I’ll review some go – resources I use in my attempts to become a better go player. The first I”ll review is the Nordic Go Academy, they are also a sponsor of the Brussels go tournament.
Review: Nordic Go Academy (from now on: NGA)
1. The NGA about the NGA:
Information about the NGA as written on the website:
Nordic Go Academy is a go school on KGS for 7 kyu to 5 dan players that operates on a monthly basis. Our students play weekly league matches against each other, all of which get reviewed in high quality by our top level amateur teachers.
How much does it cost?
We are doing our best to be the most affordable go learning program on KGS. Our students can choose from two participation options (with an optional coaching option) or a spectator option. Here is an one of the participation options is as an example. For more information, check the Payment Details page!
Participation option 1, for 30€.
4 league games with reviews,
tsumego homework packages,
chance to compete for prizes.
2. About the reviewer:
I’m a EGF 9kyu and a KGS 7kyu player who likes go, and wants to improve.
I don’t receive anything in axchange forthis reviewpersonally, the NGA will sponsor the Brussels go tournament, so it would is nice to give some feedback about the NGA to players (participants or competors) of (in) the Brussels tournament.
A Why did I join the NGA:
I think “serious” games are the most interesting and the most fun. With serious game I mean a game where you not only try to win, but also think seriously about each move and try to learn something or try to put in use something you have learned. A serious game involves an opponent who is also serious about the game. At my local go club I have the opportunity to play one serious game/ month, and that’s not enough to satisfy my go appetite.
Don’t get me wrong, I also like casual games but a casual game online (for me anyway) has a tendency to become frustrating because I usually start them when I’m not concentrated, which leads to careless moves when I’m clearly winning and suicidal moves when I’m losing. I’ve found it difficult to play a good game online because even if I’m concentrated, maybe my opponent is not.
I also like to get my games reviewed to know what I’m still doing wrong and where I need to improve. The offer from the NGA seemed to fit the bill.
In the NGA you play games in their monthly tournament (KO), if you get knocked out of the tournament they say which opponent you should play the next week.
I started playing in August 2014. So far I played 7 games.
I’m happy with the quality of the games I play. It’s always a good feeling when a game is finished and you have the feeling (regardless of the result) that you played a game to the best of your abilities. It’s also easy to schedule the games, so far I’ve had no problems.
So far I’ve had reviews (3) from Juri Kuronen, EGF 6dan (Nami as that is his KGS nick) ,Anti Tormanen (3)(EGF 7 dan and insei in Japan, (KGS nick Ten) and Jeff (1)(KGS nick Finnish8d).
I find the reviews helpful and after every review I have the impression to have learned something. I’ll go a bit more in depth about the different reviewers:
Nami’s reviews are filled with information: tactical errors are shown and so are better alternatives. He points out wrong shape moves but sometimes it’s difficult to understand why the shape he suggests is better. In every game he reviews he picks out one “topic” and talks about it in depth. In one of my games he explained about moyo’s and where to invade / reduce and how to deal with these invasions. Another review went more in depth about which stones are useful and which are not (and can be scarified). I find these explanations extremely useful and they are also what I remember most and try to use in my next games.
His enthusiasms really shows in every review, which makes up for the fact that after I go through his review the first time I always think: “did I just played the worst game ever or what?” He always compliments one of my moves in each game, like an oasis of skill in an otherwise barren dessert of clumsiness. :-).
I was very amused when one of my games went in the endgame phase and he commented “I’ll only point out the biggest mistakes from now on” and ended up commenting on nearly all moves played.
Ten’s reviews are a bit easier to digest. He uses the KGS interface better then Nami, so it’s easier to follow his comments. The biggest difference is he doesn’t play out the variations but rather numbers points on the board: like “this move is not necessary, playing at 1 guarantees an eye with the sequence 1-10”. It forces you to read the sequence while keeping the position on the board where you “erred”. He also explains shape moves better, pointing out where the weakness of each shape is. He doesn’t start the occasional lecture like Nami does, too bad J. I would say he gives a bit less info / variations but it’s easier to remember. He also ends the review with a little summary of the game, I like that.
Jeff reviewed one of my games. It was the shortest game and worst game. (although I won it). Basically I created a moyo, my opponent invaded very deep and I killed his group à resignation. The review was useful and Jeff seems to be (based on one review ) most focused on pointing out areas in which you need to improve to play a better game. I’ll update this review when I get some more reviews from Jeff.
The coaching program:
For € 10 the NGA gives supplies a coaching program where(according to NGA: )
Personal coaching (Optional): +10€ to the subscription fee.
Students with the coaching option receive personalized coaching from Jeff on how their play in general is going, and what systematic errors they are making. For example:
Good and bad parts of your games.
Your main problems at the current stage and how to solve them.
What you should do in the next period of time to improve as efficiently as possible.
I took this option out of curiosity, not knowing what to expect. So far I had one coaching sessions, it lasted 45 minutes. Jeff doesn’t only focus on technical aspects (for example, he said my fuseki was sub-par and made suggestions to improve), and also commented on my attitude during the game. When he does this he uses colorful comparisons, which is fun and makes them easy to remember 🙂
Example: he at one point compared a go game with two people trying to make as much money (territory) as possible during one week. If after five days it becomes obvious that you are making a lot less money than your competitor, what do you do? I would say, try to work really hard (make overplays) and try to catch up. Not so according to Jeff. What you should do is just take your money, buy a gun (strengthen your groups) and try to rob a bank (start attacking after your groups are strong enough).
This advice was already useful in a game, I was the leading and I saw my opponent working very hard. Instead of panicking about the big fight that erupted on the board I noticed which groups he neglected to strengthen and made good use of that. Just knowing that my opponent was using the wrong strategy helped me use the right strategy in dealing with his overplays.
The lectures are held at a time I can’t participate (perhaps sat the time). The lecture material is stored on the website as sgf so I skim through them when I have the time. They are (for me) interesting when a kyu game from the tournament is analyzed. Some are too advanced for me. I haven’t really looked at all the reviews so I can’t really comment in depth about the content of these lectures. The lectures are with written commentary instead of sound/ spoken, which makes communication too tedious, this seems like an area that could beimproved.
They also provide Tsumego homework. If you get the best score you get a €10 discount.
1. Sound during the lectures.
2. The tournament format used.
The NGA uses a knock-out formula for its tournament. If you get knocked out of the tournament in the first round you get assigned games outside of this tournament. This means that it’s possible to play the same opponent twice in one month and it makes the non-tournament games somehow seem less important, this should be avoided.
Maybe a system where you divide the players in groups of 5 and the first two get promoted to a higher group and the last two get demoted to a lower group would be a solution for this problem. It also means that you get to play each opponent at most once a month and next month you’ll be playing other players.
I like playing / studying in the NGA. I really like the games and think the reviews are good & helpful. € 30 seems (to me) good value for what I get in return. So I get enough fun out of it for € 30. Did I also get better? I can’t say for sure, I did win a game against a EGF 7 kyu for the first time after one month of participation and I feel stronger.
. I’ll just list a few things that I can buy “in real life” and see how they stand up to the NGA:
+- 20 liters of diesel, a big box of diapers, 2 small take away sushi meals, 10 Belgian trappist beers, half a golf club, 25% of a pair of LEVI’s jeans, a cab ride of 500meters, I’ll help your child pass their math’s exam (in high school) for € 30 / hour, …
Only the 10 Belgian trappist beers are a serious contender for best value offered, but hey, you can get both for only €60!