Greetings! It almost seems like I've settled down for a one post per week rhythm here, quite reasonably following the pace that insei studies go at. This weekend, there were another 12 games divided between two days. Contrary to the last weekend, however, I ended up getting a clean record this time! Apart from the game with the teacher, of course.
My wake-up time in the weekend is currently 7:30, leaving me with the bare minimum of time to take a shower and check the internet before taking the subway to Ichigaya, where the Nihon Ki-in is located. Insei are to be present at 9:10 at the latest, but I prefer to have a little bit of extra time in case the subway is late or something (very rare in Japan, but still possible). Both days this weekend, I found myself hungry in the morning, and ended up buying a box of diced fruits from the convenience store near Ichigaya. A common problem that arises in Japan, however, is that there are close to no good locations where to stop for a moment and eat. I ended up eating my breakfast in the entrance hall of the Nihon Ki-in, for lack of a better location, and it felt very weird. Last time in Japan, two years ago, I remember buying a lunch box from a convenience store at a train station, and when I didn't find any benches, I went to sit and eat on an empty stairway. Not long after, a security guard came to direct me to a nearby park, where eating was not prohibited. Eating while walking is a no-no in Japan as well.
I'm proud to say that this weekend I didn't receive any notifications about my manners at all! Although, most likely the decisive factor in that was that the strict teacher from last weekend wasn't present this time. I wonder if I'll be taking up some of the habits that the insei children have, in the near or farther future; it's clear that the insei have been taught to first think of where to play, and then pick a stone from the bowl. This doesn't become evident from the fact that they never pick up a stone and then drop it back to the bowl, but instead from their saying "shitsurei shimashita" (="sorry for the disturbance") after they've done so. This usually happens several times a game. It's not a bad habit, so I wouldn't mind picking it up. Other than that, you sometimes also hear them mumble comments like "hidee" or "dekkee", which are colloquial words for "terrible" and "huge". I've had my fair share of those already, as well. I take it they don't use the "terrible" expression for the opponent's moves, but for their own situation.
Insei only have a lunch time of 45 minutes. This Sunday, my third game finished 30 minutes ahead of schedule, and so for a moment I thought that for once I would have time to go for something else than fast food. My insei senses started tingling however, and I first went to ask the teacher if leaving early for lunch was allowed. Quite unsurprisingly, it wasn't. For fast food, I've so far gone for Yoshinoya and McDonald's, which is likely the WcDonald's place that is featured in Hikaru no Go. If not for that, I would probably have passed on it. Yoshinoya has turned out to be a fair place to eat lunch at: for 500 yen, you get rice, some grilled meat (low-quality, of course), miso soup and a piece of grilled salmon. Oh, and some green tea. I'm sure it would be difficult to get a similar meal in Finland for less than 800 yen's worth of euros.
Last weekend I showed my game with the teacher; I'm sure that the readers are interested to see a glimpse of E class inseis' strength, so here goes! I'm a bit low on time, so this time I'll just include the kifu in the eidogo plugin below, and add short comments below that. The opponent in this game is I believe the third-oldest Japanese in the E class. There are two girls who are most likely older than he is, and the rest apart from these three are quite clearly younger. I would put his age at 13-14.
Move 8: For some reason, this joseki move still seems to be quite popular — perhaps for the tricks that may be played along the sequence? Up to 22, the result feels quite easy to black to me, black getting both a strong group and sente, while white doesn't seem to get much.
Move 28: This is a white mistake; a move at q10 or r9 is normal and correct. Black q10 would now be a splendid move, but I ended up confusing myself with small details. I wanted to get both n17 and s16, to surround a big corner while making sure that white cannot get an extension to m17 later. That's why I chose black 29, which is quite the uncommon move, yet sometimes possible. I was happy with having got black 31, but at white 32 it becomes evident that white's result on the right side is rather nice.
Move 33: This black peep, and black 35 after that, is a nice combination. Black 33 makes it possible for black to later start some trouble on the right side, if white doesn't defend. After black 35, white p9 is honte.
Move 36: For some reason, the sequence from white 36 to white 40 comes up a lot in insei games. The left side is still open with either d7 or c8, so solidifying the corner like this is not worth too much. P9 is certainly bigger for now.
Move 43: The fun starts!
Move 50: This seems like a painful cut for black to handle, but it would have been correct for white to strengthen the weak group first. Black has a very rare kind of a tesuji sequence in reserve for this kind of a situation, can you find it?
Move 63: The game should be over now, but I accidentally let the white group live inside, up to white 82. I thought black 79 was enough to kill, but soon realized that it wasn't. Instead of the black 79 played in the game, if black plays s4, white is dead and the game is over. Still, with black 83, black has the lead.
The rest of the game certainly isn't the best way of play for either side. White made the mistake of not running towards the centre while he had the chance, and black ended up being able to use the aji of the lower white group to kill one of the groups. This wasn't a very special game otherwise, but I really like the tesuji from 51 on!
Now that I've gotten rid of my jetlag, this weekend wasn't even too tough on me. After Saturday's six games, I thought that if I had a moment to go out to get some fresh air, I could still play a game or two more. Though, sure enough, 12 games is still way enough for one weekend. I'm already quite looking forward to the D class, with significantly less games and time settings with byo-yomi included. From what I saw, the second-best of class E has something like eight losses and fourteen wins, so I'm already quite safe with my two losses. This kind of thinking could be a pitfall, though, if I only played for the results. I've had to do some self-psyching between the games, reminding myself to play good games instead of forcing yet another win. So far, luckily, with plenty good results.
This Monday was a national holiday in Japan, the Tai-iku no hi (=体育の日, Health and Sports Day). I guess a part of the population may have gone out of their way to get some exercise today, but I cannot say that I've noticed a big difference from any regular day here. My friend from the Nihon Ki-in, Tom, invited me and Simon, the one who conducted the interview on me the other day, to come visit his go salon, and so we did. 1 PM, we met at the Takadanobaba subway station, which was nicely decorated with some Astro boy art. They even play a part of the Astro boy animation series' opening song when a train leaves. The go salon was close enough, though slightly hidden between buildings. All in all, today, there were maybe 20 people in total, all of them very friendly and interested in the foreigners. I ended up playing one game with another staff member from the Nihon Ki-in, likely a 6 dan player. Tom ended up reviewing and explaining game to the other people at the same time while we played. It was an interesting game enough, with plenty of twists and turns, but finally I won by a good 10 points. Afterwards, we players reviewed the game again to explain our reasoning. I was still struggling for words, but could explain myself fairly well. After the game review, everyone also played a game of pair go, after which I left back to the apartment.
Later this week, on Thursday, will be another English study session with the Nihon Ki-in professionals. I'm thinking of presenting the game I played at Tom's go salon today, and hearing the professionals' comments for it. In that case, I will likely present the game here on this blog afterwards!