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The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

Best of SNO

The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

Best of SNO

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A 19-by-19 universe: Jamie Tang’s love of Go

Senior Qi-Mei Jamie Tang sits at a small wooden table illuminated by the summer sun and remorsefully places one small stone on a nineteen by nineteen game board full of black and white pieces, congratulating her aunt. Though Tang lost the game, something else is found: a passion.

Go is an ancient Chinese two-player strategy game with simplistic rules and pieces — only black and white stones — but an infinite amount of moves can be made. So despite this game’s relatively simple goal of capturing the most territory on the board, and relatively simple rules, Tang would spend the next months memorizing hundreds of game moves.

“Due to the 19 by 19 Go board or ‘Goban’ compared to a 8 by 8 chess board, there are more possible variations in the game of Go than the number of subatomic particles in the known universe,” said Tang, “While most players can memorize game records instantly, the first game record took me six months to memorize. The additional challenges only motivated me to work harder. In the first year, I self-taught myself from 30-Kyu, a total beginner, to around 10-Kyu, before starting lessons at the New York Institute of Go.”

Three years later, Tang would attend her first U.S Go Congress, a national week long event with over 300 attendees, attracting beginner to world champions Go players, which would give Tang a chance to immerse herself even more into the world of Go.

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“My winning sonnet at the poetry contest about Go legend Go Seigen impressed Albert Yen, one of the world’s top amateur Go players and MD/PhD student, who invited me to volunteer for his tournament hosted by the Evanston Go Club.”

Though this connection to Yen and other players would prove to lead her farther into a passion of Go, Tang couldn’t have ever dreamed of.

“I never imagined that a year later, I would serve as the 2023 U.S. Go Congress’s Prize Coordinator, Albert’s Pair Go teammate (to compete for a chance to represent team USA in Tokyo, Japan), among other roles in the Go community,” Tang said.

Jamie Tang receives game reviews from top amateurs at the 2024 Midwest Open in Columbus, Ohio. Photo courtesy of Jamie Tang.

Now Tang is one of the most sought after Go organizers in the entire US, boasting roles such as Evanston Go Club’s Outreach Director, American Go Honor Society’s President and American Collegiate Go Association’s Co-founder and Organizing Director. And bearing these names comes with more responsibility than most high school seniors can even imagine.

“My leadership roles require me to give clear instructions and suggestions for improvement that can empower team members to become leaders themselves. Usually, players register two weeks before a tournament, yet statistically, starting organizing early always increases the last minute registration spike. I have to trust that our efforts will pay off, and we can break even,” Tang said.

And even though the amount of responsibility Tang bears is immense, Tang wouldn’t exchange it for the world, and thanks everyone who helped her along the way to her current position.

“I owe immense gratitude to my parents, mentors, and friends who have enriched my Go journey,” Tang said. “I am most thankful to Albert for opening many doors and empowering me into the person I am today and writing my letter of rec! I am grateful to have many players who assist me with school work, provide funding for events and strengthen my Go skills.”

This story was originally published on The Emery on April 1, 2024.