(latest entry on top)
Due to some family problems, I already flew back on 4th of November. Although I'm very sad I can't be insei or get comments from great players like O Meien-Sensei, Kenmochi-Sensei and Takanashi-Sensei anymore, I am also very glad to be back in my familiar environment. Anyways, I got many good lessons during the last 2 1/2 months and having been insei once was a great experience for me. My struggle for learning about the deeper truth of Go, which is so much more than just a game, will continue for sure - although I don't know yet how and when. I'm very thankful towards Chizu-sensei, as without her help, none of this would have been possible at all - and once more I'd like to thank you all for your support here, as it really helped me much for my motivation and concentration there.
Goodbye and thanks for your interest!
To be continued... (someday)
10-29-03 Last sunday I played 2-1, so with a final score of 9-6, I became fifth or sixth of C-class (with a total of 16). The forth has the same score, but on a tie, always the one with the higher starting position is considered better. Without that rule, I'd probably be going up to B-class, but now I have to stay in C. Well, how would the Japanese say: Shoganai!
10-19-03 Today I could score a 3-0! There's just one playing day left in October, so if I can get 3 wins again next week there's still some chance left to get up to B-class. Of course this would be a nice experience before I'll fly home on 17th of November.
Harleqin: Congratulation! :) I'd guess we'll see a new 6-dan (at least) when you come back to Germany. Speaking of which - what did Chizu-Sensei say when you told her you'd go home?
Benjamin: Oh, she reacted very nicely! She said that she can't judge my decision as she doesn't know about my life at home, and that the way I chose will be the best way for me. So it seems that this won't harm our personal relation, and we will keep contact after I returned - especially for talking about her future plans to help European Go, as she's got a lot of ideas in mind for that. I'm also very interested in this - right after I come back, I want to start some teaching-project for talented kids in Germany. The visits of all the western Insei so far can certainly be regarded as the first step in following her plan to spread Go in Europe. From this point of view, the fact that I've had that Insei-experience here should be much more important than the actual lengh of my stay. Apart from my reasons to go home, I am very happy and thankful for my stay here, and I think that it really helped my a lot - not just for Go...
10-12-03 After a 1-2 on Saturday and a 2-1 today, my score in C-class is 7-8 so far. With 6 games left, I probably won't be able to rise to B even if I win all of them. Anyways, I'm quite satisfied with my Go. Probably I will go back to Germany in the middle of November, so there's still some time left to study and learn and fight Insei and so on..
Hi,Benjamin! (Greetings from Luebeck/Ger.) It sounds, like you didn't yet register for your flight back. So - if someone likes to visit you there: It's still time. (Just one of my night time ideas) Rue.
Oh - I just read: you come back on November 17th. Too late to cheer you up. R.
10-05-03 In reaction to many criticisms I got about this page - it's already referred to as a bad example in other discussions - I decided to change many things here, as I never wanted to offend anyone. Part of your comments became part of these changes, too. I'm sorry for that.
Today I had my first day in C-class, after I got some "special lesson" by Konmochi-Sensei at the Senjukai (Chizu-Sensei's Amateur-Go-meeting) - let's just say I was almost crying after this, but I learned many general things by this. In my games, I think I showed some good fighting spirit (maybe I shall not say so before I got comments...) and took the lead, after which I stumbled on my own feet...My result is 1-2. I would guess my opponents' ranks would be about European 4-5-Dan, but it's a bit difficult to say as they have different strenghs and weaknesses. Of course, my next target is B-class, and although my start was bad, after seeing the first games, I'm getting a bit more confident to reach that soon.
09-30-03 Wow, thank you to all of you for your interest and sympathy and the good comments you wrote! Anyhow, I will talk to Chizu-Sensei as soon as I can reach her and tell her that I think it'll be best if I return home. Meanwhile, I'm already making plans to return to this beautiful country as an exchange student after having passed my 'Vordiplom', and maybe I can even become insei again in addition...
