Category: Events

Finding Happiness and Fun in Go Again

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.

China Festival Badge

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.

1st Washington Open Baduk Championship - Part II

Part I - Interlude - Part II

Hikaru No Go, Kuwabara Hon’inbo (Epsiode 29)

When I woke up the next day, I felt like a brand new person. I know that I could have been like a lot of other players who would have recalled the performance from the first day and felt sorry for themselves, but the the experience I had watching Park Sohyun (3p) play the night before had struck me and really opened my eyes.

I was running a little late that morning, and ended up getting there around 9:35am. According to the schedule, I was already late and so I half-expected to find everyone already playing their games and my clock already running. However, it seemed like I wasn’t the only one running late because the pairings hadn’t even been put up when I arrived.

After catching up with some people though, the roster was finally put up. As I scanned the list, I found my opponent: a 5 kyu. He would be taking Black and I was giving him no handicap.

My opponent was 5 kyu and I wasn’t giving him a handicap. Had it been yesterday, I probably would have been frustrated that I was “demoted;” but I was past those stupid egotistical thoughts today.

As I sat down in front of my opponent, I was very clear on what I was going to do: I was going to try and play like Sohyun did the night before. It was going to be strong and interesting go. That’s the go I would play. Below is the kifu. (The commentary version will be Monday Go Meditation: Game 63)

It was an exciting game, but one that I felt far more in control of than any of the games previously. When my opponent resigned, I let out a sigh of relief. “Yes.” I thought, “At least I’m now 2-2. And to top it off, I’m feeling a hell of a lot better than yesterday.”

After Round 4, Myung Wan Kim (9p) and I grabbed our bento boxes (unfortunately I didn’t take a photo this time, but I got the galbi one) and I took him back to the hotel so he could rest / work on other things (since there was a few hours gap before he had to be back).

When I dropped him off, he asked me to pick him up around 3:10pm. So when I arrived back at the tournament, I looked at the time.

“1:00pm is when Round 5 starts,” I thought, “And assuming my game takes even just the main time alone, I would be over time and late picking up Myung.”

With my record at 2-2, I seriously debated not playing in the 5th round and taking a buy. After all, 2-2 isn’t a bad record to end the tournament with right?

A good part of this was my insecurity at the prospects of possibly ending the tournament with a record of 2-3 and losing the final round, but I realized quickly that it was stupid. I decided to simply play in the 5th Round, and if push came to shove, I would resign the game if it took too long because I wanted to make sure I would pick up Myung on time.

Before I knew it, the fifth round pairings were up. My opponent was a 4 kyu that I knew from the area. There would be no handicap and I was taking white. Below are the results of the my final game for the tournament. (The commentary version will be Monday Go Meditation: Game 64)

When the game was coming close to the end, time was also drawing near as well. It was around 2:30pm when I had begun my final hunt to kill the group on the top; but my opponent still had plenty of time left on his clock, so I couldn’t fault him for trying to take the time to make sure he was really dead. However, with time drawing close, I began mentally preparing myself to resign and simply be satisfied with the game that I had played.

As you might imagine, I breathed a sigh of relief and thanked my lucky stars when he resigned. “Hoorah!” I thought, “ I still can go pickup Myung with time to spare!” And with that, I went to report my results and went off to pick him up.

When we got back, there was still some time to spare before the remaining festivities began (i.e., lecture and simul games). This was perfect however, because I was able to spend some time talking with Sohyun (since she had been running in and out and busy with other obligations). We went over my game in Round 5, and I even got her to sign a book that she had given me the night before.

It's a Korean book on haengma (i.e., stone movement). Best souvenir from the event!

As we wrapped up one of our conversations, a fellow Korean player had come by; so she had the idea to give both of us a simul game while we were waiting for everything to start (which was incredibly kind of her). I decided to play an even game with her since I wanted to feel the full power of her skills.

Unfortunately we were only able to play about 20 or so moves before she was summoned to play the official simul games scheduled for the event. However, what I will say about the game was that even in that series of short exchanges, it was quite an experience to watch her start dismantling what I thought was a good position.

With all the games finished, they had the following activities going on simultaneously:

(1) Myung Wan Kim (9p) reviewing one of Andy Liu’s (1p) game from the tournament.

Myung and Andy prepare to review his game.

Myung watching as Andy replayed his game and talked about what his thoughts were at the time.

Myung discussing the variations and explaining to the audience.

As you can see, it was quite a crowd listening attentively to Myung's commentary.

(2) Park Sohyun (3p) playing simultaneous games with eight different dan level players.

They setup the table to have four boards on each side so she could easily navigate back and forth.

Here you can see a group of Korean players analyzing the board at the far end.

Here you can see Sohyun smiling as she analyzes the board position.

(3) Michael Chen (8d) playing simultaneous games with 5 players that were around SDK players (i.e., 1k to 9k).

Michael is deep in thought...

(4) Allan Abramson (previous AGA President) giving simultaneous games to DDK players (i.e., 30k to 10k).

