The go community lost Ethan Baldridge (l) last week. The Richmond, Virginia native — who passed away after a short illness on July 20 at just 31 — was a quiet and slender presence at East Coast Tournaments and workshops for many years, and attended several Go Congresses, helping out with the E-Journal staff. Ethan also logged countless volunteer programming hours for the AGA, especially on the mail systems. He’ll be missed.
Though not as well-known as some of the other folks I’ve written about, Ethan was a unique and positive personality. He truly loved the game of go and was deeply committed to studying and improving. Yet what made him different is the way this commitment animated his behavior. He was not the super-serious guy with his nose buried in a book, or craning over some strong players discussing one of their games. Ethan shared his passion with a shy grin and a quiet laugh, finding something interesting in every game, helping beginners and kyu players as well as learning from strong players.
When you played a tournament game against Ethan, you were always in for a delightful battle. He seemed to pour himself into every move. Yet when the game was over, his joy and mirth about the game was amazing. He was simply delighted to have spent a couple of hours learning with you.
Now if you didn’t know him, and you lost, this could be a bit off-putting: suddenly this young man is giggling and pointing out what you did wrong – in the most friendly manner – but to the more serious amongst us, the reaction might be to get upset. But if you knew Ethan, you knew that he would be no different if he had lost, chortling at his own mistakes and gleefully reviewing the lessons learned.
This is what I will miss most about Ethan, that we can be serious about our game and improving, but still recognize that this particular game was simply an enjoyable milepost along the way, an opportunity to measure and learn, but nothing to get upset about.
Thank you Ethan for all the times you laughed at me, the times I made you laugh at you, and most of all, for the times we laughed together.
- Keith Arnold, hka; photo by Allan Abramson at the recent NoVa tournament