I am a go player, and I love go players, but we are an odd bunch at times. It is not unusual for us to know a person’s rank, but not his name, his name, but not his job, or his KGS handle and not whether he’s married or single.
So when Mark Rubenstein posted on Facebook about the passing of longtime Chicago go mainstay Chester Zawacki (r) on June 19, I was sad, truly. I remembered him from many Congresses, and I remembered him as a 2 kyu, but it was not until I looked up his obituary that I knew of his wife and children.
I even posted on his memorial page how much I liked him, even if though I was not sure we had ever played. In fact, thanks to our AGA Database, it turns out that I played him four times, long-forgotten games in my yearly quest for the “Keith Arnold” prize in the Self-Paired tournament.
I guess my point is that I wish I was less one of those go players who simply know each other as opponents and not as people. Because Chester was not one of those kind of go players. I remember that he loved to talk, loved to get to know people. He certainly knew that I was married, and seeing him was one of the main reasons my wife Erica looked forward to the Congresses – he was one of the folks she loved to see again. And Chester knew me too. Just recently he called to talk about the Civil War, knowing that I am more than simply a 4 dan – but a person with interests beyond go. Don’t get me wrong, Chester was a go player. He played non-stop, but he did not play silently, head down. He took in his opponent, getting to know him off the board as well as on.
With the annual U.S. Congress coming we have our best chance to spend a week getting to know one another and I hope that each of us strives to learn something new about each of our old go friends, or, better yet, about a new go friend.
Thank you Chester, not just for the forgotten four games, but for being the kind of unforgettable go person I’d like to be.
Click here for Chester Zawaki’s online guest book; photo by Mark Rubenstein