Nurse Wife's Noodles


According to my observation, most Go players, in general, are NOT encouraged by their wives, girlfriends, or lovers, to be engaged in playing Go. At best, their female companions remain in the neutral position, not encouraging, nor discouraging. Among all Go friends I have known, I rarely observe that the wife will take the initiative to say,

“Hey, John, it is a nice day today, why don’t you invite some of your Go friends over our house to play Go? I will be happy to serve you guys tea, and some hot meals.”

A neutral line slightly on the kind side may be:

“What are you doing, John? Playing Go online again? OK, have fun. I am going to make a few phone calls.”

Slightly on the sour side:

“What are you doing, John? Playing Go online again? I thought you had just played last night. When you get a chance, please do not forget to get the laundry out from the drier.”

My friend Ming whom I met in late 1971 was a lucky guy. His case was exceptional.

I do not remember how Ming and I got to know each other. At that time, I was an FOB in the U. S. (Fresh Off Boat), just arriving in Los Angeles from Taiwan, living in a rooming house, studying at University of Southern California, working part-time as a waiter in a small Chinese restaurant, and not owning a car.

The owner of the restaurant and his wife ran the business themselves. On Fridays, around 5 pm, they drove their beat-up Chevolet to pick me up. We worked all the way till 3 am. During those 9 or 10 hours, I did get fed with some chowmein or chopsuey dishes. We agreed that I would get paid for $20 a night.

After working for them for 4 weeks, it was about time for me to receive my wages. They approached me by asking if I owned a TV set. I said, No. Then they mentioned to me that they had a black/white set, in good condition. They would be willing to sacrifice it at $80 for me. It would be beneficial for an FOB to own a TV set, so that he could learn English faster.

I accepted the deal. So, I became the owner of a TV set. And it was my first piece of property in the U. S. At first I thought that my “exchange” move had been played smartly. I gave up some territory (immediate profit, or $80 cash), but gained some influence (TV would benefit my future English learning). I was placing my stones on the 4th line, forcing my opponent to crawl on the 3rd line.

The house I lived in was occupied by the elderly landlady, and several USC graduate students from Taiwan. She was older than 90 years, yet remained healthy and mobile. On weekends, we students often played poker games. During a poker game, I revealed my deal to my playmates. They all laughed at me, deeming that I was swindled.

Then an interesting piece of information surfaced during the conversation. The owner of the restaurant used to live as a tenant in this rooming house before he got married. To save some rents, he sometimes would go to bed with the landlady!! Wow, speaking of exchange moves, was it a winning move or a losing move? I bet that even the Toyota Cup world champions do not know the answer.

So, I would get up late on Saturday mornings. Often, when I got up, Ming was already waiting for me in his car parked outside the house. He drove for about 90 minutes from his own house located in the east suburb of LA all the way to downtown LA to pick me up. Two young kids of his would fight with each other on the backseats constantly.

Ming was actually not too much weaker than I was, possibly about 2.5 stones only. But the fact that I used to be a member in Taiwan University Go team might have greatly impressed and even intimidated him. He thought that he encountered a precious opportunity of having a strong Go player falling from the sky for him.

So precious was the opportunity that he was willing to drive two round trips (4 one-way trips) to pick me up, to have me playing in his house, then to give me a ride back to my house.

The required time of driving on the roads would be roughly 4 x 90 minutes, or equivalently 6 hours!! So, now you know how spoiled (OK, how lucky) you are today by being able to sit in your study room and play on the Internet with anybody in the world, without having to drive your car for an inch. You also see how helpless an addicted Go player could have been in 1970s.

Roughly we had the whole afternoon all to ourselves to indulge in playing Go games. Occasionally, another friend of Ming’s would be invited over to watch us play. He was about 6 stones weaker. So Ming would only give up his monopoly of me to allow his friend to play a single game with me.

Around the dinner time, Ming’s wife would come home from work, showing up by the doorway to say hi to us, still in her white nurse uniform. She was a quiet woman, usually did not say much. But one could tell from her facial expressions and her body languages that she was happy to see us there playing Go games with her husband, or if not happily, at least approvingly.

She would immediately plunge herself into the kitchen, from where we started smelling the fragrance of her cooking drifting into our nostrils. After two cups of tea time, she would show up again, and bring us a tray of soup noodles that made me salivate.

My dear readers, why was she so special that she encouraged her husband to play Go games? Let me raise the following multiple-choice question for you:

(a) She herself was very fond of Go games.

(b) She believed that Go playing could sharpen Ming’s brain.

(c) She liked to reward Ming for babysitting her children all day.

(d) none of the above.

The correct answer is (d). Then, what was the reason? The following answer came from Ming’s own confession. If he did not play Go, his mind would not have been occupied. As soon as it was not occupied, his libido would tend to emerge, and his wife knew of that problem. Needless to say, she would much rather see him staying in the house playing Go games than seeing him going out to womanize.


In summer 1972, I worked as a shipping clerk in a jewelry store. My co-worker and I cooked a scheme to sometimes sneak out some jewelries. And among the loot, I got a very nice piece of heart-shaped jade. I gave it to Ming's wife.

    Previous essay   Next essay     List