American Go E-Journal » Youth

Japanese Insei Win Friendship Matches With U.S. Youth

Monday July 25, 2011

Ten of America’s young players competed against Japanese insei online last Thursday, July 21, in the first-ever youth friendship matches between the two countries.  The insei, who are studying professionally at the Nihon Kiin, walloped the US team with a 7-3 record.  The insei played live from the Nihon Kiin, while their US counterparts were competing from all across the country.  The matches were held on the Japanese Yugen no Ma Go Server, which is accessible in English through wBaduk.com.  On the top board, US favorite Calvin Sun 7d lost against Shodai Hirano 6d, both boys are 14 years old.  The two youngest competitors were both 9, Asami Ueno 6d (in pink bow above) and Aaron Ye 4d.   Ueno got off to a good start, with a large capture in the corner, and then proceeded to create living groups effortlessly everywhere she invaded, before Ye was forced to resign.  It wasn’t all losses though, Vincent Zhuang 6d, Andrew Lu 6d, and Ashish Varma 4d pulled out all the stops to win their games.  Zhuang, who along with Ye will represent the US at the World Youth Go Championships in Romania next month, scored a commanding win by resignation against 11-year-old Kazuma Yamaguchi 6d, while Lu bested Saeka Iwata 6d.  The darkhorse victory went to 16 year old Ashish Varma 4d, who vanquished Tomohiro Watanabe 6d, age 15.  A full players gallery, with pictures, results and game records is available on Tigersmouth.org. The members edition of this story contains a commented game record on Varma’s win, by Feng Yun, 9P.  AGA youth membership is a steal at only $10, and gets you commented games every week in your mailbox, click here to join.
- Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor.  Photo: Japanese insei at the Nihon Kiin, by Tom Urasoe.

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71 Turn Out at Mexican Youth Go Championships

Sunday July 17, 2011

Mexico City drew 71 kids to it’s recent youth tournament, held June 4th.  “The children were from different schools and clubs, and ranged in rank from 30k to 10k,” reports organizer Siddhartha Avila,  “this was a great opportunity to round up the majority of young players in the same place, and to make new friends. After this we’re looking forward to  consolidating the existing go clubs, and to eventually create more go programs for youth in México.  The event wouldn’t have been possible without the collaboration of go teachers, players, and volunteers who offered their efforts to run the tournament.  We want to thank them as well as the AGF for their donation of 20 sets of  stones, which we needed to make this possible.” Winners Report: 1st: Fernando Álvarez 13k, 2nd: Vicente A. Cortez 17k, 3rd: Adam S. George 13k. Full results here. A retro style photo album from the event, by Alma Juárez is here.  -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor, photo by Alma Juárez.

US Youth to Play Japanese Insei

Sunday July 17, 2011

Ten of America’s youth players will compete in the first ever friendship matches with Japanese insei this coming Thursday, July 21st.  The insei are youth that are studying to become professionals in Japan, their lifestyle has been portrayed in the Hikaru no Go manga and anime, inspiring countless American kids to reach for the stars themselves.  Insei in classes B through D will compete, as will the top four high school players in Japan, according to Nihon Ki-in Overseas Coordinator Tom Urasoe.  The match has been organized by AGA Youth Coordinator Paul Barchilon, who chose the ten member US team based on both playing strength and dedication to the go community.  The matches will be held on the Japanese Yugen no Ma Go Server.  An English language version of the client is available at Wbaduk.com games will be held in the Japanese Go Room.  The US team, and a list of their opponents, can be found on Tigersmouth.org.  To observe the matches, download the client and create an id.  Matches will be held Thursday, July 21, at 5 pm PDT. -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor.  Image: insei characters from Hikaru no Go

