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If you want to learn to play go and get strong as heck and beat the crap out of everyone, you don't have to be a genius or anything, you just have to be persistent. If you aren't persistent, you probably aren't going to be very good at this game. I have seen a lot of people come in with big aspirations, and while most of them get lost along the way, here are some things that the successful ones did:

1. They got a rank...

If you don't have a rank on KGS people are going to treat you like a piece of shit. You'll only play guests and other people with [?] ranks, so it's going to be like you're in the kowloon walled city or some shit. People with ranks, however low they are, are matched with other people who are trying to get ranked correctly too. The intention makes all the difference in the world in terms of game quality.

2. ...and played ranked, 19x19 games.

There's nothing special in particular about playing ranked games. If you really want to get strong at go, you'll do a lot of problems and 9x9 before even thinking about the big board, but problems are boring and it's hard to find 9x9 games at all, let alone quality ones. Anyone who did any good at this game probably played a lot of ranked games early on. Go has a pretty brutal learning curve, especially in the first month, and it's important to play ranked so you can at least see your progress.

3. They played a lot of those, ranked, 19x19 games.

Some people get all terrified of ranked games and would rather play free. Those people all quit before they get to 12k. They ALL quit. Make every game you play (when possible) a ranked game and you'll have a good, accurate rank. If you wind up only playing three or so ranked games a month, your rank will wind up inflated and you'll lose, making you an even huger pussy. Then you'll only play two next month, and pretty shortly you'll just quit. Maybe after six or nine months you will come back, but you will never get past 12k or so. Play like five ranked games a week at least and you will make good progress without backsliding.

4. They got a lot of reviews.

Whenever you lose a game try to convince someone to review it. Even if they are only a few stones stronger, they usually have some kind of insight to provide. You shouldn't hold out for someone good to review, because even if someone tells you something that is objectively wrong in a review, it's not worth worrying about because those mistakes are indicitive of their rank and you should be so lucky to fuck up like that as their junior. If you won, a review is probably less valuable, but you should have plenty of losses to show.

If you do those four things and keep it up for about 3-5 months you will make it to at least 9k. Once you're there, you can decide on your own how you want to improve, but for the 20k-10k stretch this is the most realistic way of making it across in one piece.

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