Journal No. 20. July 1973. Page 10.
We must all be aware that playing strength is influenced by personal
and psychological factors as well as sheer intellectual ability and
knowledge, yet rarely do we see anything written about this aspect of
the game. I have found it helpful in trying to improve my own strength
to consciously cultivate certain mental disciplines, and I would like to
pass these on, in the hope that thay may be helpful.
- Question every move before you make it. This seems an
obvious thing to say, but think how often you have wanted to take a move
back as soon as you have played it. For example, in the opening, look at
the whole board before blindly playing out a joseki sequence - it may
not suit the occasion; in mid-game, before making an obvious gote move,
check that there is no tesuji available that will achieve the same
result in sente; at all times, never move until you are certain that
there is no more valuable point elsewhere on the board. It is fatally
easy to become so engrossed in a tactical struggle as to fail to notice
that the points value of successive moves has sunk to so low a level
that they should be deferred until yose.
- Never give up until the position is hopeless. Many examples in
professional games can be found where a player has gone on to win after
a poor start. This may be purely a result of mental attitude, the player
with the better position becoming complacent and impatient to finish the
game off, which is a mental condition just ripe for a gross blunder,
while the other player's determination is strengthened by his
Of course, it is bad manners to waste your opponent's time by continuing
to play in a really hopeless position.
- Before leaving a tactical engagement for play elsewhere on the
board, make mental notes (a) of the main yose plays available, whether
sent or gote for either player and rough points value; (b) of ko threats
available to each player and their approximate points value; (c) any
other aji or downright fiddles available.
- Use your opponent's time. In Chess, waiting for your opponent's
move is rather a bore, as it is hard to use the time profitably.
However, in Go, the time can be spent usefully by (a) doing a rough
count of points; (b) reviewing all available ko threats and their value
- one will then be able to decide quickly whether to get involved in any
particular ko fight or not; (c) reviewing yose plays, and re-examining
aji, life and death of groups etc; (d) quite deliberately giving your
mind a rest when it needs it by thinking about something else. This can
be most beneficial if done conciously and deliberately, but it is
dangerous to allow your mind to wander unconciously and thereby lose
The Japanese set great store by a tranquil mental condition for
playing Go. I do not belong to the fresh-air-and-exercise brigade, but
at tournaments I have found it helpful to pay attention to such points
as getting a good night's sleep, going for a stroll outside between
games, not wasting mental exercise on casual games, and not touching
alcohol - until the day's matches are over. I am quite convinced that
paying attention to mental and psychological factors is worth two or
three handicap stones.
This article is from the
British Go Journal
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