Balwit Named Teacher of the Year

Sunday July 17, 2011

Portland go teacher Fritz Balwit has been selected as the American Go Foundation’s Teacher of the Year. “My selection is a great honor,” says Balwit, “it has been a unique privilege to introduce go to children. They immediately recognize its magical properties, and are receptive to its aesthetic allure at an intuitive level. I have found that it brings people together in friendly collaboration based on respect and shared appreciation. I hope to continue working with kids in schools and to create a space at our local go salon where kids can discover the beauty of the game.  I teach go daily at Portland English Language Academy where I also teach English as a second language. We have a very lively group that plays for fun. Many of the Korean, Japanese and Taiwanese students are newly introduced to their traditional game. These are mostly younger adults and a few teenage kids. One kid- Shohei Jinno- came forward in a class and shyly mentioned his rating was 6 dan; he subsequently rolled over all Oregon players at the AGA tournament in Salem.”
Balwit started showing up on the radar in 2008, according to longtime organizer Peter Freedman: “For a number of years he had taught chess in the public schools, but about the time I met him he had recently fallen in love…with go.  He morphed his chess clubs into ‘chess/go clubs’, but in fact all his chess clubs became go clubs.  During 2008 he had clubs in seven schools.  As a result of his efforts over 125  children and youth were exposed to go, and 90 played in one of the school go clubs.  Fritz also ran several go camps during school breaks.”  Many of the programs Balwit launched in 2008 continued in the following years, and he is running five programs now.  “I’ve assisted Fritz teach at many of these schools,” adds Freedman, “I call him ‘the pied piper of go’ in Portland.  He has a magical way with children. He is gentle, funny, articulate, gives out tons of positive reinforcement, and continually amazes me with the way he explains go to children, making it more than a game.  He talks about how in go you must share, just as in life. When talking about building a wall, he remarked, ‘If you don’t play here there will be a little hole for a ferret to crawl through.  You don’t want a ferret running around in your house, do you?”  Actually, Fritz has two ferrets running around his real life house, along with three children ranging from elementary to middle school age, all of whom play go. One of them was his assistant in the go club he organized at her school.” Balwit has won an all expenses paid trip to the US Go Congress in Santa Barbara, where he will be honored at the awards banquet.  He will be speaking at the congress as well, in a special round table for teachers, and anyone who wants to work with kids, on Tuesday, Aug. 2, at 5:00 pm.  -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor.  Photo by Fritz Balwit: Balwit (r) teaching his son Theo (l).

Shi and Ye Top Redmond Cup Qualifiers

Monday July 11, 2011

Gansheng Shi 7d and Aaron Ye 4d placed first in the Redmond Cup qualifiers, held online over the past few months.  The Senior Division, for kids aged 12-17, was dominated by Shi,  a 17 year old Canadian, who won the Redmond in 2008 and 2009.  He was undefeated in the qualifier, but faced very strong competition from his own country, with Tianyu Lin 7d, age 14, and Jianing Gan 7d, age 15, almost making it to the finals.  From the U.S., three-time  Redmond champion Calvin Sun 7d, age 14, fought his way into the top four.  Sun got off to a a rough start, losing in rounds 2 and 3, but then rallied, defeating both Gan and Lin in a playoff to earn the right to face Shi at the Go Congress.  In the Junior Division, for kids under the age of 12, nine-year-old Aaron Ye 4d was undefeated.  He faced strong competition from a bevy of pint-sized prodigies in the Bay Area, including last years USYGC champion Kevin Fang.  It was Sammy Zhang 2d, age 11, who held his ground though, making it to the finals for the upcoming playoff at the Congress.  All four finalists have won a free trip to the US Go Congress, to compete for the Redmond Cup.  The final matches will be held on July 31, Aug. 2, and Aug. 4, at 3p PST, and will be broadcast live on KGS.
- E.J. Youth Editor, Paul Barchilon. The Members Edition of the E-Journal includes a game review of Sun’s final match with Lin by Feng Yun 9P.  Sun catches a large dragon to make a decisive win, but Feng Yun shows us  how Lin could have escaped with a throw-in. To get the EJ Member’s Edition, click here for details on AGA membership.

