The American Go Foundation Newsletter
"Each One Teach One"
Number 9 Summer 2012

Each year we select an outstanding Go organizer as Teacher of the Year. The recipient receives an all-expenses paid trip to the US Go Congress, where each year's TOTY leads a discussion among fellow organizers, sharing strategies and learning from each other. This year's winner, Joe Walters of Pasadena, CA, learned Go in the Navy – that is, he learned about Go. “A buddy and I tried it and wound up bewildered, with two walls across the middle of the board,” Walters told Sensei recently.  “I didn't really start to understand go until the Ishi Press books began to appear in the 1970's.” (His current rank is about 8K.) Returning to civilian life, Walters joined the staff of the Reiyukai (Spiritual Friendship Society), a lay Buddhist association. He suggested organizing a Go club at the Center to attract visitors and promote interest, and the Go-For-Yu Club was born. Later, after a stint as the Director of the Reiyukai in the Philippines, he returned to Pasadena and founded the Yu-Go Club. “Jimmy Cha was a big help in the early days, along with Richard Dolen, Gun Ho Choi, and Bob Terry. Then when Yi-lun Yang came to town, things really started to take off.” Four years ago, when Walters retired, he decided to use some of his newfound freedom to start a Go program at his grandson's elementary school. Before long, about 150 of the school's 400 students were involved – ironically, his grandson was not among them. Starting with brief presentations during recess, the program soon moved to the lunchroom. “Most of the kids were finishing lunch in 15 minutes or so. The cafeteria doubles as the auditorium, so we set up go equipment on the stage. Being so visible, other kids wanted to play, and so it grew.” Each participant gets an index card marked with a Pokemon character of their choice, to record contact info, game results and so on. Setting up the program, Walters relied heavily on the Assistant Principal, who last year became principal of a nearby school.  Walters expanded his activities to that school, teaching and operating the program two days a week during lunch at each site. “The noise in the lunchroom makes it hard to teach, but we can't meet privately because students cannot be alone; a teacher must be physically present at all times,” Walters said. The principals of the two schools are good friends and maintain a friendly rivalry between their schools, so when Walters proposed an intramural tournament last year, they jumped at the chance and even provided a traveling trophy. Four players from each lunchtime group – first/second grade, third/fourth and fifth/sixth – met in a two-round playoff last year, but a few no-shows marred the result.  This year, all interested players will participate. Walters ran the event with the help of local players Jeff McClellan and Reese.  This year they will offer lessons to the parents, ending with parent-child games for all who will participate. Next, Walters hopes to teach participants in a local senior center and perhaps arrange for some of his students to meet and play with the seniors. He also enjoys teaching beginners on KGS and can often be found in the Beginner's Room as "Jodageezer". “Go is such a great way to connect all different kinds of people,” he says.

Justin Teng of Rockville, MD and Rachel Daley of Boulder, CO are the winners of the 2012 AGF College Scholarship, a $1000 award to distinguished Go organizers. Teng, the president of his local go club and the current VP of The American Go Honor Society, planned and presented a Go demonstration as part of his Eagle Project, a requirement to become an Eagle Scout. In his essay, Teng described his discovery that Go could even help disruptive kids: “One kid caught my eye, making disruptions and getting out of his seat every few minutes. Yet once he started playing a game of Capture Go with the student across from him, he was completely focused, like a whole different person.”
Applicants are encouraged to write about how Go has “affected you as a person." Daley's essay was particularly striking in this regard. “I'm not an especially social person,” she admitted in her essay, but “the Go club forced me to leave my house at least once on weekends and spend time with other people, from older men with hearing aids to a young Korean girl who has since moved back to Korea.” She started a club at her school and began helping the organizer of the local club. “One week he left me in charge of teaching anyone who dropped by. For a 14-year-old it felt like a lot of responsibility . . . .  I found that I was better at teaching the game than actually playing. Without even realizing it, I became more confident with strangers. . . . Go also taught me how to be comfortable in a room where I was the only female. I saw [the male players] as my peers and rivals instead of some different entity. This gave me the confidence to never feel intimidated by the male majority in my science and math classes. . . . I realized that this is how society changes – not by a sudden huge wave but by individuals not accepting degrading stereotypes and moving forward despite them.” Applications are now being accepted for the 2013 scholarships. Click here for more information.
Do you know a talented artist that loves Go? This is their chance to put both loves together in one project. Siddhartha Avila, the Mexican player who organized The First International Go Art Contest last year, is conducting another contest this year. Avila says, “The contest will feature children's artwork, in which they will be free to express their visions, emotions and ideas about go through painting. Its purpose is to make Go culture flourish among children, and promote it through a creative exchange.”   Last year's submissions came from Japan, the Philippines, India, the US and Mexico. Entries must be received in Mexico City July 13 th . Click here for details.

