Posts Tagged ‘insei’

Kono Rin defends Tengen title

Sunday, December 16th, 2007
I got asked in this blog comment: “How about covering the Tengen?” I started writing a belated reply, when I realized that I’d better turn it into a blog entry. Here it is: The reason I didn’t cover Tengen (and other recent tournaments) on the website is because I realized that I don’t have the resources (and by resources I mean “time” :-) ) to keep track of all current titles and tournaments. I did follow Tengen myself though – it was especially interesting for me because Kono Rin (he is the Tengen titleholder, he just defended it against Yamashita Keigo Kisei) was insei when I was (he kicked my butt by 2.5 points in the only game we played – since he was mostly 1-2 classes above me.) He was still insei when I quit (he became pro 1 or 2 years later) and I would have never guessed that he’ll become a title holder. His style, just like his personality, was very quiet, deep-thinking type, never spectacular or attracting attention. He was very serious all the time, I am sure he must have studied very-very hard.

Interview with Cristian “Solaris” Pop

Thursday, June 7th, 2007
I just published an interview with Cristian Pop – know as “Solaris” on some Go servers – the 7 dan from Romania who won an excellent 4th place at the recent World Amateur Go Championship. He also has an online Go school – see his website if you are interested to join:

Questions and Answers with Tei Meiko Sensei

Tuesday, May 1st, 2007
I published an article based on a series of emails I recently exchanged with Tei Meiko 9 dan – one of the official instructors during the time I was an insei in Japan. As he commented most of my insei games back then, Tei Sensei’s wisdom is behind most of the lessons that I published so far. The questions are mostly around how to study Go. Here are the things that I found very interesting:
  • memorizing pro games is a popular study method (I used to be under the impression that it’s only a minority of the studying Go players using it)
  • professional players do study Go books (I used to think the only Go books they study are game collections and joseki dictionaries, and that the vast majority of the books are written for amateurs, but I was wrong)
  • professionals don’t use any pattern-matching software for studying Go
  • memorizing joseki doesn’t hurt (contrary to some popular opinion in the amateur’s world); in general, “don’t read this until you are that level” is bad advice
  • making progress at Go is really easy :-) – just “read and play”: learn something new, apply it in your games; repeat until 9 dan.
Thank you for the nice advices, Tei Sensei!

Cherry Blossom Tournament – and Cho Seokbin

Monday, April 23rd, 2007
I played yesterday in the Seattle Cherry Blossom Tournament – which was held at the Seattle Center, together with the Cherry Blossom Festival,the annual Japanese event here in Seattle. I managed to win the tournament with 3-0 (normally there are 4 rounds, but the 3rd one ran late and it wasn’t time for the 4th one for some players) after a lucky win against Steve Stringfellow (6 dan AGA). The highlight of the day though was the visit by Cho Seokbin (also spelled Cho Seok Bin in some other sources) – the famous ex-insei from Korea (just to avoid confusion: many insei from Korea are as strong as professional players) who is now living in Europe (Germany) and winning a lot of tournaments there. Seokbin is on a Go tour in the US – he is in Seattle for the next week or so, and will visit Tacoma and Portland next. He is not only a very strong player, but also a great Go teacher: he commented my final game with Steve, and today he gave a very nice lecture on joseki – I’ll post both the game commentary and some highlights form the lecture on my website in the next few days. Just in case you are in the Seattle area (or nearby): Cho Seokbin will present another lecture on Tuesday, April 24th at the Seattle Go Center (from 7 pm), and will play simultaneous games on Wednesday, April 25th, also at the Seattle Go Center, from 6 pm to 9 pm. Also, if you are interested in one-on-one lessons with Cho Seokbin while he is in the US, please send an email to Jon Boley (”jon at”).


Monday, April 2nd, 2007
There is a new volume of the Hikaru-no-Go manga coming out tomorrow: number 9 of the series:

Hikaru-no-Go manga, number 9

Each time I visited Japan (I participated 3 times in the World Amateur Go Championship as the Romanian representative), and also while I lived in Japan as an insei, I noticed a lot of people (mostly men) reading manga (comics) on the train in the Tokyo area, during their commute between home and work. I never got interested in manga while in Japan – I always regarded it as some sort of childish activity for people who don’t have time to read real books. I only understood the manga phenomenon when I first read Hikaru-no-Go, years later: maybe it is because of the Go topic, or because it is about the places where I lived for one and a half years (both Nihon Ki-in and the Igo Kenshu Center are very accurately depicted), or just because it’s well written – but I enjoyed it a lot, and found it really awesome! I also found it to be an excellent way to attract kids to Go: I showed the first few video episodes to my 6 years old daughter and a couple of her friends her age, and they immediately wanted to play Go! I really hope they’ll make some follow up to the original story, and have … <removed spoiler from here>

