The much anticipated SAWMG school visit took place on Tuesday afternoon. This was a chance for a lucky few Beijing schoolchildren to meet the top players and officials from the World Mind Games taking place this December in Beijing.
The school selected was Huajiadi Experimental Primary School, known for its cutting-edge approach to teaching and for boasting 956 junior grade go players. The visit began with a tour of the school’s go facilities, including a classroom clad in go-related pictures – from photographs of famous players to prints of Hikaru no Go. On the walls of the corridor outside hung posters of go proverbs and manners.
The guests were greeted by two rooms of children buzzing with excitement. In the first classroom, a hands-on lesson on nakade grabbed the children’s attention, and in the second the pupils quickly settled down and answered questions about the history and rules of the game. The guests were then taken downstairs to the gymnasium, where boards had been set out for the 40 kids who would take on top professionals in nine-stone handicap games.
Matsuura Koichiro, the former Director-General of UNESCO and now President of the International Go Federation, gave a speech expressing his support of the event. “We hope that you not only learn about the game, but also develop skills in strategy and planning. I only started to learn the game when I was 18 and am very glad that you have encountered it at such an early age.”
We chatted with two of the participants, Xiaotong and Jialin, both seven years old, after their games with Kim Soojang 9p. They told us how much fun they have playing go, spurred on by a very enthusiastic teacher, and how happy they were to play with Mr Kim.
At the farewell ceremony, everyone who took part was given a goody bag containing a SAWMG official t-shirt and watch from the sponsors (Swatch Group). We hope that this unique event has helped to inspire the next generation of go talent in Beijing.
- John Richardson