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Joe Walters Named 2012 AGF Teacher of the Year

Thursday June 21, 2012

This year’s Teacher of the Year winner, Joe Walters of Pasadena, CA, learned go in the Navy. That is, he learned about go. “A buddy and I tried it and wound up bewildered, with two walls across the middle of the board,” Walters said.  “I didn’t really start to understand go until the Ishi Press books began to appear in the 1970’s.” Walters’ current rank is about 8K. Each year the American Go Foundation selects an outstanding go organizer as Teacher of the Year (TOTY). The recipient receives an all-expenses paid trip to the US Go Congress, where the TOTY leads a discussion among fellow organizers, sharing strategies and learning from each other.  After his stint in the Navy, Walters returned to civilian life and joined the staff of the Reiyukai (Spiritual Friendship Society), a lay Buddhist association. He suggested organizing a go club at the Center to attract visitors and promote interest, and the Go-For-Yu Club was born. Later, after a stint as the Director of the Reiyukai in the Philippines, he returned to Pasadena and founded the Yu-Go Club. “Jimmy Cha was a big help in the early days, along with Richard Dolen, Gun Ho Choi, and Bob Terry. Then when Yi-lun Yang came to town, things really started to take off.”

Four years ago, when Walters retired, he decided to use some of his newfound freedom to start a go program at his grandson’s elementary school. Before long, about 150 of the school’s 400 students were involved – ironically, his grandson was not among them. Starting with brief presentations during recess, the program soon moved to the lunchroom. “Most of the kids were finishing lunch in 15 minutes or so. The cafeteria doubles as the auditorium, so we set up go equipment on the stage. Being so visible, other kids wanted to play, and so it grew.” Each participant gets an index card marked with a Pokemon character of their choice, to record contact info, game results and so on. Setting up the program, Walters relied heavily on the Assistant Principal, who last year became principal of a nearby school.  Walters expanded his activities to that school, teaching and operating the program two days a week during lunch at each site. “The noise in the lunchroom makes it hard to teach, but we can’t meet privately because students cannot be alone; a teacher must be physically present at all times,” Walters said. The principals of the two schools are good friends and maintain a friendly rivalry between their schools, so when Walters proposed an intramural tournament last year, they jumped at the chance and even provided a traveling trophy. Four players from each lunchtime group – first/second grade, third/fourth and fifth/sixth – met in a two-round playoff last year, but a few no-shows marred the result.  This year, all interested players will participate. Walters ran the event with the help of local players Jeff McClellan and Reese.  This year they will offer lessons to the parents, ending with parent-child games for all who will participate. Next, Walters hopes to teach participants in a local senior center and perhaps arrange for some of his students to meet and play with the seniors. He also enjoys teaching beginners on KGS and can often be found in the Beginner’s Room as “Jodageezer”. “Go is such a great way to connect all different kinds of people,” he says.
 reprinted from Sensei: The American Go Foundation Newsletter

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Sempais Leading the Way in WV

Sunday November 13, 2011

“In Glen Dale, West Virginia, an unlikely new program has attained a huge following at John Marshall High School: Go Club.  With a membership of nearly 100 students, the club has grown by massive leaps and bounds in a way that no one thought possible. Go Club started two years ago with a handful of students in my study hall,” writes school teacher David Will.  “I had brought a board and a book of go problems with me to study hall one day to give me something to do while my students worked on homework.  Three students approached my desk and inquired about the game, something that they had never seen before.  Two of those students would go on to important roles in the club. In years past, I have always taken two or three days to teach the basics of go to my World History classes to close the chapter on ancient Chinese history.  For the rest of the year, many of the students would play the game, but it had not gone beyond a diversion for after the completion of worksheets and tests.  Now, I had an interesting opportunity.  These students and I played go daily for months, honing their skills to where they were competition for me, and one even finally defeated me. Continue reading…)

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Free Sample Member’s Edition Game Review: “Tiger’s Mouth” Kyu Game

Monday October 24, 2011

Today’s game review, by Feng Yun 9P, looks at a kyu level game between two young players who wish to remain anonymous.  White is just eight years old, and improving quickly.  His opponent is 14, and also a very quick learner.  This match was played during one of the monthly Tiger’s Mouth prize tournaments, sponsored by the AGF.  Website members can join the tourney, and compete for $75 worth of prizes in three different brackets.  Raffles are also held for the anime prize pack, and a complete set of Hikaru no Go manga (all 23 volumes).  Youth players 18 and under are welcome at all TM tourneys, click here for more info. NOTE: The next TM tourney will be on October 29th, click here to register. Want to see game reviews every week? Sign up now for the E-Journal Member’s Edition!

