Monthly Archives: April 2009

Training Director. Huh???

Well, yeah, I have received my name cards from the Malaysia Weiqi Association and my designation is Training Director. Nice title. Everyone felt good because the other guys are Directors too, we have a Tournament Director, Membership Director, Ranking Director, etc. So we have “board meetings” in my house on Saturday nights. Haha.

Anyways, the new beginner class is going on well and now into its third week. After the real experience of the lessons, I have made some changes and improved on the syllabus and study guide. It is not 60 pages long and included a section on “Capturing Races” and a section on “Tips to Improve”. Some other sections have also been improved and more examples given.

The first module, i.e. Module A, will last about 5 weeks to complete and each week, I give the students homework and these are reviewed the following week. Our study materials are quite comprehensive, thanks to my many years of Go book collection and also the rich internet resources.

After the 5th week, I am planning to have a week for quiz to review the lessons learnt and the top scorer for the quiz will get a prize, which I don’t know is what yet.

Then we embark on Module B, which covers more materials about the opening but especially so on the middle game, invasion, reduction, attack and defense. It is very important to train them up as fighters who looks at the board and figure the situation out themselves, fight their own game. I have also deliberately left out the joseki sections until Module C.

Module B will take another 5 weeks, after which there shall be a 13×13 tournament between the beginners. The winner will, again, get a prize.

After finishing module B, the students will have at least at SOLID 15k ranking and won’t be afraid to fry anyone weaker than 15kyu and will give the 10ks and 12ks a good game.

Here is the new, updated, revised, enhanced (hehe) syllabus and study materials for Module A. Comments welcome. Right click to download.

MODULE A SYLLABUS AND STUDY MATERIALS.

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The Fire Scroll

*****
“Mountain and sea” means that it is bad to do the same thing over and over again. You may have to repeat something once, but it should not be done a third time.

When you try something on an opponent, if it does not work the first time, you will not get any benefit out of rushing to do it again. Change your tactics abruptly, doing something completely different. If that still does not work, then try something else.

Thus the science of martial arts involves the presence of mind to act as the sea when the enemy is like a mountain, and act as a mountain when the enemy is like a sea. This requires careful reflection.

*****

The above is from the Book of Five Rings. It is so important not be stagnant, to always improve and change your tactics, to try new methods, etc.

How many times have we seen that people expect a good result but does the same thing over and over and over again without any changes and improvements?

You can’t expect good or better results if you just stick to what you are doing now. At best, you can only achieve what you are achieving now.

To move forward, identify what you need to do differently and do it. Only then there will be a glimmer of hope for improvement.

Applicable to all aspects of our life, not just on martial arts or Go.

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Murakami San

I am listening now to the official soundtrack of PERHAPS LOVE, playing on my trusted Marantz CD 6000 OSE Limited Edition CD player on a Marantz PM 6100 SA Integrated Amplifier with an Audio Pro bookshelf speakers. I put on the PERHAPS LOVE soundtrack after listening to Kyung Hwa Chung’s rendition of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor (Decca, Charles Dutoit conducting the Montreal Symphony Orchestra). Out of the blue, I thought of the PERHAPS LOVE soundtrack, a movie that I love and a soundtrack that was played repeatedly in my car audio system some time ago.

While Mendelssohn’s violin concerto is a really superb piece of work, sometimes, it takes a simple song with simple lyrics to take care of some of the heart’s feelings. As I was listening to it, I think of friends, Dominique Hee, who knew about my passion for PERHAPS LOVE, made it a point to give me as a gift the Special Deluxe Edition of the Official Soundtrack that also came with a beautiful photo album and a set of postcards. Also, as I was looking again at my trusted audio system, I remembered how my friend Joseph Loh, who is himself a crazy audiophile, took my hands and went to shops in Sungai Wang and helped me get a good and affordable system, and since he is also a reviewer for The Star in the audiophile section, perhaps his presence do have an effect on the price I paid for the system.

As I was litening to the violin concerto just now, I was also finishing Haruki Murakami’s memoir, WHAT I TALK ABOUT WHEN I TALK ABOUT RUNNING. I have been trying to get hold of the book for quite some time after knowing that the English edition is already out. However, the usual bookshops that I went to didn’t seem to have stock but how lucky was I to go to Pavilion that day and went into the TImes bookshop and found a copy. I really enjoyed the book and reading it, inspired me to do something myself. It is more than a book about running, but more so on how running affects one’s life, thoughts, self-understanding and world-view.

