American Go E-Journal » Youth

Go Author Raising Funds for Graphic Novel Project

Wednesday October 23, 2013

Go author Jonathan Hop is working on a new project about Chinese culture and language. “I am trying to get funds to do a graphic novel,” Hop tells the E-Journal. In “Journey to the Middle Kingdom,” three modern-day kids travel back to ancient Chinese fairy tales. “The main character’s grandfather plays go and owns an antique shop,” Hop, a 4-dan from Ann Arbor MI and author of the “So You Want to Play Go” series says. “Go will make an appearance in the first book and I’m definitely going to have it in several others because the book series is a celebration of Chinese culture. I also may even teach the readers a little bit about go (because that’s what I do) if the series gets underway, but I gotta get the first book going.” With just 14 days to go, Hop’s Kickstarter campaign has raised nearly $1,200 toward the $10,000 goal.


Portland School Programs a Hit

Monday October 21, 2013

“In the past few weeks we have started our chess/go clubs at Beverly Clearly, Irvington, and Grant High,” writes Portland, OR, go teacher Peter Freedman. “Fritz [Balwit] and I are teaching at Irvington and we have 33 children.  8 have never played go before, the rest have been in the club in past years.  They range from 2nd to 6th grades. I am also teaching go at Beverly Cleary, where the chess club coach has agreed to change his club to a chess and go club.  We had 13 children at our first meeting and expect more to attend in the future. One child has had some exposure to go previously. The initial response by these chess-playing children is very positive,” adds Freedman. The chess and go program at Grant High, taught with Balwit, is also off to a good start.  “So far there are about 10-12 students coming, some of whom have played go before.  We expect the club to grow, one of the Japanese language teachers has 180 students, and has invited me to present to her classes.”  The busy Portland organizers also have programs or demos scheduled for three other local schools as well, and plan to create go teams and school matches once all the schools get rolling. “We’ve bought t-shirts for all 33 kids in the Irvington program, at a cost of less than $10 per shirt.  Since parents pay $150 a year for the weekly, one hour club, we have raised enough money to support this,” adds Freedman. -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor.  Photo by Peter Freedman: Ansel Wallace (l), a member of the Irvington Chess and Go club, in his new club t-shirt. 


AGF College Scholarships due Nov. 20th

Monday October 21, 2013

The deadline for the American Go Foundation’s College Scholarship is just one month away. The program  recognizes high school students who have served as important organizers and promoters for the go community.  Read about last year’s winner here, and former winners here.  For more information, and the application form, visit the AGF Website- Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor. 


Capture Go: Gateway or Standalone?

Sunday October 20, 2013

Is Capture Go merely a stepping stone to traditional go, or can it stand on its own as a viable game? In Memphis, two go players and teachers are working hard to answer that question.

The simplified rule set that master teacher Yasuda Yasutoshi 8P describes in his book Go As Communication has been used in hundreds of schools, after-school programs and libraries. Go players who teach Capture Go often hope to quickly move their pupils along to traditional go but Jay Jayaraman 9K and Graham Smart 9K wondered what would happen if a whole program focused just on Capture Go. They’re working with the Confucius Institute at the University of Memphis (CIUM) where they’re teaching Capture Go to Chinese language instructors from CIUM-affiliated after-school programs in the Memphis area, who in turn will introduce hundreds of primary school students to the game this year. The program is currently active in 12 Shelby County elementary schools and will be adding more schools throughout the year, reaching an estimated 40-50 students per program. Jayaraman and Smart also plan to start Capture Go programs in middle and high schools in the area.

“We are not trying to teach go,” Jayaraman, the director of CIUM’s after-school programs told the EJ. “We are presenting 9×9 Capture Go strictly on its own merits, not as a ‘gateway game.’ We call the game we teach go, not Capture Go, so that children who become interested in the long-form game don’t have issues with transition. We hope that even students who don’t enjoy traditional go will have a little fun with Capture Go.” All students, not just winners, can earn Pokémon-style badges (created by Smart) to reward merit, encourage competition and create a sports-like atmosphere. Players will get badges for reaching certain goals, such as completing a certain number of games or playing at least one game with every other player.

