Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The effect of rivals (real or imagined)

In the manga, Hikaru No Go, the rivalry between Hikaru and Akira is symbiotic. Akira's concerns for Hikaru's potential strength drive Akira onward to keep his lead. Hikaru's aspirations to surpass Akira make Hikaru work harder. In the process, both become stronger Go players.

Rivals then
I had a good number of "rivals" back when I started playing Go on KGS in 2005. Most were just other players of the same rank who had started playing the game about the same time that I did. I might have played a game or two with them but we really didn't know each other.

I guess you could instead describe them as randomly-selected benchmarks rather than rivals; but they served the same purpose.

Those first months were when I had the strongest desire to advance. I would often peek at the rank charts and game tables of my so-called rivals to see how their progress was going. I would then try to catch-up if I was being left behind; or experience a subtle glee if I managed to pull ahead.

However, many of these players disappeared quickly. The great majority were flash-in-the-pan beginners and they quit the game after hitting a wall near 22-kyu (on the old CGoban2 ranking system) or sooner. A small number were notably talented and quickly left me in the dust. Two, whose life profiles are similar to mine, needed to deprioritize Go and now play infrequently.

Rivals now

These days, I find myself just aspiring to play my next game better than my last (by thinking even just a little deeper). Obviously, as an amateur, I don't have a burning need to improve as quickly as possible. On top of that, I've probably come to accept that all folks have different life circumstances and that makes it hard to really compare one's progress to another's.

I still sometimes benchmark my advancement against other players that I've known for a while; a couple of these being Typhoon and aussiemate. I compare their progress to mine just to check if I'm "falling too far behind the pack". This gives a little impetus for me to improve; a gentle tug that helps ward-off complacency with my current quality of play.

I really hope that I don't develop some intense rivalry in Go. I'm not sure if I'd be able to handle it. I have enough competition to deal with at work.


At 5:47 PM, March 20, 2007, Anonymous Codexus said...

I've never had a real rival. Online, I rarely play the same people more than 2 or 3 times.

At the go club, it's a little better but I don't go there regularly enough to have a rival.

However, there are some people that I used to be able to beat before and they have since then progressed and they are now quite strong (some are dans). I'd really like to be able to catch up to their level, but it's only a one-way rivalry, and in the case of online opponents, they probably don't even remember me.

At 7:10 PM, March 20, 2007, Blogger ChiyoDad said...

Hello codexus,

Well, imagined rivalries are pretty-much one-way rivalries. That's been the lot of mine.

At 11:14 PM, March 20, 2007, Anonymous chrono3450 said...

i got a rivalry too. way back when i was 18k (old ranks), i was watching a game and i noticed that the players were playing very insightful moves; moves that were beyond my level at that time. i started to talk to one of them after the game and so we ended up playing. i defeated him that first time by sheer luck (he missed a hole in his stones that i exploited) and we played often after that. flash forward and me and him still talk after all of these months (maybe even over a year? hard to remember xD ). we've played often since then and when i was at 10k (old ranks), we were still very close in ability. but by now, he's roughly 1d new ranks and im roughly 6k new ranks.

but ya, our rivalry allowed us to develop our GO and a friendship at the same time :D so IMO rivalrys are good if your rival is close in strength to your own. that makes for great games. -chrono3450

At 3:00 AM, March 21, 2007, Anonymous XCMeijin said...

Hmm, this may PARTLY explain my current lack of enthusiasm for playing go these days. I just log on, watch the top few games, then leave. Only rarely i play a game nowadays, perhaps because i have no drive to "beat someone".

Then again, it may be cecause i'm busy with Uni work, social life, etc...

At 5:16 PM, March 24, 2007, Blogger ChiyoDad said...

Hello chrono3450,

I do like the idea of purposefully fostering a co-developmental rivalry. It's like having a partner who acts as a spotter in the gym. You still compare your progress against the other guy; but you're there to give each other mutual support to progress faster.

I still recall watching you and fathwad review your own games as well as jointly watching Shusaku's games on autoplay. I thought that was pretty good.

Hello XCMeijin,

Work and life are also making it difficult for me to play Go as much as I like. But when I see some of my contemporaries advance; I get pulled into the game to catch-up.

At 7:42 AM, March 26, 2007, Blogger David said...

Co-developmental is a good way to put it. I have a pretty intense rivalry with a guy at my go club, but it's important to note that behind all the trash talk and violent fighting games we're pretty good friends. If it was a rivalry like in The Prestige I think it would do more harm than good.

At 9:00 AM, March 26, 2007, Blogger ChiyoDad said...

Hello David,

Hmm. A rivalry like that in The Prestige.

That's scary; but it might make for some interesting Hikaru No Go manga lampoons.

I can see it now, exploding gobans, stones tainted with acid, cloned Akiras ...


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