Saturday, May 30, 2009

Player Profiles: Kings Baduk Academy Students

Other than the IBA there is another Baduk school which caters to foreigners. That is the Kings Baduk Academy. The two schools are quite different as far as their approach goes. Kings Baduk has a rigorous training schedule with little or no time to d other things than study. Due to the location, some mountain village, even if there was time there would be little to do. This sort of place would be perfect for me, and I regret that I did not know about it when I came to Korea.

The IBA is in Seoul, the metropolitan center of Korea, no one will force you to study, and there are plenty of distractions. These are not bad things just style preference.

The students of the Kings Baduk Academy often visit us in Seoul. We like to go drinking and singing, and of course we like to play baduk. There are several really interesting people that I have met from Kings Baduk. It is generally very fun when they visit, as it should be, when people from all over the world gather in one place to practice something they love.

Here are some of the students I met from th KBA. These are just my opnions and should not be taken as fact.

Gabriel Benmergui

Age: 23
Country: Argentina
KGS ID: Danigabi
Strength: 5D
Who are you? : "If I don't have a good move I tenuki....also I am better the Ofer."

Gabriel seems very intelligent. I have been able to talk to him about most things so far, and he has some answers for everything. He is very opinionated, and very persuasive. Although I seem to believe everything he says, it strikes me as odd that a 23 year old knows so much, I suppose I should not take everything as fact.
Ofer Zivony

Country: Israel
Strength: 3D
Who are you? : "I am Ofer, Asians call me Ope"
Ofer worked with birthright groups (google it) as a guard in Israel. He is rather talented at portrait sketches. He seems very modest, but never ceases to make jokes.

Francesco Marigo
Age: 27
Country: Italy
Strength: 4D
Who are you?: "I'm.....unsolved problem"
I have not spoken much to Francesco, he seems to be quite kindhearted. He also was National Champion in Italy for several years. Recently he lost the "title" to Davide Minieri.

Sebastian Rieche

Country: Germany
Who are you? "I am me, I am really pragmatic, it comes from studying Philosophy"

Sebastian is an interesting guy. He wants nothing more than to continue his baduk studies in Korea. He is an avid eater of chocolate, and has practiced martial arts for years. He started out in Wing Tsun, and more recently has switched to Shotokan Karate. He is also a writer, and is working on a fantasy novel. He keeps a blog about his baduk studies...

Klara Zaloudkova

Age: 24
Country: Czech Republic
Strength: 3d
Who are you? : " I am a friendly girl."

Clara was a philosophy major back at home. Her classmates say that she is stronger than she claims. She is also a big fan of partying.


Age: 22
Country: Mongolia
Strength: 3d
Who are you? " I am a person kkk..." (kkk is the Asian sound for laughing, same as LOL, not to be confused with the white supremacist group KKK)

I have not had a chance to really speak to her. She has a very attractive energy however. Her classmates said that in the 3 weeks she has been in Korea she has already improved a lot.

Leonardo Alberto Dal Zovo

Age: 29
Country: Italy
Strength: ~3k
Who are you? : " I am Ciovo"

Somehow out of the KBA students I felt I could relate to Ciovo the most. Again our meetings have only been few but the magic of baduk makes us all close. He recently toured Korea with Pedro for one week. I am extremely envious, at the time I did not have the capital to join him. He works as a Computer Scientist back home. He told me that while he has Slate and Shell stones, as well as high quality bowls, he only has a cheap homemade goban. This is funny if you are a go player, if it is not, then I am sorry. He also has a website about his stay in Korea, it has many pictures and interesting stories, check it out:

Pedro Carmona
Age: 24
Country: Portugal
Strength: 2K
Who are you?: " I am a Brazilian."
I don't know much about him, but he has a very fun energy. And is always smiling. Also he is from Panama. Or Brazil. Maybe Mexico.

Svilen Pavlov

Age: 25
Country: Bulgaria
Strength: 3kyu

Svilen is rather quite compared to the other KBC students, however I have reason to believe that when intoxicated and metal is present he turns into a headbanger. He uses a lot of time when he plays. At home he was working as a stage designer for a theatre, but he wants to be a Computer Scientist. He was offered a good job, but it would require him to move to Czech republic, so he could not really move at the time. Lastly, if anyone needs a Computer Scientist in Bulgaria, contact me I will forward it to him.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Lately I have been having a lot of problems with Mosquitos...

