In China, part six: Last week, and return home

Hi everybody! It’s been a while since the last post: things got surprisingly busy on my last whole week in China, and I thought it better to take the extra time out of my internet activities. I was asked to give a more comprehensive description about our life in Beijing, so here goes, albeit a little late on my part: I already returned to Finland last Wednesday.

The participants were divided to three apartments quite close-by to each other. All the apartments were situated in a neighbourhood named the Brown Stone Manor (He Shi Yuan) that was closed off by walls and guarded gates, to make sure that no unauthorized people got in. Two of the apartments were for students only, consisting of two bedrooms, one bathroom, one living room, and a kitchen. Surviving with one bathroom got a bit difficult at times, since there was about 8-10 people living in each apartment at the same time. The third apartment, which had three stories, housed some of the participants, but also worked as the teaching area. Unfortunately I didn’t come to take pictures of the apartments myself, so for now at least we’ll have to do without those.

This year the program was situated in a different place than in the previous years. Earlier the apartments were located in Wu Dao Kou, also called the Korean district of Beijing, which has a big number of different shops and restaurants. The Brown Stone Manor was some five kilometres off from Wu Dao Ko, in a less populated area near a part of the Beijing university. There weren’t many good restaurants in the close vicinity of the Brown Stone Manor, so quite often in the afternoon we took the bus to Wu Dao Ko to go to some restaurant there — even though it cost a whopping 1 yuan to take the bus! There were a good amount of both eastern and western restaurants, though the western restaurants sometimes had some surprises, like the chocolate-strawberry pizza pictured below:

Chinese pizza!

As I described earlier in another post, our daily rhythm consisted of the morning and afternoon sections. From 10 AM to 12 AM we had lectures: students were usually divided to three different groups based on playing skill, and each group had a teacher provide content to them. Every other day was a teaching day for me, and I was usually in charge of the 3 kyu – 2 dan group or the 4 kyu+ group. My usual lecture structure was to first have the students do tsumego for about half an hour — I picked the problems quite carefully, to have something of a theme each morning. Doing tsumego first also made sure that the students would be awake enough for the subsequent lecturing, and many professionals have also said that morning tsumego practice is very important when you want to get stronger. After the tsumego session we moved on to the main lecture content each day, which sometimes meant analyzing some joseki in detail, or thinking about the endgame, or analyzing games by some of the students or by some professionals. I of course varied the level of depth in the analysis depending on whom I was teaching.

12 AM to 2 PM was lunch break. We usually ordered food from Yoshinoya or some Chinese restaurant at 11 AM, and had it delivered in time for the lunch break, so that there was no need to go outside for food. From 2 PM on was the afternoon section, which meant games and reviews for them. More often the students played each other, and had a teacher comment the games, but sometimes also some of the students were paired against the teachers, to have teaching games against them. Every other day I was doing reviews, or even playing teaching games against the students myself, and every other day I had a game with a professional teacher myself. The games and reviews were normally done at about 5-6 PM, after which we went for dinner.

On last week’s Monday (July 4) , it was time for us to go see the Great wall of China. I had seen the wall already twice in 2009, but I was looking very much forward to get to go there again, mostly because it was among the best opportunities to get some exercise. My decision to go there might’ve been kind of a bad idea, because I’d had some symptoms of a flu a day earlier, yet I’d put the symptoms down by taking some medicine. Sure enough, a day after the trip to the wall the symptoms returned stronger, and I had to take it easy for a few days, not being able to go to karaoke with the other participants.

On another note, my morning jogging plan failed this year, too: it was too hot already at 8 AM for the jogging to be enjoyable enough. Sure enough, it was also incredibly hot at the wall as well, but at least I could see some very nice sights while exercising. The same applied for the visit to the Summer palace one week later, where we rented pedal boats and spent some two hours pedaling around on the artificial lake and playing go. On both trips, whenever we stopped moving for a moment, we were quite quickly surrounded by Chinese people wanting to take photos with the weird western tourists. On the wall, when we stopped to play some go, this almost completely clogged up the traffic.

