The American Go Foundation Newsletter
"Each One Teach One"
Number 11 Spring 2013

Now that school is wrapping up for the year, we hope that the teachers and librarians among you can take a moment to enjoy this issue of our newsletter. Lots to tell. A new beginner's book and a 9x9 board are available as free downloads; we're working with after-school programs in Los Angeles to develop a curriculum for non-playing teachers ; we've got an exciting new deal with Google . and we want to tell you about a new go-themed manga in which the main character is a girl.

We hear that more and more programs are setting up club-to-club remote partnerships across the country and even internationally, using the Internet. We love it! So we end this issue with reports on Go at an English-language Go school in Seoul ; two recent visits to Cuba by American players; and a great new youth program in Brazil . We hope there will be more such partnerships to tell about soon. Go is the perfect bridge across distance, culture and even language barriers.

More and more programs like yours (or the one you're thinking about) are doing exciting things out there; in fact we have reports from Pennsylvania , Massachusetts , North Carolina , Michigan and Georgia . But we don't want to overwhelm you. Watch for another special "Program Update" edition before the end of the school year.

With the publication of Falling in Love with Baduk: Play a Game in One Week , The Korea Baduk Association has taken yet another important step to support Western Go. Written in both Korean and English by Dahye Lee and Jihee Baek, two young Korean pros, this is a book aimed at beginners, and especially Westerners. “People with different skin colors and different languages can understand one another when seated across the Baduk board,” they write. “It thrills us to imagine a view of Easterners and Westerners playing the game together.” This is a valuable book for serious newcomers of any age. Basic principles are broken down into seven simple lessons, presumably one per day, with dozens of problems illustrating each day's lesson. Ms. Lee will attend this year's US Go Congress and will participate in the AGA's first teacher training program. The book is ideal for classroom situations too, and can be used as a manual by non-players who find themselves running Go programs at libraries or schools. The book is available as a free download from the AGF website here . It's a hefty download, weighing in at t 86 MB, so expect it to take a little time.

Don't have equipment? No problem. Download and print the PDF we use to produce our 9x9 beginner's board , which also includes a set of rules designed so that any two complete non-players can get through a game. Pick up a 3/4" punch and a few sheets black and white card stock from a good craft store, punch out 40 "stones" of each color, and you're ready to go!

Move over Hikaru – here comes Crow in the Starry Sky , or Hoshizora no Karasu , as it is known in Japanese, a new manga about Go appearing in Hana to Yume magazine. The story centers around Karasuma Waka, a young girl who learned to play Go from her grandfather, a professional who was despised by his family for placing Go above his family life. Karasuma catches the bug though and resolves to go "pro" no matter how her mother feels about it. No official translation has been announced, but fansubbers have picked it up and are posting chapters online. As with Hikaru , this can help build a market for a series that might not otherwise get translated. Hikaru is in the shonen genre, intended for boys; the new manga evens things out. A shojo series, targeted at girls, it will feature romance and in-depth characterizations. The first chapter has plenty of action on the Go board though. Go players of any gender will enjoy the series. To download the original fansub, visit Pandascans . To read the series online, visit Kissmanga . Pandascans reminds readers that they do not own the rights to this manga. They ask that people support the author and the publisher by purchasing the manga when/if it becomes available in the US. – Adapted from The American Go E-Journal article by EJ Youth Editor Paul Barchilon

The Los Angeles Unified School District serves more than 660,000 students – what if they all learned Go? American Go Association President Andy Okun posed that question to LA's Best , a $3.5M organization that works to provide safe, fun after-school activities for 30,000 of the most at-risk students in LA. Their answer: “Let's see!” Later this month, 2008 AGF Teacher of the Year Vincent Eisman and Okun will train a group of non-playing teachers, who will then introduce Go in two school-based summer day camps. If the program succeeds, it could expand broadly. “With a partner like LA's Best, the sky's the limit,” said Okun. “Training non-players to teach children is a new idea, and a very promising one,” American Go Foundation President Terry Benson added. “AGF programs have usually been started by people with at least some familiarity with the game. If it works, and groups of non-players can learn together with carefully crafted support, then there are literally no limits on who can become a Go player.”

