Kai Fugami8th Grade
Many people make the mistake of thinking that the ancient Chinese game of Go is just a different version of chess. However, while both games rely on strategy and checkered boards, the comparisons end there. The rules of Go are far simpler than chess, but it is said that Go is more challenging than chess to master. The game has been played for more than two thousand years.
Kai Fugami, an 8th grade student, has been playing Go since he was about eight years old, and has been seriously studying the game for almost two years. Six days a week, Kai spends hours at a special Go training school called Kansaii Kin. Teachers observe games and show students strategy so that they can learn from their mistakes and successes. Kai plays games against other children as well as professional players. When he plays against professional players, Kai says, “I feel kind of nervous, but I like playing against them because they do interesting things on the board.” Each game of Go can last several hours, which means that Kai must maintain a high level of mental stamina and focus. When Kai plays in tournaments a few times each year, they usually involve playing five or six games, and the entire tournament day sometimes lasts as long as ten hours. Kai’s Go teachers believe that his focus and determination may result in him achieving the ranking of insei by the time he is fifteen years old; this would be a major accomplishment, as most players do not reach this rank until they are in their late twenties.
Kai lives in Hyogo, Japan (about 20 miles from Osaka), and is beginning his second year at Laurel Springs. He normally walks his dog in the morning before focusing on his academic coursework. Then, he travels by train to Kansaii Kin in the afternoons. Kai’s favorite subject is math, “because it is like Go; it is all about patterns.” Barbara Cook, his teacher, says that “Kai is very creative, and dedicated to making progress in his studies.” Jerome, Kai’s father, says that, “We picked Laurel Springs for the flexibility, because Kai is not held to a strict schedule. Laurel Springs is able to differentiate curriculum for him, and has been very supportive.”
When asked about his goals, Kai says that he would like to reach the professional ranking in the game of Go, and that when he is an adult, he would like to work as an engineer or possibly a veterinarian. It’s clear that Kai’s incredible ability to focus will be an asset in whatever career he chooses.