Hmm, this color doesn’t look quite right. I kept looking back and forth between the example picture and my orange crayon. In the picture, the girl’s hair color was somewhere between orange and yellow, somewhat closer to orange. I knew orange was the closest choice I had in my crayon box, but I was concerned it would look too different from the picture.
“I am done here! What should I do next?” Jane asked, looking proud of her work in progress.
“Well done! What do you think? Which one do you want to color next?”
“How about this flower here?”
“Sure, go ahead and color that one.”
“What do you think?”
Jane and I looked closely to the colorful print, identical to her coloring page.
“Maybe this one?”
Jane picked up a purple crayon.
“But, this flower is blue!” I said, picking a blue crayon to hand it over to Jane.
“I want a purple flower!” Jane insisted. Then I realized that we didn’t have to follow the example exactly.
“You are right, you can do purple there.”
Seeing Jane making her flower purple, I decided to change my character’s hair color to black as well. Maybe that would look nicer.
“I am done! What’s next?” Jane asked.
“You know, you don’t need to ask me every time. You can do whatever you like.”
“Are you upset because I made it purple?
“No, not at all. I think now you are good enough to decide on your own.”
I was genuinely encouraging Jane to be more confident, but she seemed a bit sad that I asked her to be on her own.
“Lunch is ready!”
Jane and I left everything on the floor, and hurried to the kitchen. Mom liked to start serving as soon as the food was ready so that we can start eating while it’s still warm. Dad was helping Mom set the table, and Jane and I took our seats. Lunch was grilled fish, seaweed soup, a few other side dishes and a bowl of mixed rice.
“Jane, we have news,” said mom, looking at Jane, then at me. I could sense what this was about.
“Hajin will be away for three weeks in summer, learning Go at Master Grimm’s dojang.”
“Three weeks? How many days is that?”
“That’s 21 days.”
Jane seemed shocked.
“Hajin, is that because I made the flower purple?”
“No, it’s not… I want to become a professional player,” I said, feeling guilty for Jane’s confusion and sadness.
“What is that?”
“Professional players are the best baduk players in the country. Their job is to win in tournaments.”
“Will you be a professional player after 21 days?”
“It will take at least a few years of hard training. Many people don’t make pro even after several years of intensive study. It’s a difficult path,” Dad responded to Jane’s question, noticing my hesitation. Then, he added, looking at me, “If you do become a professional player, though, you will have a good life. Professional players get paid well to play each official match, and they are highly respected regardless of their age.”
Mom nodded in agreement, and Jane seemed to be recovering from the initial surprise. For me, I’d been feeling more and more confident about my choice ever since I decided I would take up this challenge.
“Hajin, shall we have a game after lunch?” Dad asked, and I nodded.
“Let’s do two today.”
I took one stone back to my bowl from the board. We played with three handicap stones five times. I lost the first two games, but won the third and the last one. Dad and I both bowed to each other in silence, as usual.
The board looked empty with one fewer handicap stone. We only played ten moves or so, but it already looked quite even, which made me nervous. I felt pressure to play only the right moves to maintain my advantage from the handicap. By the end of the opening, white was creating a large moyo on the upper side. Now that all the corners and sides were taken, it was the time to do something about the upper side. I made a shoulder hit to white’s stone on the third line, remembering one lecture I watched at the baduk school on shoulder hit reductions. Once I made a good shape, white’s potential was limited. White launched a deep invasion into my territory on the right side, and I played carefully to avoid losing everything in an improper attack. The game was getting to the endgame, and I judged it was very close. I counted and counted, trying to figure out the best scenario for me.
“Hajin, you will need to play a bit faster.”
I must have spent too much time. It was unusual for my dad to say anything during a game.
I began playing a bit faster, feeling uncertain about my choices. The game moved on to big endgame to small endgame, and soon we filled in all the dame as well.
“Who do you think won?” Dad asked. He often asked this question before scoring the board.
“I think I lost.”
“You did very well, though.”
We scored the game, and we found out that white won by five points. I was disappointed that I lost, and briefly thought I may have won if I had spent more time in endgame.
“It seems like you are now a good match with only two stones.”
Dad sounded happy, and that made me feel better about the game as well.