Second English study session

Yesteday we had the second session of the concept of “professionals learn English and Ten learns go”. Practically the setting is that I am presenting some of my (insei or otherwise) games on a board in a classroom in the Nihon Ki-in, with about six or seven professionals present on average, and the professionals attempt to comment the games in English. This time, the strongest professional present was 7 dan. The concept is courtesy of Kobayashi Chizu sensei.

Yesterday, before delving deeper into the game of the day, we recapped some important basic terms related to go. Kobayashi-sensei wasn’t present, so if it wasn’t for Simon’s assistance, I would have been on my own for the English teaching part. Simon did indeed a great job in assisting me, helping me with a lot of translations, and writing the English terms up on a whiteboard for the professionals to take notes of. At the beginning of the study session, I was initially slightly lost at how to take charge of everything, so I quite randomly took the English words for parts of the go board as the first content of the day: 隅=すみ=sumi=corner, 辺=へん=hen=side (upper/top, lower/bottom, left, right), 中央=ちゅうおう=chuuou=centre.

The English terms seemed to be new for most of the “students”, so it turned out to be good opening practice. I was quite strict on the words’ pronunciation, due to the fact that in Japanese, people sometimes use the Japanglish words of コーナー (“koonaa”, corner) and センター (“sentaa”, center). Apart from the *er sound, there’s not a real difference. We then started with the game review, and also recapped terms like connection, cut, extension, jump, et cetera. I’m not sure this whole studying concept provides for even-handed learning for all parties; the professionals are only learning English, while aside from go technique, I’m also learning Japanese! And for some reason, I still seem to hold the teacher’s role.

Unfortunately, I have still missed out on taking actual photos from inside the Nihon Ki-in. Hopefully this instance of the 9-dan gate will make up for it for now! This is from the Ichiyaga subway station, closest to the Nihon Ki-in. I don't think the name is a coincidence.

For the latter part of this post, I have the game I played last Monday at the go club, and which I had yesterday reviewed by the professionals. I don’t know the opponent’s ranking, but he’s a staff member of the Nihon Ki-in, at maybe 30 years of age. Most of the game was apparently fairly well played, but I feel I still got a lot out of the review. The kind of atmosphere where you’re studying together with professional really seems to work wonders!

I had white in the game, and won by 11.5 points in the end.

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Move 8: moves from 8 to 20 were kind of an experiment of mine, with quite the deliberate move order. There were plenty of variations, some of which would have lead to a very interesting and complicated game (like black playing black 19 at k16 instead of what he did in the game), but in the end I seemed to get just what I was after for. Needless to say, after move 20 the game is still even.

Move 32: I played this move quite casually in the game, and only after having the game reviewed by professionals did I realize what was wrong with it. White is much better off if he plays the hane of c18 without this atari of 32, due to the fact that the aji of b15 will still be there. Black’s options are to:

  1. answer c18 with b16, after which white gets the d13 atari for free, or
  2. capture with a13, after which the sequence of white b17, black b16, white a16 and black b15 follows.

The actual difference compared to the real game is not big, but a loss of even 2 points in the opening can hurt.

Move 40: this could also be one space to the right, aiming for the attachment of r13, but it seems to be a smaller detail. The professionals wanted to call this move 甘い, amai, which we ended up translating as “soft”. R13 instead would be 厳しい, kibishii, or severe in English.

Move 49: this move was something that really pained me during the game. I saw it only just before black played it, and was hard-pressed to find a good answer. It was astonishing to see the professionals review the situation; their reaction was like “oh, that corner is already alive so this is small, just play f3 and it’s easy for white”. In the game, I wasn’t ready to give up even five points of territory here, which lead to my l3 group getting under a heavy attack.

Move 61: yet another of the moves by black that seemed good to me during the game, but the professionals’ comment was that it’s too early. Black is still not sure whether he wants to play h2 or h1 in sente, so he should play elsewhere for now. Instantly played, h2 is worse of the two, because then white k2 will threaten a connection.

Move 66: I received some praise for this move, and it’s indeed quite a nice one. Black would like to cut with m4, but white’s response of l4 will make a miai of m3 and j4.

Move 68: instead of the connection, white could push once more with m6, aiming to start complications with j5 thereafter. This connection makes the situation a little bit too simple for black.

Move 73: at this point, black seems to have a clear lead, due to the lower-side white group still being weak, and the right side getting bigger and bigger. I had no choice but to invade the right side next, or white would stand no chance.

Move 75: as I had planned, black chose the passive move here. It seems good, preventing white’s easy life with r7 on the right side, but now white gets some momentum. Black m8, applying pressure on the lower-side white group, was the strongest choice.

Moves 78 to 87: this was my planned response to black’s r8. White got some centre thickness, and there is still some potential to the two white stones on the right side, as we will soon see.

Move 92: I thought this was an effective answer to black’s forcing moves here, opening the right side, but the professionals’ opinion was that wedging with n11 would make things more complicated for black. Indeed, now black has another forcing move at either n11 or m11, making the black centre shape stronger than it looks.

Move 114: Here, the game enters the endgame. White still has a nice trick in reserve on the right side, starting with 124.

Move 121: Here there was room for another move order tesuji that I wouldn’t have realized without the professional commentary. Black should first cut with d18, forcing white e18, and then cut with b18. That makes it impossible for white to play the atari of b19, which has some endgame value.

Move 124 et cetera: After white lives here, white’s lead is secured, and the rest is merely endgame. Even if black had defended the right side instead of 121, it seemed that white will have the lead if he then takes the upper left corner himself.

After the endgame concluded, white had a lead of 11.5 points. We didn’t bother to look through the small endgame moves with the professionals, but instead finished our study session after the magical 75 minutes had passed, the normal time for a university lecture in Finland. The professionals really seemed to enjoy themselves, and me and Simon even got paper fans as gifts, one each! Simon got Cho U’s fan, while mine is a combination for Xie Yi Min’s female meijin title and Iyama Yuuta’s 10 dan title.

Our next study session is to be next Tuesday at the same time. Simon will unfortunately leave for Shizuoka for a while now; we will definitely miss him. There’s a good chance he’ll join the study sessions later on again, though, if he is able to find a job in Tokyo. Kobayashi Chizu sensei and Tomotaka Urasoe both had some work to attend to, this week, but they’ll join the studying next week as normal.

5 thoughts on “Second English study session”

  1. An idea:

    Since you are a foreigner studying as insei in Japan you probably have up to date information, or can get it, about how does one become a professional in Nihon Ki-in these days. What different ways are there, for Japanese and foreign players? Insei and non-insei? What kind of costs are involved?

    You already wrote briefly about the bi-annual pro examination tournament, but it would be interesting if you’d elaborate more about the subject at some point.

    1. I’m not very clear on the subject myself either, so finding out about it would indeed be interesting. I think I’ll ask Tom next week when we meet again, and report about the results here.

      1. And of course if you want to find out and tell more about Kansai Ki-in and their professional exam for western players that’d be cool too. :)

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