Thursday, March 29, 2012

Thursday Go Tip: Ranking Up and How to Keep It

So recently I upgraded to 3 dan on my blitz account.  This is a big deal for me, because whenever I go up in rank on my blitz account, it means that my Go has gotten better overall.  For me, my level at blitz is indicative of how much of the game is under my belt.  You do not know a tsumego problem unless you can do it effortlessly in less than 30 seconds, and I usually think of the entire game as one, large tsumego problem.  It always feels good to go up a rank, but if you're just strong enough to keep it, it can feel tenuous.  I know, you're not supposed to care about your rank.  If I were an enlightened master I'd be objective and just play Go for fun.  However, I like going up ranks, it makes me feel good.  Who doesn't like to munch on the carrot at the end of the stick?  The thing is though, being obsessed with rank can make the process of getting better at Go especially painful.  Winning streaks are great, but you don't want your losing streaks to send you into the doldrums.  Here is some practical advice to keep yourself in gear when you've just gone up a rank.

1. Cool your jets.  Your first instinct may be to play people of the next higher rank one on one to prove just how much of an expert you've become.  When I hit 3 dan, I wanted to take on the 4 dans at blitz right away, because I imagined myself speeding all the way up to 5 dan in a flash.  This isn't realistic.  Try to play even ranked people or play against people one rank below you to see if you really are where you think you are.

2. Take a break from Go.  This helps put things into perspective, especially if you've been on a training regimen.  While I was studying at the dojo, I took a break from studying Go for an entire month.  I didn't look at a board, touch stone, or watch Baduk TV at all.  It helped me get my mind off the game, and when I came back, I was a lot stronger.

3. Don't struggle to get back your rank if you lose it.  If you rank up and then lose it, don't try to play game after game after game to try and reclaim your lost rank.  It'll just end up making you frustrated, and you'll dig a huge hole for yourself eventually.  

Hopefully this will provide some guidance, so that you can keep ranking up and feeling the wonderful sense of satisfaction at becoming the next latest and greatest Go master!