by Steve Berthiaume
If you’ve been a subscriber to the Members’ Edition of the E-Journal, you’ve probably seen the occasional feature, “Lessons with Kaz.” I always liked the style of these features, how Kazunari Furuyama (right) often suggests different moves for players of different abilities, or rates the severity of mistakes by assigning a dollar level to them, so I recently began taking lessons from him online.
Kaz’s teaching methods appeal to me as an adult player, because he understands that the adult mind learns differently than that of younger players. This is not to say that adults don’t have the same potential to improve, and Kaz has seen many of his adult students progress from mid-kyu to dan level under his tutelage.
For the first lesson, Kaz has his students submit 11 games for review, 10 that he looks through to get a sense of the player’s strengths, weaknesses and habits, and then a game which he reviews with extensive commentary and variations. Accompanying this review is a set of 25-30 problems. Sometimes in place of some of the problems, Kaz will send a group of related problems that explain a concept in great detail. An example of this would be Kaz’s “Peeps” or the “On Fighting” series that have been recently featured in the E-Journal. For subsequent lessons, Kaz asks that students continue to send recent games, so he can keep track of the student’s tendencies and address any issues that come up.
This is precisely the kind of instruction that appeals to me. I have a shelf (and now IPad) full of go books that — with the exception of a few recent books — always seem to be over my head after a few pages; I feel they are often geared to professional players who don’t make kyu-level mistakes, and feature commentary that leaves me scratching my head. Instead, Kaz stresses basic, strong shapes that have broad application throughout the game, and repetition in various configurations that really allows the concepts to sink in. He avoids complicated josekis, choosing simpler ones that also teach good shape and tesuji, and have broad application throughout the game.
Since starting lessons with Kaz, I have felt more in control of my games, able to remain calm and play moves that I knew were solid, as well as take advantage of opponent’s mistakes, particularly in 3-3 corner invasions. This allows me to spend more time thinking about other aspects of my playing, and has greatly increased my enjoyment and fascination with this game that seems to be taking over my life.
- Steve Berthiaume is a 15-kyu who plays at the Milford Go Club in Milford, Massachusetts. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details on studying with Kaz. photo by John Pinkerton