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Go to China in American Go E-Journal

Posted: 28 Aug 2007, 07:45
by mohsart
AGEJ wrote:THE TRAVELING BOARD: Going to China
By Stefan Helms
Get up. Have a go lesson with a strong Chinese go player. Eat good Chinese food. Play go. Review games. Eat more good Chinese food. Repeat daily - with breaks for sightseeing and exploring - for up to two months. Created by Carl Johan Ragnarsson and Michael Yao in 2003, the third annual "Go To China" trip brought together go players from all over the world to study in downtown Beijing this summer for 4-8-week sessions.
I arrived in the Chongwenmen area of urban Beijing on June 23rd, where I soon met the other participants. Of the twenty-eight players, three were American, eleven German, five hailed from Sweden, not including Ragnarrson and Yao, both of whom have lived in Sweden, and the others collectively represented almost all areas of northern Europe. Although the participants varied in geographic origin, almost everyone was in the 7k-3dan range, with the strongest player being from Amsterdam. Most of the participants were somewhat familiar with one another through having played on KGS, making it easy for everyone on the trip to bond from early on.
Each day we woke up in our respective apartments for 10 AM go lectures taught by various strong Chinese players including Jeff Chang (9d KGS) and Will Zhang (9d KGS). For these two hours, our group of 28 split into three groups according to rank. One teacher was assigned to each group, and during these two-hour lectures the teachers shared countless opening game, mid-game and endgame strategies, reviewed both peer and pro games, and made sure their lessons were understood to the fullest. Although our main lectures occurred during these two hours, I often talked late into the night with Jeff and the other pros -- who were so much a part of our group that they slept in apartments with the rest of us -- about everything from josekis to Chinese culture. After two-hour lectures, we ordered in excellent food from surrounding restaurants for lunch before beginning our afternoon games against one another. We would play these games and often review them with our teachers until dinner time, where our whole group-led by native Chinese speakers hired to help make the trip go smoothly-would often travel to a nearby restaurant together. The rest of the night, people either played or studied go or explored the city. Often, after having studied the aggressive yet elegant Chinese style of go play, we went to bed each night feeling we were better go players than we had been the night before.
On the weekends, some continued to play go while most people ventured off to Beijing tourist attractions such as the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City, the Silk Market or the Summer Palace. It was at these places that us Westerners, used to paying high prices for things made cheaply in China, were able to live like kings and buy things we would never consider buying back home. When we were not playing go, we enjoyed Beijing to the fullest. The excellent instruction and living conditions helped improve my game tremendously. Click here for more information on the "Go To China" trip. Photo of Forbidden City art courtesy Stefan Helms