At the London Open at the start of 1981, Matthew Macfadyen won both the Open and The Lightning. Richard Granville (1 kyu) won the British small board championship at Malvern. The first Hammersmith monthly tournament was won by Terry Stacey (4 dan). The St. Valentine's Day Massacre at the IVC was won by Terry jointly with Garry Roberts (2 dan). In March, Leeds Grammar School won the Schools Championship at Kings Norton, with Taunton's Richard Huish College second.
Terry Stacey won eight straight games in the unified Challenger's Tournament. He attended the world amateur, and was placed eighth. Shao of China won, and Ma of China was second, then still amateurs. Matthew Macfadyen was European captain and took part in a tour of Korea before returning home. Matthew also cleaned up at the York British Go congress, winning both the main tournament and the lightning, and later won Bracknell.
Dutchman Rob van Zeijst from Apeldoorn won the European championship at Linz. Francis Roads did well, as did Eddie Shaw who won the 2 kyu prize and Steve Black who won the 13x13 handicap event. In the top group Jon Diamond won four games and the previous winner, Matthew Macfadyen, could only manage 1.5 to end on the same score as Mark Hall. Matthew, however, beat Terry Stacey 3-2 in the British Championship, and also won the Northern, the British Lightning (after a play-off against Jim Bates) and the autumn CLGC tournament. Leeds won the Northern Go League with Huddersfield second.
Matthew Macfadyen won the tournaments at Berlin and Prague, whilst X. T. He, the local Chinese won at Edinburgh. T.Mark Hall won the Wessex.