The curriculum involves ten two-hour classes, presented as part of CIUM’s Chinese language and history program in partner schools. The American Go Foundation has provided 80 full size sets of stones and more than 200 9×9 boards so far, and Viz Media has granted permission to use Hikaru no Go anime and manga freely as part of their curriculum. Smart is also creating a series of introductory videos for use in the curriculum. The rule set is designed to be completely simple and solvable on the board. However, since the instructors are also new to the game, the organizers will serve as “experts on call” when the classes are taking place. Any instructor can send them a question, along with a picture of the board position if needed, and receive an immediate answer.

Jayaraman discovered the potential of Capture Go as a standalone game last summer when he served as the lead go instructor for CIUM’s K-12 Chinese Summer Immersion Camp. With 20 students ranging from five to eleven years old, he worried about losing them if the game seemed too complex, so he focused on Capture Go after discovering Let’s Play Go, Yasuda’s elegant yet simplified introduction to the game. Jayaraman and local player Wade Humbert “described Yasuda’s ‘Capture Go’ method and hoped for the best,” says Jayaraman. “To see a room full of children playing within thirty minutes of first hearing about the game was quite a treat.  We set up daily classes, drawing upon the Freedman-Balwit curriculum available through the ‘Methods and Materials’ page on the AGA’s Teacher Resources site. To our surprise, only a handful of children showed any interest in advancing to traditional go, but they were all incredibly enthusiastic about Capture Go. Campers were actually excited about their homework! We held a tournament on the last day and combined homework scores with results to find the top finishers. Prizes included copies of Hikaru No Go and full size playing sets. It was a joy to watch their enthusiasm and progress.” Positive feedback from parents encouraged CIUM and the Memphis schools to expand the program into the school year. The Memphis program has four goals: reach the largest possible audience; re-envision go and Capture Go as team sports; engage parents, teachers and other stakeholders; strengthen ties with Confucius Institutes nationwide.

Jayaraman thinks one reason go more popular  is that the go community has followed the top-down, expert-oriented teaching approach that has worked so well for chess. Unlike chess, however, go experts are few and far between. In addition, programs such as the middle school chess team seen in the recent documentary Brooklyn Castle have high infrastructure costs and are difficult to maintain. Chess-In-the-Schools spends millions of dollars teaching chess in New York City alone.

“There’s another pitfall in expert-based teaching methods,” Jayaraman believes. “Skilled go players often flood beginners with complexity, leaving them feeling hopelessly lost. But Capture Go is easy for anyone to learn. In our model, non-playing teachers and after-school staff receive basic instruction and then learn along with their students. Yasuda sensei never meant for Capture Go to be an introductory tool to regular go. The original program was designed to foster interaction using Capture Go as a great equalizer. Like him, we want to use Capture Go as a standalone vehicle for promoting the ‘four C’s’ — critical thinking, cooperation, competition and communication.”
- Roy Laird 


Young Lions Tournament November 16-17

Monday October 14, 2013

“Join us for another year of exciting competition for glory and pride,” says American Go Honor Society (AGHS) Promotion Head Yunxuan Li 6d. The 2013 Young Lions tournament will be held November 16th and 17th on KGS. “The Young Lions is one of the biggest youth go competitions in America, and is usually a good indicator of how top players will perform in major tournaments for the rest of the year,” said Li. 2010 winner Vincent Zhuang 6d went on to win the US Youth Championships after his Young Lions win. Yunxuan Li himself won in both 2011 and 2012, and then won the 2012 Rocky Mountain NAIM qualifier, and also represented America at the 2013 Samsung World Baduk Masters Championship. “Who will be the leader of the pack this year? Who will be the victor of the 2013 battle? The answer shall soon be determined!” says Li. Players under the age of 19 can sign up now, through the AGHS website. -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor


Student Oza Prelim Registration Now Open

Saturday October 5, 2013

Registration is now open for the qualifying prelim for the 12th World Students Go Oza Championship, which will be held February 24-28, 2014 in Tokyo. Sixteen students from around the world will gather in Japan to decide the world’s number one student player. There will be an online preliminary round on Pandanet to select the 16 student players. Click here for details. University/college students under the age of 30 are eligible to participate in the online preliminary round.


