01 November 2005

Character Development

There’s a guy I play Go with maybe once a month.   Since I started getting serious about the game, I’ve gained about two stones in strength against him.   However, when we play, he refuses to take a handicap against me.   I then beat him by a wide margin and we move on in our day.   The one time I tried to do an after-game review, he made it clear he already knew the mistakes he had made.

I’m not bothered by this; he’s a good guy, and I get an opportunity to experiment in these games and try out new strategies.   But I can’t help but feel that his attitude is holding him back.

I began to realize that perhaps the biggest obstacles I face in my development as a player are not problem sets, tesuji or joseki but my own character flaws.   The Go board could, in a way, be a mirror for my personality.

Those who have played for a while know that wrong behavior on the board is often punished severely on the board.   Greed, envy, gluttony, and sloth lose games. Good players, in the after game review, see that and learn.

A character flaw is something we rarely see in ourselves but is apparent to everyone around us.    Getting past those flaws requires honesty to yourself, a willingness to accept criticism and responsibility, and good friends (and opponents) who aren’t afraid to tell the truth.

I have written about my recent slump, my misadventures on NNGS and about how long it took me to get where I am now.   Perhaps I need to admit to myself that what has held me back has been pride.   All of us who want to reach Shodan dream of walking into a Go club or tournament and being afforded the respect a black belt gets in a Karate dojo.   But if you’re me, you’re sitting at the “kid’s table” at the Club with the other 20-plus kyus. That’s a lot of pressure to improve quickly, especially with your rank out there for all the world to see.

As players, we want respect on the field of battle. That only comes after a lot of mistakes and losses. If you don’t believe me, use the KGS win/loss ratio link on this page and plug in the nicks of the top 100 players on KGS.

So hey, if you play me on KGS, feel free to tell me what I’m doing wrong, okay?

1 Comments:

Blogger GreatnessBlog said...

I began to realize that perhaps the biggest obstacles I face in my development as a player are not problem sets, tesuji or joseki but my own character flaws. The Go board could, in a way, be a mirror for my personality.

Very good point. I find that the biggest improvements I see day-to-day to my rating in Go (or chess) comes a greater focus rather than greater knowledge. Being relaxed and present makes a big difference in a game where each move can be so important.

12:48 PM  

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