[Tidbit] The Important Skill of Calculation Starts with Doing Life and Death Problems


This article is taken from the third chapter of the book My Views on Go by Cho Chikun. It was quoted in its entirety in the book Korean Baduk Classic Life and Death Drills by Li Ang as “The Significance of Go Life and Death Drills 围棋死活训练的意义”.

I believe that this article is very beneficial to go players of all calibre and that it should be made available to the Western audience as well. So I have translated it to the best of my ability. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

————————-

The Important Skill of Calculation Starts with Doing Life and Death Problems (by Cho Chikun)
从做死活题谈计算的重要性 (赵治勋)

A long time ago when my go level was not very good, my teacher and fellow students often posed life and death problems to me. If I could not answer correctly, I could not sleep; because if I gave the wrong answer, I would be asked to leave the school. Thus I had to rack my brain and consider the problems from all angles.
在我棋的水平还不高的时候,先生和师兄们常给我出死活题,如果解答不上,是不能睡觉的,若是交了错误的答案,就会被退回,那样,还得苦思冥想。

At the time, I thought the problems were difficult, but now when I look back, those were very easy problems.
当时,认为题目很难,现在回想起来,那都是非常简单的问题。

I don’t have any experience of special feelings of interest for life and death problems, but when I was a 5-dan, there was a period when I specialized in studying difficult classical life and death problems. My interest in life and death problems was however just ordinary (so-so).
我没有对死活题特别感兴趣的经验,但是在五段的时候,曾一个时期专门研究过难解的古典死活题。我对死活题的兴趣,还算是一般吧。

I can’t say I’m an enthusiastic creator of life and death problems. Although new problems do unexpectedly emerge in my brain, as I’m usually unable to record them punctually, after a short while they disappear into thin air without a trace. Still whenever I am asked to pose a life and death problem, I can immediately come up with one. But in any case, please do not consider Cho Chikun as a life and death problem specialist and overly rely on him.
不能说我是热心的死活题创造者。虽然脑海中也曾突然浮现过新题,但由于未能及时地记录下来,不知何时就像空气一样无影无踪了。让我出死活题时,倒是马上就能摆出来。不过,无论如何也不能认为赵治勋是死活题专家,而过于依靠他。

Life and Death Problems Can Improve Go Skills
死活题能提高棋艺

Everyone says that doing life and death problems is a great method for learning and practicing go skills and I agree. I can also say that this is the primary path for progress. Why should I assess the value of doing life and death problems as such?
大家都说做死活题是学习棋艺的好办法,我也这样认为。而且可以说,这是上进的第一条道路。为什么这样评价死活题的作用呢?

There are two reasons.
有两条理由

First, to groom the proper way of calculating.
一、培养正确的计算。

Second, because we will also think from the perspective of our opponent, we can calculate deeply.
二、因为会站在对手的立场上思考,可以算得深。

These two reasons are proof that doing life and death problems benefits the progress of one’s go skills.
这两条理由,就是做死活题有利于棋艺上进的证据。

Amateurs and even professional often are like this: They don’t calculate properly and just meander around in their thoughts. Studying life and death problems can definitely change this kind of bad habit.
业余棋手,甚至职业棋手也往往这样:不去正确地计算,只是一厢情愿地去思考。研究死活题肯定可以改变这种恶习。

Moreover, I believe that while one is weak, simply doing a few easy problems everyday is very beneficial. If you have an hour to spare, doing 60 easy problems which you can understand in one minute each is much more advantageous than doing one hard problem which requires all 60 minutes to solve. In general, reading life and death problem books where you can figure out 80% is much more helpful than those where you can only solve 20%.
另外,我认为在棋力弱的时候,每天做一点简单地、用不着大伤脑筋的死活题是有好处的。如果有一小时的空闲时间,做六十道每题只需一分钟即可解答的简单题目,比做一道需要六十分钟才能解答的难题要有益得多。一册能做出十分之八的死活题的书,也比只能做出十分之二的死活题的书对棋艺更有帮助。

