During my game review for the first match of the month, I had a disturbing revelation. As Inseong was talking about my mistakes, he then commented on how attacking was one of the most pleasurable aspects of go. Suddenly, a lightbulb went off in my head as I realized what had been missing from my games all this time: I had forgotten how to attack.
As I sat there, I thought, “Me? Not attacking properly? Not enjoying the attack? How far have I fallen?”
Needless to say, it got me wondering if this was what was wrong with me over these past couple of weeks; but what’s funny is that life had something else in store for me as well. Though I didn’t know it at the time, something that I had volunteered to help out at was happening the same weekend: the Smithsonian Folklife Festival was about to give me the wake-up call that I needed.
At first, with me being down lately, I have to admit that I was a bit reluctant to go as the day crept up. Before I knew it though, Saturday was upon me and I was sitting down and teaching person after person. And with each person that sat down, seeing their eyes light up as they learned the rules and enjoyed their time was really heart-warming for me. Out of all the ones I taught though, there was one in particular that I want to mention here.
A young girl (probably around 6–8 years old) and her mother decided to stop by to learn the game. As I taught the rules to the girl and proceeded through my own curriculum of how I believe go should be taught, she picked it up with relative ease. And with each new milestone in learning the game, her eyes lit up and a smile spread across her face that I can only describe as absolutely adorable.
Fast forward a bit, and I decide that she’s ready to try an actual game of go. I had commandeered the big 9x9 magnetic board (with huge pieces) that is used for demonstration at the time. So as one can expect, there was a bit of a crowd around us by the time our game started. I gave her 7 stones as a handicap and we started playing.
To my utter surprise, she ignored most of my overplays and played such calm and beautiful moves! If I tried to hane on one stone, she would ignore me and just connect her stones together only to leave me in dismay. And before I knew it, she killed my entire group and owned the entire board.
Now, while another person might have found it to be embarrassing, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to demonstrate to the crowd what it looked like to get demolished and to explain that resigning was an honorable thing to do in this game. This got quite a big laugh of course. And as I turned to the girl and her mom to tell her how she did an incredible job crushing me, she beamed with happiness and pride that made the entire spectacle entirely worth it.
The reason I’m writing this is because it’s really easy to get caught up in the competitive aspects of go. After all, most players who end up playing this game long term are usually playing to become the strongest player they can possibly be. But after my experiences these last few days, I’m reminded of the fact that there is far more to go than simply gaining that next stone.
Though it’s easy to forget, finding happiness and fun in go is just as important (if not the most) when taking that next step in your journey as a go player. I’m not quite out of the woods yet in regards to my own slump, but I can tell you that this weekend was the ray of light that I needed as I start to make my way toward the end of the tunnel.