An overview of all the various activities going on. So many people participating!

After a couple of hours, the time finally came for the awards ceremony.

The tournament was broken up into seven sections:

  1. Open Section (7d+)
  2. Dan A (4-6d)
  3. Dan B (1-3d)
  4. Kyu A (1-5k)
  5. Kyu B (6-10k)
  6. Kyu C (11-15k)
  7. Kyu D (16k+)

When they announced the first place prize for the Kyu D division, “… 1st Place, trophy and $100” echoed over the microphone. As I heard the cash prize amount, I’d be lying if I said that part of me didn’t feel just a twinge of jealously as I heard the cash prize amount. After all, it wasn’t chump change by any stretch of the means!

As I sat there listening to them announce the winners, I recalled the time that I had won first place in the Pumpkin Classic. I smiled as I remembered that momentous feeling. And a small part of me wished that I had done better in the tournament; but then I reminded myself that I had nothing to be ashamed of for this tournament. After all, on top managing to bring my record up to 3-2, the experiences and the lessons that I had learned through this tournament were priceless and I would not have traded it in for a better record or any trophy or prize money.

“Kyu A Division (1-5k),” echoed over the microphone.

My attention returned to the present as I thought. “Oo… I wonder who won my division.”

– let’s pause and let’s rewind the clock for a sec –

Earlier when I had been walking around, I had heard the tournament directors talking about how the kyu divisions did not have any people who won 4 games except for one person. (I later found out it was Bob Crites who had been performing well in tournaments recently.)

A part of me became hopeful at that thought that maybe I was still in the running for something, but then I brushed the notion aside as I recalled that I had not exactly played my best consistently in the tournament.

– return to present moment –

“3rd Place - Weixin Wang, 4k - $50 and a trophy”

applause and multiple cameras taking photos going off

“Huh,” I thought, “That’s the guy I lost to in the 3rd round. If he got third place, then I’m most definitely out of the running now.”

“2nd Place - John Zhao, 3k - $100 and a trophy”

“Wait,” I thought, “That’s the guy I beat in the 1st round. Maybe I still have a shot?”

As I’m sitting there bewildered and trying to make sense of how the tiebreakers might actually work, the microphone echoes again:

“1st Place - Benjamin Hong…”

Wait... What?! *turns around to confirm that I'm not the only one who heard that*

I honestly wish someone had taken a picture of my face, because I can tell you that I was completely and utterly surprised. But yeah, I wasn’t hallucinating or imaging things. I really did get 1st place.

There's my first prize envelope. The cash prize was $200!

Here's the trophy I got as well. Looks pretty sweet!

The thing about tournaments is that you never know what’s going to happen. I went the first day with a 1-2 record and completely thought I was out of the running. In fact, I even thought about dropping out the last round because of stupid insecurities. Imagine if I had done that? Imagine if I had just given up? The story would not have been nearly as exciting would it?

Though I am very grateful that I got 1st place, I really believe that this tournament will forever go down as one of the pinnacle moments in my journey as a go player. The experiences and things that I learned about myself through the trials and tribulations are ones that I will forever remember fondly and I look forward to continue building on them.

Many thanks also goes out to Keith, Gary, Andy, Todd, Alan, the Korean Baduk Association and many others for making this tournament a huge success. And of course, special thanks goes out to SmartGo for its awesome iPad app that serves as my trusty sidekick for recording my games.

Finally, a huge thanks goes out to Myung Wan Kim (9p) and Park Sohyun (3p) for making this tournament an unforgettable experience and providing guidance when I really needed it!

1st Washington Open Baduk Championship - Part I

Part I - Interlude - Part II

Hey everyone! Welcome to Part I of my awesome experience at the 1st Washington Open Baduk Championship this past weekend! Though many of you already know the results of the tournament, I’ll start by asking you all to refrain from commenting on the actual result till Part II since some don’t know yet.

In addition, I’m sure that many of you are eager to see what kind of games I played, so I have gone ahead and uploaded the kifu for your enjoyment. Commentary will come in future Monday Go Meditations (which I will note for each game); but hopefully you will forgive me for not being to add commentary within such a short time.

With that said, let’s get started!

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54th Sakura Matsuri Street Festival - D.C. 2014

The official brochure for the 54th Sakura Matsuri Festival of D.C.

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the 54th Sakura Matsuri Street Festival in Washington D.C.! For those who don’t know, this is in conjunction with the annual Cherry Blossom Festival that is held in D.C. every year and runs from 10:30AM to 6:30PM. And for a nominal fee of $10, you get entry into a street full of vendors, performances, cultural booths, and most importantly, the go booth!

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Hong Kong Trip: Part 3 - Weiqi

Part 1 — The Scenery || Part 2 — The Food || Part 3 — Weiqi


After much waiting and anticipation, I’m happy to release the final post on my Hong Kong trip. Since we always save the best for last, it should come as no surprise to you that you had to wait till the very end to hear about my go adventures! Before we go on however, I just wanted to clarify a couple of things. (1) The title of this post was originally “Go,” but due to the fact that I was in Hong Kong, I felt it was only appropriate to title it “Weiqi.” (2) However, in order to ease the readability of my post, I will be using “go” in the text instead of “weiqi” for simple consistency with English go literature. With that said, onwards with my go adventure in Hong Kong!