The Importance of Calculation
计算的重要性

What is the most fundamental skill in go? It is calculation. In the middle of a game, 80% is calculation, the rest is intuition. And for training this most important skill of calculation, life and death problems have a direct relationship. In solving life and death problems, there is no leeway for incorporating intuition.
围棋里最重要的是什么呢?那就是计算。在对局中,百分之八十是计算,其余的是感觉。而如此重要的计算的训练,是和死活题有直接联系的。在死活题中,没有加进感觉的余地。

Though we think of a game as being quite a distance from calculation and life and death problems, a game will still come to a stage requiring fierce contact fights. At such time, calculating skill will be most important. Even saying so, there are still those who teach beginners without teaching life and death problems or capture races. They only teach fuseki, intuition and the logical order of moves, etc. This is totally wrong. It would be the same as teaching multiplication and division to children who have not even learned addition and subtraction.
即使双方棋子离得较远的棋局,最终总会形成激烈的接触战。到那时,计算就是最重要的事情了。话虽这么说,但在教初学者时,也有人不教死活题和对杀,而是教布局、感觉和棋的步调等等。然而,那完全是错误的。就如同对不会加减法的儿童,直接去教他们学乘除法一样。

The So-called Strength in Go is Actually the Strength of Your Calculation Skill
所谓棋的实力就是计算能力

Especially in amateur games, the type of fuseki chosen is not highly correlated with winning or losing. The deciding factor for winning and losing is found in contact fights. And when winning or losing rests on whether a group lives or dies, the player whose calculation is more accurate will win.
特别是在业余棋手的对局中,布局之类和胜负的关系不大。决定胜负的是在棋子同棋子的接触战中。也有以直接了当的死活决胜负的,那时,计算准确的一方就会取胜。

In professional games, winning or losing is more about squeezing out that extra point. Professionals must fight out every small advantage and strive to play the best moves. And subtle moves played in the opening may sometimes directly influence winning or losing.
在职业棋手的对局中,胜负往往在于能否贴出目来,即使是细微的地方也要争夺,必须尽力走出最善的着法。开始的微妙之着,有时也会直接影响到胜负。

With this in mind, the difference between amateurs and professionals rests in calculation skill. Without calculation, there is no logical way to win. But in assessing professionals, we do not look at their calculation skill but rather their fuseki and intuition. For example, Meijin Shusai’s calculating skill is exemplary. Whereas, it goes without saying, that Meijin Shuei’s calculation is very deep and his intuition is first class. Thus his intuition allows him to play very beautiful intuitive go. From a modern perspective, we can assess them as follows: Shuei is brilliantly outstanding, but we would not give the same assessment to Shusai. This is not based on their individual achievements in go history but rather only on the content of their actual games.
尽管这样,职业棋手的差别也体现在计算方面。计算失败,反能赢棋的道理是不存在的。不过,对专业棋手的评价并不是看计算能力,而是看布局和感觉。例如:秀哉名人的计算是出类拨萃的。秀荣名人的算路很深也是不言而喻的,并且感觉是超一流的,因此下出了感觉非常漂亮的棋。从现代的角度评价:秀荣非常出色,而秀哉目前还没有被这样评价。这不是指他们在棋界历史上的业绩,而是就棋的内容而言的。

With regards to contemporary professional players, we lack the depth of calculating ability of the great players of the past. This kind of talk may seem arrogant, but I only say this after some deep personal soul-searching. My own calculation skill is comparatively poor. I think that a professional must be able to solve Igo Hatsuyo-ron without a hitch. It would be a shame if a professional could not solve and explain Igo Hatsuyo-ron.
现在的职业棋手,总的来说缺乏计算能力,不如以前的棋手能够深算。说这样的话,虽然听起来也许会觉得有些狂妄,但其中也包括了我本身的反省。因为我的计算能力太差了。对于职业棋手来说,必须做到能够顺利地解答《发阳论》。我认为解答不出《发阳论》是职业棋手的耻辱。

Just Calculate, Don’t Memorize
只需计算,不必死记

Some people pride themselves in being able to remember 200 to 300 joseki sequences. But they don’t realize that not only is it not beneficial, but there is no value in doing so at all. Using your head to memorize the sequence of every move is not the way to progress in go skills. You should understand how both sides can use joseki logic to fight out the corners during the opening stage of a game. And only thus can you grasp the vital point of learning joseki.
有些人以能诀二百个或三百个定式而感到自豪。却不知那不但无益,而且是毫无价值的事情。脑子里死记着每步棋之间的次序,棋艺是不会长进的。应该把定式作为序盘阶段双方在角上的作战步调来加以理解,才能掌握定式的要领。

