I still remember my first Igo class vividly. It was a hot afternoon and I was sweating because of the heat and nervousness. My teacher taught me the names of all the Igo equipment and told me the size of the Igo board. “It is 19 by 19, remember it.” My teacher told me, and then he pulled out a smaller board said:” This one is 9 by 9, and we will start with this.” I was a little disappointed because I thought the 9X9 board was totally something made for kids. I had to comfort myself with the thought that maybe I could use the regular one after a few classes. I was so wrong.
Nearly three months have passed since then and I have not touched the regular board a single time. Since I showed no special talent in Igo at all, both my teacher and I are quite certain that I won’t have the chance to play on that board before I go home in winter.
When I wrote my first blog, I thought playing Igo was like doing math. I thought it was all about trying to get as much territory on the board as possible by carefully calculating which spot would gain more blocks. However, now I start to realize that even though winning is good, the goal of Igo is not simply about increasing territory. When an expert plays Igo with a beginner, the beginner gets to place several stones on the board before the game starts in order to compensate for the difference between their abilities. Both the expert and the beginner can enjoy the challenge and no one can be sure about the result of the game. I think people like Igo because they can learn how to overcome problems, not because they like defeating others.
My teacher told me that the most important thing for me is to have fun, because I don’t want to become a professional player. For professionals or people who are really in to Igo, playing Igo is like walking on a endless road. They are constantly facing new difficulties but they are willing to continue the journey. When they play Igo with another player, they are helping each other to go further on that road. A good game in Igo is not the game where a player conquers the entire board. On the contrary, people seem to like the games that almost come out even. When a player is losing by one block or two blocks, people who are watching will claim it is a good game because both players are challenging themselves.
I think there are still so many things about Igo that I need to learn and I want to continue my journey with Igo after I go home.