The Long Walk

Having returned from a week’s vacation, I am excited to resume my baduk training.

Even though I didn’t practice while away, baduk was never far from my mind. I wondered whether, absent training, I would struggle once I returned to the grind Monday morning. So far the answer seems to be partly yes, partly no.

What’s been made clear since starting Project Dan nearly six months ago is that getting stronger is far more difficult (for me at least) than I first believed it would be. It’s not that I expected linear progress, it’s just I thought I would progress faster. Turns out that I have to struggle for each rank gain (that’s the only metric I have). Even so, I’ve managed to move up from 13k to 9k, though I still wobble into DDK some days.

What has improved is my attitude towards this seeming lack of advancement. I’ve grown far better at taking the losses and the wins in kind, and not getting overly grumpy about a bad streak or prideful about a good one. I can see real growth in my approach to the game as a learning AND life experience and NOT just as a competitive pursuit. Every game, every review, every video and book I study, everything about this game leads me to want to become a stronger player. It is this resolution that was confirmed while on vacation. I don’t know exactly why it happened this way – perhaps I had to step away to see it? – but I’m grateful for the realization of this improvement.

Another upside is that I’m getting better at recognizing my bad habits and I’m working at eliminating these. My worst habit is creating weak groups, letting them get cut apart, and having to watch them die. Closely related to this is my seeming inability to kill some opposing groups in, what are in hindsight, relatively simple life and death situations. This points to issues with reading (the latter) and judgement/direction of play (the former). So I’ve got homework. What else is new?

The struggle, however, is real. I played several games Tuesday and lost all but two, though I count one of those wins as a loss because I didn’t deserve it. I wasn’t frustrated like I would get in the past (reference attitude adjustment above 😉 ) but it was still difficult. I found myself falling into bad habits – too many weak groups, responding without thinking, and missing a life and death situation. I’m grateful, however, for the opportunity to play so many games since coming back from vacation. Oh, how I wish I could play for hours at a time!

For me the road to dan isn’t short and it isn’t fast. Rather than zipping along through the ranks like some players, I’ve got to hump it – walk one step at a time until I get to my destination. The opportunity lies in the time I’ll have to soak up experience and learn from the games that I play or see played. The difficulty is in avoiding discouragement.

Six months into Project Dan – my first serious attempt to advance in the ranks – I know that I’m getting stronger, but that much work remains.

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