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What's the secret to becoming a great gomoku player?
Autor Wiadomość

Dołączyła: 23 Kwi 2016
Posty: 284
Skąd: Australia
Wysłany: 2020-09-23, 22:10   What's the secret to becoming a great gomoku player?

I've always wondered why some guys become great gomoku players and why others don't. I've always wondered why some people skyrocket like Demjan, Zoli, Gergo, and Osipov and why others get stuck in the swamp of mediocre rating values despite playing for ages. What trait makes the difference?

And recently I accidentally stumbled upon something that might be a clue. My finding is so unexpected and surprising that I can't help sharing it with the community.

I was sitting on a train and, having already prepared myself for the English lessons I was to give upon my arrival, decided to entertain myself by shooting through Denis Osipov's report on the world team gomoku championship of 2018, the championship that is Osipov's highest point of success and fame. In that championship, he captained Russia A, was the inspirational leader and the strongest player of his team, and successfully led it to winning the gold. He defeated all his principal opponents, and his team finished with an unprecedented margin of 5 points above the runner-up team.

And here's what Denis himself says in his report about his own performance in that championship:

"Что касается лично себя - то, как игроком, я в этот раз был собой недоволен совершенно. Почти в каждой партии какие-то ляпы, помарки, ошибки. Более-менее чисто была сыграна только партия с Егедом и Мадли. В остальных - косяк на косяке. Вообще, по факту, ряд партий я должен был проиграть и выиграл только благодаря удивительному везению. Также, во многом я недоволен собой как капитаном. Что поделаешь, - сыграло отсутствие опыта. К некоторым вещам я оказался вообще не готов (например наша сумятица перед туром с чехами). В следующий раз, если мне доведется быть капитаном, я многое пересмотрю: в подготовке, в турнирной тактике/стратегии, в работе с сокомандниками."

My translation:

"Speaking about myself, I can tell I'm absolutely unhappy with my play. In almost every game there were some lapses, slip-ups, and errors of mine. The only more or less perfect games were the games against Eged and Madli. The other games abounded in wrong moves of mine. Strictly speaking, a number of games should have been lost by me, and I won them only thanks to miraculous luck. On top of that, I'm unhappy with many aspects of how I captained my team. What can I do, I was inexperienced. I was totally not prepared for some things - for instance, the mess in our team before the match against Czechia A. Next time, if I happen to be a captain, I'll review my approach to many things, including preparation, tournament tactics and strategy, and interaction with teammates."

Can you imagine yourself criticizing yourself that harshly after such a successful outcome? I can't. I can't see how I could cover my head with ashes after winning a tournament.

Astonished by such a self-assessment by Osipov, I instantly recalled that other great players had shown similar patterns of thinking. For example, when I took an interview from Gergo after he won the Hungarian Meijin match of 2018, he said, "Sometimes I succeed, but mostly I am lame and not so creative."

That is not to say that great players consider themselves inferior to others. It seems it's just not others that great players have in mind as the benchmark. Their benchmark seems to be perfection. Here's how Gergo put it in the same interview: "My philosophy is that in most cases I do not care who the opponent is, I try to find the most reasonable moves."

And since there's no limit for perfection, great players always strive to improve, no matter their results and their position on the rating list. They just never stop improving. And this seems to be what distinguishes them from the rest of the crowd. That's what makes them skyrocket.

Paradoxically, it seems that in order to have an edge over others, you first have to stop seeing it as the goal. Focusing on others will get you stuck in their swamp. Perfection is your goal.

If there's a secret how to become a great player, this must be it. I feel I hit the bull's eye. Are Demjan, Zoli, Gergo, and Osipov gods, super-humans, or anything of the kind? They are made of the same flesh, bones, and nerves as we are, so I've always suspected that the root cause of their successes is something psychological, mindset-related. And now it seems I know what it is.

Being a scientist in my soul, I'm eager to share my finding with the community despite being tremendously busy these days, and I hope that the great players won't hold a grudge towards me for uncovering their secret. After all, I don't impede their pursuit of perfection :)

Dołączyła: 23 Kwi 2016
Posty: 284
Skąd: Australia
Wysłany: 2020-09-23, 22:12   

After I posted the above thoughts on my Facebook page, I received some interesting comments from gomoku players. Here are some of those comments:

Gergő Tóth: Hey, just read your thoughts and you partially definitely hit the nail on the head. Striving for perfection is one common mindset in the best players. Although I feel a slight line between some kind of players like Demján, Zoli, Protiz or Arczi - they are rather geniuses, while others - me, Denis or Martez are a bit different in an aspect that I cannot put into words as for now. One example: we beat Pol A in TGWBC. My performance was mediocre and I was quite disappointed, although some might seem it as great, but I still felt I could have done much better. That made me analyze right after the match, while my plan was to take a rest (for some weeks), because we basically won the competition. I tried to compensate for my weaker performance with analyzing, making it forget and assuring that I made the very least which I had to. So, instead of leaning back, it boosted my motivation to analyze more. So probably, the common in the above players is the mentality and the willpower to do more for higher achievements. Just an example of Zoli: let's assume that he aims to get 34/39 against Pol A. When he achieves less than 30, he's disappointed (even if the team wins). If he achieves 34, but missed some wins or made misclicks, he's still disappointed a bit. Even if he gets more than 34, I'm sure he'll focus on making a clean sheet next time. And if he achieves 39/39, he'd focus on the quality next time, because some wins would be on time or due to just terrible mistakes of the opponent, or he simply played some positions in a bad way. In conclusion, there's always space for a better performance, and focusing on it would help you to improve.

Petr Zizka: Sandra please, most of the people don't care about your articles. Most people will be glad if you keep your opinions to yourself. It's horrible believe me, I don't understand how you can be a scientist, sorry. Thank you.

Zoltán László: Do you think it's that simple? :) The key is rather high intellectual skills and devotion. By intellectual skills I mean how the brain works, it's a skill. Also, when you finally understand the depth of the game, you start to see it differently - positions, everything.

Igor Eged: I think the key is motivation in general, not necessarily perfectionism. Knowing your weaknesses and the will to work on them.

What do you think about the matter? Leave a comment below or send me a message. I'm curious to see what you have to say :)
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