American Go E-Journal

Rockville Kids Discover Go

Monday October 24, 2011

Two classrooms of kids at Luxmanor Elementary School, in Rockville MD, were recently introduced to go by Edward Zhang 6d, and Justin Teng 4d. Teng, who is 15, created the project for his Eagle Scout Badge (the highest rank possible in the Boy Scouts). As the program is about leadership, Teng himself wasn’t allowed to teach directly, but he organized the demonstration, found a volunteer to teach, secured support from the Greater Washington Go Club, and oversaw all aspects of the program. “The kids walked excitedly into the classroom,” Teng told the Journal, “gazing at the mysterious objects on their desks. Some of them immediately shouted, ‘Oh! I know this game! Chinese Checkers!’ After everyone sat down and calmed down, Zhang began by showing the class a short video, and then spoke briefly about the game internationally, before moving onto basic rules such as liberties and capturing stones. Afterwards, we let the kids play Capture Go for 15 minutes. Walking around the classroom, I could immediately see that some kids picked up the game faster than others. One kid caught my eye in particular: he seemed to be that troublemaker in every class that wouldn’t go more than a few minutes without making some noise or getting out of his seat. However, when I watched him play, he immediately understood everything perfectly as he soundly trounced his opponent sitting across from him. I walked around the room a little more and saw that some kids didn’t realize that stones were taken off the board when captured, and thus there would be a mass of ‘captured’ stones on the board. To these games I declared a tie, much to the kids’ excitement as they hurriedly played another game. 30 minutes into the demo, Zhang paused the class and went over the concept of territory. The kids then played a modified version of 9×9 where each player had three stones in a third-line sanrensei formation. Most kids simply made a wall with their three stones to surround what they already had naturally surrounded on the edge, while others made a big mess filling in their own territories. Some even decided to just continue playing Capture Go as they understood that better. Whatever the case, everyone seemed to be having fun. Near the end of the demo, Edward introduced the students to the AGA website and places they could go to for learning more about go. I also offered them a copy of the Way to Go booklet, an AGA starter CD, and a 9×9 cardboard set that they could take home with them. While I didn’t have enough to give to every kid, almost every kid wanted one, which was enough to clear out pretty much exactly what I had prepared. In the near future I plan to jump start a club at the school and maybe even teach in it,” said Teng. “All of the equipment came from the AGF and was donated by the Greater Washington Go Club, it will stay at the school for use in the club,” notes Teng. -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor. Photo by Justin Teng.