Ranka: Dutch representative Merlijn Kuin, welcome. Are you a student?
Kuin: No, I’ve recently started working for the National Aerospace Laboratory so it unfortunately is no longer possible to put as much time into go as I’d really like. For this reason my personal “Go Goal” for the moment is to keep my current level.
Ranka: Could you tell us a bit about how you came to be a go player and what you did to get where you are today?
Kuin: I studied math in school but although I think there’s nothing wrong with math, the way it is taught was not to my liking. It was mainly rote learning of the material handed out at the beginning of the course. The student was expected to memorize the theorems given in the textbook and learn how to copy them on the blackboard in front of the teacher. If you managed to do that successfully you were awarded points. This approach may have some merit but for me it was highly unsatisfactory. I wanted to comprehend what actually was going on, why a given problem resulted in a certain answer. Anyway, I felt that creative thinking was neither expected nor would it have helped in gaining good grades. For me the game of go was the perfect challenge to satisfy my craving for finding the how and why, the idea behind the solution.
In my case the reason I got better at go is pretty straightforward; study, study and more study. I live nearby the European Go Centre and am a member of the club which is located there “Two Eyes”. So I had access to quite a big go library.
Books in English I would read through, cover to cover and books in Chinese, Japanese or Korean I would somehow also work though. This was, of course, not that easy to do but at that time I never for even one second regarded what I was doing as a drag. To me going through those books was like being given a map to work out completely on your own with but a few directions to start with. While having a go at the game like this I imagined myself to be on a never ending quest to find the key behind the mystery.
Ranka: Thank you for your time but, it seems you are not done yet!
(A Japanese TV crew had been waiting for about 10 minutes in order to start their interview with Merlijn)