Taking Go Game Guru back to its roots

tldr: We can’t keep up with everything we’ve been trying to do anymore.

Go Game Guru will keep going, but we will close the Go shop and Baduk TV. All existing customers will be looked after (see below for details).

Once all customers are happy (this will take some time to sort out), we need a break. We feel really burnt out right now.

When we come back, we will open source this site and hope to start writing about Go again (rather than only writing emails).

We started Go Game Guru because we love Go and we love sharing its magic.

Black to play :)

Black to play :)

Over the last six years, we’ve tried all kinds of things to raise the profile of the game and this site has changed a lot.

What began as a personal blog grew into more of a news and commentary site.

We started a commercial arm, to raise funds for promotion and to pay Younggil (and, we had hoped, other skilled players) to produce high quality Go content.

We attempted (somewhat unsuccessfully) to start a new worldwide annual event called Learn Go Week.

And we published our first Go book, Relentless.

Those of you who’ve been with us since the beginning will remember all this and more.

Losing focus

Somewhere along the line though, we lost sight of why we were doing this in the first place.

I’m sorry to say that it gradually became less and less about Go, and more and more about trying (desperately at times) to keep up with a hamster wheel of our own creation.

Nobody wanted this to happen, but it did anyway.

With customers all over the world and warehouses on four continents, the demands of 24 hour customer service, business administration and each country’s bureaucracy grew and choked the flow of content to a slow drip.

Days became weeks and weeks became months, and then, nothing… for almost six months.

2016

This has been a difficult year for us.

After years of trying to promote Go, the rush of new players following the AlphaGo match was bittersweet. The fact that this was an Ing Cup year and we were too stretched to follow it or write about it makes it sting more.

We’ve come to realize that none of us actually like online retail or want to pursue it as a career. It was a means to an end, until it become an end in itself.

None of us are as young or free of responsibility as we were when we started. In my case, I have a new job and a baby to take care of at the moment.

The small amount of free time I have outside of work and family commitments is completely taken up helping customers, doing paperwork and maintaining systems for Go Game Guru.

I honestly can’t remember the last time I put a stone on a board — I think it was about a year ago — which is ludicrous to anyone who knows me.

The only way I’ve found time to post articles on Go Game Guru this year is to sacrifice sleep, which is what I did for the AlphaGo match. That’s obviously unsustainable.

Likewise, Younggil has spent almost all of his time this year replying to emails instead of sharing his knowledge of Go.

To some extent, this undesirable state of affairs was forced on us by the current realities of the Go market and the world economy. We needed more staff, but Go isn’t profitable enough to make it easy to hire and keep good people.

However, our changing personal circumstances were also a big factor.

Solving the problem

I tried for years to ensure that Go Game Guru wouldn’t be dependent on me always being there, but the last six months have clearly demonstrated that I failed in that regard.

It’s very important to us to keep this site going, so we’ve concluded that we have to simplify things and make some reluctant sacrifices.

Over the last few years, the thing we enjoyed the most was writing Relentless. Even though it wasn’t particularly successful from a commercial perspective, people who love Go appreciated it and that made it rewarding.

That insight helped us to realize that we’d rather be working on articles, videos and books about Go than the more profitable, but less rewarding, things we’ve been doing.

For Jing and I, we’d actually prefer it if this could just go back to being a hobby. We can make more money in fewer hours elsewhere, leaving more time for the things we actually want to do.

And in Younggil’s case, perhaps we as a community can explore other ways of making sure he can be paid something for his contributions. None of us want things to continue the way they’ve been going in any case.

So here’s what we’ve decided to do…

What will keep going?

We intend to keep doing the following things:

  • Posting articles and videos about Go on this website (though perhaps the mix will change, and after a break)
  • Writing Go books
  • Publishing Go books (including bringing Hinoki books back into print and working on new books when I have time).

What has to stop?

To achieve the above, we unfortunately have to make the following sacrifices:

1. Stop running the Go shop

The only way we can keep Go Game Guru running and stay sane, while ensuring that everyone who has made orders receives them in time for Christmas, is to stop taking orders now.

As of today, any existing orders will be fulfilled and any problems (no matter how old) will be resolved.

New orders will be disabled on the website. Please don’t email us and try to argue, we will not enter into correspondence about this.

As part of this process, I have to finish work on the e-book version of Relentless, so that I can send it to everyone who bought the printed edition from us. Relentless will still be available, but from other vendors (like Amazon), without the bundled e-books and at a higher price.

About $100,000 of remaining stock will be donated to Go associations or similar Go promoting organizations. We will contact the local organizations (closest to each warehouse) after we’ve ensured that all customers have been taken care of.

This will take some time, as I also have to review months worth of emails and deal with some issues that weren’t resolved properly while I was too busy to supervise.