The same with tesuji, you can’t fixate on rote memorization. Joseki and tesuji both come from calculation where poor plays are rejected. No one wants to play moves they think are bad. You just need to calculate clearly and you won’t bother with whether a move makes a bad shape or a zokusuji (crude move).
手筋也同样,死记硬背是不行的。定式和手筋都是经过计算之后,认为这样下好才下的,谁都不会去下自以为不好的着法。只要算清楚了,就不必在乎所下的棋是愚形还是俗筋。

Life and death problems are the same. Don’t rely on memorization. In the past I have looked at Mr. Maeda’s life and death problem collection from the beginning to the end, but with only a cursory look, there are bound to be two or three problems I solve incorrectly. I would review and note where I went wrong. After a period of time when I look at the problems again, I would still miss two or three problems. This proves that every time I do life and death problems, I always make fresh calculations rather than rely on rote memorization.
死活题也同样,绝不需要去死记硬背。虽然我经常从头到尾地去看前田先生的死活题集,但粗粗一过目,总会做错二、三道题。作为其补偿,也会发现题目的错误。过些日子再通看一遍时,仍会做错二、三道别的题目。这也证明我每次做死活题时总是重新计算,并没有死记硬背。

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Interesting Tidbits and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to [Tidbit] The Important Skill of Calculation Starts with Doing Life and Death Problems

  1. Pingback: My Views on Go (Cho Chikun) | Tchan001's Blog

  2. Kirk says:

    Is “calculation” reading?

    • I’m pretty sure the text is talking about what we call reading. Some Chinese players I know always say calculate instead of read. If you use the word ‘reading’ they don’t know what you’re talking about.

      Thanks tchan, it’s a great article. I shared it on my scoop.it page called Go Board Game (which links back to your site).

      Please feel free to suggest other interesting pages by clicking the ‘suggest’ button on that page.

  3. tchan001 says:

    Not sure if “calculation” is the same as reading, but definitely closely related.

    Reading is the ability to go through the variations that present themselves in a position. I think “calculation” involves judgement as to which variation is the best to play and therefore to be chosen.

    With life and death problems found in books, you can normally make an absolute judgement as to which way to play because it is implied that there is a solution which exists.

    But in a real game with complicated contact fights, you can probably only rely on Cho Chikun’s estimate and with calculation be able to judge with up to 80% certainty which is the better path. The remainder would depend on your own intuition.

  4. Pingback: Korean Baduk Classic Life and Death Drills | Tchan001's Blog

  5. Knotwilg says:

    I think we see here for 95% a fundamental truth but for 5% a personal preference. If you asked Otake, he would probably favour one’s developed intuition more. I think Cho is more suspicious of such intuition and prefers to calculate stuff all the time, thereby excelling in long drawn out games, whereas a more intuitive player will have the edge in fast games.

    I fully agree fuseki and joseki are grossly overestimated with (Western) amateurs, resulting in statements like “I was 50 points ahead until I lost a group due to a silly mistake” which mostly are a self excuse for lack of reading skill. In the middle game most amateur fights are won and lost, due to reading ability in capturing races and life & death. Many amateurs look at the middle game as an inevitable evil chaotic stage between the beautiful opening and the peaceful endgame exchanges. Cho’s statements are a cure for that disease.

    And yet, laziness is not merely a disease: on the upside it is a driver for progress. The human mind assembles acquired knowledge into instant intuition, allowing us to drive without consciously gearing, or play the proper extension from a wall without calculating all possible invasions. No developed player needs to read what happens inside a bulky five when the vital point is occupied.

  6. Henry Norman says:

    Fabulous quote: “Many amateurs look at the middle game as an inevitable evil chaotic stage between the beautiful opening and the peaceful endgame exchanges.” Thank you!

  7. Lucian says:

    Wonderful work, Tchan! thank you for translating this article. And thank you for this blog with all the shared information about books and go related. Is a treasure.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s