Moonyong Choi 6P spent a week visiting school and youth go clubs in the California Bay area, March 18-24. The Korean Baduk Association (KBA) sent Choi to see first-hand what go programs in America are like, and he is currently in the Los Angeles area visiting programs there as well. “It was really fun,” reports Patrick Wang, of Hyde Park Middle School in Cupertino, “the pro introduced himself, told us how he started playing, why he played, and how he went pro. After that, we asked him questions like how many tournaments he had won or how to improve. Then he played four people at once with nine handicaps on 19×19 and five handicaps on 13×13. Our school teacher even let us stay after lunch to finish the games! To end it off everyone asked him for his autograph.” Choi also visited Meyerholtz Elementary, Valley Christian High, and Berryissa Chinese School, all in San Jose, before finishing up his trip with a visit to the Santa Clara Youth Go Club. At all of the locations, Choi spoke to the children about his challenges in becoming a pro. “I studied for five years at the go school and became an insei which is a preliminary professional. During the course I lost a lot of times, especially games that I was ahead but lost in the end game. Sometimes I cried a lot and felt depressed,” said Choi, “Did you ever lose a game that you thought you had won? Did you hate your opponent for that? However, you don’t have to hate the person. Because you’re the one that made the mistake . We are all in the learning process. Correcting the mistakes and playing better the next time is what is important.”
Choi’s top tips for new players are “First of all, don’t be afraid of losing the game. I myself have played more than 20,000 games and lost half of them. There is a saying that ‘losing means learning’. It’s ok if you lose but knowing the reason and correcting it is how you take your skills to the next level. That’s why having a good teacher is essential. Second, being modest or having a humble attitude is good. There are lots of people that play better than you. You are in the learning process. Learning from your weaker opponent’s mistakes and from your stronger opponent’s good moves will make you a better person the next day. Third, enjoy the game. When you’re playing you always have to do the best you can. Think as much as possible. This is a war game. But once it’s over admit the results and try hard to find better moves. The more you love the game and dedicate yourself to it, the better player you will be.” His advice was well received, and Yanping Zhao of the Santa Clara Youth Go Club reported “It was a wonderful visit to our club. Mr. Choi, and our club members all had a very good time! About 15 kids came to the club to meet the pro. Mr. Choi was very kind to play a teaching game with almost every one of the them. He played several rounds, each round with four or five kids at the same time. During the breaks between the rounds, we had pizza and the pro chatted with kids. At the end, the kids signed a thank you card to express their appreciation. The kids all hope to meet Mr. Choi again and more pros in the future!” The visit was part of a larger outreach to support new programs in America, and was arranged by Myungwan Kim 9P. More pros will be visiting soon, and future trips will be scheduled in other areas of the country if all goes well.
-Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor. Photo by Yanping Zhao: Moonyong Choi 6P plays a simul at the Santa Clara Youth Go Club, in California.