No, they didn't exactly write The American Go Foundation a check, but Google has agreed to donate up to $120,000 per year to the AGF in free AdWords, those text-based ads you see to the right when you use some Google products. The AGF received this benefit by qualifying as a Google Nonprofit , a status available to 501c3 corporations. “This is a great new way to reach out to players, teachers, librarians, organizers and people who ought to be players,” said AGF President Terry Benson. Google also helps the AGF – like Microsoft, Exxon and other major corporations - by matching the contributions of Go-loving employee donors. That, however, is the only corporate money the AGF receives. We depend on those who want to see the game spread.

As visiting Americans who help run the Bay Area Go Players Association , Roger and Lisa Schrag wanted to see first-hand how Go is taught in South Korea, a country where the population is as familiar with Go as Americans are with chess. They visited Blackie's International Baduk Academy (BIBA), where they were greeted by friendly teachers Kim Seung-jun 9P “Blackie” (right in photo) and Diana Koszegi 1P. Two years ago, "Blackie" and Koszegi opened BIBA's doors in the bustling Sanbon neighborhood of Seoul. The school only accepts international students, yet the system of learning Go is traditional Korean. Students live and breathe Go with a daily schedule that runs from 11 in the morning to about 10 at night. All coursework is conducted in English. People have traveled from Canada, Singapore, France, Germany, Serbia, the U.K., and the U.S. to attend the Academy. Students also attend events, meet pro players at tournaments, and visit the Korean Baduk Association.

“Even if you are at BIBA for a short time, the value is in learning how to study,” explained Koszegi. Korean Go study focuses significantly on life and death problems. “Foreigners are weak on life and death,” Koszegi continued. “They might come in as a 3D but play more like a 5k in life and death. Korean kids who are 3D play like a 5D in life and death.” Blackie plays Go professionally in addition to teaching, and Lisa asked him if doing so much teaching weakens his game. “You don't get weaker teaching,” he responded. “Maybe you don't have as much time to study, but you don't get weaker.” The key, Blackie believes, is to not overplay during teaching games. Instead, Blackie waits for opponents to make mistakes. A traditional Korean Go school for children operates just down the hall from BIBA, and students from the two schools sometimes connect for competitive games. There's also plenty of sightseeing available when you aren't studying Go or playing foot volleyball and soccer with the BIBA gang: palaces, parks, biking along the Han River . . . This summer BIBA will offer their first summer camp . “We hope that kids can join to our camp, but anyone is welcomed,” Kim Seung-jun tells the E-Journal . “No age or rank limit, just like in BIBA.” The camp will run June 24 through July 23 in Seoul, South Korea. Highlights of the camp include game reviews and commentaries, studying life and death problems and professional games as well as games; teachers include Kim Seung-jun 9P, Diana Koszegi 1P, On So-jin 7P and Park Young-un 7d. Campers will also visit the Hangkuk Kiwon and meet with famous professional players, visit the Kwon Gap Yong Baduk Academy in Seoul, play sports in a nearby park and visit the seashore. For more information, visit BIBA's website . For more about Seoul, check out Visit Seoul . -- Adapted from a report in The American Go E-Journal by Lisa Schrag; photos by Lisa Schrag.

If Seoul seems out of reach this year (see above story), you're not out of luck, The AGA Summer Camp is happening July 20-27 at a YMCA Conference center in western Pennsylvania this year. Scholarships of up to $200 are available from the AGF -- click here for details. It's not just about go! Check out this video .

In January AGF President Terry Benson traveled to the homeland of chess legend Capablanca to see how Go is coming along there. He visited the Cuban Go Academy, established in 2009 with funding from Kansai Kiin after a series of visits from various pros. Benson reports: “The government-supported Academy occupies a big (60x30) space under the sports stadium with room for 30 boards and a lecture area. The teacher is 15 kyu and receives an average and modest monthly Cuban salary. There are about 450 Go players in the country. Tournaments are in the 50-player range. One Cuban rule: to play in a tournament you must show up a minimum of four times a month.

“At the Academy they have mostly homemade boards and Cuban-made stones. There's no internet access and no computer. They need both: they didn't know about the Go Symposium held last year. They have a few dan-level players (including one 5D), some women, and kids who come after school. I played a good even game against Yordan Cruz 1D (at right in photo above) using an ancient set of thin slate and clam shell stones on one of the few thicker boards.

