Impressions from the EYGC 2007 with the eyes of a Russian Go teacher
On my first venture to Europe for a Go tournament, I expected to see many new and interesting things. My expectations were completely fulfilled.
Having learned that the European children’s competition 2007 would take place in Holland, the “Voskhozhdenie” school decided to end there the children team. However we did not manage take along all children. Why? Children who are trained at our school are trained not only in a board game. In short, classes at our school develop child’s attention, perception and thinking. For example, the school pays close attention to recording games and reviewing them afterwards. Our school teaches how to win and lose the games, taking useful things from each case.
“Voskhozhdenie” is not a common Go club, so pupils of our school study not only to play and win their games. Children study to think and take their decisions, to record the games, to analyze and comprehend them. Certainly, we are concerned with more than the techniques of the game.
As a result we have not dared to take the youngest pupils of the school to the tournament, and Artem Vasenin (11 years old) was the only member of our team. Artem has attended our school since Summer 2006. He visited China four times, studying there at the professional Chinese Weiqi school in Harbin with Mr Wu Guonshi, who is a good friend of our school. For Artem it was the first tournament in his life. He worried a lot, taking the responsibility for our school and Russia, that he would represent in the tournament.
Artem played in the bottom group (up to 12 years of age) with an 18-kyu rating and won six games of total six. Having begun tournament anxiously, in the last round he overcame a player from Ukraine with 14-kyu rate, that was very pleasant and unexpected for us.
At our school children do not have ratings at all. We use another system of estimating learning efficiency. What is it possible to tell about the boy with an 18-kyu rating? In my opinion, it is possible to tell only, that he plays with a rating of 18-kyu. Is he strong or weak? If we compare him with a 10-kyu he is weak, and if we compare him with a 35-kyu he is strong. You may agree with us, that such estimation is narrow and is not so clear. Where can such thinking be applied except Go?
For me kyu is more likely a level of consciousness than a rating. Rising step by step during the tournament Artem grew up from 18-kyu up to 14-kyu. What does it mean for the school and for Artem? We saw the development of the consciousness and abilities of the child!
It is possible to say this confidently because Artem recorded all games, while many of his partners did not record their games at all. However, Artem recorded his games not so well and it is one of subjects of school analysis. Why cannot the child, playing with an equal opponent, examine the board and fix the game in a record form? It demands judgment. In my opinion, to teach a child to record his game accurately right up to the end is a great achievement! Without the game record you cannot replay the game and examine the child’s way of thinking during the game.
What have I seen in Europe? I have seen many people with open minds, children for whom Go is new and fascinating. They like to be engaged in Go. Their eyes burn! However, it seems, in Europe they still regard Go as something exotic. Such attitude makes it harder to develop Go around the continent and use it in real life.
The organization of the tournament was perfect! A remarkable place: the resort Zandvoort on the coast of the North Sea, with small houses with a fireplace, and the cleanest air. It was a real change comparing to Moscow. The Dutch Go Association worked hard, and this should be acknowledged.
What surprised me in the Europe? I was surprised by the approach to Go mainly from a position of sports and board games. At our school and in our Federation we divide Go into game and not game, that is “Strategic Go”. Sports, in our opinion, is only a small part of Go. The assumption of “Voskhozhdenie” school is that there is another part of Go, which lies outside of the board. For example, it is found in the development of consciousness and thinking in a person.
Why do we think so? Is it possible to study Go successfully, seeing only a board and stones? Where are the growth and development? What can we achieve by playing Go? Perhaps, it is necessary to look on Go not only as on an exotic board game from Asia, but also as a method of thinking development. What is the meaning of this method, does it have strong and weak points? I thought a lot about it, seeing the open minds and a susceptibility of the European children. I am grateful to the European Go community that this environment forced me to ponder over these questions in my article.
Another question that excited me was why we may see the growth and development of the ideas of “Voskhozhdenie” school in Russia, while for the rest of Europe, it seems, we cannot find any similar movement. I could not explain why fewer and fewer children go to such a remarkable event as EYGC 2007. In fact there were times when the European children tournaments attracted between 500 or 700 people.
Thinking about these questions, I remembered the idea of the tournament conceived by Konstantin Voznikov, the honorable President of the Crimean Go Federation, one of founders of Go in USSR.
Konstantin Voznikov said that a tournament is a not only a demonstrative performance in sports, but also a competition. What is the idea of the competition? I think it lies in aspiring to be the first, but not by defeating others. Here we might recall the knightly tournaments of medieval Europe. They gave birth to many remarkable traditions. Perhaps we could learn something useful from these traditions?
The format of the tournament as a demonstrative performance can become a breakthrough! “Voskhozhdenie” school already has modest, but interesting experience of organizing such tournaments in Russia.
Imagine it! It is possible to run a tournament as an interschool meeting at which our children could play with each other not only for rating, but also for the sake of joint dialogue and development. Heads of schools would share the experience, not only sporting, but also educational. In fact the principal idea of the demonstrative performance is that there are those who participate in a tournament and show their skills, and there are those who appreciate them.
Maybe sometimes it’s better to look at – more usefully and more deeply – than to participate in the process? Supervision gives ideas for judgment and reflection.
Such impressions came to my mind when we walked in deserted, silent streets of Zandvoort.
Is it possible to take up the motto: “Develop a person by means of Go “, in addition to the already available one: “Develop Go among people”?
I wish to thank the German fans and teachers who bought the books by “Voskhozhdenie” school, issued in 2005 and 2006.
I thank Peter Zandveld for his kind help.
I thank Frank Janssen and other referees for their excellent refereeing.
I wish to thank Martin Finke for the invitations, sent out in time.
I thank all organizers who helped with the tournament (unfortunately, I cannot find their names).
I thank the European Go teachers for that they bring up such remarkable children!
Michail Emelyanov, the leading instructor of the “Voskhozhdenie” school, the team leader at EYGC 2007.
More gratitudes from the leader of the “Voskhozhdenie” school Igor Grishin:
To Rustam Sahabutdinov, that his pupil Sasha Kozelskih is polite and affable.
To Valery Shikshin – for kindliness and openness.
To Jury Solovyev – for his analysis.
To Oleg Gavrilov – for his help and useful advice.
To Victor Shevchyuk – not only because he is a pleasant person, but also because his children do not refuse to play with others, even weaker opponents.
To Michail Emelyanov – for good neighborhood.
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