Although there's one week of October left, the October Nihon Ki-in insei league is now over, and we'll already start with November's league this weekend. Since this way, one "month" only has 28 days, we're running a little bit fast — this is compensated by the insei getting a Christmas holiday of two weeks, right after the December league stops at December 18. My final score in class E was 40 wins to three losses, easily giving me the first place of the class. From next weekend on, then, I'll be starting at class D with a significantly smaller amount of games to be played, but with slower time settings. The exact settings are described here (in the first paragraph), in case somebody missed them.
Yesterday we had the fourth installment of the English lesson for professionals. The lesson went otherwise as normal, me presenting my insei games and the professionals commenting them in English, but there were two surprise factors. First was that Tom, my friend from the Nihon Ki-in, had through some contacts gotten us two new western participants: Andreas from Italy and Gediminas from Lithuania. Of them, Andreas had played a little bit some fifteen years ago, and Gediminas was new to the game. The reviewing part of the English lesson, then, likely wasn't very useful or interesting to the newcomers, but after two game reviews, we had the professionals teach Andreas and Gediminas some basic rules of the game — again in English, of course! I helped a bit, but the professionals did very well on their own part. The second surprise factor was that Takemiya-sensei also attended the lesson! He was present for the first 45 minutes, commenting one of the insei games that I lost, and then went on to his weekly dancing lesson. Could I say, then, that I have taught Takemiya? Maybe best not to.
I promised to answer some questions by Max, so here goes:
If you have time to answer it would be interesting to hear your thoughts/opinions on the following:
How do you study in Japan when the insei classes are only for playing games and some reviews? What do you do to improve the rest of the week? Are you going to a pro study group, or just doing problems by yourself?
Compared to for example summer camps organised in China, do you think the insei experience has so far been better for improving?
As a reminder to the readers, the insei also only play and review during the weekends, practically leaving me with five more or less free days per week. So far, my approach has been more to the direction that since I'm beginning from the lowest classes, of which at least class E didn't provide me with much difficulties, I'll do my best to improve my language skills first. Since I have the advantage of being in Japan and studying Japanese, my way to keep on training on both go and the Japanese language has been to read the Japanese Go Weekly magazine, as well as Japanese go books (so far I've read 基本戦略, 七段サバキ and 七段序盤戦: "Basic strategy", "7 dan level sabaki" and "7 dan level opening game fighting". I've really liked this way of training so far, especially since Japanese go terminology surprisingly has a lot of words that are useful outside of go, too. Then there is of course the English lesson once a week, which means some more game reviews for me. I didn't go to a professional study group yet, but am planning to look out for one sooner or later. Problems I do almost every day in the morning.
Comparing to the Experience Go in China camp so far, there is of course the difference that in China, we'd study on five or six days a week, while here there's official training only on two days. In China we'd receive lectures on specific subjects in the morning and then we'd play one game in the afternoon — I'd say my way of covering the lectures I'd received in China by reading books here, and playing a lot during the weekend should be pretty much as effective a way of training. So far the main problem has been that most of the games I've played haven't been too challenging, but this should get fixed sooner or later. The atmosphere for learning at the Nihon Ki-in feels somewhat more serious than the one in China, which shouldn't come as a surprise. Of course, all of this is still just my current impression; we can look at this question again in a few months, seeing how much I will have improved by then. The Experience Go in China program did make me improve by quite a bit, after all — maybe by about one stone in 2009.