American Go E-Journal » U.S./North America

Club Corner: Be Tireless and Welcoming

Monday December 2, 2013

The following is a response to a discussion about increasing attendance at go clubs, which was initiated by Aulden Murch recently on the AGA-Chapters email list.  It has been reprinted here with permission.

by Eric Jankowski

After running the Ann Arbor club for a decade, I moved to Colorado and have been largely invisible as an organizer for the last year.  Having been both very and negligibly involved in running clubs, my feeling is that two ingredients are needed for sustainable growth: 1) a tireless advocate for the club who 2) understands the importance of creating an inclusive environment.  I suspect we’ve all known someone with this rare combination at some point — the Susan Weirs, Paul Barchilons, Greg Leflers, and Guo Juans, to name just a few. Those of us who try to build clubs may have even been that person occasionally, and can appreciate it is not a trivial effort to maintain.

The great thing about the first ingredient is that it doesn’t depend on rank.  Anyone that has been bitten by the beauty of the game can be that tireless advocate.  The catch here is that it takes time and energy to be tireless: it can take a big bite out of time for other important life priorities such as work and family.  The tireless advocate here is that person who is always at the club, dragging in all of their friends, putting on workshops at libraries and festivals.  Someone with infectious enthusiasm.  One great example back in Ann Arbor was Albert Guo’s mom; she didn’t ever play, but saw how much her son loved the game and would show up to cook egg rolls at our tournaments.  You just can’t beat that for enthusiasm.  When you show other people how much you want to be somewhere, they want to be there too.

The second ingredient is a little trickier; it requires leadership from strong players who are willing to teach and maintain a welcoming environment.  When the top guns only play each other it creates a feeling of inapproachability.  Back in Ann Arbor, we had a great mix of kids, college students, permanent residents, and even a few famed homeless folk, and I think it’s because we went to great lengths to emphasize an inclusive environment.  We had an implicit rule: Ignoring or bullying younger players, weaker players, or anyone really, cannot be tolerated. In the most constructive and positive way possible, you need to set the tone: “This is a place for having fun, making friends, and a place to learn about this game; if you’re not helping that, you’re not welcome here.”  It’s not enough to parrot that quote; you have to get to know the members of your club and set an example.  Every so often, remind your strong players that they became strong because someone had helped them previously, by creating a place where they felt empowered to learn.  Set an example by teaching new players. Emphasize that your rank has nothing to do with your value as a human.  To grow, your club needs an inclusive culture, but this requires constant attention, and it can fade if you lose that strong player leadership.  Sometimes as a strong player, you just want to play a game and try out that new trick you saw.  Running a club and improving as a player are different things, but this can be easy to forget when there’s a board in front of you.  Resisting that temptation is important if the aim is to grow your club.

So, my advice is:  If you wish to grow your club, be tireless in your efforts to make a welcoming place to play.  And as folks involved in the AGA, I suppose that we have a responsibility to show that these efforts are appreciated and worthwhile.

Jankowski (top right) is a Research Associate in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of Colorado, Boulder . photo at bottom left: at the 2010 University of Michigan/Ann Arbor United Way tournament.  

Categories: U.S./North America
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In Memoriam: David Drexler, Former AGA Volunteer of the Year

Monday December 2, 2013

David Michael Drexler, 58, passed away November 27, 2013 in his beloved home. He was born June 15, 1955 in Rochester, New York. In his brief lifetime he accomplished much. He was a founding member and past president of the Oklahoma Unix Club, instrumental in forming the first go club in Oklahoma City (OKC), recognized by the American Go Association for his volunteer efforts in outreach and promotion of the game of go. He was a member and officer in the Oklahoma Traditional Music Association, playing the mountain dulcimer with astounding beauty and grace. In the early 1990s Drexler established Internet Access Plus, one of the first internet service provider companies in OKC. His many other loves included hiking in the Wichita Mountains, traveling to see friends and family in California, New York, Hawaii, and Alaska, cooking and bicycling. A memorial service will be held at 3pm, Tuesday, December 3, at Memorial Park Historic Cemetery Chapel.  -Text courtesy of Dignity Memorial Online.  Thanks to Jim Story for letting the E-J know.