It can perhaps be looked at and compared with Miyamoto Msushi’s THE BOOK OF FIVE RINGS. Well, maybe not as hard-core, but I find a bit of similarity there and reading Murakami’s memoir, reminds me of the BOOK OF FIVE RINGS, how one should be disciplined, how one should perfect his/her craft, the physical and psychological barriers and its overcoming, the detailed, dry and dirty training that one has to undergo and practice over and over and over again until it is second nature. Nothing in life comes easy and a lot of hard work needs to be put in, no matter how talented you are, no matter if you are a genius or not.

I love Sunday mornings by myself. I try to wake up early in the morning (that is if I don’t have a Saturday poker night) and my routine would be to freshen up, check for mails and then go out to the restaurant and have a bowl of my favourite prawn noodles and iced nescafe, enjoying the Sunday papers as I eat. After the breakfast, I will come home and do a bit of housework, fill up the water, do some laundry, clean up the mess a bit, etc. while listening to music. Then I will settle down on the sofa to read a book and enjoy the early fresh and cool air blowing through the balcony door. I read until I feel like stopping and then I do whatever else I like for the day, maybe watching a DVD or studying Go or just lay around doing nothing. It is really enjoyable.

Sometimes I wonder if I should really go out more often, perhaps go hiking or running a marathon or something more physical. I really think that this will be good for me. I think I should do that. I used to go to the gym on weekends but have stopped going to the gym now, which I think is a mistake. I enjoyed my gym time a lot, my normal routine will be going on the treadmill for about an hour, then play with the weights for another hour, do some stretching etc. and then go to the sauna room for a good sweating session. I remember that no matter how tired I was before going to the gym, after going through the routine, I feel the more fresh and energetic, with all my previous fatigue gone. I even feel happy for whatever reasons. The hormones are definitely at work.

Perhaps William James is really right. I really believe it the moment I read it back in 1992. He said, “We do not run because we are afraid, we are afraid because we run.” Something like that. I always think about this when I don’t feel like getting out of bed in the morning for work or do something that my feelings tell me that it hates but the brains tells me that I should do. As Murakami san would say, it is good to feel pain. When you feel pain, the muscles ruptures and heals itself, and becomes stronger after that.

“….the toughest part of a marathon comes after twenty-two miles”.

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The Go Playing Novelist

Ah…. finally, after so many years of living, I finally know what I want to do in life. I want to be a Go playing novelist. By that, I mean I want to have the strength of a professional Go player so that I can go around the world to teach Go and at the same time, while travelling and in between teaching Go, I write critically-acclaimed novels, loved by thousands, if not millions, of people.

I have considered movies as well and I figured I won’t like film-making although I enjoy watching movies tremendously. Being a Go playing novelist, my side interests shall be watching lots and lots of movies in all its varieties, listening to classical music, jazz and some oldies and swimming, sometimes writing about movies and music as a part-time job.

That will be a perfect.

The problem is that reality is not such. The reality is that I suck at Go and I have no talent at all at writing novels, not to mention that I have never written any novels before although I have read tons. I think life is funny in that we always want to be something we are not. Maybe the grass is always greener on the other side but I really feel, at this point in time, being a Go playing novelist suits my character and personality best. I feel like I am born to be a Go playing novelist with a passionate side interest in movies, music and swimming.

Anyways, I do get my fix of things especially now that I have been somehow appointed to take care of the teaching syllabus and some teaching for a beginner’s class at the Malaysia Weiqi Association. I have started the class last week and so far, we have 5 new and enthusiastic students. They are really great, listening to me talk for one whole hour. It was really fun teaching. Maybe teaching has always been in my blood as I was already giving private tuition to students when I was in Form 3 (15 years old) right up to Form 6 (18 years old). It was a way to sustain myself, to pay for my own little pleasures since my family is quite poor and can’t afford much pocket money for me and plus the fact that I started going out with girls at the age of 16, I needed those extra money to spend.

So last week we covered the Introduction part of the syllabus right up to section A.2.7, i.e. Living and Dead Groups (refer to the syllabus and study material of which can be downloaded here.

Here is the lesson plan for the following weeks:

18 April: Life and Death (Seki, Multiple Eye Space)

25 April: Basic Tactics (Cutting, Connecting, Ladder, Net, Snapback, etc.)

2 May: Capturing Races

9 May: Basic Endgame

16 May: Opening Made Easy (properties of corner, extensions)

23 May: After the opening (relationship and combination of stones. some concepts)

30 May: Joseki and how to use them

6 June: Basic Invasion and Reduction

I reckon I can cover the whole beginner’s course laid out in the syllabus within 5 to 6 weeks, thereafter we can go one step further into opening theories, joseki and some more advanced stuffs. Each lesson lasts about one hour and at the end of the lesson, homework is given to the student to practice at home.

