News from the American Go Association

January 6, 2006
Volume 7, #2

San Francisco, CA & Seattle, WA
GAME COMMENTARY: Shodan Challenger
THE PLAYING LIFE: Learning Pains
ASK THE PRO: How To Study Go (Part 2)
ATTACHED FILES: 2006.01.06 Challenge, Perow-Dou, Yang

FENG YUN YO UTH CAMP A SUCCESS: The first winter Youth Camp - held last week during the school holiday break -- was a great success, reports organizer Feng Yun 9P. "We had 32 campers and four teachers -- Eric Lui, Andrew Jackson, Rob Muldowney and myself. Many games were played and reviewed for dan and high kyu level players during the camp." Full report in Monday's EJ.

FINAL STRETCH FOR OZA '06: With barely a week to go to the January 14-15 Toyota/Denso North American Oza Tournament, organizers in both the New York City and Las Vegas locations are finalizing preparations for one of the biggest events of the 2006 go calendar. Registrations are coming in at both locations and large fields are expected in the competition for $20,000 in prizes. Get details - including who's already registered - at where you'll also find inf o on accommodations, registration forms and more. The E-Journal plans full coverage of the Oza and will broadcast Board 1 games live on IGS from New York City.

LEE CHANGHO SWEEPS LEE SEDOL TO CHALLENGE FOR KUKSU: Lee Changho 9P swept Lee Sedol 9P 2-0 to become the challenger for the 49th Kuksu in Korea. Details on Monday.

MILLION-DOLLAR CHO: Cho U 9P of Japan took top honors in terms of total prize money in 2005, winning the equivalent of nearly one million US dollars. Details on Monday.

WEEKEND GO ACTION: San Francisco, CA & Seattle, WA
- January 7-8: San Francisco, CA
14th Annual Jiang Zhu Jiu Goe Tournament
Ernest Brown 415-641-1452
- January 8: Seattle, WA
Ratings Tournament
Jon Boley 206-545-1424

< a name='GAME COMMENTARY'>GAME COMMENTARY: Shodan Challenger
       The fifty 2006 Shodan Challengers are our biggest crop ever and we'll continue to track their progress as we draw ever closer to the US Go Congress in August. Today's game features Challenger Ze-Li Dou 4k, who grew up in China and now lives in Fort Worth, TX and hopes to be shodan by this year's Congress. The thorough commentary is by Yilun Yang 7P, a popular go teacher and E-Journal contributor.

THE PLAYING LIFE: Learning Pains
By John Howard 5k
       Teaching go turns out to be far more difficult than learning the game. Fostering a new player's passion for the game without driving them away screaming is surprisingly tricky. A five kyu still trudging slowly toward shodan myself, I realize I know next to nothing about the game. I can spell it, I know who goes first and I know when to remove a stone from the board (though I have been known to forget the latter), but beyond that there is very little I know about go that I don't doubt regularly.
       Sipping tea in the bookstore that doubles as our club, a young kid toting a board asks for a game. We wrangle through our relative strengths, settle on a teaching game and I happily plunge in. Seeing someone eager to learn the game is always exciting. A few moves in, the questions start. I have answers. But do I really? What I think I know about strategy seems hardly worth passing on, considering that half the people in the room could wipe the board with me before their coffee cooled. The advice he takes as gospel could simply be sowing his impressionable mind with the seeds of bad play.
       By the end of the game, as the young player sits slack-jawed, glassy-eyed and defeated on the other side of t he board, I wonder if I've taught him anything useful and worry whether I've completely discouraged him. The proverb says it takes a thousand games to reach shodan but watching group after group die weighs heavy on the ego. I know that to improve we must all suffer through the losses, but the lingering newbie in me winces with each lesson I dump on someone at the bottom of this rope ladder.
       I thank my new friend for the game and ask a nearby shodan if he'll play me. I hope he knows what he's doing.
Howard lives and plays go in Portland, Oregon.