2. Closing Baduk TV to new customers

Our Baduk TV service will continue for the time being, with the following changes:

  • We will no longer be charging existing customers
  • We won’t be accepting any new customers.

Until we work something else out, the service will keep running for Baduk TV customers (excluding day pass) indefinitely.

It’s probable that the livestream will stop at some point, as the licensing for that alone is $1000/month.

When we have time, we will move the remaining content over to Youtube, so there will no longer be a paywall.

3. Stop replying to most messages

There simply isn’t enough time in the day to respond to all the emails, comments and other social media messages from the Go community.

I’m sorry to say that we will have to cut back on responding to such messages so that we have enough time to keep this site going. Please don’t take this personally.

Reaching this decision

I understand that many of you will be disappointed with this decision and I want you to know that it wasn’t taken lightly.

We kept things going for well over a year, even though we could barely keep up and had some very bad luck at times, out of a feeling of obligation to the Go community.

It was part of our mission to make Go equipment more easily available and we mostly managed to do so throughout the AlphaGo boom, despite our suppliers running out of equipment at the time.

In some places, we are the only specialist Go supplier operating locally, which makes it even harder to stop.

However, the Go market isn’t profitable enough for us to hire more quality staff to help with customer service, and every other solution we’ve tried has failed (or resulted in poor service).

We can’t simultaneously meet current expections for both service and price with these products.

What happens next?

It will likely take a while to wind things down, for the reasons outlined above.

After we’ve taken care of everything, we plan to take a break for a few months, because we’ve hardly been able to take time off for years and everyone is feeling burnt out.

When I come back, the first thing I want to do is open source the content on this site and migrate it to another platform (probably Jekyll). I realize that the number of contributors will be small, but in the long term this will make the site less dependent on me (so that this can’t happen again).

Finally, Younggil has more videos which would be great to put online and I really want to finish ‘Learn Go the Easy Way,’ and ‘Practical Haengma’ (both of which were drafted years ago).

We’ll see where things go from there, and thank you for your support over the years.

 

About David Ormerod

David is a Go enthusiast who’s played the game for more than a decade. He likes learning, teaching, playing and writing about the game Go. He's taught thousands of people to play Go, both online and in person at schools, public Go demonstrations and Go clubs. David is a 5 dan amateur Go player who competed in the World Amateur Go Championships prior to starting Go Game Guru. He's also the editor of Go Game Guru.

You can follow Go Game Guru on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Youtube.

Comments

  1. Although it’s sad to see the shop go away, it sounds like you are doing the right thing.Perhaps from a content point of view, you could get somebody to write playing material information and reviews on products and shops. For some reason I find the information on different types of woods used, which tournaments, clubs, baduk schools use what kind of equipment for what reason, etc highly interesting.

    Other than that: Please sell a PDF version of Relentless! I would imagine there are a few people holding out for that just like I do.

  2. Also, good luck with the transition back to the roots, getting your lives back together and I hope Go continues to be something you enjoy! Thank you for your efforts. Good luck and all the best!

  3. Don’t sweat it guys, I would be upset if you all just weren’t actually enjoying running GGG. I have bought a lot of books from your shop and I thank you for making them available to me where before it was a challenge to get hold of them.

  4. you were like friends to me all these years. And I missed you a lot these months. Good Luck and take the rest and come back.

  5. Thank you very much for your message! So, it has been a hell of a year, but a huge adventure as well, an experience you all will take with you for the rest of your lives: don’t forget to see these positive aspects as well.

    Congratulations on taking your lives back! A difficult decision no doubt, but a wise one. Go taking third place, behind family and work, is the right thing to do, I know. Alas, go is not tennis or football, the nature of the game in this speedy internet world makes it even more difficult for go to prosper, as I learned at go4go. So, forget go for a while, enjoy some decent normal living, go will come back to you!

    As for this site, I enjoyed it immensely, thank you for the wonderful service and content. I hope some of it will come back after a while, but I will not blame you if you choose to like to walk with your child instead. Good luck to you all!

    Kind regards,
    Paul

  6. _Very_ sad to see you go.

    OTOH … this looks like the right decision for you and everybody involved: your health and happiness must be in the first place. Thus, I wish you all a good recovery and quick success in conquering back your lives.

    Cordial greetings from Germany,

    Tom

  7. Thanks for the info. I hope the Gogameguru team can find a happy balance between Go article publishing and other parts of life, however much or little Go plays in that. Good look in the future and I look forward to perhaps seeing a new article here some time next year.

  8. good continuation !

  9. did anyone else see the similarites to capitalism on a broader scale? the little hints and details..

    i just came from reddit not knowing what this was abot, it still has benn e very pleasuring read

  10. José Fidel says:

    Thank you for your time and effort. I hope that you recover soon and please enjoy family, that’s the most important thing in life.