David O.?: What a pity, that it may end this way. But whatever hopes we put in you, or how much we will miss your diary is irrelevant as long as you can live with your decision. Your last entry seem to confirm that, as you take comfort in the fact that you may get another chance. But do you think you will not regret your decision say in a year? Ok, that's impossible to answer surely, but it may be a good point to think about, since things like home sickness (hey, that's nothing to laugh about), may overlap with your rational reasonings.
I hope you've some friend there with whom you can discuss all the implications, since senseis seem not to be the right place to discuss it in this way (as much as I would like it though).
However I remember the first semesters of my physic study in Hamburg as one of the best parts in my live. But I hope that's not the only reason of your decision ;-)
09-28-03 Now I'm almost sure that I will return home at the beginning of November. All of the comments you wrote to that topic were really good - thank you all - but still I don't think I can stand this situation for almost a year, so maybe I'm not an exception thinking of the european Insei that stopped because of the cultural problems. Also, she seems to have a lot of trouble now, and I told you that she would have preferred me to stay in Germany from the beginning, so I think I should not give her additional trouble anymore as she really needs to relax now.
Oh, what a silly thing happened yesterday - exactly on my late Sensei's birthday! We usually play on Sunday, and once a month also on Saturday. Well, yesterday was an exception of this rule, as we had to play on this Saturday, too. I didn't realize this before evening when I just occasionally looked on my schedule. Six straight losses by forfeit - dammit! So I went to the Nihon Kiin today knowing that my chance to play in C-class at least once before I return was almost lost. But when I looked at the chart there, I saw that my direct oppenents lost some games yesterday, which meant I was almost on top, having the same number of wins as a little girl named Go (like the Seigen..). On a draw like this, always the player with the higher position of the month before will go up, and as this was my first month, it would have been her, of course! So I could do nothing but winning my own games and looking at her's. Well, she won three games straight, and you can imagine how I felt (though I won mine, too), because just two more games were left to play. When I watched her fourth one, I realized she was behind. Until the game was finished, I think I counted at least 20 times, and finally she lost. After that, she and a boy named Ugaeri-kun (by the way, he's the one I'm playing against at the picture of my homepage had both eight losses, while I was on top with seven. For the last game, I had to play Ugaeri-kun, and as his last position was higher than Go-chan's, it really was a kind of final whose winner would go up to C-class. After some heavy fighting, I won it (after I got a comment on it I will post it here immediately), so with a total score of 21-7, I am first. I don't know but I think it's probably the first time someone missed a complete day and still won his league...;-) Phh, that was hard, and although many hours passes until now, I am still almost shivering of excitement! Anyways, I hope that by having stronger opponents, I can learn a lot more during my last month here.
Hu: We praise you Benjamin for your accomplishments and your generosity in sharing the experience with us. Whatever you decide to do we will acknowledge your courage.
You have honored your Sensei twice over. Once by missing a day for his anniversary, and again by winning in such a convincing manner. You are a tower of strength by getting to where you are now that we can only admire. We encourage you to honor him a third time by going farther than you think you can. You have hidden reserves of strength you are not aware of. Any pain, loneliness, hard work, poverty, and other obstacles you overcome will seem smaller in retrospect.
If there is anything we of Sensei's can do, please ask.
Best Wishes and the greatest of luck. -- Hu.
Fhayashi: Perhaps you should hang around the Kiin, and see if there's another pro you can hook up with? Your results in the D-league should at least peak some interest?
Evand: I just wanted to express my support for what you're doing. I've been reading along with great interest, and I hope you can get the most out of your stay in Japan. I hope you can find a way to stay on and keep learning, but you need to do what is best for you, not just what those of us on SL want to see. Best of luck to you, both in your games and in your stay in Japan, however long it may last.
Fhayashi: Personally, I think we should all pressure him into staying in Japan, pressure him into passing the pro test, pressure him into becoming 9-dan, pressure him into winning Honinbo, Tengen, Gosei, Judan, and pressure him into breaking the stranglehold Lee Changho has on top international competition... hahaha, just kidding. Seriously though, at your age, a year or two pursuing dreams won't hurt you in the long run if they don't turn out the way you want.