The apartment we live in is very hot at night, but if we open the windows a swarm of gnats, flies, and mosquitoes find a nice free buffet.

Anyway, this hhas caused me to think alot about them, mainly why we itch when we get bit. It seemed counter intuitive to me, I mean, it would not be so bad to get bitten if not for that longlasting, irritating, waking you up at night itching feeling. It would seem that if they were not so itchy, people would kill them as much. It seems that evolution failed the mosquito by making them make us itchy....

Here I though I was being funny and Ironic telling this to my Marc, when he said "Actually we get itchy because our body fights of infections from the mosquitoes..." There goes my "mosquito bit"

Unknowingly, I was determined to find another joke. Later that night I was talking to my friend Big Kyoung, and I asked him whether it was a pimple or a bite on his cheek. (It was oozing something). He said it was both, and that it hurt.

All of a sudden this image of a mosquito sitting itself down on my friends pimple popped into my head.

So it was flying around, and sits down, it thinks to itself - "yummy a meal, and its even on a raised platter!". And it sticks its little sharp hose down and takes a big swig. It is expecting the irony-delicious taste of blood, instead it gets the --actually I don't know the taste of pus so no adjective here-- (blank) taste of pus instead. It flies off confused, its stomach hurts, so it cant fly and its in generally bad shape. After agonizing, trying to fly for a few seconds it sits down on a garbage can and slowly titches away into the unknown abyss where mosquitoes go when they die.

Anyway... I told this to my friend, and he seemed to feel better about the pimple bite.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What does this mean to you?

What does this mean to you?

Please respond by leaving a comment.

Oh wow, his moyo is so much bigger than mine.

Hey, he is coming inside my moyo!

Ah damn it, I am in Atari.

Player Profiles: Kim Seungjun 9P

Hanguk Baduk League Pre-lim


I met Kim Seungjun 9P through a mutual friend, Diana Koszegi 1p.   He was the first Korean pro that I met on my stay here. 

He is known by many as Blackie, or Black Knight due to his dark complexion.  In a recent article in the American Go Association E-journal, I was mis-quoted as saying that he speaks perfect English.  This deviates a little from the truth.  While he speaks enough English to teach Baduk, his conversational knowledge of the language is limited.

Our first meeting was in Coffee shop, he approached me in hopes that I could help him set up a workshop in the states.   Though his English is limited, due to his emotive personality, and my minute knowledge of Korean, we had no problems communicating, I was even able to conduct a brief interview with him.  

I quickly learned that he was passionate about spreading Baduk, or Go, in the west.  Blackie had just come back from a short European Baduk tour with fellow pros Mok Chinseok 9P (mymy on KGS) and Diana.  They played simul games in Budapest, Romania, and Amsterdam, as well as helping with a tournament in Amsterdam.

This coming weekend he is doing a live Web-cam commentary on The Amsterdam Pandanet Tournament. my sources tell me he has been studying English, so lets see the results.

In October, he and Diana Koszegi will be conducting a BaduK workshop in San Fransisco.


Kim Suengjun started playing Baduk at 10 years old, he learned to play from his father, an EGF 2D.  Though his brother and sister quit baduk rather quickly he kept playing.

I asked why he plays Baduk, he had no answer.

Two years later the Black Knight became a younguseng, or a pro in training.  At that time he would take 5 stones from a Pro**.  He did nothing but play Baduk, three years later, in 1988 he became a Pro.

In 1994 he made it to the finals of the Kogi cup

In 1996 he made it to the semi-finals of the Samsung cup.

Many of his games, recent and old, can be viewed online here.  


In addition to playing Baduk, Kim Seungjun enjoys playing Golf, this has been his most recent hobby.

He is a the second strongest billiards player among the Korean Baduk pros.

He is the strongest foot volleyball player among the pros.

After finishing his Simul-games in Budapest he proceeded to defeat their strongest Billiard player as well.

Unlike most Koreans, he does not drink or smoke.

While he is good at almost anything he does, he cannot swim.

---Side Note**---

Younguseng these days are far stronger than they used to be.  They are divided into 10 groups, competition to become a Younguseng is so fierce that even the lowest group ones can compete with a weak pro without handicap.  The ones in the top class are often stronger than many current Pros.  We have seen many young kids, who had just made pro, defeat 9P's.  Even the world champions Lee Sedol and Gu Li would not be able to give these kids 2 stones.