Categories: U.S./North America
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E-Journal & Ranka to Cover 3rd SportAccord World Mind Games

Sunday December 1, 2013

The third edition of the SportAccord World Mind Games is set for December 12-18 in Beijing. The American Go E-Journal will once again team up with Ranka to provide coverage this year, with Michael Redmond 9P and EJ Managing Editor Chris Garlock providing play-by-play game commentary on the SAWMG YouTube channel as well as coverage in the EJ. Thirty players (18 men and 12 women) from around the world — China, Chinese Taipei, Europe, Japan, Korea and North America — will compete for major cash prizes; click here to see the player roster and schedule.

Your Move/Readers Write: Questionable Position in Portland

Saturday November 30, 2013

“Someone was listening to Roger Schrag’s comments in his article on Go Spotting: Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland (9/3 EJ)” writes Bob Joyce. Schrag wondered “Is the position on the go board (at left) viable?” and Joyce says “I visited the garden on Saturday, September 28th and the position of the stones had changed (right); however, even a beginner (like me) knows that go games do not begin in the middle of the board.”

AGA Website Streamlined For Easier Use

Thursday November 28, 2013

The AGA website has undergone some significant changes in the last few months. All the favorites are still there, including news, ratings, youth go, and tournament information, but the main left-side navigation menu has been revised from the top down, focusing on reducing duplication and adding comprehensive titles. “We hope that information is easier to find,” says Greg Smith, AGA Website Volunteer and team leader of the reorganization, on which Roger Schrag, Paul Barchilon and Roy Laird also worked. “We spent a lot of time mapping out the existing content and placing each link into a larger flow of ‘Learn, Play, Outreach, Teach’ ”

The new Outreach section has pages dedicated to presentations and publicity including a dedicated section for handouts. And we created better access to information about the AGA itself: the elections and organizational information each have their own consolidated and categorized page.

In recognition of the AGA’s Professional Certification program, we created a whole new section on AGA-Certified Go Professionals while continuing to honor those go professionals living in the US and certified by other nations.

“The AGA website has an enormous amount of content. We’ve rearranged it a bit in hopes that we can expand with more easy-to-find information,” adds Smith.

Check it out and let us know what you think by emailing your comments to us at webmaster@usgo.org

 

Li Three-Peats in Young Lions

Wednesday November 27, 2013

Yunxuan Li 6d has won the American Go Honor Society’s (AGHS) Young Lion’s tournament, for the third year in a row. “The tournament was very competitive,” writes organizer Calvin Sun, “with many new faces appearing this year. The first board topped the Active Games list, attracting almost 100 observers on KGS.” Competing on Nov. 16th and 17th, Li topped a field of 34 players with a 4-0 record. “The tournament was really great” Li told the E-Journal, “it is amazing to see new players each year. I want to thank the AGHS for giving this opportunity to North American youth, to compete and communicate with each other. All the games I played were so difficult. This was probably the most competitive year for the Young Lion’s yet.” Li graciously agreed to provide commentary on his crucial 2nd round match with Jimmy Yang 5d, and the attached game record is a freebie for all E-J readers.  ”I think it is very beneficial for young people to play go, it helps enlarge our imagination, and develops a sense of logic,” says Li. “It is very cool to have go as a friend when you are young, because it really helps you mature a lot.” 11 players 3 dan and up competed in the Open Section, which Li won. In Division 1, from 2d to 3k, Jeremiah Donley 1k took top honors; Division 2, from 5k to 9k was won by Frederick Bao 5k; Matthew Qiu 16k took the prize in Division 3, from 10k to 21k. Stay tuned for AGHS’ next big tournament, the School Team Tournament, which will be held in March. -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor.  Photo by Wenguang Wu: Li, at left, plays with Fang Tian Feng 8P. The kid with the yellow shirt, who is watching the game is Ding Hao 6d, an insei from Beijing Ge Yu Hong Dojo.

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SportAccord World Mind Games North American Player Profiles

Tuesday November 26, 2013

The North American delegation to this year’s SportAccord World Mind Games – coming up December 12-18 in Beijing – includes Daniel Ko and Huiren Yang from the US and Sarah Yu and Yongfei Ge from Canada. The American Go E-Journal will once again team up with Ranka to provide coverage this year, with Michael Redmond 9P and EJ Managing Editor Chris Garlock providing play-by-play game commentary on the SAWMG YouTube channel as well as coverage in the EJ. Here are brief biographical sketches of the players.

Sarah Yu 6d is a 23-year-old graduate student in Toronto who’s been playing go for 17 years. She’s looking forward to “learning go from top professional players” at the SAWMG. Her favorite thing about go is that “The rules are simple, but it’s hard to master.” Her advice to players who want to improve is to “Play each move well, work on the skills, and look at professional games.” Her hobbies include playing table tennis.

