17Q vs. 9P

2007-09-30

When I was in high school, (approximately 2 years after J. F. Kennedy was assassinated), one day I strolled into a shabby shopping center in Taichung, a middle city in Taiwan, where I was born.

At that time, I just learned Go, and, as many naive Go novice players might have thought, I thought that I sort of mastered Go already. So, when I accidentally spotted a Go club surrounded by rowdy places, such as a ping pong club, and a meat-hanging store, I curiously stepped in, with my head up high.

“Playing Go games?” A middle-aged man came out to greet me.

I nodded my head. When asked how strong I was, I said something like: I do not know, but I can beat many fellow players.

“Wonderful. My name is Zhang. Shall we try a game?”

After charging me for a cup of tea (about 5 NT, equivalent to 10 cents in US currency), he let me play black, and we started playing a game without handicap stones. Hey, after all, I might have looked very smart, and if I claimed I could beat many fellow players, and if those players happened to be about 1p, I could have been 2p!

Later on I was to learn that Zhang was one of the top players in Taichung, and was the owner of the club. I vaguely remember that, on one formal occasion, Rin Kai Ho (8p at that time, and the honibo title holder) gave Zhang 3 stones.

After a few minutes, most of my black groups on the board were wiped out, dead, or dying. At two corners, I thought that at least I could save those two groups. But after he threw in a few white stones, they gloriously perished, too.

“Not bad, not bad,” Zhang said to his guest whose face appeared much blushed, “please do visit us often.”

At this moment, a kid hopped in.

“Uncle Zhang, what’s happening here?” the kid asked. In Taiwanese custom, kids should address adults with uncle or aunt.

“Hey, why don’t you two play an even game?” Zhang asked.

So, the kid and I did play a game. I do not remember what the outcome of the game was. All I am positive about at the moment of writing is that this kid was no ordinary kid. He continued to learn Go initially under Zhang, then went abroad to Japan, and has become O Rissei today, a top active 9p in Japan.

Today, I can proudly claim that I played an even game with a 9p! Hahaha!

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