American Go E-Journal

Haskell Small on Don Wiener’s Magic, Music and Snoring

Wednesday March 13, 2013

A number of years ago, our family made a habit of renting a cabin in New England during the summer, and part of the ritual was having Don Wiener come to visit us. Needless to say, the days Don was there became a total immersion in go (and second-hand smoke). I got used to being punished repeatedly at any number of handicap stones, but I learned so much from watching his magic at work. It was only after Don drummed into my head that it wasn’t magic, but my own stubbornness that resulted in total collapse time and time again, that I began to appreciate the value of defending weak groups, an essential ingredient  to begin to become stronger. I am grateful for those lessons.

Don and I shared another common interest – a love of music. Besides his speed-typing talent alluded to in a previous article, Don was a very capable pianist. One of the few other people I know who had a goban under their Steinway, he had won several national awards in the Piano Guild, and could blaze through a Chopin Etude.

And a word about Don’s attitude about go and life. Don was the ultimate go hippie who believed in the power of go to reflect one’s personal choices. While some people like to say that go is a metaphor for life, Don preferred to say that “life is like go!”

Finally, you haven’t heard snoring unless you experienced a night with Don in the guest room. On one of these occasions, my daughters came into our room in the middle of the night fearful the cabin was about to crumble. I mean, the joint was rocking! Imagine the 6:00 Express rumbling through the station during an earthquake and you have some idea of the magnitude of Don’s snoring.

So a final fond farewell to Don-san san-dan, as he was known when a mere 3-dan. I am grateful for having known him. We had whole lot of good times together, and… I still believe it was magic.
- Haskell Small; photo by Phil Straus