  11. Family needs to come first.

    Good fortune to you and yours and I look forward to you getting balance back into your lives so you can enjoy working with this site and the users here.

    Thanks for the communication. I know it wasn’t an easy decision.

  12. Justin Blank says:

    Thank you for all the work over the years. It sounds like this is the right decision for all of you, and I look forward to reading more when you get to focus on what you enjoy.

  13. Congratulations on the new baby!

    Thanks for all of your hard work and energy on all the different initiatives you’ve started. You have more ambition represented in any one of them than I have in my entire body. I’m really happy to hear that you’re shutting down things that aren’t proving rewarding and focusing on what you really care about. There are few feelings more liberating than finally deciding to end a commitment that has turned into a burden.

  14. Thank you for all of your contributions to the Go world. You’ve already gone far beyond anybody’s wild expectations, so please take all the time you need, and take a well-deserved break.

  15. Thank you for all that youve done!

  16. I look forward to your contributions to the community in whatever form they take. Best of luck now and in the future!

  17. Yay! I’m happy just to know that all of you are okay and I wish you all the best. Like @Jangalf I came to think of you as friends and it’s good to hear from you again. I’m looking forward to buying Relentless whenever it comes out on Go Books. It’s too bad the shop has to end. It was so well run and it was the best place to get an affordable Go set. But it makes sense. I’m glad I got my set from you guys when I had the chance! Best to the GGG family! May you have a wonderful holiday and a great 2017!

  18. This seems like the right choice for you and will probably result in better future content for this site. I love your pro games analyses. 🙂
    Enjoy your break guys.

  19. Thank you for all the work you put on Go Game Guru for all this years. You guys wrote the best articles in the english speaking community and the baduk tv service was fantastic. I learned a lot about the game watching baduk tv english.

    It also sounds like a well thought decision and perhaps one day you guys will get to enjoy writting again and we will get to enjoy reading your articles and books and watching your videos 🙂

  20. james acres says:

    Bravo!

  21. I follow your site since the first day. Many of us were really worried by what was going on and by the 6 months absence of news. Happy to see that you have reached a good decision that will focus GGG on its primary goal. Best of luck for the future and thanks for your generous involvement for the Go community.

  22. Thanks for all your hard work David. I can definitely empathize with getting caught in the hamster wheel and forgetting why we started what we did.

    With everything said and done, I think you and the team should be really proud of what you’ve created and the legacy you will leave behind. Looking forward to what is in store in the future, but will always be grateful for everyone’s work till now.

    Ganbatte!

  23. David Wildgoose says:

    Congratulations on the baby, Thank You for all you have done, and Good Luck for the future.

  24. Michael Brownell says:

    Thanks for everything! I have appreciated both the quality of the work you did and the personal standards you have upheld through everything. You have made a very significant contribution already, and should be very proud.

  25. Thank you so much for all of your hard work over the years

  26. Best wishes for the future and thanks for all this time you gave us, thanks for your investment =)

    Enjoy life, enjoy Go !

  27. Thank you very much for all the work these years!
    I must say, i missed your article and news very much. I would be most happy to be able again to read from all of you in some future.
    Take time, rest well, enjoy life, i think you deserve it very much.
    All the best

  28. Congrats! And good move. I am looking forward to GGG back at its roots.

  29. Take it easy guys. Y’all have been one of my favorite reads for about as long as I’ve played Go. Glad you did what was best!

  30. I am happy to see that you are still there. I good choice I think. I hope to hear from you in person soon. I hope you will not give the Kiseido books away….At least…not all….

  31. All the best team, I think you’ve made the right decision. Go with what feels best and enjoy what you do! Thanks for all the work over the years and for all the Go books and equipment you’ve enabled me to purchase.

  32. Thank you very much for the hard work. It is good to not expand your activity for its own sake. You guys are my favourite go group and I hope this will be resolved well. Best wishes for 2017!

  33. Warren Dew says:

    Please consider selling the shop so it can be reopened. There may be others who would be happy running the shop rather than posting articles.

    • yes I think so too. I also think it is better to sell, even if it is at a very low price, than to give away. For Go to become a real strong thinking sport, which is that what we all want, it is important that there are professional dealers selling go related items. Because you want to have go items available in all games shops. on the internet or amazon people only look for what they already know, so if somebody does not know Go he wil look for it, but in a games-shop, and yes they are still around, you come and see new things you never thought about, including, maybe Go.

  34. Thomas Rike says:

    When I decided to try and re-enter the go world after a looong hiatus, your website and video service had a big impact on this septuagenarian. On the few occasions where I made personal contact the replies were almost immediate and considerate. Thank you for your great work which has spread throughout the world. I hope that your life settles down and you are able to actually play some go again.