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Categories: Youth
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Moore and Yan Win AGF College Scholarships

Monday October 10, 2011

D’mitri Moore, of Detroit, MI, and Jasmine Yan, of  Edison, NJ, have each won $1,000 towards their college expenses, from the American Go Foundation.  The scholarship recognizes high school students who have served as important youth organizers and promoters for the go community, and is awarded annually.  Applications for next year’s scholarship are due by Nov. 20, more information can be found on the AGF website.  Moore launched a go club at his high school in inner city Detroit, and stuck with it through thick and thin over the next four years.  Moore’s essay for the scholarship speaks to his passion:“I believe that most inner-city children statistically fail to achieve, not because of their inability to comprehend, or actually do the school work, but because they are bored, because they are not being challenged on a level which forces them to think in a different manner in order to solve problems. The first person I introduced go to was one of these types.  Everyday, when we would have nothing to do, I would teach the rules of go to this student and everyday he would steadily improve bit by bit. His intrigue of the game spread like a wildfire and his drive to one-day defeat me spurred him to want to play and study more. A connection had been made and every good go player knows that once you have a strong, connected group of stones, you have to make extensions from it in order to amass more territory. When I told him that I wanted to start a club at Renaissance High in order to get more people (specifically youth) in the city of Detroit to play, he was very determined to help look for a sponsor while I filled out the paperwork. Within our first 3 months, our group size tripled and all of the kids who may have never ever noticed each other walking down the hallway were connecting and bonding like they had been friends for years.”  Moore entered his school in the AGHS School Teams Tourney, and was able to place fourth in the Jr. Varsity Division at their first tournament.

Jasmine Yan began teaching go as early as fifth grade, and launched go clubs at  both her middle, and high schools.  She led both teams to compete in the School Teams Tourney, and also became active as a teacher.  When the opportunity to volunteer came, Yan immediately joined the AGHS, and eventually was elected President.  In addition to running and organizing national tournaments, she helped with promotional efforts, and continued to teach locally the whole time. She first discovered go as a child in China, and wrote in her essay: “A few weeks after we had come back from China, I saw an advertisement for Feng Yun Go School, and I begged my parents to sign me up. However, in the first session, I was terrified to discover that I was the only girl, as well as the weakest in the class; for several weeks, I lost every game I played. Yet, during those difficult times, something about the game of Go persuaded me to keep playing. Nine years later, I have improved from 30 kyu to my current rank of 4 dan.”  Not concerned solely with her own development, Yan also began teaching go at her Chinese school.  “For the next three years, I taught the go class in FCD, with about ten to fifteen kids in each class. The first year was somewhat of an experiment for me. I learned that all the kids had different comprehension levels; some would understand the concepts taught immediately, and others took longer. Eventually, the kids in my class had ranks ranging from 1 dan to 25 kyu.”  Yan also represented her country, as part of the US National Team in the first Mind Sports Games in Beijing, in 2008.   - EJ Youth Editor Paul Barchilon.  Photos: Top Left: D’mitri Moore; Top Right: Jasmine Yan.


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In Memoriam: Ethan Baldridge

Sunday July 31, 2011

The go community lost Ethan Baldridge (l) last week. The Richmond, Virginia native — who passed away after a short illness on July 20 at just 31 — was a quiet and slender presence at East Coast Tournaments and workshops for many years, and attended several Go Congresses, helping out with the E-Journal staff.  Ethan also logged countless volunteer programming hours for the AGA, especially on the mail systems. He’ll be missed.

