I’m a weak kyu player and I benefit greatly from using AI to review my games

When I returned to Go after a 10-year hiatus, I faced a problem: how do I get help and improve? I looked at some online training schools. I considered having a teacher. But none of that fit my budget. Somehow I found the Leela software and it helped. But then somehow I found kaTrain and it helps immensely.

Why do stronger players advise against using AI?

On reddit baduk you will often see a stronger player advising a weaker player not to use AI if they are 8k or weaker. Let’s first play devil’s advocate. KaTrain suggested move number 1 in this position. While I was aware that I could kill those few stones up top, it seemed that I should be making big opening moves. Since I was confused I asked for help.

Now Let’s work through their objections:

“Go engines do not provide analysis or reviews.” ???

At your level of play, I recommend against using software for game analysis, unless it is supplemented by access to stronger players who can give input on the data the engine provides.

It is important to make that distinction: Go engines do not provide analysis or reviews. They only provide the data, and the analysis is done by the person interpreting it.


I disagree with this because the red button in KaTrain provides a review of each place where the next move led to a significant loss. Over the past week alone, I can enumerate easily 3 or 4 cases where simply advancing through the game with the red button showed me serious errors:

  1. Here I made the wrong connecting move. Once KaTrain showed me, it was clear why. I didnt need a human to intervene.
  2. Here I simply didn’t assess the aliveness of the group. But once KaTrain showed me the right move, I looked closer at the group and saw all of its weaknesses and blogged about what I discovered.
  3. Here I failed to play a shoulder hit. But once again KaTrain showed me what I should do and I’ve been very vigilant about netting groups since then.

Conclusion: No human coaching, and 3 serious errors were revealed and understood purely by studying what KaTrain told me.

“the analysis is done by the person interpreting it.”

when falmunction says this, what he does not realize is that all humans are capable of pattern recognition and building up a rule set based on repeated presentations of their mistakes. While the vocabulary used may be non-standard, it is clear that staring at what KaTrain has told me has helped me develop my own rules and pattern recognitions:

  1. a variation of “hane at the head of 2 stones” kept showing up in my games and so I reviewed the power of seeing such positions and taking action.
  2. an easily cuttable keima also kept getting presented to me by KaTrain awhile back and just yesterday I took advantage of what I noticed about this 2 weeks ago.

As I understand it, the strongest Go engines simply develop playing skill based on lookahead – they do not learn principles such as corner, side, center or 3rd line is territory, 4th line influence. There is no reason why a human cant do the same.

I love the Speed of feedback

I can sometimes find a strong player who will play a live streaming game with me and then review it. Joseki Masters on Youtube is where I have benefitted from playing with him. But this only occurs once every few days or weeks and I play about 1-5 games per day.

Now, all I have to do is download my game and load it in to KaTrain. Sometimes I advance through the game using the red button to show my major mistakes but each time I reach a place where I was confused, I can also get feedback on the strongest move in that situation.

Even Dan Level Players Admit they dont understand KataGo

a 5d on OGS has admitted that they sometimes spend hours staring at Katago moves and cannot make sense of them.

Self-Taught Players Get a Lot of Flack Everywhere

I play golf and in reddit golf what do you hear over and over: “go get some lessons from a certified PGA pro”:

  • did the greatest ballstriker of all time, Moe Norman, take lessons? no. he was self-taught.
  • did Lee Trevino take lessons? no. he was self-taught.
  • did Tiger Woods take lessons from a pro? No he was taught by his father who was self-taught.

Ultimately how you develop is a personal choice and the people advising weaker players to stay away from Go engines make me feel uncomfortable because I know the benefit of those Go engines and don’t want to see others lose those benefits because of misguided comments from a stronger player. What harm is there in being shown your mistakes and seeing stronger moves?

I will close with this quote by Arnold Palmer:

Swing your swing. Not some idea of a swing. Not a swing you saw on TV. Not that swing you wish you had. No, swing your swing. Capable of greatness. Prized only by you. Perfect in its imperfection. Swing your swing. I know, I did.

The King, Arnold Palmer

So there you go:

Play your Go. Maybe the go you saw on Twitch or Youtube. Maybe the go you saw in KaTrain. Maybe the go you learned from Shygost’s list.. Maybe the go you learned from a stronger player. Capable of greatness. Prized by you and evaluated by an engine that is far stronger than any dan-level human player currently is. Play your Go and then let a player far stronger than any human show you how to improve. It took me from 11k to 8k all by myself with little human coaching.

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