Stefan: Allow me to add one little remark to the many good points already made here. It is quite normal that you feel overwhelmed if you look an entire year ahead and ask yourself how on earth you're going to stand it. Try taking it in bites of one day at a time. It's like running a marathon. The moment you get into your head: "I still have x kilometers to go and I'm so tired already", you get such a blow you'll want to stop then and there. And many do. The trick is to only worry about the next kilometer and put all your effort and mental strength in that one.
09-24-03 I'm writing these lines from some internet-cafe in Ogikubo, as I don't go to Chizu-Sensei's house often anymore, as she is quite busy with her own problems, now, and of course I respect that. Also I'm feeling a bit lonesome here as I did't find any friends yet, maybe because my Japanese is still so bad... On the other hand, my Insei score is 17-1 so far, so it's almost sure that I'll go up to C-class. I'm thinking whether or not I shall stay in Japan , as I could as well return to my German friends and continue my studies at Hamburg University, which seems much better from my point of view. I will tell you when I made a decision...
Robert Jasiek : Thx for reports! - I am surprised that C class players appear to be so weak. Are only B and A class players really strong? - You speak of Asian style of studying like memorizing games and tsumego. Why is it necessary to be insei for that? It could be done at home. Do you not think that studying principles and strategy would be much more efficient? OC, tsumego is necessary but you sound like not studying principles or strategy at all. Am I misunderstanding you? - How much of an advantage is it to have the opportunity of playing other inseis compared to studying go in Germany? - How many hours per day do you study?
Benjamin: Well, of course, at my study group I can hear professionals comment at insei/pro-games, and I can show my own games to really strong players. But you're right, as long as I don't find more study groups I can join, it's not such a big difference. Playing insei at D-class is not really interesting, but next month I will (most probably) play in C-class, which should be quite challenging. Before that I can't judge the difference to european players.
ZeroKun Maybe its time to get a job and rent an apartment for yourself? Btw thats a great record, nice job.
Charles One Korean friend of mine gave up as a student pro aged nine: maybe the C class is young. Another Korean friend told me that the environment matters greatly (if you want to become strong); that is credible.
Velobici: Perhaps the C-class will be much stronger. Perhaps you will do just as well in the C-class and quickly rise to the B-class. Then on to the A-class. Benjamin, you have a remarkable opportunity before you. Its not working out as expected due to circumstances beyond your control. The part that you can control/affect, your play and study results, is working out wonderfully. A score of 17 wins to 1 loss is remarkable. Its only been about 5 weeks since you arrived in Japan. Will you ever again have the opportunity to study as an insei, to see how far you can go, and how fast? Can you tell us more of your daily life, provide details and short descriptions of events in your day that will help us to visualize what you are experiencing?
Marcin Kaminski I think it is the possibility to play with many strong players and listen to pro commentaries of your games is something you can't have at home in Germany. But it is up to you to decide if you will make it financially. If so, I wouldn't worry so much and just grab the opportunity!
Michael: Benjamin, to have the opportunity to study as Insei is a gift that will not be granted to much people; maybe you will need to show your endurance and strength not only at playing go, but also in being patient; anyway, if you continue with good results like now, your strength will be visible to other pros. This might be opening new opportunities. Alles Gute.
AlainWettach You might consider this as a test of your motivation. Becoming a pro requires a lot of motivation and self-discipline (being very strong in your head is probably as important as talent). It reminds me a comment I read somewhere about Go professionals who managed to quit smoking quite easily because of the mental discipline they aquired during their pro training. From discussions with some of them, I suspect that, for westerners who tried unsuccessfully to become pros, the lack of talent was not the main problem.
09-14-03 Looks like the kids in D-class aren't that strong, as I could get quite a nice start with eleven wins and just one loss - although I didn't play so well at all. I think I still have to get used to playing 6 games with just 10 minutes (+30sec/move byoyomi) on a single day. Well, if I become first in this league, I will rise to C-class where I'll have 3 games with 30 min+1min/move. Usually 6 kids would rise, but they will have a new E-class next month and because of this they made an exception this month, so I'll have to try harder...
Niklaus: It doesn't really surprise me that you are winning those fast games, after all I still have the not entirely pleasant memory of getting butchered by you at the lightning tournament in Amsterdam this year (with me taking 9 stones...) :) Anyway, enjoy your time in Japan and good luck!
Tobias Berben: Congrats, Benjamin! We all wish you the very best - and take care with sekis, sometimes the stones are dead ... ;-)
Fhayashi: Do you have access to a digital camera? It would be nice to see what the insei playing room looks like.
Benjamin: No, I don't have one, sorry. But I'll try to borrow one. So I'll have to tell you about the sites: The playing room at the Nihon Kiin where we play each sunday changed a lot, as there are tables and chairs right now - my back and my knees are very happy about this :-). Once a month we also play on saturday, at some building in Makuhari (you probably know that one from Hikaru no Go...). It looks quite similar to the one in the anime, and there we have to sit on the ground - actually, the Insei teacher forced me to sit in seiza (on my knees) while playing, so my legs were paining quite much...
Marcin Kaminski: Greetings from Poland. Hope you will rise to be the next European pro and hope to read from you often!
Karl Knechtel: The strength of insei and professionals never fails to amaze me. EGF 2471 is 4 dan (amateur) right? And here you've just started to ascend the ranks in the Ki-in... with this kind of start, it should go quickly though :) (One of the things that confuses me in HikaruNoGo is that at least in the translations I've seen, they don't distinguish between amateur and professional dan...)
mgoetze: It's closer to 5d (2500) than 4d (2400), and Benjamin has been playing as 5d for a while now. Are you the oldest player in D-Class, Benjamin?
victim: The only time amateur dan ranks are mentioned in Hikaru no Go is the antique dealer's 5 dan diploma. The strength of all the other amateurs can only be guessed at. What is there to be confused about?
09-12-03 Finally things will become serious, as I'll play tomorrow and sunday. Wow, I'm so excited and eager to play! I've got a strange but positive feeling in my stomach, everything else somehow went to the background: my worries, my ear problem and even the cold I caught 2 days ago almost vanished. I have to start at D class, so probably my opponents won't be too strong, but still I'm not sure it will be easy to win, as everyone is trying very hard, and I'll probably be very nervous at first. Anyways, I'll do my best and let's see what happens...
HelcioAlexandre: Good luck and good games!!! If you have time, post some of the games for us :)
09-09-03 Many people in Europe tell me how much they envy me for being here in Japan and having all these opportunities, so maybe I should speak about negative things, too. Actually there are many complications right now (that's why I didn't write anything for a while...): For example, I moved to the flat in Ogikubo Hans used to have, as the place I want to stay seems too small for the Kid's Go Club Chizu-Sensei has there, so she now needs the room I wanted to stay at, too. Although it's a nice idea for me to stay at in my former Sensei's house and continue his quest, it is very painful, too. Another thing I worry about is that although I've officially been accepted as insei by the Nihon Kiin, they still didn't confirm I can play on next saturday when the September-league officially starts. Although, I've got an infection in my left ear yesterday, so I went to a doctor today with Chizu-Sensei. I hope it will become better until saturday... Well of course, there are positive things, too. For example, my studies are going really well - today I'll learn my 60th game (without yose)!!! Also, by doing at least one hour of tsumego each day, my reading ability is improving a lot, and at least at Kenmochi-Sensei's kenkyukai once a week I can directly learn many things from professionals. So I will just consider everything starting problems and hope that after a few more weeks, everything will work better, so until then, there's just one thing to do: study, study, study (though visiting an indoor beach or ski area sounds like a funny idea...)
ubt: liebe grüße aus der kreuzstraße - durch wahlloses rumprobieren habe ich diese seite gefunden und hoffe, es klappt. mk
HelcioAlexandre: Greetings from Brazil. I would like to ask you a question: What do you mean about learn your 60th game? Do you mean that you are learning by heart pro games? I'm doing that myself (hoing to 2nd one...) and I would like to know how it helps you :)
Benjamin: Yes, remembering all of them (at least I should...). How it helps me? Well, I think it just fills my brain with good ideas (and good shape, of course), so by doing really many of them I (hope I) will get a better feeling how to look at a situation and how to handle it right.
kritz Sounds like a east meets west problem. There is clearly something you are missing. Ask someone around you there how to handle the situation... perhaps another insei? (and have fun - this is a great opportunity!)