Part 3 - Weiqi

As I’m sure some of you remember, I posted on reddit and here before the trip to see if anyone was in the area. Most of the feedback I got from people was that I should visit the Hong Kong Go Association (HKGA). I was a little saddened by the fact that I was unable to find anyone who lived locally online, but I knew that I couldn’t bear the idea of going all the way to Asia and not do a single go-related activity. So I promised myself that if I were to do anything for myself this trip, it would be to visit the HKGA.

When we first arrived in Hong Kong, one of the things we did was to go to one of the shopping districts. And believe it or not, as I’m walking down the street, I see this across the street.

Wait... why does that cartoon character look like he's doing something I'm terribly familiar with...

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Hong Kong Trip: Part 2 - The Food

Part 1 The Scenery || Part 2 — The Food || Part 3 — Weiqi


When it comes to traveling, my number one priority is always to find the most authentic food to that area. The more special it is to the area (aka I can’t get it anywhere else in the world) the better. And for those who aren’t following me on Twitter already, you’ll notice that my Twitter consists primarily of go and food. So as you might expect, I’m quite enthusiastic about food and thus this post is a tad lengthier than normal.

With that said, I hope you prepare yourself as you set off with me to relive my food adventures through Hong Kong, and be sure to read to the end because I recount my experience with a buffet that costs $100USD per person. No that is not a typo. See you at the the bottom!

Part 2 - The Food

For starters, I’ll have to say that while we had some recommendations on places to go, my family and I were mostly on our own when it came to figuring out what we wanted to eat.

When we had finally escaped surviving on airplane food for the last 13+ hours, you can imagine our desire to find some actual food. Nothing microwaved or mushy. Just legit Hong Kong food. And even though it took us a bit before we got settled in at our hotel, we were fortune enough that there were some places open nearby. To top it off, we were incredibly lucky to pick the one place where they had excellent wonton egg noodle soup. Definitely the best I had the entire trip!

Best wonton egg noodle soup dish I had the entire trip!

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Hong Kong Trip: Part 1 - The Scenery

Part 1 — The Scenery || Part 2 — The Food || Part 3 — Weiqi


After much waiting and anticipation, I’m happy to finally release my Hong Kong post series! I originally had plans to do a day by day retelling of my adventures in Hong Kong, but I realized that it would take way too long to write and not to mention I would probably bore you to tears.

In addition, since the trip wasn’t entirely centered on go, I wanted to capture as much of my trip as possible without taking too much time away from the main subject matter of this blog: go. After all, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, I’ve worked hard to ensure that all my posts have always been related to go. So I hope you’ll forgive me for detracting from go these next couple of days to tell you about my trip. With that said, I hope you enjoy these posts!

Part 1 - The Scenery

The trip was a 13+ hour flight, so you can imagine our delight when we were finally off the plane and stepping foot into Hong Kong for the first time. After going through customs, getting our luggage, and a brief encounter of a taxi driver trying to hustle and get our family to take his taxi back to the city as opposed to the bus, we soon found ourselves on a bus driving down into the city.

After about thirty minutes, we were driving through the city and I was greeted by the following view of Hong Kong for the first time:

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Go Tournament: 41st Maryland Open

It’s that time of year again! The 41st Maryland Open Go Tournament is upon us once again! So if you live in the DC Metro Area or simply don’t mind making the trip down to Baltimore, Maryland, be sure to check out the flier below for more information.

41st Maryland Go Open Official Site

And as always, let me know if you plan on going so we can meet up! I should be going unless something serious comes up. Hope to see you some of you at the tournament!

U.S. Go Congress in NY!

In case anyone doesn’t get the AGA E-Journal, it’s been officially announced that Go Congress will be held in New York this year!

For those wondering why I’m so excited, it’s because even though I have been blogging for a few years now and played for an equal amount of time, I have never been to a Go Congress.

Wait say what?!?!

Yep… So anyhow, unless there is some cosmic force at play that I’m not aware of (where I’m destined to never go to a Go Congress), I will move heaven and earth to go this year. And so if you have any interest in going, please check out the link below and start getting ready for it!

U.S. Go Congress Official Site

So excited!!!!!!!!!!

Chinese New Year 2014 Mall Go Demo

Right (Top): Dragon decoration. Right (Center): Two banners with Chinese calligraphy. Right (Bottom): Performance stage at the center of the mall.

Some of you already know, but I went to one of the local malls and volunteered to teach go for the Chinese New Year 2014 celebration. As you can see in the little collage I put together above, there were nice decorations along with performances in the center of the mall. Definitely felt like Chinese New Year! Haha. And of course, how could you have a Chinese New Year celebration without go? (I might be a little biased though xD)

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