Go Beats Out Shedd Aquarium for Fourth Grader

Monday July 11, 2011

Five young students, and their teacher, Xinming Simon Guo, took advantage of Chicago’s recent Family Fun Festival to introduce go to a larger audience. The Chinese-American Museum of Chicago prepared an assortment of activities to promote Chinese art and culture for visiting families and day-camp groups.  Guo and his students staffed a booth on June 25 and 26, and taught over 60 visitors how to play. “The highlight of the weekend is no doubt the story of a fourth grader  from Springfield IL who visited the event tent on Saturday,” reports Guo. “He said he was pretty good at chess and won the champion in the tournament for 7th graders. He showed great interest in go and learned how to play it immediately. I gave him a cardboard set as a reward for having played his first complete game. On the second day, everybody was astonished to see this boy again. His mom told me their original plan was to visit Chicago’s  Shedd Aquarium, but this boy was so attracted by this new game that he gave up the aquarium to revisit the weiqi desk to learn more about go. ‘How can a fourth-grader choose a game of go instead of visiting Shedd Aquarium — rated as the number one attraction for kids??’ his mother asked.  That’s the magic of go, I answered with a smile.”  Guo began his class at Xilin North Shore School in 2010, with the  the support of the American Go Foundation. Since then, the project has attracted about 25 kids to learn go. “This weiqi (go) demo event is a great opportunity for kids to use what they have learned during the last year. It’s also a chance for them to learn how to serve the public,” added Guo.  Students who taught in the booth were Hann Diao, Edward Lee, Jiangao Fang, Ray Li, and Jeffrey Tang. -Paul Barchilon, E.J Youth Editor, Photo: Guo is at left, the  fourth grader mentioned is at right.  Photo by Xinming Simon Guo.

Hikaru Anime Online

Friday July 8, 2011

The Hikaru no Go anime series is now more available then ever, thanks to Hulu, Netflix, and iTunes.  Although Viz intitially canceled the series and stopped the English dubs at Volume 11, the show has become increasingly popular online in the subtitled versions.  Recently, iTunes has added the last two seasons, dubbed in English.  This makes the entire run available  without subtitles for the first time.  Hulu first made the show available last year, and Netflix added it for free streaming a few months ago.  To watch on Hulu, go here, For Netflix, search for Hikaru no Go.  Viz media also has the entire series streaming on their website, although you have to put up with ads, click here for their server.  Fans of the dubbed version can pay for each episode,  on iTunes-Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor

Traveling Board: AGF Takes Go to 20,000 Librarians in New Orleans

Monday July 4, 2011

Go and libraries are natural partners, not just because of longtime efforts to stock libraries with go books but because libraries have also often hosted go clubs. Which is why the AGA’s Chris Kirschner, 2008 AGF Teacher of the Year Vincent Eisman and I found ourselves among 20,000 librarians at the American Library Association’s (ALA) annual conference last week in New Orleans.

The American Go Foundation (AGF) sent us out to promote free equipment and books to youth librarians. Libraries across the country are stocking lots of manga (Japanese comics) because they pull kids in.  From my own program, at a public library in Boulder, CO, I knew Hikaru no Go was a gold mine: once kids read it, they want to play go. And with Winston Jen’s generous donation of 1,000 sets of Hikaru, we figured we would be in a good position to reach out, especially since the AGF is giving libraries and schools the entire 23-volume set for free.

We knew the event was going to be big, but we were shocked at how huge the convention center was.  The building itself ran for almost two miles, and the vendor area housed 900 exhibitors. I had arranged to have our booth in the Graphic Novel/Gaming Pavilion, and once the conference opened, we had a steady stream of visitors.

All three of us have done a lot of demos before, but we felt that this was very different. People were not casually interested, or just wandering by and curious: they were focused, excited, and looking specifically for ways to engage kids and teens in their libraries. A great number of them were members of YALSA, the Young Adult Library Services Association. They were very enthusiastic about what we were providing, and seemed like a perfect target for us. There were also a number of library directors and people in other departments who took information and said they would give it to the right person at their branch. Not only did 113 libraries sign up for a free set of Hikaru on the spot, but we also gave out over 700 brochures, about 500 copies of The Way to Go, almost 200 starter CDs and 280 cardboard sets.  We even taught librarians how to play right there in the booth as well, and they all seemed fascinated.

