Entry #2 – February 10, 1997 / Monday

The boy was being annoying. He must see that there is no hope of turning this game around. How much longer does he want to play? He has been just staring at the board for some time now.

“This game is over. You should think before things get bad. You tend to play too fast in important situations and think too much when it’s already late.”

I didn’t realize the teacher was there. The boy made a disappointed face and started removing his stones from the board as a gesture of resignation.

“What did you do during Seolnal, Hajin?”

My baduk teacher, Mister Kim, asked. He is in mid-thirties, tall and lean.

“We went to grandparents’ place and had lots of food.”

“Fun! What else?”

“Oh, I played baduk with my uncle.”

“Did you win?”

“Yes.”

“How strong is your uncle?”

“I am not sure.”

“Hey, Hajin, hi teacher.”

Colin, who just arrived at the baduk school, sat next to me.

“Hi Colin.”

I greeted him happily. Colin is my closest friend here. He and I have been learning baduk together as far as I remember.

“Colin’s here, it must be the lecture time again.”

Teacher left us to start his lecture.

“Did you get some good money?”

Colin asked. He meant the new year’s gift money that grandparents and relatives offer to children.

“It was okay. I got some extra from playing baduk with my uncle. What about you?”

“I got more than usual because we had some far relatives joining us this year.”

“Cool.”

“Everyone takes a board and sit. We are going to talk about star point josekis today.”

The teacher was already standing next to the big demo board, directing students to empty boards. It was 3:30 pm, when the second batch of students arrive. Colin and I took two boards at the very back of the classroom.

“You saw it already I guess.”

Colin said as we were getting ready to follow the lecture.

“Yep, but I am used to watching same lectures now.”

In our baduk school, there are three one-hour time slots: starting at 2:30 pm, 3:30 pm, and 4:30 pm. Most students do one of these three slots. I don’t remember how long it has been this way, but I come at about 2, and leave at 5:30. Colin comes at 3:30 and leaves at 5:30. Teacher is usually alone when I arrive 30 minutes before everyone else, and he gives me some tasks for the day – life and death problems or joseki variations to memorize. Then, I watch three same lectures a day, about 15 minutes each. Sometimes I just did my exercise book during lectures, and teacher didn’t mind that either. Once the lecture is over, teacher would pair us to play a game. My favorite opponent was Colin, who was somewhat stronger than me, but teacher made sure that we play with different people.

“Our Japan trip is coming soon now!”

Colin whispered. He seemed genuinely excited.

“Yeah…”

I am somewhat excited too, but also scared. I still can’t believe I will be going to Japan without my family. The teacher and Colin will be there, though. Well, it’s just five days of baduk camp. It can’t be hard, right?