Isaac Jemielita: Shogi

I did not know what to expect when I started my CIP. When I was in high school, I played some chess so I thought it would be fun to learn how to play Japanese chess- shogi. The first time I went to the shogi room, this tiny little room called a box, I opened the door to find a single person sleeping on the floor. Not wanting to disturb him, I slowly closed the door and took down the contact information for the club. That was a weird introduction to the shogi club but was pretty representative of the club as a whole. The atmosphere of the club is very relaxed- people come and go as they please, they play shogi as the want, and generally just want a place to kick back with friends.

When I started learning shogi, I had two problems. The first problem was that I had no idea how to play shogi. This was further compounded by my inability to read the kanji on the pieces. The second problem was that chess strategy is hard enough to understand without trying to figure out what is being said in Japanese. Somehow, I figured out how to play the game after a couple of thoroughly embarrassing interactions. I’m still getting trashed by all the other shogi players but it’s okay because if I ever want to relax and play a quiet game of shogi, I know where to go.

9 thoughts on “Isaac Jemielita: Shogi

  1. I remember you telling the story about your first interaction with the shogi club, with the guy sleeping on the floor in the cramped room. I’m glad that your experience with the circle has evolved beyond that, and that you have come to see the circle as a good place to go and relax, as a break from schoolwork.

    Do you have any advice for people that would want to join a very informal and casual circle like that, but are worried that they won’t be able to really connect to the people when compared to more rigid/attendance-based activities?

    • Well, it hasn’t evolved that much past people sleeping. There is usually someone sleeping in the room. But I haven’t slept in the room yet so there’s always that to look forward to!
      Just show up and smile a lot and things will work out. I never understood anything and somehow things worked. Try to learn all the names of the people as soon as possible. That was one mistake that I made- I didn’t learn the names very quickly so it was hard to get to know people.

    • Well, there are still people sleeping in the room. But I haven’t fallen asleep yet in the room. Good for me.
      It’s a bit tougher to get to know people since it’s more informal. Try to learn the names as quickly as possible. That was a mistake that I made- I didn’t learn the names quickly so it was hard to talk to people and remember who is who.

  2. Heya Isaac,

    That sounds hilarious. Did you meet that person again at a later meeting? That must have been an interesting conversation.

    It’s good that you were able to carve out a relaxing experience for yourself despite the difficulty, and the fact that it was all so new to you. How did you manage to overcome the language barrier? Were there any particular habits that you found to be effective in teaching yourself and connecting with other players?

    • I did meet him again and I asked him if he was the one sleeping. Then a lot of Japanese language was thrown around and I was lost again. I’m not really sure what he thought of him walking on him sleeping and I will probably never know…

  3. Isaac, this post made me laugh so much! I can’t imagine how I would react if I’d found someone sleeping on my first day of my CIP!! It sounds like it ended up being a really refreshing and rewarding experience though- and a really cool skill to have in you back pocket!

    Since you mentioned that you used to play chess- do you think any of your past experience transferred into shogi? I know that the rules and pieces/characters are very different, but did the strategic element transfer at all?

    • Some of the skills from chess transferred but not really at all. It was like learning a new game. But I played a lot on my phone so it worked out in the end.

  4. Hi Isaac! I really enjoyed your post — did you ever figure out why the guy was sleeping in the room on the first day?

    I think it’s interesting that you chose to learn shogi because you had previous experience with chess. How do the two games compare for you? Did playing chess help you learn shogi more quickly? Is one easier than the other (excluding the language barrier!)? I wonder how you learned to play — were the other team members good teachers?

    It’s also interesting to hear how relaxed the shogi club is. For some reason I would have assumed that a shogi club would be a bit more intense than what you describe. Do you know if the club members ever go to competitions, or is it really a pretty informal circle?

  5. It’s great that you went into the club despite not really having prior experience with playing shogi. You have also mentioned that you know how to play chess, so I assume you have compared the two and see how they differ or are similar.
    By the way, that was a very interesting way to be welcome to the club. Glad you stuck with it despite a bit of difficulty in learning how to play.