LA After-School Program to Roll Out Go to a Dozen Schools

Sunday September 29, 2013

LA’s BEST, an award-winning after-school program serving 194 high-needs elementary schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District, is establishing go  programs in 12 schools, according to AGA President Andy Okun and LA’s BEST Director of Education Stela Oliveira.  “For those of us who have seen how captivating, fun, and beneficial go is for little kids, this is an incredible chance to spread the benefits of the game and bring something new and exciting to a bunch of students,” said Okun.  The program started over the summer with a trial run at two elementary schools, Latona  and Lareto.  Aside from providing equipment and sets of Hikaru no Go, the AGA and the AGF also provided teacher training, led by former AGF teacher of the year Vincent Eisman, who held a small  training in June and a larger one in late September.  The AGF is providing continuing support through the school year as well.  To donate money to help cover  training costs and equipment expenses click here.


Collegiate Go League Off to “Stellar” New Season

Monday September 23, 2013

The Collegiate Go League (CGL) started its new season last Saturday with a “stellar” launch. “We had many close matches, a simul with American pro Andy Liu 1P, and an incredible final game which went 362 moves!,” reports organizer Cole Pruitt. Thirteen schools are competing in two leagues, with players in ‘A’ league competing for a spot in the year-end National College Championship next April. Open any university-affiliated go players and clubs in North America, “Last year’s defending champions, University of Michigan, continue to field a strong team, but we’re expecting to see some competition from other perennial strong teams like University of Toronto,” says Pruitt. Click here for full results and game records. The next round is in two weeks, on Saturday October 5. Games are played on KGS, in the Collegiate Go League room, under ‘Tournaments’.



$1,000 AGF Scholarships Available

Sunday September 15, 2013

Applications are open for the American Go Foundation’s College Scholarship, through November 20th. The program  recognizes high school students who have served as important youth organizers and promoters for the go community.  Applicants who have started clubs and promoted go in areas where there is not a strong go community will be given special consideration, strong players who spend much of their time voluntarily teaching will also be considered.  There are two scholarships available, one for a male student and one for a female.  Last year no women applied, so only one scholarship was awarded.  Read about last year’s winner here, and former winners here.  For more information, and the application form, visit the AGF Website. - Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor. 


Streaming Online Games

Monday September 9, 2013

Popular streaming site is pulling in 38 million viewers a month, by streaming video gamers playing and commenting on their games.  The site’s goal is to “connect gamers around the world by allowing them to broadcast, watch, and chat from everywhere they play,” according to their website.  Why not stream online go games as well, asks AGA member Royce Chen? “Streaming go games, with entertaining and informative comments made by the streamers, could potentially attract the interest of young players, especially those who are already familiar with streams of conventional games,” says Chen. “The idea is to make videos like those by TheOddOne, a popular League of Legends player, who is known for providing entertaining commentary.”

The AGA would like to recruit volunteers of any playing strength, who would stream some of their online go games. All that’s needed is a webcam and a account. Live streams would be promoted on the AGA Facebook page, and  archived recordings can also be submitted for uploading to the new Go AGA YouTube channel, which is being managed by Shawn Ray (AKA Clossius on Youtube).  Anyone interested in streaming can email Royce Chen for more details. Ray also plans to promote lessons from several popular online go teachers on the new Youtube channel, with archived videos from both twitch and youtube available.  Subscribe to the new channel to get updates on this content. -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor