Fitzharrys Go Challenge Diary, 2004

Wednesday April 21st

First meeting of term

The stuff has not arrived, and the Head wonders why. I blame the postal strike (local to Oxfordshire), which is now over but has an undelivered backlog.

Wednesday evening

I ring Paul Smith, who says that the stuff has not been sent out yet, to avoid the risk of its arriving in the school holiday.

Wednesday April 28th

The stuff has still not arrived.

Wednesday May 5th

The stuff has arrived. The Head says that he will arrange publicity, to attract as many as possible to next week's Go Club meeting.

Wednesday May 12th

No publicity yet. The Head cannot easily fetch the box of as he has already started playing two simultaneous chess games. I insist on taking over his positions in the games while he goes to fetch the box. I lose a knight in one, win a bishop in the other. When he returns with the stuff, I examine it, and then try to recruit players. But the boys who can play Go have now started playing chess, the girls, consequences. I get a couple of boys signed up anyway. When the consequences finishes, there isn't time for 13x13 games, but I get four girls signed up.

Wednesday May 19th

The publicity has been done, and has worked. Some arrive as soon as Go club has started, and want to start playing; so I let them pair themselves, I don't know who else is going to turn up. More turn up, and register, sporadically throughout the session. These include the two best Go-players in the school, whom I haven't see for months. This is great.

I am kept constantly busy. I have to resolve disputes about groups with no liberties, and about kos. I have to register the late arrivals. I have to score all the games when they finish. In every game, there is at least one dead or unsettled group scored as alive at the end of the game - no problem. It's good to see everyone having so much fun.

In one game, Black is winning by a few points, and I realise I don't know what komi we are meant to be using. In between the calls to deal with other games, I find and read the document "Go Rules Quick Reference". It doesn't say! Panic. Luckily I have also brought a printout of "Rules of the UK Go Challenge" from the web site. It doesn't say either! Luckily, Black loses a group, resolving the problem.

Trying to impose a seeded Swiss would have been out of the question. They aren't playing in synchronised rounds. By the end of the session, twelve are registered, six have played two rounds, four have played one round, and two have not played at all. I have tried to arrange that if a game is in round two for a player it is also in round two for her opponent. This means that some players have played round two before round one; but I don't see any harm in that.

Fortunately there is an element of self-seeding. The better ones want to win, and deliberately chose the weaker opponents. That's fine for the first session. Next session, I shall take an active part in the pairing. But "players on equal scores should play each other as far as possible" does not apply when some have played two rounds already, some none.

Wednesday May 26th

I am away on holiday. No meeting.

Wednesday June 2nd


No meeting.

I would have liked to book my holiday for the same week as half-term, and tried to do so. But I failed to find a way of predicting in advance when half-term is going to be. Some counties put this information on the web, but if Oxfordshire does, I can't find it.

Wednesday June 9th

Unfortunately I am obliged to work in London today. My wife agrees to substitute for me, and to organise their Go Challenge games.

When I get home in the evening, she says that she managed well enough. But she complains that I have not taught them to say atari. The result of this is that they often give atari without either player noticing it. If they were trained to look for, and point out, ataris, they might play better.

On reflection, this would be a good idea with the girls, who are inclined to be helpful. But boys are more competitive, and I fear it would lead to arguments. For instance, one will fail to say atari because he hasn't noticed it, and then try to capture the stone later, which his opponent will regard as unfair. I think I'll suggext it, but as an option, not as a rule.

Wednesday June 16th

Only one pupil registered for the UK Go Challenge turned up today. While I waited for other registered players, I taught the rules of Go to a couple of newcomers.

Wednesday June 23rd

Again only one pupil registered for the UK Go Challenge turned up - a different one from last week. I gave her two 9x9 games. Then I watched five other beginners playing, and helped them make legal moves. One of them was playing on the intersections reliably, but having difficulty recognising dead groups. Another was quick at spotting dead groups, but not so reliable at playing on intersections. But the majority made no illegal moves. It is encouraging when this happens.

Wednesday June 30th

Two pupils pupil registered for the UK Go Challenge turn up, and want to play each other so as to be able to earn bookmarks, stars, etc. But I have to tell them that as they've played each other already, they can't play again. They play each other chess, and then leave.

As soon as they have gone, another appears, and is very keen to find an opponent. She goes out to try to recruit one, fails, and returns. While we are waitng for an opponent to arrive, I give here a couple of 9x9 games, and teach her a bit about making two eyes.

Another registered player appears, but she has already played him. Then an unregistered one appears, and she urges me to register him so that she can earn another win. This newcomer plays surprisingly well. But I am pleased to see that she has understood her recent lesson, and carefully puts two eyes in her weak group, giving her a won position.

Then she fails to defend the other end of the weak group from a series of one-point yose moves, and it dies. She loses the game to the newcomer. But at least she has earned one more point towards her bookmark.

Wednesday July 7th

Arrived on time at the room where the chess and Go clubs meet, and found it locked. Waited outside, while a succession of pupils arrived, tried the door, and went away. After most of the lunch break was gone, a keen Go player went in search of the janitor who has the key.

Once the door was unlocked, there was little time to play what should have been the final decisive game of the UK Go challenge. There were four Go players present, but these had all played each other already. So after a teaching game and a friendly game, I awarded the baseball cap to the player with the highest score - fortunately he was one of the four present.

I suppose I should have encouraged him to enter the finals in Manchester. But the closing date for entrants is given as July 2nd. And the chance that his parents will be able to take, or send, him to Manchester for the weekend at three days' notice are negligible.

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