Sunday, May 2, 2021

Finding Your Way Back

I write this blog entry after a very long hiatus from the Go world and my Go related personal projects. I've been away for quite some time and am in the process of getting back into playing Go, improving myself in the game, and reconnecting with the Go community at large. First, I wanted to share a little story, something I've never shared with others.

About 10 years ago I published the first book of the "So You Want to Play Go?" series. Believe it or not I wrote it in about 4-5 days. I worked feverishly with little sleep, taking only naps. I had to figure out how to do diagrams, outline my lessons, scour professional games and my own notes for examples, and write everything down. All of that effort didn't matter to me because I was hell bent on getting the project done.

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Go Congress was some of the happiest times

I wrote the first book because I loved the game. Go has always been a positive force in my life. It gave me self esteem, gave me a challenge, and provided me friends and a built in community. I had a hard time learning the game. I studied Japanese, Chinese and Korean in university. This helped a ton in reading books and reading websites in those languages to help me learn the game. I wanted an English speaking person to be able to pick up a book and learn the game in a comfortable manner. I felt this would go a long way in increasing the number of people who could play Go.

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Go was an easy way to make friends in any country

What I've never revealed to anyone is how nervous I was when I first published the book. I'm not a professional Go player. I was barely a dan level player when I wrote it. I didn't have any formal training in teaching Go. I mostly taught new people at the local Go club and my friends online. What right did I have to write a book? I was besieged with negative thoughts even though my friends at Go club were congratulating me. 

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The Go Dojang in Migeum, S. Korea

This feeling never really left me. Even though I wrote all 4 books in the series, the one that I felt the most nervous writing was the last book. How could someone who was 3-4 dan write a dan level book? I had studied in Korea at a professional dojang, but my rank had probably reached its zenith despite the amount of studying I was doing. 

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Playing Go in Singapore

Then I opened Sunday Go Lessons. It was my dream to have an online Go school. Some place where newcomers to Go could get an emporium of information on how to get better. I wrote the site myself and it took a week to finish. As usual, when I get really into something I enter into "The Zone" and work feverishly on it with little to no sleep until it is done. 

Still, in the back of my mind I was an imposter. I'm not a professional and I was never an insei. I still make mistakes with life and death problems and I don't know every joseki by heart. I just didn't see people lining up to have me teach them Go. I put my doubts aside and opened, but my doubts kept gnawing at me.

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A professional tournament in South Korea! So much fun!

In many ways when we sit at the Go board we fight ourselves. We know that we're going to be in for a long game. We're going to have to think hard on all of our moves, and invest ourselves in the outcome of the game. Go is deep to where it feels like a waste to just play it superficially. We don't want to experience losing but we know that it's possible. We can make a mistake, lose our stones, misread a position, all manner of mistakes that happen. 

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Shandong Province Regional Tournament

I've been on hiatus from Go because I feel like a lot of the passion I used to feel is not there anymore. But I didn't like how that felt. With Go I made instant friends with people from all over the world. I had a game that satisfied my intellectual curiosity and need for complex problem solving, as well as for the thrill of improving. I don't want to ever lose the passion I felt when I stayed up for nearly 4 days straight writing the first book of "So You Want to Play Go." I'm older and my priorities in life have changed, but in a way, I want Go to help me capture this one aspect of myself and maintain it. I am revamping the Sunday Go Lessons website, adding more videos and problems, and some other functionality I think might be good. I'm going to think of new books to write or ways to promote the game. I want to practice new joseki and keep up with new changes in the game like I used to. I may not be able to do it as much as when I was in my early 20s, but I want to take the time to make sure I do these things so I don't lose the spark.