Go-ing Nowhere Fast: Ladder Anxiety

By | March 24, 2017

Go has quickly become my favorite board game, and I’ve spent a lot of time doing puzzles, reading books and articles, and talking about it.  I have my own Go board with three sets of stones and all the accessories to go with it.  Hell, I made my own 9×9 board not too long ago.  It’s easily the most fun and enjoyable game that I’ve ever learned, but I don’t find myself improving nearly as quickly as I think I should be.

The problem?  I very rarely play it.

Zeus looks to kill my group by the corner

My first game of Go was back near the end of July 2016.  Since then, I have played a mere 67 games on OGS, the main server I play on, and the majority of those are correspondence games that can stretch out over a month or more.  When I go to meetings of the Syracuse Go Club I can sit right down and play two games in an evening without blinking an eye, and I’ve played in two American Go Association tournaments without a moment’s hesitation.  When I’m home though, I almost never play a real-time game.  I think about it a lot, especially during the day at work, but when I have the opportunity to sit down and play, I just can’t bring myself to do it.  Simply put, I get too nervous about losing.

I don’t know why I worry about losing to a complete stranger over the internet.  I certainly I don’t have a problem going and getting my butt kicked in front of other actual people, who are often sitting nearby and watching my every mistake.  Fortunately, it doesn’t seem that I’m alone.  Twitch streamer and Go teacher Dwyrin 6D speaks of his own struggles with ladder anxiety in the final video of his 25 Days of Go series.  While I don’t have the ability to become a go video streamer like him, he makes several other good suggestions and I’m glad to see that even high-ranked players experience this.

Back in September, I made a post which detailed games I had played on OGS and their results.  I intend to start doing that again and forcing myself to do it regularly as maybe a way to work past this fear of playing online.  Every single person I’ve spoken to about Go has said that studying pro games, reading books, and listening to lectures is great, but the absolute best way to get better at playing the game is to actually play it.  Even as I write this I find myself nervous about jumping onto a server and starting up a game, but my new goal is to get past this and play the game I enjoy so much.

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