The American Go Foundation Newsletter
"Each One Teach One"
Vol. 1 Number 5 Spring 2010

SPECIAL ISSUE

Go With "Special Populations"

Here at the AGF , our main focus is reaching young people through schools and libraries. However, we welcome the chance to help anyone teach others to play. As a result, we support a growing number of programs in a surprisingly wide variety of settings. These organizers are discovering that Go, along with simpler variants such as Go-Moku and " First Capture ," can serve as a valuable tool to engage individuals with special needs. Yasuda Yasuitoshi 9P, a Japanese pro with a special interest in teaching Go, knows this well. He has conducted lessons in schools, senior centers and day programs for the mentally and physically challenged. Yasuda-san views Go as a game that "transcends age differences, disablilities and language barriers." In his book Go As Communication -- available free from the AGF to any teacher upon request -- he describes his experiences in detail.

In this special issue we would like you to meet some of the people who are doing this work here in the West. In our lead story, guest columnist Jeff Michaels, a "peer support specialist," outlines his work with severely mentally ill young adults. Part mentors and part role models, trained specialists like Jeff have learned to manage their own illnesses, and are trained to help others to develop those skills. Jeff tells how Go has provided a means to engage these troubled individuals. Then AGF VP Paul Barchilon describes the experience of teaching twenty inmates at a prison near his home . Finally, Sheila Wendes describes an adult education tour in Great Britain, in which those with the greatest challenges seemed to profit the most. We hope these stories will inspire you to "think outside the box."

We end with an update on Baduktopia, the publisher of child-friendly books and media for new players, including the correct instructions for logging on and viewing their teaching videos; info on how to watch Hikaru No Go anytime, anywhere you can connect to the Internet; and an annoucement that The Way To Go is now available in e-book format.

SPECIAL ISSUE

Go With "Special Populations"

Here at the AGF , our main focus is reaching young people through schools and libraries. However, we welcome the chance to help anyone teach others to play. As a result, we support a growing number of programs in a surprisingly wide variety of settings. These organizers are discovering that Go, along with simpler variants such as Go-Moku and " First Capture ," can serve as a valuable tool to engage individuals with special needs. Yasuda Yasuitoshi 9P, a Japanese pro with a special interest in teaching Go, knows this well. He has conducted lessons in schools, senior centers and day programs for the mentally and physically challenged. Yasuda-san views Go as a game that "transcends age differences, disablilities and language barriers." In his book Go As Communication -- available free from the AGF to any teacher upon request -- he describes his experiences in detail.

In this special issue we would like you to meet some of the people who are doing this work here in the West. In our lead story, guest columnist Jeff Michaels, a "peer support specialist," outlines his work with severely mentally ill young adults. Part mentors and part role models, trained specialists like Jeff have learned to manage their own illnesses, and are trained to help others to develop those skills. Jeff tells how Go has provided a means to engage these troubled individuals. Then AGF VP Paul Barchilon describes the experience of teaching twenty inmates at a prison near his home . Finally, Sheila Wendes describes an adult education tour in Great Britain, in which those with the greatest challenges seemed to profit the most. We hope these stories will inspire you to "think outside the box."

We end with an update on Baduktopia, the publisher of child-friendly books and media for new players, including the correct instructions for logging on and viewing their teaching videos; info on how to watch Hikaru No Go anytime, anywhere you can connect to the Internet; and an annoucement that The Way To Go is now available in e-book format.

GO IN THE TREATMENT OF MENTAL ILLNESS
by Jeff Michaels
I was diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 17. I am now 43 years old. I work as a Peer Support Specialist at a behavioral health agency, on their Transitional Youth Assertive Community Treatment Team. We take care of youth from 16 to 22 years old with serious mental illness. We operate as a kind of hospital without walls. I get to spend a lot of time with young adults who are newly diagnosed with mental health problems. I have the opportunity to use Go as a means to reach out to some of them.

When I sit down with a young man or woman for the first time I tell them my history and what I do in the program. More often than not they will be hard to engage. They are terribly wounded and are still trying to process what has happened to them and their life. “Want to play a game of Go?” I ask. “What is that?” they say. They become interested a bit when I pull out the board and stones.

I have gone into group homes with a Go board. Usually three or four other people besides my client ask about the game. More often then not we are playing within ten minutes. Some of the clients brag to other clients that they are playing or learning Go when they come in to the office to see our psychiatrist. I also visit mental hospitals and bring a Go set along. I played a game with a young man who had schizophrenia and was having a rough time of it. He was actively psychotic. He would play a stone every ten seconds regardless of whether I had played a stone. It made my heart sink but gave me hope too because he was still holding on to reality as best he could through the game.

One young woman I work with can't get enough of the game. She insists on playing and will not let me leave until another appointment with her is in my book. Her hospital admissions are way down, and I believe her quality of life has improved. Her favorite part is counting the stones at the end of the game. She likes to win and enjoys the patterns the stones leave on the board.

