Saturday, September 30, 2006

Shodan Goal

When I started this blog, I had just entered the AGA shodan challenge, and was very, very rank obsessed. I was only 16k, and not a strong 16k at that, but felt it would be easy to reach shodan in a few months. I was wrong ^^

I remember being extremely focused on my KGS rank, since that seemed to be an external measuring-stick to measure my abilities. I soooo badly wanted that number to go down, I could almost taste it.

Rated games got more and more stressful for me, I often would even avoid playing just so that I wouldn't have to lose a rated game. It was turning into A Big Deal, and somehow that felt wrong. The stress definitely was influencing my game.

By that time, I had been on KGS long enough to get to know people and I played more free games than ranked games. I looked at myself, I looked at the stress the stupid ranking number was causing me, and I decided to turn off my rank. That felt good!

I realized that rank is only one way to measure go ability and not a perfect one at that. I was able to focus on improving and not on rank, and I could see progress anyway. It turns out I can measure progress quite well just in my play, I start beating stronger and stronger people, and the flow of my stones is a little less sucky.

A friend told me a few weeks ago 'You certainly fight much better. Before, I could just steam roll over you :) Now, you punish/fight back appropriately.' I can feel this in my games, I don't need a number to tell me that.

The funny thing is that reaching shodan isn't a big deal anymore either. Heck, I don't even care about it, like I did at the start. Sure, it will be nice to 'officially' reach it, but it feels like such a small and unimportant thing. What I really want is to get strong and to get a better flow to my stones. To find the right direction of play. To know when to attack, and when to draw back. To find beautiful and simple moves.

Over time, shodan has gotten a lot weaker in my perception. It used to be almost god-like, now it feels like almost nothing. Interesting how perceptions can change. Of course, it doesn't help to hear a 4d say (paraphrased) 'When I got to shodan, I realized it was just a certificate stating "Yes, you indeed still do suck at go."' And Tristan's blog post 'Since getting the sacred 1-Dan rank, my play has devolved to the point where I can only win because my opponent happens to commit suicide. I can only surmise that in those rare occasions, my moves must have sent my opponent spiralling into a state of utter horror and total loss of faith in human logic after witnessing a succession of blunders, bad shape, and opening sequences that mock joseki.'

I guess I could change the title of my blog, but I am kind of used to it now. So the blog might be called Go Shodan Challenge indefinitely, even after I pass that milestone. I'll have to think about it.


Ash said...

Nanny... I could have written the first 3 paragraphs of this entry myself. I am nearly 60 and so KNOW that both my speed and ultimate rank are severely limited. And yet, as NO_ONE cares about your rank but yourself..this is self induced presure and stress. So for me, more games and blow the ranking!

Anonymous said...

Many go players seem to be overly obsessed with their ranking, as if somehow rank defines their value as a person.

Hu (and TheCaptain) said it well:

Hu: the most important thing is to have fun while playing
TheCaptain: also never forget to kill at least one of your opponents groups.

(they might have used different words, this was several months ago on KGS. :)