I decided to stop my planned study period which was anything but that and return to playing last week, only to find no time to play. When I did return, I became haunted by strange games. The strangest was against a (20k?) player who gave me a 9 stone handicap, then proceeded to feed my stones like I was starving, letting entire groups die through bad play (I have only now started contact fighting. In the past I have avoided contact as much as possible, given my low skill). When the game was well over, he continued to invade... and die. If we had continued, the entire board would have been cleaned of white stones. Very strange. I checked in today to see if his rank has popped up to around mine, and then see that he had just overestimated when giving me the handicap. To my surprise I saw that he is now a firm 22k. My only guess is that he was either very tired or very drunk. That game killed my excitement about engaging in battles on the Go board for the night.
I don't want be an overly aggressive player, but I think it is wise to go through a period of contact fighting to develop the skill, then pull back a bit and try to play more balanced. I used to avoid contact fighting like the measles and would lose many points based on that cowardice. I'd much rather lose then while I go down swinging.
At long last my financial drought has eased a bit and I was able to buy 2 Go books. It is clear I learn nothing on my own and can't wait to get these books. When I first started to take Go seriously a few months ago, I ran across a professional player offering lessons. I took a lesson about once every week for about 4 lessons. While the lessons target your individual faults and strengths, the short time of the lesson limits what you can learn. If a player could afford to take 3 to 4 lessons per week, the lessons would be superior to any book, I feel. However, I could barely afford one lesson per week and the money would have been much better spent on building a Go book library. That is not meant to weaken the credibility of my teacher. I think he is an amazing teacher, but I don't think beginners on a budget should start with that route. Later on, it is probably the best way to improve your game. In the beginning, I think it is best to sit down with a book and just learn.
For those of you just starting to build up your Go library, check out Chiyodad's recent blog about on the subject. (For yourself or to check someone off of your Christmas list)