Daniel Daehyuk Ko 7d, 37, works in accounting and finance in Los Angeles, CA and has been playing go for 32 years. He’s looking forward to “Playing with top professionals and learning from them” at the SAWMG. His favorite thing about go is meeting people and making friends and his advice on how to get stronger is to “Play with someone 2-3 stones stronger and review your games with strong players.” His hobbies include traveling.

Yongfei Ge 8d is a 44-year-old software architect in Scarborough, Canada who’s been playing go for 30 years. He’s looking forward to “playing with top pro players” at the SAWMG and his favorite thing about go is “Winning after hard fight.” His advice to improving is to “review games after playing” and hobbies include video games, books and ping pong.

Huiren Yang 1P is 60 years old; no further information was available at presstime.

Nihon Kiin & AGA Ink Deal for Iwamoto North America Foundation

Monday November 25, 2013

A new East Coast Go Center tops the list of projects of the new Iwamoto North America Foundation (INAF), the result of a collaborative agreement with the American Go Association (AGA) approved today by the Nihon Kiin (NK) Board of Directors. The Foundation is named in honor of the late Kaoru Iwamoto and will be funded by the sale of the New York Go Center. “This is a tremendously exciting development in the history of American go,” said AGA president Andy Okun. “We look forward to continuing to work closely with the Nihon Kiin to realize Iwamoto sensei’s vision of spreading go worldwide.” The INAF will be an equal partnership between NK and AGA, with each side contributing three Directors, the NK Chairman serving as Foundation President and AGA  contributing an Executive Director to take care of the Foundation’s regular operation. “I greatly welcome the arrival of this new Foundation,” said Thomas Hsiang, the AGA’s Vice President for International Affairs, who originated the concept for the Foundation and led the negotiations for its creation. “The Nihon Kiin has always been a great friend to American go and the INAF will add a new, grand chapter to this illustrious history.” A Request for Proposal (RFP) for establishing an East Coast Go Center is expected to be sent to regional go communities in the next few months.

Photos: top right: AGA president Andy Okun and NK Chairman Norio Wada signing the INAF Letter of Confirmation in Tokyo on November 5; bottom left: the people involved in negotiating the INAF agreement (l-r): Tadaaki Jagawa (NK VP), Thomas Hsiang (AGA VP-International Affairs), Norio Wada (NK Chairman), Andrew Okun (AGA President), Hiroshi Yamashiro (NK VP), and Shiho Yamada (NK Director in charge of overseas affairs). Photos courtesy Tomotaka Urasoe, NK Overseas Department).

Pair Go Tournament at Seattle Go Center Dec. 7

Monday November 25, 2013

The Seattle Go Center plans to present a gala evening of Pair Go on Saturday, December 7, when there will be a two-round Pair Go tournament featuring a dessert buffet sponsored by Bakery Nouveau of Seattle and prizes for the top teams. The tournament will be played by International Pair Go rules, so participants are encouraged to dress in formal or semi-formal attire.

Registration for the tournament will be open between 6p and 6:45p with the first round beginning at 7p. The fee for participants is $5 for annual and lifetime members of the Seattle Go Center, $5 for children under 18 and $10 for non-member adults.  Photo and photo styling by Anne Thompson.

 

Categories: U.S./North America
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8 Young North Americans Want To Be Next AGA Pro

Thursday November 21, 2013

Who will be the next American pro? Eight young North American go players will battle it out for the honor and opportunity early next year in Los Angeles at the second AGA Pro Certification Tournament. The field includes four Americans and four Canadians, all of whom are quite young. 24-year-old Eric Lui, who used to be among the youngest at tournaments is the oldest participant in this tournament. Lui and Jianing Gan (17) are both seeded players from the previous Pro Qualification Tournament; Calvin Sun (16) and Bill Lin (17) qualified at this year’s US Go Open; Ben Lockhart (20) qualified at the Gotham Go Tournament; Daniel Gourdeau (20) qualified at the Canadian Open, Andrew Lu (16) at the Cotsen Open and Ryan Li (19) was the last qualifier, winning last Sunday’s Online Pro Prelim. The AGA Pro Certification Tournament will be held January 2-8 in Los Angeles and all boards will be broadcast live on KGS by the E-Journal. photo: at the 2012 AGA-Tygem Pro Tournament; photo by Nam Chi-Hyung