Single-Digit Kyu

I am a single-digit kyu (SDK), an OGS 9k!

True, in late May I did flirt with SDK, but my rating then was just a toehold – it reverted within a day to double-digit kyu. This time is different. This time I know I am stronger, and I feel as if this is my level. It is a very satisfying feeling.

What’s the big deal? Well from what I’ve experienced myself and learned from other players the 11-kyu to 9-kyu range is a major barrier for beginning players. It’s the first time they have to decide to get serious about the game in order to improve. This is the point at which non-serious players will probably get turned off to the game and go elsewhere. Making SDK is a validation of what I’ve struggled for since initiating Project Dan three months ago.

I know, I know rank isn’t everything, but it’s something to grab onto – it’s a measure of progress and it shows that I really am becoming a stronger player.

Much remains ahead. According to other players the difficulty level increases exponentially. I expect the struggle to get ahead to become even more fierce in the days and months to come. There are also serious deficiencies in my style that must be corrected if I am to advance further. The important thing, however, is that I learn from these mistakes and figure out how to fix them. The better my feedback the more quickly I’ll improve, or so I hypothesize.

SDK presents its own barriers. I’ve heard 7-8k, 6-4k and 1k are the plateaus I can look forward to, but who really knows? Each player has their own journey.

For now I’ll enjoy a weekend respite and start working again on Monday.

Announcing Project Dan

Today I am announcing Project Dan.

Project Dan is a one-year push to advance in the ranks from 13 kyu to 1 dan. Each day I will study and play, review my progress and begin anew. I will not know my true capabilities until I have made this effort.

My progress will be recorded and available to the public for the purposes of documentation and accountability.

The strength of this system, I think, lies in its incrementalism: I will do much over a long period using consistent measures for daily progress.

Here are those markers:

  • Watch one lecture from Guo Juan’s Internet Go School (IGS)
  • Complete Guo Juan’s daily problem set
  • Practice tsumego and study baduk theory during downtime and commutes
  • Play and review one serious game (20m+5x30s byo-yomi)
  • Attend a local baduk club as work and family life permit
  • Update the Project Dan tracker
  • Update (2016-03-16): I will be using the Go Teaching Ladder for assistance reviewing games.

Using this system I am confident in my ability to advance in the ranks. This will be the first such concerted effort I have made to improve at baduk since learning the ropes in 2014. I have long felt the need for such a system, but have dithered in establishing a routine until now.

It seems a fortuitous time to undertake such a project.

AlphaGo and Lee Sedol have brought new public attention to the game, and there is a surge of interest in playing baduk. In my own life the transition into fatherhood and a new job has renewed my need for self-improvement. I think this project will have benefits outside of my rank and I will record any that occur.

More to the point: If something is worth doing, it is worth doing well. Until now I have been content with casual, haphazard play. Now is the time for serious work, and this is my intention: To become a 1 dan player within a year.



Welcome to Let’s Play Baduk!

As you may have read in the About section, this blog has a threefold mission: (1) to record my progress to 1 dan, (2) to promote baduk in the United States, and (3) to inspire baduk players worldwide.

As a double-digit kyu (DDK), I have no pretensions about becoming a professional player, but I do seek to rise to the level of an advanced amateur. In countries like Japan, South Korea, and China, where baduk is ingrained into the culture, many children begin studying the game at age four. With a career to build, a mortgage to pay, and a family to care for, there is no way for me to undertake baduk as a profession – it would be, at best, a fanciful escape, much like Tolstoy trying to run to the monastery.

Instead I’ll focus on writing about baduk in situ. Let’s Play Baduk! will incorporate a personalized approach to the game, including progress reports (musings or journal entries), reviews and recommendations, and tips on practice (tsumego, games played, etc.). I won’t do game reviews – except for my own games – because I haven’t risen to a level where I think this would add value. Besides there are already excellent sources for game commentary, such as Go Game Guru.

One tertiary reason for establishing Let’s Play Baduk! is the uneven quality of English-language baduk media. I do not mean this in terms of content, which is often excellent, but in presentation. There are precious few sites which present the game in an attractive manner, I feel. The excellence of the game is not matched, in English at least, in an excellence of media. With this site, I hope, in some small way, to correct this imbalance.

At its founding, Let’s Play Baduk! was The re-presentation of that site, and a development past the initial blog, is what I aim to achieve with this new domain.

That’s all I have for now, so Let’s Play Baduk!