Thursday, May 20, 2010

Killing Shapes Beginner League: 25-15 kyu

I have been looking for a way to help early beginner players improve to medium beginner players, around 15-10kyu.

Being only 10-8kyu myself, I probably cannot help very people very much past 15kyu as they will start to be better than me at certain areas (remember: a rating is the reflection of a culmination of many different skills, you could be a good close-in fighter at a 7 kyu level but have the opening and endgame skills of a 15kyu, and be a 12kyu... and even that would vary based upon the game constraints (blitz, IRL, turn-based, etc)). I will endeavor to enlist the support of higher ranked players as well.

What is a go league? Well, traditionally it would be similar in concept to a tournament or other competition, perhaps with repeating 'seasons' that are something like a month or more in length. An inspiration for this concept is the Korean-style Insei League.

But, that's not exactly what I am proposing. This is more similar to a go club with league play and a strong emphasis on encouragement, teaching and learning. Although I'd recommend you look at the Korean-style Insei League FAQ for an idea of what that is, this is not that. Specifically:

  • If you want to go "pro", you wouldn't be looking at this. You'd have been 1 kyu before your classmates ever grew breasts and you were distracted by other worldly issues. You'd also likely be from a country where you weren't asked by passersby if you were playing "Othello".
  • You are interested in go as a game, as a hobby. You want to improve so you can enjoy the richer aspects of the game, and maybe so you can actually find an opponent on KGS ;)
  • You don't have a whole lot of time to devote to it, but can at least scrounge up maybe an hour or so a day, intermittently.
  • You like to learn new things, and see regular, measurable progress.
  • You would like to have some regular opponents who are around your skill level.
  • You can communicate in English (my Esperanto is rusty). Although if you think you cannot, consider that you may be wrong (you just read this, and you are in denial).
Given these player traits, the league would necessarily include turn-based go via DGS or OGS. I think real-time play via KGS (if not IGS) would also be a big part of it, because you can finish a match in an hour or so instead of months. Given the difficulty I have in getting solid blocks of time for KGS myself, I would expect to have to also include turn-based alternatives. We'll have to see how it shakes out.

My original intention was to provide a get-to-15kyu training regiment, which I guess I still need to do, but I think it'll be tied up with this.

The elements of training in the league:
  • Regular competitive even game play against league opponents around your skill level.
  • Occasional even game play against opponents 5-10 stones above your level.
  • The very occasional 'psychic go' match against opponents 5-10 stones above your level.
  • Game reviews by stronger players (either league teachers and/or the go teaching ladder)
  • 'Reading assignments' (tough, many good books are hardcopy only and some good ones (e.g.: Graded Go Problems for Beginners) are out of print.
  • Small tutorials focused on specific tactics and concepts, probably determined by specific problems players encounter during games.

The trick to all of this is getting a starting group of players, which I will admit, could be very difficult to do. On the plus side, the entry requirements are quite low: low rated players welcomed, light/flexible time commitments, no direct financial costs (notice qualifier ;) ).

I would expect to trickle in players for a while under light organization, until there is enough critical mass to start some more structured stuff.

Am I crazy? The invisible weevil that lives in my nose and tells me over and over me that I am the "Hand of Foot", and that I should collect marmots to shave and decorate says no... but I haven't listened to that dude for weeks now.

What are your thoughts?

Looking for 25-15kyu players and 10kyu and up players as teachers... sorry, I'm just not sure what to do with you 13kyus at the moment.

(I think anything referred to as a 'league' should have an Aquaman title awarded, but that may not be considered encouragement).


  1. I think this is quite a good idea. Depending on the need and my time, I might be able to help with teaching. I am approximately 8k-6k, depending on who you ask.

  2. Sign me up! I'm approx. 23k.

  3. Hey, I'm interested, need help with go, I'm 25k I think

  4. Gand: If you can hear me out there, please send a registration email as described in the next post. Thanks!