Though not as well-known as some of the other folks I’ve written about, Ethan was a unique and positive personality.  He truly loved the game of go and was deeply committed to studying and improving.  Yet what made him different is the way this commitment animated his behavior.  He was not the super-serious guy with his nose buried in a book, or craning over some strong players discussing one of their games.  Ethan shared his passion with a shy grin and a quiet laugh, finding something interesting in every game, helping beginners and kyu players as well as learning from strong players.

When you played a tournament game against Ethan, you were always in for a delightful battle.  He seemed to pour himself into every move.  Yet when the game was over, his joy and mirth about the game was amazing.  He was simply delighted to have spent a couple of hours learning with you.

Now if you didn’t know him, and you lost, this could be a bit off-putting: suddenly this young man is giggling and pointing out what you did wrong – in the most friendly manner – but to the more serious amongst us, the reaction might be to get upset. But if you knew Ethan, you knew that he would be no different if he had lost, chortling at his own mistakes and gleefully reviewing the lessons learned.

This is what I will miss most about Ethan, that we can be serious about our game and improving, but still recognize that this particular game was simply an enjoyable milepost along the way, an opportunity to measure and learn, but nothing to get upset about.
Thank you Ethan for all the times you laughed at me, the times I made you laugh at you, and most of all, for the times we laughed together.

- Keith Arnold, hka; photo by Allan Abramson at the recent NoVa tournament

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Categories: U.S./North America
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IN MEMORIAM: Remembering Chester

Monday July 11, 2011

By Keith Arnold, hka

I am a go player, and I love go players, but we are an odd bunch at times.  It is not unusual for us to know a person’s rank, but not his name, his name, but not his job, or his KGS handle and not whether he’s married or single.

So when Mark Rubenstein posted on Facebook about the passing of longtime Chicago go mainstay Chester Zawacki (r) on June 19, I was sad, truly.  I remembered him from many Congresses, and I remembered him as a 2 kyu, but  it was not until I looked up his obituary that I knew of his wife and children.

I even posted on his memorial page how much I liked him, even if though I was not sure we had ever played. In fact, thanks to our AGA Database, it turns out that I played him four times, long-forgotten games in my yearly quest for the “Keith Arnold” prize in the Self-Paired tournament.

I guess my point is that I wish I was less one of those go players who simply know each other as opponents and not as people. Because Chester was not one of those kind of go players. I remember that he loved to talk, loved to get to know people. He certainly knew that I was married, and seeing him was one of the main reasons my wife Erica looked forward to the Congresses – he was one of the folks she loved to see again. And Chester knew me too. Just recently he called to talk about the Civil War, knowing that I am more than simply a 4 dan – but a person with interests beyond go.  Don’t get me wrong, Chester was a go player. He played non-stop, but he did not play silently, head down. He took in his opponent, getting to know him off the board as well as on.

With the annual U.S. Congress coming we have our best chance to spend a week getting to know one another and I hope that each of us strives to learn something new about each of our old go friends, or, better yet, about a new go friend.

Thank you Chester, not just for the forgotten four games, but for being the kind of unforgettable go person I’d like to be.

Click here for Chester Zawaki’s online guest book; photo by Mark Rubenstein

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Categories: U.S./North America
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Children’s Programs Flourishing

Monday April 25, 2011

Elementary school go programs are on the upswing, with organizers across the country launching programs for young kids. Xinming Simon Guo used the Chinese New Year last February to introduce 64 second-graders at Hawthorne Elementary, in Chicago, IL, to the game. “We celebrated a special Chinese Spring Festival. Besides having delicious food for the celebration of the Chinese New Year, the students were treated with ‘delicious’ Chinese culture in the game of weiqi (go).”  Guo reports that some of the kids will soon join his weekly program at the local Chinese school.

In Camp Hill, PA, Mark Lichtenstein started a program at Eisenhower Elementary.  “I received go equipment from the AGF last school year,” reports Lichtenstein, “it got some use at the high school where I was teaching part time but the school closed over the summer, which I had anticipated.  I  brought the equipment with me to my new location, and I am glad I did, because it gave me the opportunity to lead a small go club at Eisenhower.  I had 6 to 8 children in the club plus an assistant from the high school for each meeting.  We met in February and March every other week for about an hour.  Everyone learned some basics.  Due to time constraints and attention spans, we started on 9×9 and moved to 13×13 but never went to 19×19.  A few parents approached me at other school events and told me that their children were having a great time.  The highschooler downloaded a go app for her smart phone.  The parent running the chess club a few tables over was intrigued but I’ve not got him playing yet.”

