Give Me Another, Please (David's Journey Part 1/2)
By: Christopher Goss
"Stupid, stupid, stupid," the old man mumbled under his breath for what had to have been the one millionth time that game. His hand hovered over a cracked brown bowl filled with black stones as if unsure. The fingers seemed to question the mind of the one controlling them. They squeezed at the rim of the bowl as if in protest of being forced back into the heap of stones within. ".....I resign."
"If you had Atari'd on this side, it would have made a big difference." The young male that said these words was David Hanamura. His tone was calm and reserved.
It had been four years since the tragic death of Christopher McCard. The cause of his death was a heart attack. But the reason why such a young, healthy boy would have had a heart attack out of the blue still remained unclear.
Two years after Christopher's death, David had moved to Virginia right after Christopher's death.
"So, you're really going to go pro, eh? To take the pro exam?" The old man scratched at the tuft of white hair that protruded from his mostly bald scalp. The elder man was the one who had introduced David to the Olesburg Go Club.
"Of course," David said. "I've become one of the top amateurs in the world. And.....it's something I need to do."
"That's mighty noble of you. I remember looking at that kid's kifus. It's crazy he went from 10k level to top pro level the way he did. I don't think anyone has ever witnessed such growth like that before. And he even made professional players look silly."
"He made me look silly on a number of occasions," David said, smiling sadly. He remembered those games. He remembered how stunned he was by Christopher's sudden explosion of talent. The kid that could never get any better had suddenly become the best player in the world. That just doesn't happen in reality. "Of course, I'll never be able to play him again."
"He's playing Go with God," the old man said. He grabbed the small mug next to the Go board and took a sip. "But if you're serious about going pro, you've got to stop living in the past. Don't forget. But don't flounder."
"I know that. Thanks for the game Frank, but I should head home."
Laying on his bed was an evelope with a folded piece of paper sticking halfway out. David had read the letter already. It was from Hikaru Shindo. He had taken an interest in David after the unfortunate situation with Christopher.
Under Shindo's tutelage, David's own remarkable talent had shown through. Of course for the longest time they had played games on KGS or Tygem. After all, Hikaru had had to go back to Japan to compete for the Judan title. Unfortunately, he was swept in the series.
David stood in front of the mirror a pair of black eyes staring at him. The young 14 year old male was garbed in a scarlet t-shirt with form fitting dark blue jeans.
His parents were very supportive of his endeavors in Go as long as he maintained his grades in school. But it's not like they had anything to worry about as David's grades were exceptional.
The silence was starting to bother him, so he walked over to his desk and turned on the computer. Before long Frédéric Chopin's fantastic music filled the room.
He sat down at his desk and played a few Blitz games on KGS. He won most of them, but lost one because of a silly error. After the game, he reached over and pulled the letter out of the envelope and read it once again.
I received your email stating your desire to turn professional. I thought it would be more fitting to send you a letter the old fashion way in response.
I do not think you should go to Japan to become a professional. It is a very tough road. While I know you have indicated in the past that this was your intent, I feel you would be somewhat limited by your age.
However, I will make you a proposition. I will come to Olesburg and challenge you to a face to face game. If you defeat me, and with your parent's permission, I will take help sign you up for the AGA Professional Qualification Tournament.
From Shindo Hikaru
It was expected that Hikaru would arrive tomorrow. He had been surprised initially by Hikaru's apparent reluctance for him to potentially sign up to try and become a professional Go player. He knew it was a tough road, but he truly believed it was something that he was destined to do.
He sighed and set the letter down. Tomorrow he would play against a very strong 9 Dan professional.
Chopin's piano filled the room. Filled his ears and flooded his mind. He was on a crashing wave of music as the sadness and sorrow filled his heart. If Christopher could go from nobody to professional level in seemingly no time flat, there was no reason he wasn't ready to turn professional now.
"....What I wouldn't give for one more game," David whispered. "Just one more game. Why did you have to die so soon, Chris? But you'll see. Tomorrow I will defeat Shindo. Tomorrow I will begin to pave my own story."
David drifted off to sleep somewhat uneasily that night. His entire body and mind were tense at the thought of playing Hikaru Shindo tomorrow. His nerves were intensified by the fact that he had never defeated Hikaru in an even game before. The closest he had come was a 15 point loss.
He found himself dreaming that he was sitting before an empty Go board. That wasn't too unusual. David often dreamed that he was playing Go.
He gasped, however, when he glanced up and saw Christopher McCard sitting across from him. Stunned, David couldn't think of a single word to say.
Without uttering a single word, Christopher's hand dropped into a bowl of white stones and he grasped a handful. He then held them over the Go board. After a moment David realized that Christopher intended to play a game with him.
It almost felt as if electricity were flowing through the room, and David was almost consumed by a wave of emotion. Rain slowly descended from an iron sky, but neither of them were drenched by the rain.
Slowly, David grasped two black stones and placed them upon the Go board. The stones were released from Christopher's hands and counted. 4. That meant that David would play black.
David bowed, ".....good luck..." David grasped a stone and placed it on the 4-4.Clack!
David felt disconcerted. There was an intense look in Christopher's blue eyes. And he didn't hesitate at all. Shaking himself, David proceeded with his next move.
Again, no hesitation. David gripped his knees so tightly his knuckles paled. If that was how Christopher wanted to play, so be it. David heaved a deep breath and then the pair of them launched into a very fierce game.
Attack. Defend. Cut. Prod. Defend. David felt he was holding up quite well. The game was in his favor in the early goings. He glanced up and his eyes widened. Christopher was staring intently at the Go board. But he appeared to be drenched by the rain. Though that didn't seem to bother him.
It was then that David realized that he too was now drenched by the icy rain. When did that happen? Yet the Go board remained perfectly dry. This was a weird dream.
The sharp sound caused David to jump. His mouth fell open. A group of his stones had just died. How oblivious he had been! His hands shook and a lump formed in his throat. But no, this couldn't be how it ended.
"Believe in yourself."
David's head shot up. Christopher offered a soft smile. David's eyes narrowed.
The game resumed. David played as fiercely as he possibly could. Elation soared within his chest. The game had somehow begun to even back out in the end game. But this couldn't be the same Christopher that had defeated the Honinbo title holder four years ago.
His confusion deepened as he killed a massive group. But by his counting, the game was still too close to call. How could that be? Was his counting off?
"What?" David looked up to see Christopher's bowed head. But there was a smile on his face.
"You win. There is little hope for me in this scenario. You have played well, David. Play like that tomorrow and you will assuredly beat Hikaru Shindo. And one more thing, don't become a pro for me. Do it for you."
"But-" David began. He wanted one more game, but suddenly he found himself sitting up and staring at his bedroom wall. The morning sun streamed brilliantly into his bedroom. But David didn't feel like moving at all. The dream had felt so real and yet so obviously dreamlike. But he had managed to defeat Christopher McCard. In his dream. Like that mattered. But he felt better about today. And soon he would defeat Hikaru Shindo.
To be continued in Part 2: Hanamura vs Shindo