The Great Wall of China; I didn't count the steps this year, but I'm quite sure it was less than the 5000 in 2009. My legs didn't even really ache the following day.
The Summer Palace, with the artificial lake to the left. It was a pretty nice trip, apart from the peddlers who had to shout "YI KUAI YI KUAI YI KUAI YI KUAI..." (One yuan one yuan one yuan!) all over all the time.

Apart from the visits to the Great Wall and the Summer Palace, we also went to the Japanese Go Club for a second time, this time with practically all the students. The Experience Go organizers had arranged for a huge team match between Experience Go and the Japanese Go Club, with 20 players on each team. I played as the first board, Juri as the second board and Sadaharu from KGS as the third board – all three of us got a 2-0 result. The Japanese Go Club dominated in the middle boards, though, as they had a big number of 4 dan players. In the end, however, after two rounds we were tied 20-20, and so my two wins as the first board were decisive to win the match in our favor. My two games were both quite lucky, me having won the first game with 0.5 points, and the second game by time even though it was still complicated.

This time I bought a few more fans from the shop in the Go Club, as well as two Kobayashi Satoru teacups. I have here a few more photos from the club, though they were actually taken already on the first trip there:

Five westerners in a room dedicated to Fujisawa Shuko. From the left: Kurt, Tomas, Sam, Glenn and me.
One of the best-quality kaya go boards in the world, for sale in the Japanese Go Club's shop. I didn't dare to ask for the price, but it would probably be on the same scale as your average downtown apartment.

As for the normal days on my last whole week in Beijing, the average daily rhythm of lecture-lunch-afternoon game-dinner nails it pretty well. I played against two teachers, Jack and Steve, on the last week, with playing a sanrensei fuseki in each game. I wasn’t actually really looking to study the sanrensei fuseki thoroughly, but was instead trying to learn better how to handle moyo games. The teachers were able to foil my frameworks well enough of course, and I got some good insights on how to play against moyo there.

In the evenings, after returning from the restaurant, we usually spent a few hours at the teaching apartment, browsing the internet — we never got the internet connection working in our own apartment. Even in the teaching area, the internet connection was painfully slow, so in the end I didn’t use the internet very much. We played mahjong on a few occasions, but more often we returned to our own apartment with Pekka and Ville and Henry, to study some professional games from the 1992 Tournament Go book that I brought with me. We did practically study through the whole book, all seven Japanese title matches of the year, in a few weeks.

On July 13, that is last Wednesday, it was finally time to return to Finland. I woke up at 6:45, packed whatever I had left for packing, and then left for the airport. Jeff and Jeff’s mother were driving me there, so I didn’t have to bother to take a taxi, which might’ve costed a huge 11 euros for an hour’s drive. The flight itself went fast enough, even though it still took some eight hours. On Finland’s end, I was welcomed by the tolerable outside temperature (20°C instead of 35°C) and some incredibly clean air.

Now, I’ve got a several days’ worth of rest left, after which it’s time to fly to Paris, and then take the train further to Bordeaux for the European Go Congress. The “rest” part may be misleading however, as I’ve still to play many training games online before the main tournament of the Congress.

3 thoughts on “In China, part six: Last week, and return home”

  1. Hi some questions:
    1- The tsumego were given in a sheet of paper or they were done altogether with the teacher in a board?.
    2- Yo did the clases cause you were strong and had some discount because of that or everybody do that too?.
    3- Do you feel like had improved, or it was just like a very fun travel.

    After this i want to give you my best wishes in the tournament.
    :) Have Fun

    1. Hi! Thanks, I’ll do my best in the congress. :)

      1) I put generally four-five problems on the board at one time, and had the students work at them for about five to ten minutes. Then we looked at the correct answer for each problem together.

      2) I did receive a special offer from the Experience Go organization. For the duration I was in China, I was practically a teacher who only worked every other day. I didn’t receive payment for my teaching separately, but the program paid for a part of the expenses for my staying in China.

      3) It did feel like I got some good tips on how to improve further while I stayed in China. Also, I got to play some really high level games with strong opponents, which no doubt are a big help as well. If things go like last time around in 2009, I should expect to see maybe a half-stone improvement in my playing level in perhaps half a year or so.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please confirm you are a human by solving this: