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An overview/critique of a middle game training lecture.

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2012-08-03 13:30
Buri Greetings,
well, I`ve worked like crazy on the opening game using the lectures here and find that working quite well. Now I keep losing in the middle game. I do practice life and death problems a lot but they are somewhat local in terms of the middle game in general.
Time for some middle game training....
This is a kind of mild critique of the Middle Game training Lecture 2. But I am reluctant to call it a critique because it is actually brilliant. Of course, if you have not watched it then there is not a lot of point in reading further , unless you like reading as an abstract exercise.
Having noted it`s quality and how much I learnt I would have to say that in a general sense I am not completely convinced that this lecture will be a hundred percent successful for some people.
The basic problem is the range in 2 senses. First of all it says it is for players between 30k and 10k. Well, I am quite familiar with these levels now and I would say that although the basics remain the same, how they are presented and discussed is markedly different. I simply know a lot more at 15kyuu than I did at 20 kyuu. But I also remember being the latter very well and I would be very frustrated by the speed of many of the things being offered, not to mention the lack of numbering.
Second, there is simply too much in it.
This second point is worth serious though because it is not a simple issue. I have been Guo Juan`s student for a while now and I know her teaching approach tends towards a wholistic approach to absorbing the game which I am sure is correct. But another aspect of her teaching which makes it so great is she often says that only a little at a time is better. By taking apart real games and jumping from issue to issue she seems a little out of character. The main issues I could pick up here that were covered included:
1) Ladders.
2) Important stones.
3) Putting stones on the outside during the middle game.
4) Important areas.
5) Cutting
6) Playing on one side to attack the other (quite advanced)

Of all these, if I had to pick one, I would say `cutting` was most focused on. But, each of these topics could be a middle game training lecture in their own right. I suspect Guo Shifu is trying to avoid simply recreating other more specialized lectures. However, with this interaction of so many vital areas and the error in having too wide a target audience I think it that not only is the meal `too rich` but it is actually quite hard to say the training is systematic. Even world class teacher like Guo cannot really clearly say a lesson with such and such a content is exactly the next level, and then this one and so on when everything is so mixed up.
I would ultimately prefer a course rather like the opening training one, or step by step one in which, as usual, Shifu presnet a range of games and shoots questions at us. But, the topic remains the same. After fifty minutes of Guo talking about ladders, dozens of examples and exercises, I could go away and play twenty games thinking about ladders and then come back for the next point and so on. In that way I would personally feel that I was getting a real middle game training course rather than just lots of brilliant lessons where I can`t quite keep track of all that is going on.
Another minor few quibbles. Because of the massive content and speed, somethings that would interest beginners seemed to be neglected. For example, at 21.00 minutes a game is being discussed where the importance of white making a move that takes the top area instead of letting black seize it is stated. But no explanation of how this might be done is offered. I would love to have seen a master player like Guo show how she would do this, with a numbered pattern that I could write down and practice over and over to bring up my own poor playing to a higher level.
Finally I would note that Shifu almost always says black instea dof white and vice versa. The simple way to correct this is not to redo the lecture, but rather simply reverse all the colors on all the boards shown. Brilliant!
Thanks for a great lesson anyway.
Best wishes,

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