NHK interviews first teacher of Taiwanese Go sensation

The China Post news staff

The China Post news staff–Despite defending champion Hsieh Yi-min’s (謝依旻) recent loss in Japan’s premier Go competition, the Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) is producing a documentary special on the prodigy’s Taiwanese upbringing. Five journalists from NHK arrived in Hsinchu City on Feb. 26 to interview Hsieh’s first Go instructor, Wang Wen-tong (王文桐). Hsieh displayed a flair for the game very early on — there is no surprise at all that she has made Go history, Wang told NHK Sunday noon. Hsieh formally registered with the Japan Go Association at the age of 14. In 2006, the 17-year old Hsieh became the youngest woman to win the Women’s Saikyo title. She went on to become the youngest to win the Women’s Honinbo and Meijin titles. ‘Too young’ Wang told reporters that he had first taught only Hsieh’s older brothers and cousins. The 5-year-old Hsieh looked on over their shoulders, wide-eyed, and eventually insisted that she play, too. “You’re too young to learn it!” scoffed her brothers, according to Wang. Hsieh was pressed to the brink of tears, said Wang, who personally invited the girl to play. Her rise was meteoric. Before graduating from preschool, she had already reached the Go ranks of “dan,” which is awarded to advanced amateur players. She also garnered a collection of championships in her ranks.

Wang recommended that Hsieh’s father grow her talent with care. He did, borrowing cash and selling heirlooms like paintings and calligraphy to finance his daughter’s education. He said that he has taught Go for 30 years, and has seen scores of talented players. But it’s exceedingly rare that someone with Hsieh’s work ethic and fearlessness comes along. These are the two qualities that have made Hsieh a winner, said Wang.

Wang continued by saying that he has often advised Hsieh against winning on the strength of cunning, but rather to compete honorably. She has remembered the advice, according to Wang, who said that Hsieh’s playing style today is “elegant” and “benevolent.” “What’s the most endearing thing about Hsieh Yi-min as a child?” NHK asked Wang. He responded that the young, pigtailed Hsieh had inherited her dance-instructor mother’s love for physical expression. Every time the girl won a game, she would convey her joy by bounding about the room in interpretive dance. Don’t be fooled by Hsieh’s combative countenance during game play, said Wang. She has a droll sense of humor.