After many months of almost going and then not being able to, I am happy to report that I finally made it out to one of Yuan Zhou‘s monthly workshops. This post is slightly overdue since I went to the November one; but it comes at a right time since the December workshop is right around the corner!
For those who have never been to a go workshop, here’s a high level overview of what you might find:
- In depth review of a game (usually a professional one)
- One round of games (with a main time around 45 minutes)
- Game reviews for the games that were just played
As I arrived at Yuan Zhou’s house, I nostalgically recalled the two lessons that I had taken with him in the past. They seemed so long ago, but I was glad that I was finally back to seriously study the game. As I walked towards the entrance, I felt a little apprehensive as I wondered whether I would be able to gain anything from this workshop since I am so weak; but before I could have any serious doubts, I was greeted by Yuan Zhou and welcomed inside.
I was happy to see that Nate had already arrived, and promptly sat myself next to him as I was told to work on the life and death problem on the board. As we sat there staring at the board, Nate made a comment that made me laugh,
“Two years after Shifu told me someone named Ben might be coming who was close to my level, you’ve finally managed to show up.”
After everyone had arrived, it was time to see if the students had figured it out. As luck would have it, since I was the weakest player there, I was to give the first response. Recently, I had been exposed to some of the quirkier life and death problems that required atypical moves just as making the empty triangle descent and such; so I ended up choosing that move even though I couldn’t quite see the end of the sequence. Sure enough. I was wrong. Haha. Eventually a stronger player gave the right answer, and so we finished up the explanation and moved on to the review of the professional game.
The game we were reviewing was one of Ishida Yoshio and Rin Kaiho‘s games from 1974. Before we even began looking at the kifu however, Yuan Zhou launched into a fascinating explanation of the history behind the game: Go Seigen & Kitani Minoru, the Super Six, the terse feelings of having a non-Japanese player hold both Meijin and Honinbo titles, and so on. While some may wonder how relevant this is to getting better, it is like a cultural tour of this game we all devote so much time to that many often overlook. And if you still aren’t convinced, knowing the history behind the entire game made for a much more exciting review since you have an understanding of the players and how high the stakes are.
After the exciting game review, we had lunch and then proceeded with the afternoon game. Since we had an odd number of players, one of the players recorded my game while I had the opportunity to play. I felt kind of badly that I was playing and the player had to record, so in the future, I think that I would not mind being the recorder instead so other players can play instead. Anyhow, here’s the game record from that afternoon.
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After all the games were finished, Yuan Zhou reviewed all of the games. If there’s something I learned from that experience, you tend to remember your lessons a lot better when other people are watching the review and seeing the mistakes you made. For example, the one thing that I will remember forever is the Elephant’s Eye (which I’ll write more on at another time). In addition, being able to have both sides of the game reviewed really helps to open you eyes as to what was supposed to work and what wasn’t supposed to work. On top of that, getting to see the game reviews for everyone else’s game was also very helpful.
Although I started out skeptical of what I would gain from the workshop, I am now a huge fan of them. Since most of players will never have the opportunity to be an insei and study go at that level of intensity, I really feel that go workshops are like one day insei experiences. Everyone who attends is committing their time and money, and you can be sure that everyone wants to make the most out of it. In addition, they are spaced out in such a way that you don’t have to worry about information overload. In fact, that’s exactly what you want since the time apart from each workshop allows you to absorb and apply the things that you learned so that you will have new things to learn the next time around.
I highly recommend Yuan Zhou’s workshops if you ever have the opportunity. The next workshop will be December 16th, 2012. If you’re interested in attending one of Yuan Zhou’s monthly workshops, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hope to see you there one day!