This week Zhou Yuan (7D) became my shifu (師傅), or “master,” and I his túdì (徒弟), or “apprentice.” Finding a mentor like this is definite progress in my efforts to engage in deliberate practice; I also hope it is the beginning of a productive relationship. Until now my instruction was exclusively self-taught. This is alright as far as it goes, but it also means that my training has been incomplete, if only due to ignorance.
In our first lesson Shifu and I were introduced and analyzed the game below. Although I won, my victory was a fluke: my opponent made a critical reading error. I should have lost. I am not proud of the way I played.
Shifu weaved helpful advice into his game analysis. Often I could not remember the moves that either I or my opponent made. According to Shifu, this is because I made moves without purpose. Had I thought about the intention behind a move, he said, I would be able to replay the game from start to finish, like a story. This technique seems far more intuitive than the rote memorization that I had been trying to practice – after all, every baduk game is a story.
Consider that it all starts with a blank canvas: the empty goban. In alternating turns Black and White communicate their intentions by adding pieces to the board. Words prove unnecessary, the stones tell the tale. Moves may be deliberate, submissive, greedy, aggressive, puzzling, etc. but each (hopefully) is animated by some purpose, which the opponent and observer must discern. Baduk is a conversation without words. Shifu helped me see this reality, and for that I am grateful.
Note: Zhou Yuan (7D) is located in Germantown, MD and available to teach in the Washington, DC metropolitan region.