I have just set up this website. I am thinking how to summarize the first 4.5 weeks I have been here in Wuhan (Hubei province/ China) so far.
I started with Go a year ago, at the 2007 EGC I played with 7k, and when I came here I had - best guess - 4k or 5k. The contact to this go-school I got via Juan Guo's go-school (http://www.guojuangoschool.com/). I also considered other options, eg to apply at the Baduk-university in Seoul.
I arrived here in Wuhan on Nov. 20th to study Go for 3 months in a Chinese go-school. Besides me there were 5 other foreign students, 2 from Sweden, 1 from Norway, 1 from France, and 1 from Morocco who actually lives in China.
Flat, food, driving etc is completely organized. The environment is designed in such a way that you can focus on Go. At the beginning I shared the flat with two other students. The remaining 3 wanted to stay in a hotel. Nevertheless, lunch and dinner we all have together at our "home".
4 out of the other 5 students have stayed here for a shorter period, 1 month; the fifth one who stays in China for a full year has moved to another city. That means that I am now the only foreign student.
Our (or shall I now say: My?) weekly schedule:
At two days studies and then in the afternoon I play against An Yan, 7p, my teacher.
At two days studies and then in the afternoon I play in the go-school against teachers, 5D.
At the weekend I play in the go-school each day two games against opponents from my group.
In the evenings game analysis and afterwards studies and/ or playing on KGS; all games - including the ones I play on KGS - are reviewed by An Yan.
The seventh day is free.
An Yan decided that I play in the school's top-group, 4D+. This has pros and cons. These kids play more seriously, you learn a lot about defence and shapes what - at a later stage - you can use when you need to attack. The main disadvantage is of course that I do not play even games. I compensate this by playing on KGS in the evening.
In the meantime I have "officially" improved by two stones.
Here in Wuhan are several go-schools. An Yan's has 9 groups, each one of about 10 children. A kid can improve to the higher group by winning within its group, and of course vice versa. Besides the kids coming to the go-school, there are a lot of activities in "normal" schools. The kids' age range from 4,5 to 13. One teenager has already participated twice at the qualification tournament to become professional. A second one, 12, is going to do so in January. One of the challenges is if course to play against kids. BUT: during the game they are just opponents who have a "whole-board-killing-vision"! The school's equipment is rather pragmatic.
The flat is ok. There are two bedrooms, and due to the fact that I am now alone I have the pleasure to stay in the "master" bedroom. Shower, toilet, washing machine, notebook with webcam (-> communication via Skype) are available. The third room is the study room where I play against An Yan or study. There is one lady who cooks and keeps the flat clean. Her way of cooking - the other students' and my impression - is adopted to "European" stomaghs. Changing, delicious, spicy.
It's different (from a European point of point)!
Culture, traffic, shopping, food, everything. Traffic is just chaotic, it seems to me even that there are no rules - at least no one seems to follow any - but still somehow careful compared to eg Moscow where they are extremely aggressive. Forget coffee - or bring your own one. Unless you like "Nescafe" and that kind of. But if you like tea, you feel like in paradise. The average salary is said to be 200 - 250 EUR here in Wuhan. I was told that this is even exaggerated. Whether true or not you spot a huge discrepancy between poverty and luxurious life. Beggars everywhere. On one of the main streets here you see a public haircutter, next to a hotel, next to a shop where they trade old and rusty metal stuff, next to a beauty-saloon (including plastic surgery). There are several shopping centers where the top 5 or 10% can buy quite exclusive labels. Mac-Index: BigMc-Menue (including small portion of french fries and one small drink) is 1.65 EUR. A haircut (by the way: good one) is 1.50 EUR. The weather has changed. When I arrived it was quite warm and sunny. Now, it is often grey, depressive, cold; it rains more often.
When I arrived An Yan told me: "You lack basic technique. Your reading is bad." A lot of players in Europe read a lot of books and learn a lot about strategy and theory; but their reading skills are not at the same level as their theory. So me.
It meant that I started with reading exercises. I did them whenever I could, even in the car on the way to the go-school I solved life-and-death or tesuji-problems. This intensive problem-solving has paid off. An Yan made me a kind compliment when he said some days ago that my reading skills are now on the level of roughly 1/2 Dan. To increase my reading speed I am now to solve a certain amount of problems - within given time frames. At the same time you should score as good as possible. Once you solve 9 out of 10 correctly the available time is decreased. In parallel I started to study joseki and endgame. Fuseki is covered with game reviews. What lacks now is a lot of playing experience...
to be added soon