---End Side Note---

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Jail of his own

A man I know is in a cage, though he did make it himself...

What will he do?


Many people sleep at night.  They wake up in the morning.

It all seems really natural, but for some reason these days I cannot.  My friend Pascal, he cannot sleep either.  My friend Marc, sleeps but in the daytime.  My friend Roman sleeps but 4 hours at a time.

What is it that makes modern youth not sleep?  (sounds preachy donit)

Seriously though I want to sleep, I consider sleeping and waking with the Sun, but thats somehow silly...  Isn't it?  

Is 6 hours of sleep enough?  Is 9.

This was meant to be a poem, but I guess I am not a poet.  

Thursday, May 14, 2009

We are the Evil Space Invaders

As everyone knows, we are starting to run short on Natural Resources, and our climate is changing rapidly.  

Our forests are running out.  The rate at which we consume is phenomenal.  On top of all of that there are more of us, making more of us every year.  Maybe we can really save the world by being "green".  Maybe, if we recycle, stop eating so much, use solar power, wind power, wave power, and condoms, we can still be saved...

But realistically we are going to run out of resources soon, or just run out of space to live and will have to look elsewhere.  There are some choices, a bio dome on the moon, a space station, or looking at other planets fit for habitation.

Either way, we will be moving to space.  If we find another planet that is fit for people to live on it, is it not likely that there will already be things living there?  Won't we be the evil space invaders taking over a planet and stealing its natural resources?  

Now, this is only partly a joke, unless we take care of our world, necessity will drive us to become evil aliens reigning terror around the universe. ~~~

Monday, May 11, 2009

Racism in Korea

There is a great deal of racism in Korea.

Although there is quite a lack of diversity, almost everybody is racist.  Maybe its because of lack...

Most people I meet seem to love simply for the fact that I am a foreigner.  Now maybe this is not a bad thing, but it seems strange to me.  Coming from New York, I see all people as just people.  Although when I worked at Diesel, I often segued into conversation with someone by talking about their country.  To Brazilians I would tell them how many I meet, maybe mention Capoeira.  To russians I spoke russian, to French I spoke the little french I know.  I would praise the pound to Brits.  I would mention my upcoming trip to Korea to Koreans, and talk about anime/manga with Japanese...

I seem to have digressed.  

In Korea, as I walk down the street and a group of kids walk by they shout out very quickly all the words they know.  Hello --  how are you -- yo yo yo -- thank you -- I love you -- bye bye.  

The other weekend I went to a festival at Myongji University (The only school in the world where you can get a Masters in Baduk studies)   I was not allowed to pay for my drinks my food, and was even invited by these nice 4 girls to share their room. 

The Nice Girls who let me into their room

If I was Korean this would not have happened.

Another wierd thing, is that most Koreans I meet are all scared of going to America because they might get shot.  I realize that it is an unfortunate truth that there is much gunplay in the USA, but it seems that all they know about America is 

A. It is good
B. People have guns
C. People do drugs.

I wonder is this what our country is?  I really don't know.  Europeans I meet just think we suck at geography and history.  Actually this group of Go players from Kings Baduk Academy (more on that later, if you are interested now, visit ) and I played a geography game -- naming capital cities -- I got the high honor of being "Good for an American.

Some of the Kings Baduk guys.

I get taken out all the time by Go players, and sometimes by strangers I meet on the street.  Although, I sound like I am complaining, I am not, I am greatful for all the free food I have eaten since coming to Korea, and I have met some interesting people.

And now bad racism.... Really really bad.  This would never fly in the states.  It reminds me of early Disney cartoons.

Mr. Ink.

Look its an African.


I forgot to mention a few things, my friend reminded me...

though by racism I would have wrote about a little different things as I'm not from the usa  
 what do you mean?
 well, for me it's also very annoying that everybody thinks i can only be an american  
 if by chance not, than russian
 nothing else is possible  
 ah right i coudl have mentioned that, but i am both...
 so they would be right on both accounts  
 not to mention that they just point at u and talk about u in korean when u r like half a meter away, because they think no way a foreigner can understand them..  
 yes i know, thats why i wrote i would have wrote this too  

A strange thought..

So.  I have given some thought to starting an Internet Show. 

check out so you know what I mean.

I can't seem to decide on what my topic should be.

Does anybody have any ideas?

Please let me know.