Pro Event at the Japanese Embassy

Japan Embassy

On April 2nd, 2013, I had the honor of being able to attend a professional go event that featured Narumi Osawa (4p) and was hosted by the Japanese Embassy in Washington D.C. It was a free event that consisted of a short talk designed for beginners, a simultaneous game against Narumi, and a lecture/review on one of the games.

For those who don’t know Narumi, here is a short biography on her.

Narumi Osawa

  • Born in Saitama Prefecture, Japan on May 22nd, 1976.
  • Became professional 1-dan in 1998, promoted to 2-dan in 1999, 3-dan in 2003, and 4-dan in 2009.
  • Won the Women’s Kakusei Title(女流鶴聖戦) in 1999 and 2003, and the Women’s JAL Title(JAL女流早碁戦)in 2005.
  • Participated in the 16th Asian Tournament as a member of the Japanese National Team.
    Being as the event was in D.C. on a weekday night, I made sure to pad extra time for any possible metro delays or my own inability to find the place. Luckily I did, because even though I arrived about half an hour early, it took me walking into two different buildings before I finally found the Japanese Embassy.

In all honesty, I was a little skeptical as to how many people would be able to attend since it was in D.C. and on a Tuesday. For those who don’t live in the area, traffic can be crazy when trying to get into the city during rush hour; but I was pleasantly surprised to see that a lot of people showed up! On top of that, there were actually a number of beginners who came as well! It was certainly very uplifting to see so many people attend.

As you can see, the place is filled with people!

When the time came to meet Narumi, I was a little more nervous than usual because I knew that she didn’t speak very much English. Fortunately, there was a translator that helped to facilitate some basic conversation between her and I regarding how strong I was. One of the interesting questions I got from her was what we considered beginners to be in terms of rank. I responded that we considered beginners to be anywhere from 30-20k. As she nodded to acknowledge my statement, I couldn’t help but be reminded of how most players in Asia probably only recognize dan as an actual rank. Haha.

When it came time for the event to start, we were still short on boards and missing the demonstration board. Narumi was quick on her feet however, and she suggested that the beginners form two teams and she would comment on the game as they played. After a little bit of shuffling around, two teams of five were formed and play began. Here are some photographs from the beginner event:

The two kids here are choosing for color.

Side Note: It was exciting when we found out that the boy is an elementary student who aspires to be a professional player!

Each player was permitted 3 moves before letting the next player rotate in.

Narumi Osawa (4p) explaining a concept to the audience.

Afterwards, in order to try and accommodate the number of players, Narumi thought it would be best to have people play rengo (e.g, pair go) against her. So without hesitation, I asked my friend Gurujeet to join me in the battle to try and survive against a professional. As neither Gurujeet nor I have played much pair go, it was approached with fun and adventure as we played a game that was not necessarily our best, but certainly yielded a rather interesting game. =)

Due to time constraints and the need to move on to the next part of the event, we were unable to finish the game in its entirety. (Although in all honesty, both Gurujeet and I were already preparing to say “I resign” in Japanese anyways. xD) To my surprise however, Narumi wanted me show our game on the demonstration board for her commentary. Needless to say, I was happy to do so (and silently thanking SmartGo again for always being there in my time of need for a solid kifu app).

When I got up on the stage, it felt a little surreal to think that I was the person helping the professional put stones on the demonstration board. I mean, I’ve seen it on videos a ton of times, but to actually be the one doing it! So cool! And to top it all off, it was my game as well!

As I stood up there listening to Narumi explain various aspects of our game in Japanese, for the first time ever, I felt go transcend the language barrier. I know that sounds really odd, but even though I have practically no knowledge of Japanese, I felt as if I could understand the core concept of each of her messages as she spoke and moved stones around. Call me crazy, but it was an incredible experience.

The following is the game record from that night with any commentary from Narumi clearly marked.

Well, with that night, I have played a go pro from each of the major countries: Korea, China, Japan, and Taiwan! Woot! Now onwards to grow my collection of pro games!