Monday, January 16, 2012

Getting back into the groove

So like, in preparation for possibly returning to Korea, I wanted to try to get myself back in shape as far as my Go skills.  It's been a harrowing process.  For the better part of a year, I just focused on writing and getting my books ready for print.  I hadn't spent much time doing tsumego, reviewing professional games, or really anything for that matter.  The last time I played Go was a few months ago, and I can't remember the last time I played three games with a buddy of mine in real life after Christmas.  We went 1-1-1.  The tie was basically me playing really badly, and then letting him have a tesuji that basically paralyzed me and brought the game back to equilibrium.  I couldn't go on after that, so we called it quits.  So, the question is, how to get back in shape?  Motivation to study and to improve has always been the key to moving forward.  When I was in Korea and at the height of my studying, I was able to go toe to toe with the 5 dan children.  I had to really think of course, but they couldn't take me down without a fight.  Of course, back then, I was doing 100 problems a week with a weekly lecture and copious amounts of Baduk TV.  Now that I'm back home, I can't get my Go fix as easy, and I'm trying to find the motivation to get back in the groove.  At times like these it'd be nice to have a 1,000 year old ancient spirit tell me what to do :P comments

Friday, January 13, 2012

Spreading Go throughout the West

A friend of mine from college and I sat down about a week ago and discussed this very topic, and it fascinates me to no end.  Go has always been a niche market.  The game appeals to computer programmers and people who tend to enjoy math.  Go also attracts a few artsy types, connoisseurs of Japanese culture, and a few other people like myself who study Asian languages and culture.  There's always been this sense that Go never crossed into the main stream to the point where the average person on the street would have at least seen it and not mistaken it for Othello.  We crow when the U.S. Go Congress has over 500 participants, and we applaud as new Go clubs open up in schools across the U.S.  We fall out of our chairs when we see Go anywhere in the mainstream media.  Some think it's a matter of time before the love of Go reaches all four corners of the country, where others think that the culture doesn't have enough room in it for intellectual games with Chess having carved out such a huge section for itself.  

I personally feel there is no ceiling, but we as a community have to switch our tactics.  We have time on our hands, but we have to drop some of the old thinking that other people are going to enjoy the game the way we do.  This is the mindset of "So You Want to Play Go?" Level 1.  My assumption was that the reader would not play Go more than perhaps three times a year.  The probably would never go on to the second book, nor fully understand everything in the first.  They would, however, be entertained and feel that they learned something and came away with more information.  Perhaps they could talk about the game at some social event or with a buddy.  Socializing the game I think is the way forward.  I also would hope that there could be more tournaments modeled as cultural festivals, and then advertise about them in local papers so that you can snag more people.  I'm just basing this off of a handful of anecdotes, but if people saw it more as a light social experience rather than a quest to become the next Dosaku, the game overall might gain more traction.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A DVD series on Go

I've been working on creating a video series to teach beginners how to play Go.  I started a project on kickstarter here:  The idea of the project is to help make Go more popular in the West.  So far, Go players are mostly computer programmers, mathematicians, college kids, and the elderly who switched over from chess in the park to a Go board.  There are people outside of these lines, like children, but for the most part Go has only made fleeting appearances in the main culture.  It's getting better.  There are Go classes in schools and we see glimpses of the game in popular media.  My series, the "So You Want to Play Go?" books, seem to be making a dent, and Janice Kim already led the charge with her books.  Yet, getting Americans to play Go has been an uphill process.  The vast majority of the population has never seen it before.  It's sometimes hard to explain it in a way you think will capture their attention.  Heck, even the name confuses some people because it's too simple :P

I thought since my books did a good job of bridging the fun gap and were well received, a DVD would do just as well.  Here's the thing though: I'll need some assistance.  I have a friend who is a professional film maker and video editor.  For $1,000 he'll videotape and produce the DVD, as well as help me get it ready for the internet.  I tried doing it myself, but I don't really have the equipment or the technical skill to make it look professional.  Here's what I've come up with on my own:  It's not bad, in fact I thought it was snazzy, but it could be better, and look a lot more professional.  After all, we're trying to get people who've never played Go to be interested.  If you're interested, please think about making a donation to help make this dream into a reality.