Fang Xiaoyan, the extra Chinese player added to the tournament roster for pairing purposes, has been attracting interested attention from the other contestants. When she drew a bye in round 5, Ranka took the opportunity to interview her.
Ranka: Hello, Miss Fang! We want to know something about you. Where are you from?
Fang Xiaoyan: I’m from South China. My hometown is Chaozhou.
Ranka: When did you learn to play go?
Fang Xiaoyan: I began learning to play go in 2006. After graduating, I joined the Donghu Qiyuan. I worked there and learnt go at the same time. My work is teaching children’s classes and it has occupied most of my time, so I haven’t actually spent much time in improving my own level of play.
Ranka: You meant that you started teaching go after you graduated from university, is that right?
Fang Xiaoyan: Actually I graduated from a normal college for preschool teachers. The Donghu Qiyuan held a recruiting program in our college. The instructors taught us how to play go and introduced us to teaching methods. I started from the fundamentals and improved my skills gradually.
Ranka: What ages are your students?
Fang Xiaoyan: From 3 to 10.
Ranka: Do you have any special teaching methods for children?
Fang Xiaoyan: Yes. The most important thing is to get their interest. Coaxing and encouraging always works well.
Ranka: Could you share some details with us?
Fang Xiaoyan: Learning go is quite boring for such young children. Teachers need to find clever ways to keep them interested. In our class, we tell the students stories that help them to understand the go principles. We also use rhymes, which are easy to remember.
Ranka: It sounds interesting. How many students have you taught?
Fang Xiaoyan: Well, about 350 students per year. And I have been teaching for six years.
Ranka: How much time have you spent in training yourself?
Fang Xiaoyan: For the first three years, I practiced more often than now. At that time I played go every day after class and improved a lot. Then I had to take care of the management of the whole Qiyuan, including instructor training, curriculum planning, and so on, so I did not have much time to train myself.
Ranka: Is this the first time that you have participated in an international tournament?
Fang Xiaoyan: Yes. This is the first international competition that I have ever taken part in. Sometimes I’ve played games with the teachers in the Donghu Qiyuan, but never such important games as here.
Ranka: How have you been feeling during the tournament?
Fang Xiaoyan: Nervous, extremely nervous, and also excited, because in these games I can meet players from different countries. It has been a great opportunity for practice as well as communication. The pity is that I have not been able to win.
Ranka: Have you talked to your opponents? What do you think of them?
Fang Xiaoyan: Actually I only talked to one of them, because I cannot speak languages other than Chinese. In round 1 I met Ri Kwang-Hyok, the contestant from DPR Korea. In the beginning he played slowly. Perhaps he wanted to give me a chance. He started to fight when he had ten minutes left and won the game. In round 2, I was late so my time was reduced. I was not in a good mood and did not perform well. In round 3 my main territory was surrounded and I lost. I felt good in round 4, but I tried to save two stones, and my opponent captured a group in a corner. My losing streak finally ended in round 5, but only because my Moroccan opponent did not show up.
Ranka: Good luck to you in rounds 6, 7, and 8!
– Photo by John Pinkerton