Now, after the third October insei week is done with, I’m already able to claim the first place of class E. My result last weekend was another 11 wins, 0 losses, giving me a total result so far of 31 wins and 2 losses. The number two in class E has so far 13 losses, so even in the worst-case scenario, were I not to attend next week, it would be a tie for the first place. Needless to say, I won’t even think about not attending next weekend — after all, this training is what I came to Japan for. There’s one more weekend of October left, after which the top four insei (based on results) of each class go up a class, and the bottom four go down one. Class E has 60 minutes of time reserved for one game, resulting in a fast 30 minutes sudden death (with no byo yomi) time setting, but class D already has 90 or 120 minutes of time per round, depending on whether it’s a three or four-game day. Class D’s time settings are 40 minutes of main time with a 40 seconds per move Japanese byo yomi on three-game days, and 30 minutes of main time with a 30 seconds per move Japanese byo-yomi on four-game days.
I thought the readers might find the insei results sheet system interesting, so I went and took a photo. The system is, in fact, same as the one we’ve seen in Hikaru no Go! So far, I haven’t stamped my own palm in order to “grab the win”.
During the first insei weekend a good two weeks ago, I was still completely new to how the whole system works. After that, the second and third weekends were a lot easier, and I’ve found that by now I’m able to take most of the insei customs for granted. There are still a lot of details that should be interesting to the readers, however.
- It’s practically the insei who keep the classroom in order. If I’m right, on Saturday morning, the first insei who arrive in the classroom take the boards and stones out from the drawers, and clean the boards with the cleaning cloth each insei has received. I cannot confirm this part however, because so far, when I’ve arrived, the boards and stones have all been already properly placed on the tables. When an insei stands up from a chair, he must neatly pull it close to the table afterwards. This is what the other insei most often get notifications from.
- There is a careful seating order for the insei games, which derives from the results of the last month. The first four places of class E are logically given to the four insei who dropped from class D last month. For newcomers, the one who registered first gets priority, and that’s why I’m on place 9 instead of 10 or 11. Now, the first-ranked insei always plays on the first board, and the second-ranked insei always plays on the second board unless they’re playing against the first-ranked. The third-ranked insei always plays on the third board unless they’re playing against the first or second-ranked or unless the first and second-ranked are playing against each other (in which case the third-ranked used the second board), and so on. Being the ninth-ranked, myself, I most often end up using the fourth or fifth board.
- Japan is one of those cultures that has the children use their right hand even if they are left-handed. Needless to say, this also applies to go, in the sense that the stone bowls are to always be located on the right side of the board from the player, while the lid of the bowl (for prisoners) is placed on the left side. Luckily I’m right-handed, myself, but some other insei don’t have it as easy. I actually ended up placing the bowl on the left side, once, during the first weekend, when the right side of the board already seemed really crowded with clocks and go bowls. The teacher was of course lightning-fast to notify about this breach.
- When deciding the colours at the start of the game, the higher-ranked insei takes white and has the lower-ranked insei guess whether the amount of stones taken from the bowl is even or odd. When counting the number of the white stones, the stones are separated from the pile two at a time (with one’s index and middle fingers), neatly into formations of ten stones (two by five) to the right side of the board.
- When a player resigns, the correct form seems to be to take a prisoner from one’s captured stones, and place it on the board while bowing at the same time. If one doesn’t have prisoners, just bowing noticeably is enough. After the stones have been cleaned from the board, the players place the go bowls, touching each other, to the centre of the go board, while saying ありがとうございました (arigatou gozaimashita, “thank you very much”). Then the winner of the game goes to record the result on the results sheet, shown above.
- When an insei leaves the classroom, even to just go to the toilet, he must at the door turn to face the classroom, and bow, before actually leaving the room.
I’m sure there’s still a lot more to write on customs, but this is all that I can think of for now.
As a final treat of this blog post, here’s a few more photos from the Nihon Ki-in: