Sunday, October 2, 2016

Year 2: Off to a rough start

Ugh! 0-6 in AYD for this month! The middle of the week evening time is really hard for me, but two of those games I played in the afternoon on the weekend. And my opponents are all playing evening games too, so it seems I should win occasionally, right?

 I think part of what's happening here is this opposite of visualizing success thing that sometimes takes over me. Star athletes are said to use a technique of visualizing success: if you can see yourself making that perfect olympic dive, it will happen. I sometimes end up doing the opposite: I visualize failure in my games and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. It's not quite conscious, or I would simply stop. I think it is, at least in part, a gender thing. I noticed this same exact phenomenon in one of my student's exams last year. She had failed the exam and brought it to office hours to go over it. The first question on the exam had 4 or 5 parts to it, all of which were variations on basically the same thing (maybe taking derivatives of functions or something like that). Each part was testing slightly different things but, for the most part, if you knew how to do them, you knew how to do all of them. But, looking at my student's exam, she nailed the first few and then bombed the rest. I said to her, "I know what happened here!" and described what happens to me in my Go games. She said, "Yes! That's exactly what happened to me here." Steele doesn't quite address this issue in Whistling Vivaldi, but he talks about similar things. Go is certainly an area in which there is a stereotype of women not doing well, so it makes sense that it would affect me. It's really hard to snap out of that mindset. I don't really have any techniques for doing so, other than waiting for it to go away.

 So, I'm off to D league for October. The bright side of that is that it frees me up for Tuesday music jamming nights. :)

Meanwhile, I utterly failed to meet my goal of 25 games for September, clocking in at a measly 14. Maybe that has something to do with my abysmal performance in AYD too.

On a brighter note, I've started something new! In my 15 years of playing and studying Go, I've never managed to regularly keep up with the latest professional games. I'm a creature of habit, so it needs to be part of my routine or it's not going to happen. So what I've started doing is this: after I read while eating my breakfast in the morning, I take just a few minutes to go through the most recent game posted on It's not the same as keeping up with the latest big tournaments, but it means I get to see lots of very recent pro games. I'm hoping it will help give me new ideas, but it's also fun and inspiring. I think this counts as #5 on Chun's list of recommendations: "Watch games, just watch, download wbaduk app or daily professional games app, Do it when you have 5 minutes free time, on the bus, waiting for coffee etc." (Maybe #6 would help with the visualizing failure problem too...)


  1. The psychological aspects of Go are tough. I find it especially frustrating if I feel like my opponent pushed me into a corner I don't like. Usually, the position isn't even that bad for me, but it puts me in a bad psychological state and then I start playing badly in the game, maybe trying to "catch up" or "take control" but in misguided ways.

    For me, one thing I've found is that if I come into a game thinking that my opponent will probably win, I feel much calmer, have more fun and play better. Because, if I lose, that's what I expected, but if I win, I've overcome expectations :) Don't know if this is a good long-term strategy or not. But I've had the most trouble when I felt like I "ought" to win a game.

    Another psychological issue I've found is that in tournaments I find that if I spend to much effort thinking on the first game or two, I suffer in the rest. In my second tournament, I played a tooth and nail game one that was played mostly in byo-yomi. By the time I was done, I was soo exhausted. Then I basically resigned my next game 30 moves in and lost the next two as well :/

    1. Yes, I have the same experience. Feeling like I *should* win a game is a good way of putting myself at a psychological disadvantage before the game even starts. But expecting to lose can backfire on me too...

      And I also find that putting so much into early tournament games destroys me for the rest of the day. It's hard to not give it my all though... At the spring open, we played Chinese hacky sack between rounds (courtesy of Audrey), which I found to be a really nice way to get my head out of my earlier games and relax a little.