American Go E-Journal » 2013 » January

Janice Kim on Why Solving Go Problems Isn’t Boring (& Two Books to Read Now)

Wednesday January 2, 2013

Although I agree with most of the article on how to improve (The Spirit of Play: “What can I do to improve?” 12/31 EJ), I must — tongue firmly in cheek — object to the statement that solving go problems is ‘boring’.

When I was a student at the Korean Baduk Association, the protocol for solving a problem was that you had to be willing to stake your life that your answer was complete and correct. ‘Complete’ is key, as you definitely didn’t want to scramble for a reply if an alternate move in some sequence was suggested; the executioner may have itchy fingers. Solving problems to this day remains a high-octane, nail-biting affair for me, especially if it’s not much of a reading challenge, so tempting then to omit steadying the nerves and triple-checking. You can hold yourself to a higher standard when practicing, and everybody loses sometimes so the pressure is off when playing, so you might think it’s the actual competition that is the tedious part of go…”

Last (well, not really) thoughts. They don’t call the experts ‘practitioners’ for nothing. Janice’s brain cross-references with two suggested reads: The Little Book of Talent, questions-answered-from-real-world-not-author-agenda-practical-really-works tips for improvement in any endeavor, and the science fiction novel Ender’s Game, almost required reading on the American Cultural Experience syllabus. Spoiler alert the entire premise is this idea of thing-itself-is-a small detail or afterthought, the lead-up to the game, not during the game, is where the winner is decided.
- Janice Kim 3P; photo: Kim playing primary schoochildren at the Shuang Huayuan campus of the Beijing Chaoyang Fangcaodi International school on December 17; photo by Chris Garlock

 

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Go Spotting: NPR reporter on why you should “lose your first 50 games quickly”

Wednesday January 2, 2013

In a December 29 NPR story about differences between the way that the West and the East think about the process of intellectual struggle, Planet Money correspondent Robert Smith (r) notes that “I learned how to play the board game Go…And one of the things they tell you right at the beginning is to lose your first 50 games quickly; that the whole notion of learning this game is to start by losing a lot. And it reminds me a little bit of this, this theory that it’s going to happen, so you need to embrace that. That is the important part.” Click here to hear the story: NPR Reporters On The Stories That Stuck In 2012; the story — by science correspondent Alix Spiegel – begins at 1:05 and Smith’s comment is at 2:45. Thanks to Eric Osman for passing this along.