So, hopefully, one day I can really be a professional Go playing novelist but until that day comes, I will remain what I am and slog through the dry days (I can’t call it fun dealing with the investment bankers, accountants, lawyers, and other corporate stuffs).

P/S: The Hong Kong film awards is tomorrow. Sad that there is no one in my office to share this with, unlike previous years where there were so much fun…..

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Another Story

This is perhaps the 8th time that Yuuki is reading Anna Karenin. She doesn’t know what but there is something in the novel that captivates her and she couldn’t help but buy a copy every time she goes on a cruise. Since her husband died 6 years ago, Yuuki has acquired the strange habit of going on cruises by herself to nowhere every year.

As she was immersing herself in the all too familiar paragraph, a certain scent took her off the page. It is a very familiar scent but is something she has very vague memories of. She tried to recall where and when she has smelled that scent before but failed. It is just a very familiar scent, a scent that seems to evoke something deep in her heart, something that she wanted to remember, something that is important, but also something that she can no longer remember.

With a deep sense of frustration, she has no choice but to continue reading but her mind could just not let go of the thought of the scent. In just that instant, a voice called out her name. “Yuuki, is that you?”

She looked up and saw a man, in his early sixties perhaps, looking at her quizzically but with a pair of eyes that seems so young, so eager. For a moment, her heart started beating and pulsating violently and she found herself at a lost for words. “Is this him?” she thought. “It couldn’t be. He is dead.”

After 40 years of not seeing each other, he can’t simply just appear. She still remember the occasion when they had to be separated against their will. They were so much in love then. Their love didn’t come easy and they have gone through many hardship to be together but finally, they still had to be separated. Everyone they knew, everyone that loved them, cried for them.

Seeing him again after 40 years, she felt the same warmth. Perhaps she is still in love with him. Perhaps the love never really did go away and even if she is married, it is only him, him alone, that is in her heart all these while. There is a certain longing, she wanted to just to throw herself and hug him, but social protocol does not allow it at this moment. Plus the fact that they are both more than 60 years old now.

“Takao, is that you? It has been such a long time. A really long time”.

“Yuuki, yes, indeed it has been a long time.”

“How are you?”

And Yuuki invited him to sit down and they chatted for the whole day, and well into the night, as if there is no time to catch up on all those lost years. In their heart, they knew that they still love each other deeply. They are their first love. And will always be their first, and only love.

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A story

When she received the short note from him, she now understands what he was trying to do. All these months of coldness is really uncalled for. “What have I done?” she thought to herself.

Just barely three months ago, she saw him with another girl, walking hand in hand in the departmental store, looking so happy in each others arms. She refused to believe it even if she saw it with her own eyes and as soon as she reached home, she threw herself on the bed and started crying and punching the pillow in anger and frustration. She even thought of committing suicide.

What has she done to deserve this? He was just as sweet as honey just the night before and she really thought they will get married and have kids and a happy family. But her whole world collapsed just right now. She thought maybe, well maybe, that’s just his old friend or god-sister or just an overly zealous colleague but it just didn’t seem so. They are just like a pair of lovebirds. It is unmistakable.

So for almost three whole months, she avoided him, avoided his calls and even pretended not to be home when he waited for her outside her house for the whole chilly night. She even avoided to go online to check her e-mails and chat with her friends, something she never imagined herself being capable because she simply cannot live without the internet.

But the hurt is just too deep and she needed time to be quiet. “Have I been acting too hastily?” “Should I just listen to him and see what he has to say?” “Well, he may just make up some stories…” “But what if….” All these questions pops into her mind and she can’t seem to be at peace with herself. She has lost weight.

But just tonight, she saw a pink coloured envelop at her doorstep. She knew its from him but after almost three months, she thought well maybe let’s see what he has to say.

She opened the envelop and saw just one piece of paper. Her tears started to flow as she read the letter.

She immediately rushed out of the door and ran to the bus station. She reached just before 9 p.m. He was standing just the opposite side of the road and he saw her running. He smiled and started to run across the road, wanting to hug her and kiss her. He misses her really so much. So very much……

As he was running across the street, he heard shouts of people but he was too happy to see her to pay attention. It seems that it is their fate that a bus ran out of control and rammed into him. Maybe they were never meant to be together after all.

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