Entry #27 – August 8, 1997 / Friday

As Colin, Brad and I entered our classroom after lunch, the first thing that came to our attention was the stack of three problem books on a table. We instantly knew these were the problem books Master Grimm had asked us to submit yesterday. I ran over to the stack and dug mine out from the bottom.

Ugh, how did I get so many problems wrong?”

I couldn’t believe it – red marks covered almost half my answers. I had been so confident. I glanced at Colin and Brad who were busy looking at their own books. They were also in disbelief that they did so poorly.

“Should we review some of the problems together?”

Colin suggested, and we sat around a nearby table.

 

“Wait, I have the same answer for this one, why am I wrong and you are right? Maybe Master Grimm mis-read the number I wrote here?”

Clearly, I had the same answer as Brad. But his was marked correct and mine wrong.

“Yeah, what was your answer, Colin?”

“I got that right, I had the same answer as you guys.” Colin showed us his problem.

“Oh, you and Brad have exactly the same answer to the end.”

It was a black-to-live problem, and I was confident that black could live with my first move. Did Master Grimm really make a mistake?

“Ah, I know why,” Colin said. Brad perked up too – they must have discovered something.

“Is that really it?” They shared a glance, looking surprised.

“What?” I couldn’t tell what was going on in their heads, so I begged them to explain.

Colin spoke up. “In your answer, white took only two stones. In ours, white got four stones. So it’s better for white to play like this.”

“Whaaaat?”

I felt it was unfair. The problem was for black to live, not for black to live and white to keep the most points.

“Yeah, I think that’s it. We get it wrong if the opponent doesn’t play the best sequence. I guess that means we need to find the best moves for both players, or else we don’t get credit.” Brad agreed.

“Do you think Master Grimm will ask us to submit the book again?”

I asked. In our baduk school at home, we always had to re-do the problems we got wrong.

“I don’t think so. Maybe we were supposed to take it home and work on it by ourselves.”

“I guess we can take it to Mr. Kim?”

“Now that you mention him, I kinda miss him.” I said. It had been almost three weeks since he dropped us off at the dojang. Tomorrow, he was coming back to bring us back to our families.

“I think I will miss this place.”

Brad spoke as if he were talking to himself, and Colin and I just nodded. We shared a brief silence, staring at the problem book, but I knew we were all thinking about the last three weeks we spent here.

 

“What do you think you will miss the most?” I asked.

“Surprisingly, I enjoyed living in the dorm. Watching the other guys reviewing their games together before going to bed.” Colin said.

“Seriously? They study again after they go back to the dorm?”

Sara and I never studied more baduk when we went back home. We were both tired, and we usually went straight to bed.

“I think I will miss the simple life here. Here, there is only baduk. When we go back, there will be school, family, and all that other stuff.”

“Yeah, I think I will miss this too” Colin agreed.

I wasn’t too sure, but I didn’t say so out loud. On one hand, I liked the simple routine here, and living with Sara. She was just recovering from the disappointment of being eliminated from the league. She said the next qualification tournament would be in a month. On the other hand, I felt relieved that we were going back home tomorrow. I missed being with my family, reading my books – the ones not about baduk! – and so on. Then I wondered if Colin and Brad were also missing their families. I didn’t ask them though, because the question felt a bit silly, and also because Mr. Park just came in. The lunch break was over.

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