Monday, February 6, 2012

Professional Go Players and their nervous ticks

I've been on a Baduk TV kick, and I've noticed something really interesting: each professional player has their own unique nervous tick.  Some professionals rattle their Go stones, while others rock back and forth.  It's really an interesting phenomenon to watch.  Go has a specific etiquette to it.  You are supposed to sit quietly and control yourself, only reaching into your  bowl when you're ready to make your move, and fully concentrating on the board in front of you.  At least, that's the etiquette I was taught, and it's supposed to instill discipline, etc.  However, after having been to a lot of tournaments and watching professionals play, they each break the rules in their own unique way.

Cho Hunhyun

Cho is a rather awesome guy.  He still plays Go well into his sixties when most professionals retire before their forties.  He's a ball of nervous ticks.  He digs into his bowl and rattles the stones, he groans out loud if his opponent plays a good move, and even sometime sings and hums to himself.  You're not supposed to create a ruckus so as not to break your opponent's concentration, but Cho doesn't really seem to care all that much about that.  One thing Cho does that is a big no-no is to hover your hand over the board when you're playing a move.  Sometimes you want to play a stone on a certain spot, then you back off, and then hover the stone over the spot to help you visualize what the board looks like.  It's a bit annoying, and Cho does it all the time. 

Cho Chikun

Cho Chikun is another winner in the nervous habits hall of fame!  It must have something to do with being named Cho.  Cho Chikun doesn't sing while playing, but he did have a habit of scratching his head and ruffling his hair when the game got to be complex.  I mean, nothing says "I'm thinking as hard as I can" more than someone practically scratching their scalp clean off their head.  Cho Chikun is another professional with a lot of constitution.  He is still playing Go well into his fifties, and winning title matches to boot!  I don't think he does the hair scratching thing as often anymore.  His hair, though, is crazy enough as it is.

Lee Sedol
The boy genius is no stranger to nervous ticks himself, although his aren't as obvious.  I have to say one thing though, Lee Sedol kind of disappointed me when I first heard him speak.   I pictured him as having a deep, manly voice because his style is so violent.  Then he opened his mouth, and he sounded like a girl.  In any case, Lee tends to rock back and forth and put his hands to his lips when the going gets rough.  The rocking habit was really noticeable in his recent battles with Gu Li in the BC Card Cup, when Sedol lost a huge group and had to come from behind.

Do you have any weird habits when you play Go?  Do you have any strange ticks, or any rituals you have when you play?  When I read out long sequences, I look like I'm working a calculator with my right hand.  I also did the hair scratching thing back in the day.  Perhaps I'll one day be as strong as Cho Chikun, or be left without a scalp.