American Go E-Journal

THE TRAVELING GO BOARD: Shanghai: Drinking Go & Coffee Shop Lessons

Sunday May 23, 2010

The way drinking go works, Jacky Sun explained at dinner Friday night, is that the loser of the game has to down a beer. “I played the former European go champion, I think he was from Finland, maybe, and I lost the game but I won the drinking,” Jacky boasted. He and Qin Zhixuan were playing in the teacher’s room at Jin Sheng Yu’s go school Friday night while I played a simul with two students (see Chicken Feet, New Friends, the Mysteries of Go and Pint-Sized Players). After the kids left, EJ photog John Pinkerton and I went in to check on the game. Qin was trying to activate some non-existent aji but Jacky was giving no quarter and soon Qin was paying for his loss by downing a giant bottle of Suntory in one long gulp. Go is thirsty work.
After the Blue Elephant Go School visit Saturday morning (see At the Blue Elephant Go School), Du Yufeng 3P dropped us off at  a coffee shop where some of her friends have been playing go every weekend for seven years. “There aren’t really any go clubs in Shanghai,” Danny Wang (below) told us. “It’s easier just to play on the Internet, and it’s free.” Still, Danny and his friends — all very strong dan players — prefer to hang out at the coffeeshop on the weekends and they welcomed us to the gang, keeping our glasses filled with tea, showing us how to peel ripe lychee nuts and taking turns giving us games. “Go is a good way to make new friends,” Danny said. The afternoon slid by as rain pattered outside and stones clicked on the boards. We lost track of time and how many games we played. After a few games with one player, another would take his place. Some smacked their stones down forcefully, some gently. All smoked and all played classically good shape patiently, never gambling on a quick win. At game’s end the stones would fly around the board during Chinese counting and each time we’d come up short and the cycle would begin again. After a dinner break nearby — Chinese food family-style with beers and toasts each time our glasses were refilled and a discussion about favorite go professionals — the games continued into the night until finally it was time to say goodbye — until next time — to our new Shanghai go friends.
– Chris Garlock; photos by John Pinkerton

Categories: Traveling Go Board