ASK THE PRO: How To Study Go (Part 2)
by Janice Kim 3P
       It's important to play games to gain experience, but here too you can play a lot of games and not make a lot of progress if you're just putting stones down. Luckily we have the Internet, although it can be a little difficult, remember even insei living in Japan probably will spend more time on the train going to play than if you have to search go servers for someone who wants to play a good game. Try to find opponents a little stronger than you and give them a good game that will make them think they've got to stay on their toes to stay ahead of you. Play at a steady clip, not so fast that you don't consider where your opponent might play next, but recognize that you won't play significantly better if you spend a lot of time, so better not to waste it. Go over it afterwards, on a board is best trying to remember as much as you can, a nice feature of the Internet is you can also print the game record. It's nice to go over it with your opponent, but if they don't want to, that's okay. I will go out on a limb here and say don't feel too bad if you can't find people to give you pointers, you will more often than not just be left with something you will have to empty from your mind later. A s my teacher said, "If you thought about it, it's a good move. If you didn't, it was bad." As I reflect over the years about things he said to me that sounded too simple or silly, I realize now they were like kernels of truth buried in a vast landfill of information.
       If you can, try to recruit your friends to your new pursuit. Friendly competition is a great way to learn, although you may find you have to become a bit of an organizer. If you reach out, you may find new players, surprisingly strong players hiding in your area, and it's also a great way to travel if you seek out players living where you are visiting. Although you may have very limited funds now, as you can you may want to obtain some books at some point. I've written the Learn to Play Go series with the idea in mind that it would give players a solid foundation, particularly those who don't have any local teachers or resources, and also that you can loan it out so y ou can try to recruit new players. Game collections and tsumego collections in any language are also good. But luckily go is something that you don't have to invest a lot of money on, the money comes in basically when you want to spend it because it would make your go life easier or more enjoyable, not because you need a lot of resources to make progress.
       Lastly, don't worry too much about your rank, or trying to get to a certain rank in a given time. My personal experience was that I never knew how much I was improving, or even if I was improving at all. When I first went to study in Korea I think I was probably about 4 kyu, and the first time I returned home after several months, I competed in the US Open as a 6 dan, winning three and losing three games. I only mention this because when I started my teacher was giving me a 5 stone handicap and I was losing, and when I visited home he was still giving me a 5 stone handicap and I was still losing, so I didn't think I had made very much progress at all. No one ever asked me my rank or even mentioned it, and I entered the Open as a 6 dan only because my dad entered me and he is wildly optimistic. Go is so varied that I don't think we ever get to a point where we really know what we are doing, but we can learn how to think and approach each new situation with a clear mind. So try as hard as you can not to think about your rank, which is really only a limitation. We can all play 2 to 5 ranks better than what our technical rank may be anyway. If you follow a go study program like this, I feel confident that you will reach the dan levels more quickly than you hoped.
       (Part 1 ran in the January 2 EJ) Author of the award-winning, best-selling go series "Learn to Play Go," Janice Kim was the 1984 Fuji Women's Champion, won 2nd place in the 1985 World Youth Championship and 3rd in the 1994 EBS Cup. She's now a co lumnist with Hikaru no Go in Shonen Jump magazine. Got a question for the Pro? Email it to us at today! All questions are welcome, though we can't promise that every one will be answered.


FOR SALE: Go stones & bowls. Stones: very old, 4-5mm, Japanese shell and slate. This is a complete set of stones that have some natural yellowing and light staining from age and handling. They're more interesting to look at than brand-new, pure white stones. Anyone can own new go stones, but these are antiques. Most likely, they date from the 1930s-1940s. Buyer pays $85, plus $10 shipping. Bowls: pair of old Japanese, amber-brown bowls, $50. Made in a style that was common years ago but is no longer available; you won't see them at the popular go vendor websites. There are rings of small ridges that circle horizontally around the sides. Very unique, but they are still very trad itional-looking go bowls. Photos available. Contact Anton

FOR SALE: Limited supply of kaya wood, Latin name, Torreya californica (California nutmeg, not to be confused with Torreya nucifera, the Japanese nutmeg. Similar characteristics in each but growing in different locations). I am currently selling this wood on ebay and I would be happy to send the URL of these sales to anyone interested in building their own go board table or tabletop board. Current offerings are of segmented boards and I'm hoping to get thick one-piece boards soon depending on response to my ebay listings and classifieds.

FOR SALE: About 100 individual AGA Go Journals from 5/74 to the present. Set is NOT complete but all are different. Many good old issues in good shape. Whole set available for $150 or b/o; free shipping in continental US. Contact Bill Saltman at

Published by the American Go Association
Managing Editor: Chris Garlock
Assistant Editor: Bill Cobb

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