The AGF has been reaching out to libraries for a couple of years now, so I was hoping we might encounter some people who already knew about us. There were several who had, and they raved about how much they appreciated our services.  One school library already had a go program, with equipment from us, but didn’t know we gave away Hikaru now, so their librarian was psyched to order it.  Another one told me that the program was going strong for a while, but then it died out when some of the kids moved on.  She said it successfully resurrected itself this past year when two fifth graders read Hikaru and got into the game. I ran into a librarian from Sacramento, who said she had had many go demos at her library in the past. When I asked who did them, she said it was None Redmond, Japanese professional Michael Redmond’s mother, and a tireless promoter of youth go.  Another librarian said the kids really love go at her branch, and that the equipment we sent gets used all the time.

Even at night, when we were “off-duty,” we found go connections. After strolling down Bourbon Street, where we soaked in the live jazz and the beautiful French Quarter architecture, a waiter at one restaurant overheard us mention the word atari, and asked if we played go. We were pleasantly surprised to find a fellow player at random and he told us there were a couple of go clubs in New Orleans, although we didn’t have time to visit any of them.  A security guard at the convention center also turned out to be a player, and had contacted me in advance through Tiger’s Mouth, our youth website.

Much to our delight, a good number of the librarians had already heard of go, Hikaru, or both.  It seemed that everywhere we went we saw evidence that go continues to break into the national consciousness.  Chris Kirschner remarked on how much ground had been gained in the past 30 years and mused that “we can never underestimate the value of the seeds that we are planting,” and that one never knows what teaching even one person how to play go might lead to.

We all felt that this particular group of people were in a great position to help spread go on a much larger scale.  Once they have Hikaru in their libraries, they will find kids asking to form a go club.  The AGF will be right there for them, offering free starter sets with enough equipment for 24 kids to play, and ongoing support through our mentor committee.  Slowly but surely, we are building the future of go.
- Paul Barchilon, Vice President of the AGF and Youth Editor for the E-Journal.  Photos: Top: The AGF booth at the convention.
- Photos:
top left: Vincent Eisman convinces passersby that go is for them while Chris Kirschner demonstrates go in back; Bottom right: Kirschner teaches a librarian; photos by Paul Barchilon

Go Camp Discounts Offered

Monday June 20, 2011

The AGA East Coast Go Camp is still on, but time is running out for kids to register. With the AGF needs-based scholarships, kids can attend camp for as little as $500. Every summer since 1998, kids from 8 to 18 from all over the US and abroad, have met for a week to study and have fun at the AGA Go Camp. Play and instruction are supplemented by many typical camp activities. Experienced camp organizers are in charge, so the children who attend camp are safe and well cared for. Everything is organized to the last detail, beginning from the pickup at the airport to the last moment when staff take kids to the home-bound flight.  This year’s camp will be held at the Madison Suites Hotel in Somerset, New Jersey, July 23-30. Mingjiu Jiang 7p and Yuan Zhou 7d will be the primary teachers.   “The camp is an exciting chance to play go face to face, instead of just online,” says camp director John Mangual. For more information, visit the camp page here, or e-mail Mangual at agagocampeast@usgo.org -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor

Dixon Elementary Going Strong in New Mexico

Monday June 6, 2011

After nine weeks practicing and studying go, students at Dixon Elementary School in Dixon, NM finished up the 2011 Spring Semester with a knock-out tournament. Everyone who participated received a copy of The Way to Go and the top three players — Liam (1st), Brooklyn (2nd) and Emmett (3rd) — received a copy of Peter Shotwell’s Go! More Than a Game. Shotwell’s book was chosen as an excellent tool for building skills as well as providing concise discussions on go history and culture. The awards were presented at the school’s Awards Day, May 29th, attended by students, teachers and parents.

“We are much indebted to the school librarian, Ms. Maggie Durham for championing go in the school’s art program,” said Santa Fe Go Club member Robert Cordingley, who ran the class. Cordingley also extended thanks to the school staff for their support, particularly Head Teacher Ms. Kiva Duckworth-Moulton and the AGF for their help with equipment and materials. – photo by Robert Cordingley