The poor state of Cuban public transportation – and the fact that most Cubans don't have cars - encourages the creation of local clubs. So the Academy is one of several in Havana. Cuban Go is old style: face to face. Despite the limitations, the Cuban Go players were like the many Cubans I met – musicians, farmers, fishermen, artists – content, happy to be playing/singing/working, and encouraged by the changes which are gradually transforming their island nation. They hope for more contact with the Go world, and as this year's visits show, this will surely happen. Who won't want to play Go under the sun on a beautiful beach?”

Benson's thoughts were echoed by the team of American players who prevailed in a February 16-17 friendship match in Havana. “The true victory was in realizing this rare opportunity for players from the two countries to come together,” said trip organizer Bob Gilman. Eleven U.S. players met their Cuban opponents at the Cuban Go Academy. The US players ranged from 5D to 24K, and the Cubans had a similarly wide range. The event drew coverage on Cuban sports TV. “They are just a wonderful group of people and their passion for the game came through every minute we were with them,” said AGA President Andy Okun. “When the barriers between our countries are gone, the North American Go community will be that much richer. Everyone I played showed intense fighting spirit,” Okun added, “and I think they will benefit a lot once they have easier access to resources and opponents.”

Anthony Chen 5d agreed that ”If the Cubans get to play Go on the internet, their strength will improve dramatically. Since their travel is limited, they don't play against many different styles of players. It was good that our US team was able to provide a measuring stick for them, but if they can play regularly on the internet, I am sure they will raise their level rapidly.” -- adapted from coverage in The American Go E-Journal ; photos by Joel Olson and Rafael Torres Miranda

The Caroline Campelo Cruz e Silva School in Palmas City, Brazil, has launched a full Go program for kids, reports teacher Luciano Sanches Teixeira. Recent changes in organization and curricula at the school opened up space for new teaching activities, including a room equipped for teaching chess and checkers. “The first contact with Go came about through research about (chess and checkers) on the Internet,” that led to the discovery that “there was another game, an oriental game played with glass spheres on a wooden board,” says Teixeira.
The school received its first go board in 2010, and while the initial interest was sparked by curiosity about an ancient game, Teixeira says that Go “gained our attention thanks to its relationship with mathematics.” In addition to the calculations required for playing Go, “we also think that looking at the different shapes built on the board and dealing with the delicate stones could also help develop motor coordination and laterality,” which are both important in the literacy process. This year the school launched a project to teach Go to all students over a two-month period. “We also offered workshops after the regular classes, where students had access to the game of Go throughout the school year.”

The Go project aims to promote the game in the school, as well as to support the development of logical thinking. “We present basic math in a fun and exciting way, and stimulate organizational skills for managing schoolwork; we encourage values in relation to the productive use of human reasoning, and promote an understanding of students roles in building a better society,” adds Texiera.

Students themselves helped build the school's Go sets out of ethyl vinyl acetate, a type of rubber very popular in Brazilian schools for the construction of inexpensive teaching materials. The low cost of the materials helped promote Go outside the school. The schedule of activities included a workshop teaching the basics of the game to other teachers so that they can work with Go in an interdisciplinary way. It's also hoped that since board games function as a communication tool, the Go program “may facilitate the connection of our students to people from other places, other cultures and other languages,” notes Teixeira. To this end, the KGS Go Server will be implemented in the school computer room, so that students can use the network to play with other Go players around the world.

“Go is wonderful…it has changed the way I experience board games,” said student Sara Beatriz Santos Nogueira. Fellow students Junior Vilson Ferreira and Jorge Marques dos Santos Victor both fell in love with the game – Vilson says Go is the best game he has ever played — and in the second week of the project they signed up for the after-school workshop. This type of positive response to the pilot project at the Caroline Campelo Cruz e Silva School bodes well for potential adoption elsewhere in Brazil, according to Abrago (the Brazilian Go Association).

Because board games are still new in Brazil's school environment, the next step will be to evaluate the project's impact, and then to propose expansion to other schools. Project organizers credit Abrago for providing educational materials, technical guidance, and “helping further the dissemination of the work, making possible the implementation of this initiative,” says Teixeira, adding that without the support of Roberto Petresco and Everson Batista da Silva “we would not have succeeded.”
- based on a report in The American Go E-Journal by teacher Luciano Sanches Teixeira, translated by Roberto Petresco and edited by EJ Youth Editor Paul Barchilon.

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Managing Editor: Roy Laird

Associate Editors: Paul Barchilon, Terry Benson

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