Programs like these are directly supported by donations to the American Go Foundation (AGF).  The AGF offers free equipment to any go program for kids in the US and Canada (through the CGA).  They also offer free sets of Hikaru no Go to school and public libraries.  For more information, or to make a donation, visit the AGF website. - Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor.  Photo – at Hawthorne Elementary in Chicago, Guo is at far left, in the rear, wearing an orange shirt.  Photo by Xinming Simon Guo.

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Park Younghun Wins 12th Maxim Cup

Monday April 11, 2011

On April 7 2011, Park Younghun 9P won the 12th Maxim Cup, beating Lee Changho 9P by half a point in the second match. Park won the first match several weeks ago (March 21), and with two wins he took the best of three title.

Two masters of endgame

Both Lee and Park are famous for their accurate counting and endgame skills. Go fans used to say that if Park and Lee played and the winning margin was half a point, the winner would be Lee. However, now people say that if the winning margin is half a point, the winner will be Park.

In November last year Park also won the Korean Myeongin (Korea’s equivalent of the Japanese Meijin).

The Maxim Cup

The Maxim Cup is a rapid Korean domestic tournament for 9 dan players only. This year, the tournament was held on the beautiful Jeju Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is popular with tourists.

Stone Babushkas?

Lee was accompanied by his wife and, prior to the match, revealed that the couple were very happy and plan on having two or three children. Given that Lee’s nickname as a Go player is “Stone Buddha”, perhaps the little ones could be called the “Stone Babushkas”? Before you ask, there was no mention of whether the children would learn Go.

After the match, a reporter asked Lee how he felt about losing his dominance of the baduk world after more than two decades. Lee was non-plussed, and replied that he did not mind as long as he could still play a good and interesting game.

- Jingning; based on her original report at Go Game Guru, which includes more pictures and game records.

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Japan Disaster Relief Update (updated 4/3)

Sunday April 3, 2011

(updated with details on the 4/23 NYC tourney and a PayPal account for the Kansai Kiin) “Many go players and clubs have asked where they could send money for disaster relief in Japan,” reports American Go Association President Allan Abramson. “For example, New York City go organizer Boris Bernadsky and other New York players are planning an April 23 Tsunami Relief Tournament to raise funds for relief, and next week’s NOVA Cherry Blossom tournament also will be dedicated to disaster relief.”

“For direct donations, here is what I have learned so far,” Abramson tells the E-Journal:

The Kansai Kiin has a disaster relief fund. Bank name: The Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ,  Kawaramachi Branch (Branch Code:003); Account No.: Ordinary Account 311018, Account Name: Kansaikiin. You can also now donate via PayPal: kochi@Kansaikiin.jp

Pandanet also has a disaster relief fund: Bank: Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation; Branch: Marunouchi Branch (Branch Code: 245); Account Number: 1441312; Swift Code:  SMBC JP JT

The Nippon Foundation has two ways to contribute: through the Sasakawa Peace Foundation (http://www.spfusa.org/care.htm) or directly through the Nippon Foundation. It may be necessary to have routing/Swift numbers for the two banks, and these have been requested for U.S. donations and will be posted as soon as they’re available.

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LAST CHANCE TO REGISTER FOR THE N.A. BC CARD CUP

Sunday October 31, 2010

Sunday October 31st is the last day to register the N.A. BC Card Cup. The Cup winner will be fully sponsored to go to Korea and represent the U.S. in the main qualifier event in January 2011. The qualifier tournament will be on KGS during the weekend of Nov. 13-14. BC Card is one of the largest credit card companies in Korea. Click here for more about BC Card Cup World Baduk Champhionship. Thus far a strong group of 17 players has registered, including several former U.S. champions. Click hereto register. The AGA Tournament Coordinator Team has openings for online tournament assistance and tournaments reporting, a great
opportunity to serve the AGA and learn how to run tournaments. If interested, contact National Tournament Coordinator Zhiyuan Zhang at zhiyuanz@gmail.com

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