The Community of Go

2017-07-18 at 09:58 Leave a comment

A few hours ago, Surrounding Game movie logo, English words and Chinese ideograms the Go club of which I’m a member (South Sound Go Club) sponsored a screening of The Surrounding Game at the Grand Cinema in Tacoma. The film explains a bit about the history of Go, and its place both in modern Eastern Asian culture and in the United States. It focuses on three young Americans — friends, and in their quest to become the first accredited American professional Go players, rivals. Along the way, we get glimpses into the world of the strongest pro players, including a brief appearance by Michael Redmond, the first Western-born professional 9-dan, and the legendary Go Seigen shortly before his death. We also get insights into the thoughts and dreams of American Go Association members and officials who have kept the flame alight for so many decades. Among the folks I recognized were: Allan Abramson, the Honorary Keith Arnold, Terry Benson, Matthew Burrall, Steve Burrall, Paul Celmer, Steve Colburn, Arnold Eudell, Chris Garlock, Karoline Li, Kim Myungwan, Chris Kirchner, Andy Okun, Terri Schurter, Rachel Small, Phil Strauss, Dennis Wheeler, and Yuan Zhou. (There were others, but it’s been a few hours — apologies to many friends I’ve omitted here! (I did wave at you on the screen, for what that’s worth. :))

I enjoyed the film greatly. I liked the slow, gentle explanation of the very few rules of Go — kudos, Terry Benson! I liked the discussion of how profound complexity can emerge from a small set of simple, deterministic rules. I liked the portrait of children, on the cusp of adulthood, trying to balance dreams and reality. I liked the depictions of what goes through a Go player’s mind — visualizing variations before they’re played. Plus, much of the camerawork was simply beautiful. And the soundtrack contributed, rather than detracting.

We had a pretty decent turnout — I don’t know the exact number, but the audience must have been close to 50 people, in a room that seats 74. Afterwards, many of us played Go, or taught the game to new players, while enjoying beverages provided by Deschutes Brewery. I saw Jason Baghboudarian for the first time in too long, but we didn’t get to play. I did play Keith from Federal Way, and Treavor from Olympia. In my game with Treavor, for the second time in two days, a “loose ladder” arose in play, and was decisive for the outcome.

All in all, it was a grand evening. It was great to see several of my fellow South Sound Go Club folks, and great to meet family and new players. It made me feel grateful, blessed even, to participate in a community of people enthusiastic about Baduk (a.k.a. Go, Weiqi). Thanks for dreaming of it and pursuing the dream, Tom — it wouldn’t have happened without your persistence, and it was totally worth it! –MMlvx

Update 2017-08-01: Last night, I went to Seattle and saw the premiere organized by Seattle Go Center. I saw (in person) several of the people who appear in the film. It was great to see my Baduk friends!

On July 31, at a different theater, I did not notice the visual glitching that had distracted me the first time I saw the film (July 17), which is interesting, because I was watching for it. Perhaps it was an issue with the projection equipment, rather than the digital camera? –MMlvx

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