Sometimes I try to draw a parallel between the lives of the patients and the game. If they are panicked, I say wait, let's see how the stones are lying on the board first. If they have a decision to make, I say wait, is that a strong or weak move. If they keep making the same mistake over and over, I say don't throw good stones after bad. Count your liberties.

I believe the game of Go has great value in a therapeutic relationship. It is the best metaphor for life that I have encountered. The rules are simple but the patterns are endless. The game sincerely interests the clients I work with and provides a gentle way to engage them for the work ahead.

GO BEHIND BARS
by Paul Barchilon, AGF Vice President

"I am 14 years into a 25 -year sentence, and I am interested in starting a Go club at the prison," read the letter from the man I will call K. He had found the AGA's PO box listed in the back of a book and sent a letter. Mark Rubenstein at AGA Member Services forwarded a copy to me at the AGF . Although our main work focuses on children, we also offer full support for institutional settings as well. I was surprised to see that the prison was here in Colorado, and not too far away. I sent K an information packet, and an application for a Classroom Starter Set, and Rubenstein also donated two playing sets and a number of Go magazines, which he mailed to the prison. I also told K I would be willing to do a demonstration at the prison if they would let me. Alas, it was not to be so simple. The prison refused the package, so I contacted the education coordinator at the prison directly. So began six months worth of phone calls, letters, and requests to several different employees at the Federal Correctional Institute in Englewood. I had actually given up when I received a phone call from one of the education coordinators. He said he had a group of over twenty prisoners who kept asking him when the Go teacher was going to come, so he finally decided to let me do a demonstration at the prison. I also arranged for the prison to accept a shipment of playing sets for the program, and finally hand delivered Rubenstein's package of equipment and magazines as well.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I finally went to the prison. I had worked briefly with youth in a juvenile correctional facility a few years back, but this was an adult prison, and a federal one at that. When I arrived, I was surprised at the size of the place. A guard told me they housed 1,000 inmates there. I passed through multiple security screening points, with giant sliding metal grates, and went deep into the heart of the complex. I was taken to an educational center in the prison, and had a few minutes to set up before the prisoners arrived. Soon the guards started bringing the 22 inmates who had signed up. I finally met K in person, who thanked me profusely for arranging all of this. He and all of the other inmates were polite, friendly, and very attentive. Three of the prisoners knew how to play already, but none of them had ever played a game outside of the prison system. I was very happy to see that they had a few volumes of Janice Kim's Learn to Play Go series. The other 19 inmates were all first timers, so I taught them how to play and then had them all play each other on 9x9 boards. I think the Education Coordinator was pleased to see all of the inmates immediately engaged in the game and laughing as they discovered new things. After they had all played a game or two, I offered to do a simul with any five of them. They were quite excited by this, and everyone else gathered around the table where I was playing. I gave most of them a five -stone handicap on the 9x9, and tried to show them some things while we were playing.

One of the men, I will call him T, had been playing for many years. He told me he had learned from a Japanese prisoner, at another prison. He had tried to teach other inmates, but hadn't had too much luck. I played him even on the 9x9, and the other inmates all took immense pleasure in finally seeing T lose a game. After the first simul, I did a second one. This time I played both K and T on the 19x19 with a 9 -stone handicap, and three newcomers on the 9x9 boards. My experience with many clubs has shown that two things are critical for success: first, a group of beginners who are all learning together, and second, a handicap system that allows everyone to play fair games. Knowing that I wouldn't be able to come back often (if at all) I wanted very much to see if we could establish a rank for either of them. K thought he might be 17 kyu; T had no idea, but they both knew he was much stronger. T played a good game, and to our mutual delight, was able to force me to resign. Since he was within 9 stones of my rank of 1 kyu, I told him I thought he was about 9 kyu. I explained that each handicap stone was worth roughly ten points, and that from here on out he should try to give handicaps accordingly to the other inmates. If he won a game by 50 points, he should give five stones, and so forth. Hopefully the other players will be able to base their ranks off of his.

At the end of my three hours with the inmates, T surprised me by asking if it was possible to make a donation to the AGF . I told him we were funded entirely by donations, and would welcome one if he had the ability to do so. I wasn't expecting the prisoners to have any money, but one of the guards explained that the inmates actually work in the prison, and receive wages for it. I am sure they are not well paid, but if one is serving many years, it can obviously add up. I don't know what crimes any of these men had committed, and I don't want to. What I do know is that a person doesn't stop living once they are behind bars. I can think of no group that might better benefit from the qualities that Go brings to our lives than prisoners. Perhaps learning how to play Go will give them a non-violent forum to express themselves in, and they will be able to better themselves by learning how to communicate in this way. I also know that whatever a man's crime, he should be able to play Go if he wants to. They have chess and Scrabble in prison, they should have Go, too. – image by Mike Samuel Graphics ; reprinted from The American Go E-Journal

