Weiqi Study Method and Overview of Study Content
by Fang Tianfeng 方天丰 8p
When learning weiqi you must first determine the goal of your study. If you only want to learn the rules of the game, it will only take 10 minutes. If you want to know a bit more knowledge and some tactics and strategies, it’ll probably take 40 hours. And if your interest continues and you want to become a good amateur player, even more time is needed, perhaps similar to the amount of time needed to learn Further Mathematics. If you still have determination and confidence to achieve the level of a professional player, you will not only need to spend even more time, but will also need factors such as the right studying environment, a sufficiently knowledgeable teacher, personal talent, tournament participation opportunities, etc. For school students, this type of goal is obviously inappropriate. Hence, before you begin to study weiqi, first determine your goal for learning. Then learn the needed weiqi knowledge according to your personal goal. This is the shortcut to learning weiqi.
What You Can Learn on Your Own
Joseki: Refers to the correct way to play the corners during the opening. The way to learn is to focus on memorizing. After a while you are allowed to forget. But during the study period, not only should you memorize how each joseki is played out, but also the advantages of the result. For each joseki you should learn at least 3-5 variations or perhaps even a dozen variations. For some joseki, you may need to learn even more variations. Most joseki will start with a basic shape and the related variations will blossom from the basic shape.
Life and Death: Refers to the problem of life and death of a group of stones in a local situation. There are two ways to learn and practice this:
(1) First look at the answer and memorize it repeatedly
(2) Do the problem by yourself and then compare with the answer
Tesuji: Refers to the ingenious ways of combat. Learn and practice these the same as you would Life and Death.
Endgame: Refers to the value of a move during the endgame stage. Learn and practice by memorizing the commonly seen sequences and fully grasp the methods of endgame calculation.
Game Records Section: Most games are recorded and some have commentaries. Beginners can benefit from memorizing game records. Higher level players can just look at the records.
The Necessary Environment for Learning and Practicing
Games: You need to play against those with similar levels of skills with each game lasting around 1 to 2 hours.
Review: Refers to reconstructing the game from the beginning once again. If you can develop the habit of reviewing every game, it will provide a great boost to your go skills. During a review, you can discuss in depth with your opponents each other’s thoughts on the games and the gains and losses encountered. From experience, it is even better if you have a teacher to review the game.
The Content Which Requires a Teacher to Learn and Practice
Fuseki: Mainly to talk about how to think about fuseki, the choice of joseki, and strategic considerations
Middlegame: Mainly to talk about the opportunities, direction of play and tactical considerations of a game.
Judgment of Gains and Losses: Judgment on the pros and cons of different variations within a game is the most difficult skill in weiqi and is the key to the differences in strength between different players.
Judgment of the Wholeboard Situation: How to judge the pros and cons of the wholeboard situation and how to choose the right actions based on such judgment.
The Mental Game: Regarding the psychology of the game
Attitude in Life: Regarding how one should view the world
[Original Chinese text by Fang Tian Feng 8p as presented in the 2003.07 issue of Weiqi Tiandi