Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Playing Down to Weaker Players

I have noticed an interesting phenomena in my games, when I play on my ranked accounts on KGS. Because I usually only play on them when tired, or dealing with a lot of interruptions, they tend to be a bit underranked. Sometimes the game goes just fine, but I have too many instances when I start playing weaker when I play a weaker opponent. Making bad moves and bad decisions. I have been thinking why this is the case, but haven't come up with the perfect explanation yet. If only I understand it, I can fix it, right?

I seem to try out more unreasonable things on weaker opponents, which is not a good way to play, playing the opponent instead of the board. I kind of count on them not being able to punish correctly, and get an ok result. Sometimes they do punish correctly anyway. So part of it might be underestimating my opponent.

The opposite is true too, they do things which I know shouldn't work, or are bad moves, but I am not always able to prove that to them, and they still get a good result.

Another thing which was brought up by a strong player 'When I play a game of go, I play with my opponent. When weak players play go, they play against their opponent' This was an interesting way of looking at it. I sometimes feel that I not only play against my opponent, but also against myself, losing the game all by myself, without my opponent having to do anything.

And of course, there is the obvious fact that I usually only play on these accounts when I am tired, so it could very well be a lack of focus. A few nights ago i played games in which i missed basic atari's. Very very bad.

Maybe I should stop playing when I am tired, but it is nice relaxation. And at that point, I am usually too tired to study too, so playing always seems attractive. But I also am interested in figuring out what I can do to start playing more strongly against weaker opponents, since some of my games have been ridiculous.


ssa said...

When you figure out the answer to this, let me know! As you know since we've talked about it, I'm in the same boat. I play much stronger against strong players and have trouble with similar/lower ranks. They make moves that are clearly not the ones they should make, but when I try to figure out how to punish, things always seem to go badly for me. It's quite frustrating!

Flame said...

Funny thing, that.

I was thinking about similar tangent as of recent.

I played against a very strong player, 5d on KGS. Then next day, I played against 13k. There are two big reasons.

1. We tend to be complacement against weaker players.
2. Since we know that stronger players knows how to punish our overplays, so we are forced to pick right moves.

So...I think in all, we need to start to pick right moves, and start to disclipine ourselves to pick right moves, not any silly moves. It's going to be hard, but I think we can get much stronger if we just focused on picking right moves, instead of silly moves.

Coyote said...

I'm not very strong, but I am the strongest player of my regular face-to-face opponents, so I often play high handicap games. For example, I regularily played someone giving them 5 stones on a 9x9 board. I was always relying on trick plays to win (this was back before I realized this is bad) so when I played a stronger opponent (relatively to my friend) I would do the same and suffer.

There are two things I take from this. Taking advantage of an opponent's inability to punish bad plays has two effects. It makes you weaker and it doesn't show your opponent the prove moves that they should play to get better. My new philosophy is to try to always play the best move, reading when I am able, otherwise, for shape when I'm not able to read.

It's not much as I'm only 19k, but I think, all other things being equal, always trying for the proper play is better overall.