Tamsin: Having visited Europe many times and knowing many people from the Continent, it seems to me that mainland Europeans are easier-going about privacy and more open with their thoughts and feelings than us Brits. Perhaps it's something to do with living on an island (like the Japanese), I don't really know... Anyway, I'm sure you'll get used to Japan soon - the Japanese are unbelievably kind and welcoming, as I know from my own experiences. Just go with the flow and have a fantastic time.
08-26-03 If you want to know what I do here when I'm not playing or studying Go, of course the answer is: nothing! :-) Well, of course, there are some small activities besides. For example, two days ago I went swimming, and that was quite an experience: Just after I entered one of the separated tracks and swam a few meters, some bath attendant ran to me, explaining to me that I have to use a swimming cap. I didn't have one, of course, so I had to go to the shop at the entrance to buy one. Back, I re-entered water with a nice jump, so I suddenly realized that the water is just about 1,50m deep! The next bath attendant - now a female one - came to me with a crazy speed, explaining that it's forbidden to jump here. OK, I didn't know that, so I just started normal swimming. When I was at the other side, she came over again and told me that I was swimming on the high-speed-track. But with my speed, I should move one track to the outside. Well, I did, but just a few minutes later, another funny guy came! Now I was on the middle-speed-track, but for me it would be better to use one of the low-speed tracks. So after some short break, I again moved one track to the outside. But there everybody was much too slow, so I just swam past one of them. Once more some nice attendant came, and it took at least a minute of conversation with mouth and hands until I understood that it's forbidden to overtake someone here! So, finally, I moved back one track further to the inside, and after that, they left me alone. Well, I think if one of them tells that story to another japanese, they'll be at least as amused as you probably are... Anyways, the most remarkable thing about it is that all the time, they were staying polite!
Lisa: Ich wünsche dir ein tolles Jahr in Japan mit viel Go, vielen netten Menschen und auch sonst viel Spaß! Wie hast du dich denn mit dem Schwimmbadpersonal verständigt? Hast du noch einen Crashkurs Japanisch eingeschoben? Liebe Grüße! :)
Fhayashi: Places for Benjamin to visit while in Japan:
Places for Benjamin NOT to visit:
Ugh *sweat*. I thought we were having a very hot summer in Germany, but against this heat and humidity it seems like nothing! Each time when I leave the (totally air conditioned) trains, restaurants or whatever, I feel like entering some sauna. Also, I'm still fighting with my jetlag. Yesterday, I had my first kenkyukai (study group) at Kenmochi-sensei's place. It really feels great to learn from so many top players!
Tamsin: I know exactly what you mean about the heat and humidity! I was in Japan two weeks ago and can recall how the British "heatwave" that we have been going through felt like cool days in Spring in comparison. As for your studies, "ganbatte kudasai!".
Grauniad: Please excuse a direct question, but how do you support yourself financially as an Insei in Japan?
jab: To my knowledge you can be lucky and sponsored by a japanese pro who seeks to popularize Go abroad that way.
Benjamin: wow, that's nice - although it means more work for me...
After some calm but sleepless flight with a nice Airbus, at 9:30 local time I arrived at Narita Airport, Tokyo. Until noon, I made it to the flat of Mrs. Kobayashi, where I'm sitting and writing right now while listening to the nice sound of her cute little daughter Anna practicing piano. As you might imagine I'm crazily tired, but I'll try to stay awake until evening to get used to the new time as soon as possible.
Grauniad: Off topic, but how did you connect to the Internet so quickly?
Charles: As far as I know, Kobayashi-sensei has a connection.
Benjamin: Yes, I can use her connection
So, my things are packed (most of them...) and everything is prepared (except the fact that I didn't take my visa yet...) and I'm (almost) ready to leave for Hamburg tonight from where I'll fly tomorrow around 13:30 to Narita/Tokyo via Copenhagen. I still can't nearly believe that I really do this, but although it's very painful to leave all of my friends here, I'm really happy to go to Japan.
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