Yumi Hotta , creator of the Hikaru No Go saga, has agreed to attend The US Go Congress this year, according to American Go Association Youth Coordinator Paul Barchilon. She will conduct a special Q&A session on Sunday during the Symposium (see below) and will participate in Youth Program events, meeting and greeting fans more informally on Monday. She will also serve as a judge in the annual Hikaru No Go trivia contest. “I had no idea how popular Hikaru was outside Japan until I went to the European Go Congress two years ago and met so many people who told me they learned about go through Hikaru No Go,” Hotta recently told The American E-Journal, laughing.

Peter Shotwell, the noted Go author and scholar, is organizing the American Go Association's first International Go Symposium. Presenters from all over the world will discuss “cultural, educational, artistic, historical, literary, and scientific aspects” of Go. Nolan Bushnell, the founder of the breakthrough computer game company Atari, will present the keynote address.  Click here to see a list of other presenters and topics. The Symposium follows in the footsteps of other scholarly conferences such as The International Conference on Baduk and a Symposium at the 2008 European Go Congress in Sweden. The Symposium will be simulcast live as streaming video and will be made available online as a permanent archive, concluding on Sunday afternoon with the unveiling of the winners of The 2012 International Go Art Contest (see above).
With support from the Korean Baduk Association and $30,000 in sponsorship from TygemBaduk, the sponsor of the upcoming King of Kings world championship, the AGA will hold a special tournament this summer to select the first American professional player. The event will take place in July at The Blue Ridge Assembly, the retreat site that will host the US Go Congress the following week. Top US players will be invited to play based on their recent tournament results. There will also be a side tournament for interested observers. The tournament will be simulcast on the TygemBaduk Server. Cho Hun-hyun ( pictured right ), the superstar who dominated the Korean pro scene for decades, recently visited Los Angeles to attend the Cotsen Open, a qualifying tournament, to offer encouragement. “China dominated this game for 5,000 years, Japan dominated it for 500 years and Korea has been on top for just 30 years," Cho said. "So for American players to compete on a world level, it's going to take a long time, 10, 20, maybe even 50 years. Just follow the path, be patient and put in the effort and someone will come forth.” KBA Secretary General Yang Jae-ho 9P, who also attended, told The American Go E-Journal that “having talented kids is critical to developing the baduk community. That's why [Korea] adopted pro qualification for talented kids. America can be one of the strongest countries in the world if kids are enthusiastic about baduk. I'd like to give those kids a chance to play with the top professionals from Korea, and hopefully they will have a good experience. If those kids become professionals, I look forward to them coming to Korea to participate in tournaments, honor America, and establish baduk friendship between America and Korea. Best wishes for the success of the tournament!” -- photo courtesy of The American Go E-Journal
85 of an estimated 300 currently operating Go programs responded to our survey last fall. Many thanks to those who participated. We learned that more than 2000 participants are enrolled in the 85 programs that responded, which meet on average once a week. The programs are taking place in schools, libraries, community centers and even in two juvenile justice facilities. One in five programs (22%) operate at the local library, with another 22% based in high schools. Most of the other programs (26%) are located in elementary and middle schools. More than 30 of these programs still did not know that their local library can get a complete 23-volume set of the well-known Hikaru No Go manga for the cost of shipping ($20); we have written back to help those programs make arrangements. ( Click here if you want more info about this AGF program.) We were pleased to note that more than 95% of respondents were "satisfied" or "very satisfied" with our services. We asked about effective ways to promote and sustain programs, and received some interesting ideas in response. One program pairs experienced players with newly interested students. These "Go Masters" mentor the new players, helping them past that daunting initial learning curve. One library-based program does presentations at local schools in the media center, at assemblies and in the lunchroom. Chess clubs in high schools were obvious targets; some programs also targeted manga clubs and Asian language clubs at local schools. Libraries found it helpful to position club promotional materials near the manga shelves. In another program, the organizer keeps interest going with guest speakers from the Japan Society, the local martial-arts center and similar related cultural organizations. And here's our favorite response: "I was approached by these students, who had learned about Go from Hikaru. How they found me? I have no idea."
One of the greatest Asian films of all time, a sprawling tale of life in Japan and China during the war-torn mid-20 th century, has become available on DVD after languishing in obscurity for decades. Released in English as The Go Masters in 1982, it made news as the first film ever co-produced between the Japanese and Chinese film industries, and won first prize at The Montreal Film Festival in 1986.  Inexplicably, it had gone out of print in recent years, and you still won't find it on Netflix, but now it is available on DVD from Yellow Mountain Imports  as An Unfinished Chess Game , which is actually a more accurate translation of the Chinese title (except for the "chess" part).  Check out the  film that  Roger Ebert compared to “Gone With the Wind.”    This film is not to be confused with The Go Master, a biopic portraying Go Seigen, one of history's great Go champions, which opened in 2006 to mediocre reviews.
Several readers responded to our article last time about finding Hikaru online. They pointed out that the free sources – Hulu and Netflix – features only the subtitled version, which is challenging for younger readers. Only iTunes offers the dubbed version – for $1.99 per episode, or $19.99 for a season. Click here to read the whole story in The American Go E-Journal.

friend on Facebook | forward to a friend

back to Sensei index

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.