1-1 in Women’s Meijin

Friday, March 2nd, 2007
Kato Keiko lost the second game in this year’s Women’s Meijin title, so it’s 1-1. She is my favorite, because she was also insei at Igo Kenshu Center when I was insei. I wrote a page about this match – just with some interesting moves from the first game, but I also have something in mind about the second game to add soon. Problem from the first game: Black to play in the diagram:

On a different note: thanks to the anonymous user who left feedback asking “so what was the rule of thumb in the Kobayashi fuseki article?”. Good question – I updated the article to clarify.

Updated the “Professional Go tournaments” page

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007
I finished updating the “Professional Go tournaments” page – added a bit a background about the pro titles in Japan, and also a link to the upcoming Judan title page. In the Judan page I wrote a story I had almost forgotten: how Cho Chikun became self-appointed insei teacher.


Since I added the possibility to add a comment (besides the rating) at the end of most of the pages, a few people started to use it. I got mostly encouraging words – thanks everybody for your feedback! – but also the first actual suggestion: “Please post more lectures on fuseki, things like direction of play, thickness vs weakness, urgent points vs. big points”. I’ll try to do that as I’ll follow the Judan title next – and when I’m writing the next article/lesson. I am thinking to add some sort of page to allow users to vote on different topics they are more interested in – but until then please feel free to use either the feedback system on the website, or just comments to this blog and let me know if you have other suggestions.

Becoming a Professional Player in Korea

Monday, February 12th, 2007

I just found this nice article: Becoming a Professional Player in Korea

The title is self-explanatory. I was impressed with the number of Korean insei at any given time: 168! That is more than 3 times the number of insei in Japan, at least at the time when I was insei.

By the way, the article is part of a nice series of Korean lessons.

In the “Proverbs Part (2)” one, I found a quite funny comment in the “If You Have Lost All Four Corners, Resign” section:

“However, after many brilliant professionals in Korea discovered the value of the sides and the center, the modern version of this proverb goes like this: “If you have secured the four corners, resign.”

The funny thing is that I have known the updated proverb from Japanese sources for a very long time now, so the brilliant professionals in Japan must have discovered that before the brilliant professionals in Korea :-)

Catalin Taranu

Thursday, February 8th, 2007
I think every Go player knows about Catalin Taranu – one of the very few Europeans to became professionals in Asia. He is 5 dan pro at Nihon Ki-in (in Japan). Catalin is currently living in Romania, on an extended leave from Nihon Ki-in, in order to promote Go. I recently discovered Catalin’s website. What I like in particular is his concentrated Guide to Go – which summarizes in very few words and examples a lot of key concepts – make sure you read it! While I was insei starting in early 1994, Catalin came as an insei to Japan next year, in 1995, together with Mirel “Tsurukame” Florescu. There was quite some concentration of Romanian insei at Nihon Ki-in that year :-) They literally came to Japan together (I picked them up from the airport in Narita) – but while Mirel stayed, just like me, at the Igo Kenshu Center near Tokyo, Catalin was to become an insei at the Western branch of Nihon Ki-in, in Nagoya. We did meet, all three of us, during the summer vacation in 1995 for a great vacation in Kyushu – thanks to the wonderful, late Nishimura-san – I am sure many European players remember him from several European Go Congresses. (Mirel and I also met Catalin during the same summer of 1995 at the annual insei Go camp at Hakone). Soon after that great summer of 1995 I returned home from Japan, after a little more than 18 months as an insei – to continue my University studies – while Mirel and Catalin enjoyed many more years in Japan.

Watching the Kisei title, live – thanks, Cyberoro!

Thursday, February 1st, 2007
As I mentioned on the Kisei 2007 page, I was delighted to find out that I can watch the most important Japanese Go title, live – first by finding some Japanese client software (that’s how I followed the first game), then discovering that Cyberoro broadcasts it live! That is awesome – while it is exhausting to follow a 2-day title game, I like it a lot – I feel just like in the “old days” when I was insei in Japan! Not to mention that they broadcast other games as well – today is Thursday in Japan, which is the day of the week when high-dan games are scheduled at Nihon Ki-in: the veteran Rin Kaiho is playing against the young Iyama Yuta, veteran Takemiya is playing against young Tsuruyama (who was insei at the same time I was), another games pairs 2 veterans: Otake Hideo and Kudo Norio… and I can watch all these games now. Thanks, Cyberoro Go server!