The State Of The Game

British Go Journal No. 41. May 1978. Page 10.

13,500 copies of the Penguin 'Go for Beginners' have been sold. So is the British Go Association flourishing?


The table shows recent membership figures for the British Go Association. The picture is not a rosy one. Membership is at best static and may be falling. The number of clubs has not increased significantly in the past year.

1972 516 members
1973 586 +70
1974 682 +96
1975 1048 +366
1976 984 -64
1977 991 +7

Present numbers are approximately 200 DOWN on this time last year.


The BGA had a modest surplus in the last financial year, but this was achieved only by cutting expenditure to rock bottom. Some of this surplus will be spent this year in promoting Go, for example through the Youth Committee, but to give Go the exposure we believe it deserves requires more money - which means more members - which is where we came in.

London Go Centre

The Centre was founded over three years ago with the generous financial support and good wishes of Japanese enthusiasts. Contrary to the impression some players take away, it is not yet financially viable.

Remember, it is open every day of the year, bar Christmas Day, from midday to 11pm. Very hard work for the staff and a heavy financial burden.

At present it is effectively subsidised by Dowsey Games and the modest salaries paid to Stuart Dowsey and David Mitchell. If it should collapse, a fine idea and a great opportunity would have been wasted.

Unfortunately, it is suffering from the same disease as the BGA. Stationary or even falling membership.


In the past, a notorious article in the New Scientist, a mention by C.H.O'D Alexander in his chess column [In the Sunday Times] and the Open Door BBC programme on Go have provided Go with free publicity worth thousands of pounds. More recently David Mitchell's non-stop Lightning Go Marathon and the Anglo-USSR match have been very effective in attracting the media. All these have either been gifts out of the blue, or the results of individual initiatives.

This is about to change. The BGA will soon have a permanent publicity department, ready and able to provide publicity material for members and clubs, and to organise and advise on events to publicise Go on a national scale.


The BGA's most valuable asset is the time and effort that individual members are willing to put into the game, over and above their enjoyment of playing. For example, almost entirely due to the enthusiasm of the Leicester club, including Dave Johnson, a new BGA committee member, a Go teach-in is being held for beginners and low-kyus.

During the autumn term, and maybe during the summer holidays, a trial scheme for promoting Go in schools will start, in Leicester agin, and probably also in Oxford, thanks to the enthusiasm of local players.

You too can help. Here are ten ways. If you have your own idea, no doubt you have, write to the BGJ and get your ideas passed on to the BGA Committee and published for the benefit of other members.

  1. A free or very cheap BGA poster is being produced. Display it in chess clubs, schools, libraries, local colleges, computer departments of companies ...
  2. Ask for a dan player to give a simultaneous display, exhibition game or teaching session. Help your members to improve and get a chance at local publicity also.
  3. Work an invitation to visit local schools and show the children how to play - on 10 * 10 or 13 * 13 boards, of course, with tiddlywinks for stones.
  4. Challenge your nearest club to a match and get the local press and radio to report it, giving your address and meeting times.
  5. You can't write a Press Release? (Most people can't.) Read 'How to Bluff Your Way in P.R.' published by Wolfe for 30p, or write for our version.
  6. Make sure your local libraries have 'Go for Beginners' by Iwamoto. If they don't, order it, and they will probably buy it. If they don't, order it again!
  7. Make sure your local libraries' list of clubs and activities includes your club, with up-to-date address and telephone number, day and evening. Inform local social clubs and branches of Mensa and Inter-varsity. Be bold and inform the local branch of the National Association for Gifted Children.
  8. If this point doesn't apply to you, please ignore it and don't be insulted. Go players are frequently introverted and cliquey. Never let your club atmosphere put off a beginner by making him feel like an outsider.
  9. Consider whether your club could be responsible for running an Open Day, for adults and children, with the help of the BGA, and following up such an event, for example, in local schools.
  10. Send us your ideas.


This article is from the British Go Journal Issue 41
which is one of a series of back issues now available on the web.

Last updated Thu May 04 2017. If you have any comments, please email the webmaster on web-master AT britgo DOT org.