Artem Kachanovskyi is born on 12th December 1992 and becomes professional player in 2016, winner of Grand Slam 2017, getting promoted to 2p in 2018. He started playing Go in 1999 and is currently living in Ukraine, Kyiv.
Q: How is it to improve at such high level, it must be harder?
A: I wouldn’t call my level “such high level” 🙂 . But indeed, the higher level you get, the harder it is to improve. Sometimes it’s even hard to say whether you are improving or not. I guess, the best criteria are your results in the tournaments. But of course, other players can be improving too. From my feeling, I keep improving slowly. Also, I believe I can still do better. I feel optimistic about it.
Q: What do professionals do differently to study and improve compared to weaker players?
A: If a player has a status of “professional”, it doesn’t mean yet that he/she is necessarily stronger. As for me, “professional” means that it is a person who takes Go as a main occupation in life. This means, spends more time on it than most other players. I can’t answer for all the pros, but I guess this is the answer. Professionals can let themselves spend more time for studying this game, as this game is their main job. In the rest, there is no special difference between a pro and an amateur. You can be an amateur and study the game as effective as pros, or even more.
Q: How do you study Go? I heard that you quit your job to focus entirely on Go?
A: I worked as a programmer for 5 years. Even after I became pro, I still worked as a programmer for almost a year. Go was always in my heart, I dreamed to spend more time with Go. When I worked, I would usually come home after work-day and study some pro games. I played on weekends. I felt like this is not enough and I can do better. I took vacation at my job to come to tournaments, and then had no real vacation to take a rest. All of that pushed me to try myself as a full-time Go player. I decided to let myself try it.
I study Go in a classic way: playing practice, top pro games, problems. Problems is a bit harder to do, I don’t solve them so much. But indeed, some regular tsumego is a helpful thing.
Recently I got married and moved from apartment to the house. There were many things to do about the house, some still are left. Good that it happened in a period when there were no big tournaments. Sometimes it’s good to have a long break. After a break you look differently at the board. I was worrying that I would get into a worse shape, or “forget how to play”. But after this break, I played some games on internet, even tournament games. Also I played Ukrainian Championship. And I didn’t feel like I play worse than before. I missed playing, and it felt so good just to sit and to get deeper into position, studying available options for the next move… Maybe I just had too intense period of tournaments in summer 🙂 .
Anyway, the stronger you get, the more psychological this game becomes. When you start to study this game, it’s easy to improve. You just get some new skills, and you already beat some players who were stronger just a month ago. When you get stronger, your psychological personality is getting involved more and more. On a high level most of the mistakes are psychological. Not only psychological, but a full complexity of you as a human being comes into play. Let’s say, there is a difficult situation in the game. You got tired, and have no power to calculate till the end. And you think “lets choose this way. Who knows, maybe it will end well”. Then it turns out that in a few moves you die with a group. What is the reason of such mistake? The root is hidden deeply. And this is why this game is so exciting. Because it is a game between 2 humans. Human is not just an intelligence, like AI.
So, to sum up: studying the game is not limited to just studying the game, but it is also studying yourself.
Q: Do professionals enjoy Go as much as amateurs, I heard there is a lot of pressure?
A: I think mostly it’s true. Most of professional players are financially dependent on their results in the tournaments. That naturally creates some kind of pressure, even if you try hard to avoid it.
Recently I decided to start teaching a little. It’s good to create some kind of stable financial basement, so that I would come to tournament without thinking of kind “if I fail, what will I eat tomorrow?”. If you have peace in mind and you are not attached to the result, if you are ready to accept anything that is coming, I believe it becomes easier to play.
Even if there is much more pressure on professional players, still it’s possible to enjoy the game. Just you have to know how to take a defeat. That’s an important skill, I believe it also helps to win. This part is probably one of the hardest.
Q: In interview for gosensations 6 years ago, you said:”Last year or so I started to feel tired of this fight. Most of the time, Go was like fighting for me… Winning, losing… Always trying to be better. I can’t play like that anymore…But when you play without the wish to win, then it’s a totally different story.”
How do you feel about that now, since you are professional?
A: Wow, you found such an old interview 🙂 . That was a period of my life when I felt a bit lost psychologically, at least more than now. Playing Go felt like tiring struggle. I remember I could look at the board, and even at the start of the game all the possible moves seemed bad. I could sigh many time during the game.
Now I feel differently about it. I don’t know exactly what changed, but I feel fine about playing. I like to take the game creatively, to try some new things. I just like to play. Sometimes if I take part in a tournament in Ukraine, in a break between the rounds I can play pair Go with kids. Once recently I didn’t play in a tournament, but just came to visit, and played a game 4 vs 4, also mostly with kids 🙂 . I guess, the more you feel fine about your life in general, the easier it is to play.
Q: Many players bought new computers just to study with AI’s, do you study a lot with AI?
A: An idea of buying a new computer just to study with AI seemed ridiculous to me, I don’t have so much money 🙂 . Fortunately, European Pros received a 1 year permission to use Golaxy AI for free. Golaxy is running on the remote server and provides you access via web client (website). So there is no need for powerful hardware on your side. I even published a review of the final game of EGC 2018. I used Golaxy to review that game: https://eurogofed.org/index.html?id=232
When I have any doubts after the game, or after I play an important game, I always check what Golaxy says. Even when the game is won, still it’s interesting to see what it thinks, and to compare with my feeling of the game. That’s a good way of studying, I feel.
I don’t torture poor AI all day long, but I can review 1 or 2 of my online games in the evening.
Q: What is your advice to people who struggle to break some level barrier?
A: Same as for all the people who are studying the game.
If you feel like studying this game, do it, and don’t expect the results to come. Be patient and calm, take this process creatively, try different ways. Pay attention to what happens in your mind when you play. When doing it, rather study yourself patiently, than just force annoying thoughts to be silent.
Q: How do you prepare yourself before a tournament?
A: There is no special preparation. I study Go more or less same all the time, doesn’t matter much if there is a tournament coming or not. Maybe just I try to have a little more practice in online games, or to study pro games a little more intensively.
Wonderful answers by Artem on all questions, astonishing !Follow me in social media: