it?
For bigger, more official rating systems, it's easier because they are so slow to respond. You'll be 9 kyu for a while, until your next tournament or other ratings event. Even so, you could drop down below the 'milestone' on the next measurement.
For professionals, you get promoted, and it is all very official and nice. I think there may even be cake.
I can only imagine the consternation caused by this when you reach the big milestone, moving from a kyu player to a shodan!
Consistency of Play
I enter AGA tournaments now as 12kyu (although maybe I should do 11? I've still lost 3/4 in each of my tournaments...), despite being a comfortable 10/9kyu on DGS. Part of the reason is rank differences between the systems, but part is playing inconsistency on my part.
The one thing I've noticed in all of my losing games from the last tournament is that I wasn't losing for half to most of the game! Even the one I used the great wall on (which always starts behind because you have no territory), I caught up and was winning.
They all come down to a big mistake. Despite starting strong and commanding a lead (sometimes large ones), I end up doing something stupid. I attribute this to stress and/or mental exhaustion. There is a point in these games (45 minute clocks per side, long by my standard!) I simply give up mentally. I stop reading out moves, I play without thinking.
This inconsistency in my play has screwed up many a game. A lot of this is a performance issue, similar to sports or the like.
Obviously, on DGS, this is not a problem. I used to have a DGS-unique consistency problem where I'd play strong or weak, arbitrarily, every other move or so. This is because I'd both play at home where I can think about it, and play on my phone when I'm in a distracted environment.
I no longer do this (play on the phone), save to respond to simple forcing moves or wrap up simple endgames.
Hooray! I'm SDK!
Or... I'm not. Maybe I am.
Or... maybe not.
Which leads to the final point: does it really matter?