I was so proud 40 days ago when I reached 5k. Before I knew it, I had tumbled to 8k and was losing game after game.

No, you are not looking at the price chart for Bitcoin: that steady decline is my rank graph

Here is my rank graph on the glorious day that I ranked as 5k on OGS.

Here is my rank graph as of today on OGS:

What has changed?

I thought I could forget the Clossi approach

Whatever the reason, I am not applying the Clossi approach to every move. What am I doing on every move? I’m not exactly sure. I guess I’m like a kid in a candy store: if something looks appealing then I just go get it. Or maybe it’s something I saw on some stream or read in some book. I was very impressed with the play of Milena Bocle and started imitating her opening for a few games and got fixed on trying to protect territory like I thought she was doing.

I also started thinking Baduk was about seizing the initiative and started trying to threaten my opponent and keep him on his heels instead of fixing my weaknesses first.

If you fail to have a plan, you are planning to fail

This is true in the stock market and it is true for me in Baduk. I imagine a very good martial artist doesnt have a plan: they are simply open and spontaneously react to your attack. A lower-level martial artist does have a strategy and a plan. I need to quit my off-the-cuff reflexive playing and stick to the Clossi plan.

My L&D study switched

I used to study one life and death problem every day before playing Go and that problem was from playable puzzles from Cho Chikun’s Encyclopedia of Life and Death. I would look at the answer if I didn’t get the answer right.

I switched to using Tsumego pro on my phone and also I try not to look at the answer. Instead I just move on if I cant solve it. But I do try hard to solive it and according to Ben Teuber, this is the right way to study Life and Death.

But the main thing to note is that I am currently…

I’m up to my neck in correspondence games

I have 27 active correspondence games

I play moves between meetings. While on Twitch streams. Before going to bed. As soon as I wake up. After yoga. Before breakfast. While at breakfast..

I thought it was a neat thing to not have to devote a whole hour to a single game like I used to.

Clossius warns his students they wont learn anything if they just play correspondence Go. I never knew why he said that. Because you play better when you have more times per move. But by having so many games, I have to re-acquaint myself with the setup of each game and have on occassion forgotten something when flipping between games.

I’m devoting a good hour or two to playing instead of an hour or two to studying!

Switching to topic to golf for a second, Rickie Fowler is a professional golfer who earns millions. But you know what? He is a self-taught golfer who did not walk onto a golf course for 2 years. TWO YEARS. But you know what he was doing? Practicing. On the driving range. On the putting green. Wherever.

Has anyone gotten good at golf simply by paying lots of money and running through 18 holes day after day?

I think you get my point.

Had I spent every free minute or two studying Go as opposed to playing correspondence moves, I would’ve been much better off.

I quit reviewing my flashcards

Something funny happened when I got up to my rectum in correspondence games. I would be laying in bed with my phone and would forget to make flashcards of my mistakes… but again, if we were to draw pie chart of all my daily Go activities, you would see that I recently have not been reviewing my mistakes daily.

Trying to win the game instead of sticking with the process

As far as I’m concerned, your mind should be on selecting your best move. What is the best move?

  • it’s a move that allows your stones to coordinate?
  • it’s a move designed to fulfill the purpose of Go, which is to gain life for as many friendly stones as possible.
  • it’s a multi-purpose move
  • it’s a move with “quiver factor” – one that strikes fear in your opponent

Hmm. actually all that is wrong from the Clossi approach. The best move in the Clossi approach is:

  1. fixing your weakness if you have one
  2. milking your opponent’s weakness if they have one
  3. playing a big move if one or two does not apply

It should not be on trying to find a filthy tesuji or a slick invasion. I recently lost a game by 3.5 points to an 8k player that I felt I was tactically superior to… I saw all sorts of cuts and invasions and gaping holes in his setup and enjoyed popping stones all over to exploit them… and then to my shock I lost the game by 3.5 points.

I lost an entire rank trying to play 9×9 Go

There is a free book on Baduk called “81 Little Lions”. I never understood the value of 9×9 or 13×13 go and the book made it sound very exciting. So I tried a few 9×9 games and it felt very alien and different. And as you can see by the rank graphs, I am one stone weaker in 9×9 than I was 40 days ago.

9×9 sounded exciting because it’s supposedly all about fighting. But you have to learn the opening theory at least a little bit and know a few sequences before you can do well at it. The book ’81 Little Lions’ goes a long way towards getting you up to speed.

But dropping an entire rank in 9k apparently has had a serious impact on my overall ranking… hmm…

Time to turn this ship around

I dont like getting my ass whipped. I’m currently getting manhandled in one of my correspondence games… I just lost to this person by 8 points 2 days go, so my am I being outplayed? Does my opponent know more about Go than me? He’s roughly my same rank, but I am making 12k or 16k mistakes BECAUSE I AM NOT READING TO SEE IF MY GROUPS ARE TRULY OK and that is the FIRST thing the Clossi approach insists that you do!!!!!

Step 1 of “Operation Get Your Ass in Gear” has been completed – resign from periodic correspondence tournaments

I just resigned all of the tournaments I was in and I’m sure my rating took a bruising but oh well.

Step 2 – Download Cho Chikuns Elementary Encyclopedia of Life and Death.

It’s locked into my phone and I plan to work with these problems without looking. I really love how a great master of the game systematically builds up the difficulty of the problems!

Step 3 – Commit to a daily regimen:

I really need to just get back to what got me to 5k. The only real difference is I am reading the Bruce Wilcox material so I am better at implementing the strategy in the Clossi approach.

  1. Start the day with a tsumego problem(s) without looking at the answer.
  2. Read a section of the Bruce Wilcox material.
  3. Review my baduk flashcards.
  4. USING THE True CLOSSI APPROACH (looking at *ALL* groups on the board), Play a live game on OGS. I think I’ll leave Fox alone until I see a way to have a URL to my games played. Regarding blitz games, for the most part it is too fast for me and I will miss many good plays I could have made.
  5. Create flashcards of your mistakes.
  6. USING THE True CLOSSI APPROACH (looking at ALL groups on the board), Complete the one move in your one correspondence game and call it a day for correspondence. In other words, remove the online-go app from your phone so you arent tempted to open it up every so often.

Stay the heck away from this compulsive, brain-dead, head-in-your-phone-every-5-seconds playing of 20-30 correspondence games at a time… having 1 correspondence game is fine and you can expect a stronger correspondence rating because you will have plenty of time for reading. But the context switching required for 20+ games is tough.


This is the beginning of returning to disciplined study and play. I hope it bears fruit. And remember: mile by mile is a trial. But inch by inch is a cinch.

One Comment

  1. hello,
    it has been a joy for me to play with you on OGS.
    Especially thanks for the link to your blog. Because I know Bruce Wilcox from the time he did his PhD. In those days, around 1970, I’ve had the idea to do a PhD as well. So, I collected a lot of info about scientific research on go-programming. It’s sill in my library.
    But … I never could had the courage to start with a real PhD-project.

    Go is still one of my favorite boards games; besides chess, shogi and xiang qi.

    Greetings from Europe

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *