Sunday, May 11, 2008

Visiting the New York Go Center

It has been awhile since I wrote a post on Go. Obviously compared to chess it's so much harder to find a place where for children play can play Go. I do live within striking distance of Feng Yun's Go School in New Jersey but it would be at least an hour drive each way and I don't think it's practical long term to go there. I had held out some hope that she would re-open a class in Flushing, NY which would be a comparatively easier 40 minute trip (which I could easily combine with other purposes since we got to Flushing for Chinese food fairly regularly). So far, though, it seems they lost their old venue. I happened to call up the NY Go Club to last weekend because we were in the city. It turned out that they were having a tournament that day so I the guy I talked to said it was a good day to stop by.

This was my first visit to their facility and I came away with a favorable impression. I was actually surprised by how much space they had (3 small floors with a courtyard in the back). Despite the $7 daily fee, I think it's worth it. The tournament had around 16 players I think. That's pretty small by chess standards, but I wasn't really expecting much else. All in all there were probably about 35-40 peole at the club which was probably the annual peak if I had to guess! If I lived in the city and had lots of time it would be a great place to play. I was looking to find out if they had kids instruction classes, and it turns out that there are always a couple of teachers on hand to give lessons (to adults and children) but no formal kids classes. I was hoping for something more organized so that was a little disappointing. I did go downstairs and stumbled in on a Japanese language instructional class for beginners. They were players of many levels (32 to 1 kyu) and the Japanese instructor was 7-dan, I think. They meet twice a week. There weren't many children (one was 7 years old), but there were at least a few kids from 7 to 16. I had the opportunity of playing a 1-kyu with a 9-stone handicap. I got decimated but I actually had a fighting chance since I was hemming in a large group which I ended up allowing to escape in exchange for a corner but was told later that the corner was probably less valuable than killing the group I was chasing. I also found that I was playing much more timidly than normal because I was worried about looking like an idiot. When really, with 9 stones, I should have been attacking more in some situations. It was still fun though. And I picked up two books for my birthday: Attack and Defense, and Tesuji by Davies. These will be my bedtime "falling asleep" reading for awhile. Of course I haven't solved the problem of how to get my kids to learn Go in a more fun environment. Maybe I'll have to make a trip out to NJ after all.
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