Fast play

My personal motivation for writing on this subject comes from increasingly sour experiences playing Internet Go. Enjoyment of games is frequently undermined by the casual, disconnected way that many players approach the game.

Mobile phones and ever-present internet access are essentially cultivating an instant-gratification, high sense of entitlement, low-attention, fast-moving mindset in many players. They play games with a chilling disinterest in their opponent, rarely saying anything beyond an initial 'hi' and departing 'thx'.

Games with fast players often take on a frenetic, pebbledash 'style', regardless of the game time limits, or wishes of the opponent to play a slow, thoughtful game. I have irritated countless players in the past few years by trying to get them to slow down. I explain that I want to make the game at least feel like it is one driven by thought rather than impulse.

It seems that the self-entitlement and egocentrism that many apparently feel makes them reject such concessions to the needs or wishes of others.

I have been told countless times by kyu players that they can play fast as they are using their intuition. That may indeed be the case, but kyu level intuition is not something you want to reinforce by repetition. In essence, they are trying to run before they have mastered walking.

Fast play can, however, help cultivate a looser, creative, whole board view. But it tends to prevent a balanced approach to the game. The detrimental effects of fast play tend to outweigh the benefits for kyu players.

I have observed fast play and asked many questions of opponents for a few years now to try to understand the matter better. Fast play can be a consequence of the aforementioned desire for instant gratification.

This desire appears to be readily cultivated by mobile phones and the internet-of-everything. They spoil us. A need for quick fixes is a clear sign of that.

Many frequent phone/internet users repeatedly and rapidly switching between apps and web pages. This switching creates a stream of small dopamine kicks that research has shown to be quite similar to slot machines and even hard drugs.

A consequence of this is that pausing and reading deeply into anything becomes burdensomely too hard. The ingrained habit of seeking the next kick is irresistibly strong.

One player, in particular, declared that he agreed with my theory and said that he loved instant gratification. He cut positions without thought, pincered arbitrarily, invaded recklessly, all driven by impulse seeking fast returns on effort.