Level up!

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.

8 thoughts on “Level up!”

  1. Very excited for your games in higher classes!

    The one stone you gained in 2009 in the China program raised you to which dan rank? And how long were you there?

    Thanks for sharing with us in this blog!

    1. I felt like a weak Finnish 5 dan back when I went to China in 2009. I did some training there for one and a half months, and while the results of the training of course weren’t immediately visible after coming back from there, in a little over half a year afterwards I started to feel like I was more of a strong 5 dan, or perhaps even closer to 6 dan level. I got the 6 dan promotion later in spring 2010.

  2. I don’t have anything of value to offer, but I wanted to say thank you for keeping up with this blog. I enjoy reading it and living vicariously through your trip to Japan. Interesting stuff, especially how much of it parallels Hikaru.

    Keep up the good work, both on and off the board.

  3. Congratulations on getting to D class, easy as it was. You must be excited about the higher level games you’ll play, so good luck with that.
    Still reading, still getting lots of motivation. Thanks!

    1. Thanks! I did go to several book shops already, in search for any go books they would have. Insei get a 10-20% discount from the Nihon Ki-in store however, so mostly I’ve preferred to look for potential reads there. So far I’ve bought only three books, two of which are quite normal tsumego books. The third one is kind of a treasure to me, though, containing 100 commented games of Fujisawa Shuko. :) I’ll surely look for more book shops in the future — a friend of mine mentioned something about a regular book shop with a huge go book section, and I feel kind of inclined to check that out sometime.

      1. 100 commented games of Fujisawa! That’s the one book I’d buy too…

        A visit to the huge book shop would be fun. I’ve been to a few places like that in China with several shelves worth of Go books. Probably you have too. :)

  4. Thank you for all the interesting information! The blog is really interesting to read :)
    Best of luck in D class, and hope you’ll get more chalening games soon! :)

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