THE GO SHOW
Great Britain's Central Council on Physical Recreation , a national alliance of more than three hundred sport and recreation groups, is more inclusive than it sounds. When Peter Wendes, one of England's most ardent Go promoters, noticed that The English Chess Federation was a member, he persuaded The British Go Association to join as well. Soon after, CCPR awarded them a grant to run twenty Go events around England, engaging adults in informal learning. The Zen Machine , which introduces Go to “Education, Health, Leisure and Corporate Clients,” scheduled the events, hoping to reach as many as 250 people. One of their most successful events was a “car boot sale” or flea market. They rented a stall in October and put up a sign that said, “Go – the Christmas present for the person who has everything. We'll even show you how to play.” Dozens of people played throughout the day. Another fruitful venue was a manga/ cosplay . In the end they taught more than four hundred people, as ZM co-founder Sheila Wendes reports in The British Go Journal , “old and young, some with physical disabilities, those at risk of social isolation, ethnic minorities, and a wide range of ability. Some surprised themselves by enjoying the unexpected opportunity. Settled couples discovered how competitive they could be. People who had heard of Go and failed to learn from books, or online, learned by playing against humans. Some isolated people in rural areas have since got together to play at each other's homes.” Interestingly, adults with special needs were the easiest to reach. “Being used to introducing Go to children or students who are enthusiastic learners, . . . [we found that] adults going about their daily routine were more difficult to engage. Many of them asked suspiciously what we were selling, or told us they didn't have time, weren't very good at games. The majority of them had to be tempted, encouraged, and not frightened off. Self-help groups recovering from addictions or mental health problems, adults with specific learning disabilities, or mature students, were much more open to interesting and unexpected possibilities enhancing their day. Go is ideal in these situations because it is possible to access at almost any level. We met some extremely receptive residents in sheltered housing in Cornwall who were running ahead of our presentation and asking interesting questions, such as how mood would affect play, and how Go might help them get in touch with their strengths and weaknesses."– photo by Sheila Wendes; excerpted from the Winter 2009 British Go Journal

HIKARU AVAILABLE ON DEMAND ONLINE
So you're surfing YouTube with your buds, and you want to show them how cool Go is. They're not ready for the teaching videos you can find there; first they need to become interested. It would be great to show them Hikaru No Go ; -- and now you can, using Hulu, the popular streaming website for TV shows, movies and other video. At press time the first twenty-four episodes had been posted (in Japanese with English subtitles), and two more episodes will appear each Wednesday until all 75 parts can be viewed there. Click here for a list of episode links.

As reported last issue, we continue to offer complete 17-volume sets of Hikaru manga to interested school and young adult libraries free for the cost of shipping ($26). Through the generosity of Winston Jen, a Hong Kong-based Australian manga/anime lover, the AGF is still able to offer this wonderful coming-of-age go-playing tale. The retail value of these manga is more than $120. Any public or school library can qualify; several dozen sets are still available. Click here for more information -- and take it to your local or school librarian!

BADUKTOPIA UPDATE
Oops! Last issue we told you how to access Baduktopia's animated Go lessons , but our instructions didn't work. As most of you figured out, you have to create an account with login and password on the Baduktopia home page first. In other Baduktopia news, problem solutions for all seventeen Baduktopia books are now available for download at no charge. Each book contains nearly 1000 carefully selected problems that lead the reader slowly but surely along the path to stronger play. Written for children as young as five with short, clear chapters, the twelve-volume Level Up! Series will bring nearly any neophyte to at least a single-digit kyu level of play. For the more advanced player – or the Level Up! Graduate – Essential Life and Death , in four volumes, covers a crucial topic in great depth, while Jeongsook Compass provides a basic introduction to opening theory. Taken together, these seventeen books provide a road map to strong play. Level Up 1-5 plus Review 1 and Level Up 6-10 plus Review 2 are sold as sets from Yellow Mountain Imports and Slate and Shell . Click here to view actual pages from this series.

WAY TO GO FOR E-BOOK READERS
I can't read ‘The Way To Go' on my Kindle,” reported Marjorie Hey, who manages several AGF -approved teaching programs in the Boston area. She was right – the AGA's pdf was laid out with two pages to an 8.5X11 sheet for easy printing, but a one page format works better with electronic readers. So an e-book-reader-friendly pdf is now available here along with a printable version. We hope you will send it to all your e-book-reader-owning friends!

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Managing Editor: Roy Laird
Associate Editors: Paul Barchilon, Terry Benson

Text material published in Sensei may be freely reproduced, as long as you credit " Sensei : The American Go Foundation Newsletter" as the source and hotlink to the AGF home page if possible. Articles appearing in Sensei represent the opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official views of the American Go Foundation.