I found a post on a Chinese forum from an amateur who shares his experience of rising from Tygem 7D to 9D. I thought it would be a good idea to paraphrase and share this with the readers of my blog.
Now 42, he started learning go in 1987. His teacher were the books of Go Seigen, Rin Kaiho, Otake Hideo, Kato Masao, Takemiya Masaki, Kobayashi Koichi, and Cho Chikun. He started playing internet go in the 1990’s and was Tygem 7D for many years. Games were plentiful on the net but progress was limited as it felt like he played too many leisurely games. In 2012 he bought a new go board and restarted his efforts to seriously study game records and practice his learning. And now on Tygem he has become 9D and would like to share how he breached the barrier after having been a long term 7D. He hopes that his story will helpful to others.
1. Study only one fuseki
No matter which fuseki you decide to study, stick with only one kind when you study game records to avoid wasting time and effort. For the author, whether as Black or White, he was always studying the star-point 3-4 point fuseki.
2. Research a few joseki
Don’t use hamete because when you are above 8D, most opponents will not be tricked by hamete. Rather you should research a few joseki which go along with your chosen fuseki. Decide which joseki you would use to answer each of your opponent’s possible approaches. Understand these joseki like the back of your hand as they will become your weapons of choice. In this way, you can reach almost professional level in these local tactical plays.
3. Memorize Common Endgame plays
Even high level players memorize the value of endgame plays. Those above 7D are well aware of how to calculate such values, but they cannot calculate such when playing 30 seconds a move. Therefore they have to memorize the values. In Weiqi Tiandi, Hu Yu Qing 胡煜清 said he memorized the contents of several Weiqi Big Complete Encyclopedias. Needless to say, it was very helpful to his play thereafter.
4. Regarding the Middlegame
Watch a lot of go videos on the net. There is no better method. The author watched a lot of Tianyuanweiqi videos and said it helped him fix a lot of his middlegame shortcomings. He recommends the videos explained by Fan Tianfeng 方天丰 and Zou Junjie 邹俊杰 as being especially useful for 7D and 8D Tygem level players. [Probably subscribing to Baduk TV English would be the best way for English speakers.]
5. Regarding Life and Death
Although practicing Life and Death problems does raise your skills of calculation, the author feels that a 7D ought to already have a good understanding of the common Life and Death situations and that additional efforts would be inefficient. He would prefer to place his efforts in the previously talked about areas to gain faster results.
6. Play only one serious game per day
On Tygem, if you want to rise in level, you must manage your win ratio. The necessary 75% win ratio is not a heavy burden. All you need is to win 3 out of 4 games. Winning 2 out of 4 games is a basic necessity and you only need to win one more to reach the required win ratio. Therefore it is not hard for a 7D to become an 8D. What’s hard is that oftentimes a straight 5 games win is followed by a straight 3 games loss. Such results are not steady. If we only play one game per day, we can manage our stability by only playing when our internal state feels optimal. We can also focus on serious play and avoid carelessness. Furthermore, it’s probably best to catch a good go video or play over some game records before beginning a game so that we can start in the right mode.
The author feels that although he has reached Tygem 9D, his rank is still not a stable 9D. His next goal is to be able to win 60% of his games as a 9D and also to be able to play 30 games without being beaten back to 8D status.