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Teaching and private tuition Teaching and private tuition - What am I offering?

LessonsGames and analysis only... with full writeup and correspondence
1GBP 8GBP 12
3GBP 22GBP 33
5GBP 33GBP 50
10GBP 60GBP 90
First three lessons for the price of one*
One free lesson every 15 lessons held

* I would strongly recommend that people pick the full package for the trial 3 lessons so that it is clear whether or not the extra material is worth the extra cost.

Each session typically lasts around 90 minutes, plus any time required to properly finish up. The content will vary depending on games played and what is being focused on in any given week. A typical example of how the 90 minutes could be split is as follows:

  • First 40 minutes analysing one game in detail recently played by the student.
  • 30 minutes playing a teaching game with the student.
  • 20 minutes analysing the teaching game.

The additional write up and correspondence includes the following:

  • Cleaning up the .sgf, leaving all key variations and analysis discussed in the lesson.
  • A summary of the key points to take from the lesson, and recommendations going forward.
  • Availability outside lesson timefor asking any Go related questions.

Why am I offering it? Why am I offering it?

One thing I've noticed is the typical advice given to DDK players about teachers and getting better is "don't bother, just play lots of games, do a few tsumegos and you'll just naturally work up to 5k quick enough". From my experience, this is not the case for quite a lot of people; So not only does no-one fill in that teacher role that they asked for, but they then feel frustrated about not getting as far as they are supposed to by themselves, which may well put people off asking again.

I'm a big believer that, provided the teacher is at least 5 stones stronger than the pupil, teaching skill outweighs playing skill with regards to how effective the teaching is, so people around 10k or weaker don't even need a dan teacher to get good improvement.

So, I've started offering teaching for anyone up to 5 kyu. I'm not offering to do it for free, for two reasons: a) I think people motivate themselves better for things that have cost them money - people rarely respect things for free (and this goes both ways, I'm likely to put more work into something if I'm being paid to do it), and b) I'm prepared to put quite a lot of time aside to really work at helping people get better, and I can't afford that amount of time for free.

What do I expect? What do I expect from a student?

First and foremost, I would expect both student and teacher to feel like the money and the time is worth the investment. I think language barriers can really obstruct this, so I would expect the student to have a fluent grasp of English (both written and spoken). I would expect a student to play at least 2 serious (15 + 5x0:30 or longer) rated games per week. I also consider Skype / VoIP to make up most of the ground lost by not being face to face, and make for a much more productive experience all around, so some form of voice over internet communications would be strongly preferred. This way you can get an intensive 3 hours worth of one-to-one tuition at around 6 GBP (7 EUR) per hour, and 2 GBP per hour for the first three weeks.

Am I strong enough to teach? Am I strong enough to be teaching at all?

Depends on the grade of the student! Seriously, I don't believe that I'm strong enough to be worth paying for lessons for any student of 3k or upwards, but I believe I can help players of up to 8k as well as anyone (hence the offer above), and still offer substantial improvements and value for money to those between 4 and 7k. Many people state that no amateur player should receive money for teaching Go, but I think that's up to the person wanting to learn what they are or are not willing to pay for. Essentially, if someone feels that a KGS shodan is worth paying to improve their skill, it's their right to feel that way. If they feel otherwise, that's their right too.

Why not choose a pro instead? Why would someone choose a amateur shodan when they could pick a professional player to teach instead?

People choose a teacher that can teach, and help them get stronger. Such a decision is made on weighing up pros and cons. A professional player is undoubtedly considerably stronger than I am, but that doesn't necessarily mean they can pass on that strength as effectively. For a DDK I think it is much more about teaching ability. I'm also comparatively very cheap :)

What about bad habits? Doesn't being taught by someone that weak have a risk of bad habits being taught?

Yes, definitely. However, the assumption is that a shodan has many less bad habits, and not as severe ones, as the DDK, hence the difference in rank. As your strength improves to the point a shodan can not offer you such improvement, it's time to get a stronger teacher if you wish to carry on being taught, and replace any bad habits with "better" bad habits again.

Why don't I use free resources instead? The Go Teaching Ladder and KGS teaching ladder are free - why don't I use that instead?

No reason why not to at all. In fact, I recommend them and offer my services on those too for the reason I think they are excellent! Despite these services being available, some people actually really value consistent one-to-one contact with someone specifically playing them and their Go focused attention, and neither the GTL nor KGS teaching ladder can offer this.

How do I know it will be worth it? How can I be sure the money will be well spent?

The short answer is you can't. I'm not wanting to waste my time, nor anyone else's money, and I'm not going to want to continue if it isn't offering good returns for the sake of either of us. For what it is worth, my experience so far is as follows:

August 2008 - February 2009: Taught [ext] David Carter-Hitchin and [ext] Patrick Ridley for 6 months. The former gained 7 stones of strength (from 14.5k EGF to 7.5k EGF) and the latter 4.5 stones (from 14.2k EGF to 9.8k EGF) over that period. Of course, both could have gained that difference from simply playing Go and wanting to get stronger over that period. I'm sure both of them would happily speak for themselves if you wanted references, including all the bad stuff!

February 2010 - current: A total of six students, of which three are current still active (and two are on a Go hiatus), all started over this period, ranging from 7k to 18k. All students have shown improvement, in some cases considerably so, and the comments of two are available in the testimonials section.

My Go Teaching Ladder reviews have been generally very well received (link takes to the GTL page on this site where you can play through the reviews and decide for yourself.

I have some Go videos as well that will cover a wide range of topics from game reviews to tutorials. Comments and feedback always welcome.

Last two KGS Teaching ladder reviews (from October 2009):

artifice2 (6k) - "thx for the review the best one ive had in many months"
Kandyman (9k) - "Thank for a very good review."

So, if you have Skype, can speak and write in English, are somewhere between 4 and 20 kyu on KGS, and want a one-to-one teacher that may be able to help you get stronger, let me know. I can be found with the username "topazg" on LifeIn19x19, KGS (though normally I'll be online with my playing account, johndoe69), OGS, DGS, and contacted directly at graham {at} topazg {dot} com or the Twitter / Facebook links at the bottom of this page.

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