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.

3 comments:

George Showman said...

Hi,

Stumbled on your blog while looking for NYC go players. I admire your efforts, and wish you good luck in the ongoing education! I've recently (in the past three years) gotten into Go, but have only been playing online. I just read about the Go Center (before your post) and am thinking of dropping by.

Two questions:
1. What's your IGS username? I'm gshowman, 14k. It would be fun to play if we both happen to be online at the same time.

2. If I drop by the Go center on a weeknight, do you think the odds are decent of finding a similar-level player to play with? I.e. do they have a sign-up sheet and they just pair you up, or what?

I realize you may not have an answer to that second question -- I'm new to strategy game culture, so I just need to get the guts to walk in to the place. I have a decent board of my own, but have never actually played a game on it! Thank God for IGS.

Cheers,

George Showman

Koji said...

Hi George,

I don't play on IGS, I've only played on KGS. There my username is Hisashi, currently 11k. If you get an account on KGS I'd be happy to play you.

I've never been to the NYGC on a weeknight so I couldn't say how many or what level players you would find. But you should definitely drop by.

While I think most visitors are relatively strong from what I can tell, there are usually a couple of people there who will be happy to give you a handicap game.

Lately I've been attending meetings of the IgoAmigo group. It's actually a Japanese club, but the instructors (7d and 1d) both speak English reasonably well and there are a few English-speaking players there. The level of the participants range from absolute beginner to 1k. Usually about 15 people attend. They have workshops once every couple of weeks.

You can get more information at http://www.igoamigo.com/nyamigo/en/

They used to meet at NYGC but they are moving to Columbia University,
I think, for the next meeting. I'd encourage you to contact them by email for directions.
I believe there will still be a daily fee but I'm not sure.

George Showman said...

Thanks very much for the information on the IgoAmigo group! I will check it out. I should also check out KGS, perhaps, though I like IGS very much.

The other reason I posted, btw, is because I've also been reading Kageyama for the past couple of months (about fifteen minutes a day, at lunch). I find him so clear about the *kinds* of tesuji, especially. I've been meaning to write Go book reviews on my own blog -- I found "In the Beginning" to be a fascinating book also, similarly deep ("worth re-reading", as they like to say).

Cheers,
George

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