American Go E-Journal


Monday August 2, 2010

“It took begging on my knees to get into schools,” said Marjorie “Su Co” Hey 19k (l), the American Go Foundation’s Teacher of the Year, in a Monday afternoon presentation about her methods of teaching go.  Once she did get into schools, though, teachers “found that the kids that were playing go were behaving better in classes — suddenly I was very popular.”  Double-digit kyus make better teachers, she said, because they don’t complicate things. “If you give the students too much information, they’ll get confused, and they probably won’t come back.”  She is not a fan of “capture go” as a teaching method, because “by the time you get around to showing them all the rules, they’ve lost interest,” so she teaches the full rules of go. Hey said that she ensures that new players win their first game, no matter what, because they won’t come back if they don’t enjoy it, and “worse yet they won’t tell anyone.”   David Weiss 2D agreed that capture go is not a good tool because “kids in general only want to capture — it’s like throwing gasoline on a fire.”  But John Greiner 6k pointed out that the biggest advantage of capture go “is that they know when the game is over.” Hey doesn’t like 9×9 boards — they’re too crowded and players don’t get room to experiment — so she moves people up to 13×13 after two or three games.  In addition to the traditional names for the fourth line (“influence line”) and third line (“territory line”), she added names for the second (“losing line”) and first (“dead line”) to help her students avoid them.  For new students, it’s important not to “let them leave empty-handed,” so she gives out The Way to Go, paper boards, and various other handouts so that they have something to read as well as a way to play before  the next meeting.  It is important to recognize that different kinds of students have different needs, Hey said.  Adults “need to be assured that they are learning something worthwhile,” while kids want to start playing “before they know where the stones go.”  Presenting some go history and the names of famous players is useful when introducing adults, but not for kids.  In addition to her presentation, Hey also brought a lot of her teaching materials (r) to show to the other teachers.
– report/photos by Jake Edge