  35. Ferenc Farkas says:

    Your extraordinary achievement is to have created a multi-faceted enterprise from Go: Education, News, eCommerce, Community. I have not seen your numbers but although the choice of scaling down is understandable, it also seems unfortunate.

    The hard work of establishing the model has been accomplished. I am sure many things could be tweaked but there is an opportunity to take what you built to the next level at a time when Go is on the upswing everywhere. It probably requires quitting your job, hiring some pros, and really developing all aspects of the model with programs and partnerships. Maybe you should think about selling the franchise to someone who can take it from there in the spirit of what you built? Just an idea. Thank you for enriching us Go aficionados with the fruits of your passion. Be well.

  36. Hey, I appreciate your candor. I know it takes A LOT to run a website, let alone an online store. I think going back to your roots is a fine choice and will look forward to the future posts. Keep it up guys and you are supported by all of us players in spirit!

  37. …thank you for telling us. I’m sorry to hear that it got that bad and we didn’t notice. Good on you for doing the necessary to get back to somewhere sane.

    Maybe we’ll see all three of you at some tournaments in 2017?

  38. Thank you for your work! I hope that, after taking a break, you can find a new business or management model that allows you to accomplish your goals while remaining true to your passions. Go is an amazing game and deserves so much more attention than it currently receives where I live. In the future, I hope to do my part in expanding its influence as well. My love of Go was built on a set you sold me, even shipping me replacement bowls when the originals were cracked. Since you did not want the spare bowls back, I gave them to an elementary school’s “after school” group that had never before heard of Go. For the stones and board, I bought a basic set for them. Your good will inspired me.

  39. David Britt says:

    Thanks for everything you’ve done for our community. I can only speak for myself, but I appreciate your sacrifice very much. I’m also glad I finally got my goban this summer 🙂

    You’re making the right decision. Best of luck!

  40. In the same line as some of the other commentators, I hope that you will not fully abandon your business model, since it is very difficult to find quality Go equipment in most countries.

    I am glad that you decided to invest more time in your personal life, and hope that this will help you take the best informed decisions in all other areas.

  41. Great to hear from you David! Look forward to seeing the new developments. Hope you & Younggil find the balance to keep it light enough to be fun and heavy enough to be, well, fun! 🙂

  42. Dieter Verhofstadt says:

    Is there anything WE can do as a community?
    I’m asking both David and the community.

  43. Dieter Verhofstadt says:

    BTW I would consider

    – selling the shop (and its stock)
    – selling Baduk TV

    You could enroll a salesman specialized in selling web platforms and give them a percentage of the sale.

  44. Finally some sense.

  45. Good to see you guys are coming back to producing more content on the website. We have missed the old GGG and your decision to stop the current operations is a hard choice to make but many Go fans will appreciate this move. Enjoy the break.

  46. First of all, thanks for your efforts (and my go board ;-). And, well you have to prioritize. but I echo a poster above… if you can you could sell the store to somebody and leave it linked to the site.
    Otherwise, I look forward to your new content!

  47. Flagellator1974 says:

    Good to read you again!
    🙂

  48. RICHARD Raoul says:

    Perfectly fair.
    Perfectly your right.
    All honor is for you to justify it in details.
    Keep positive and continue to go forward.
    What you did so far is already huge for the go community.

    See you soon…

  49. Mika Kaakinen says:

    Congratulations on your right and courageous decision!

    I really hope that you find a more profitable career. And much luck with your baby!

  50. Mika Kaakinen says:

    You have made a really courageous career. I am sad that it did not turn well. Have a better luck in the future!

  51. I am very glad I got Relentless through you folks. I am glad you are taking care of yourselves and clarifying what it is you are all about. I am sure great things will come from these difficult decisions. Thank you for your service to the Go community.

  52. GoGameGuru Family,
    Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year……

  53. John Waters says:

    While your shop was the most convenient Go store for us in the US by far, I fully understand and respect your decision to shut down the site. As for maintaining your content moving forward, and for being able to pay Younggil for his content, have you considered funding via Patreon? It would give you a platform where you’d be able to fund your pursuits into Go more heavily without having to rely on the Go Store. Either way, we’re all looking forward to seeing where you take the site next!

  54. Chick White says:

    Only recently found GoGameGuru and ordered from the store for the first time just a month ago. Sorry to see the store closed. I went to make a second order and discovered the closing. I suppose a warning of an imminent closing would have given you a real overload.

    Best wishes to you for your future endeavors.

  55. Very glad to read that Go Game guru is continuing even if in a different state. I would miss the annotated professional games so hope this will re-start soon (especially after Go World ceased publishing). In the meantime, thank you for all you have done for the go “community”.

  56. Zero Wave says:

    So good to hear from you! Sounds like the best decision. I’m looking forward to reading your articles again 🙂

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