As the year of the cow changed to the year of the tiger. 146 players from 16 countries assembled in Highbury for the 24th London Open. Again, thanks to our sponsors HITACHI, there was good prize money and the tournament carried European Grand Prix status as usual. After six rounds and three days the Grand Prix points were awarded to Guo Juan, Zhang Shutai, E. Sim, Matthew Cocke, Matthew Macfadyen and T.Mark Hall, John Rickard, Francis Roads, J. Fincke and Caspar Nijhuis. The top two and two of the next group played knockout to determine the winner. In the final Guo beat Zhang, but only by half a point. Third was Cocke, fourth Rickard and fifth Macfadyen. The best of the other prize winners were Michael Zhang 1-dan and young Inez Teles de Menezes 14-kyu from Portugal. As well as rengo and continuous 13x13 there was the usual lightning tournament; in the final Emil Nijhuis 5-dan won a seven stone game to beat G. Dickfeld 3-kyu from Germany.
In 1998 the attendance at tournaments was lower in the spring than the previous year, not helped by there being no Wanstead nor Coventry. Numbers were on the increase again in the autumn, however. Matthew Macfadyen 6-dan dominated the winners' list with wins at Oxford, Scotland, Leicester, West Wales (as always), the Wessex and Swindon. However he did not win every event he played in: at Shrewsbury he lost to Simon Shiu 4-dan, allowing Des Cann 4-dan to add Shrewsbury to his list of wins that also included Milton Keynes and a joint win at the Cambridge Trigantius with Matthew Cocke 5-dan. Michael Zhang, a Chinese living in London for a year, won Bracknell and the Northern and was awarded a British 3-dan certificate. T.Mark Hall 4-dan won the Furze Platt Tournament for the third time in four years and Antonio Moreno 4-dan won the Devon for a second time. Also a second year in a row was Francis Roads 4-dan's only 1998 win at the Three Peaks Tournament in Yorkshire. A group of smaller events were won by 2-dans: the first Norwich by Paul Smith, Bournemouth by Alan Thornton, the British Small Board at Cambridge by Michael Charles (after a play-off against Alan Thornton) and the West Surrey Handicap by Tony Atkins. The Cambridge Barlow for kyu-players only was a four- way tie between Nick Wedd, Jonathan Chin, Pengfei He and Robert Salkeld.
The 31st British Go Congress abandoned the traditional school or college venue and was held at the British Aerospace factory, just across the border into Wales near the ancient English city of Chester. Being a popular tourist destination, Chester provided much to see and cheap hotels to stay in. 74 players of grades between 6-dan and 12-kyu took part in the British Open. Matthew Macfadyen lost no games this year and added the Open Title to his British Title. Cups from the Korea National Tourism Organization were awarded to the place getters: Francis Roads, Xiaoning Shi, Des Cann and T.Mark Hall. Des Cann was the British Lightning Champion for a second year. Francis Roads was presented with the Terry Stacey Trophy for the most wins during the year, narrowly beating the favourite Matthew Macfadyen, and starting a tradition of winning it in alternate years. This year the women scored their qualifying points for the Women's World Amateur in the Open, rather than in a separate event; the 8 points went to Alison Jones 2-dan.
The British Championship is a three stage system. In 1998 20 top grade kyu and low dan grade players met in March for the Candidates' Tournament. After four rounds Martin Smith 1-dan and Jim Clare 3-dan were unbeaten. They and the next few placed got to join the 5-dans and prequalified players in the Challenger's League over the May Day holiday. The ordering after the six rounds was Shaw, Cocke, Goddard, Matthews, Shepperson, Cann, Roads and Clare. So it was the 5-dan from Reading, Edmund Shaw, who played the best of five match against reigning champion, Matthew Macfadyen. Edmund made an error in the yose to lose the first game held at the Daiwa Foundation. In the second game at London's Chess and Bridge shop Matthew won convincingly. The third game at Milton Keynes was the deciding game, though Matthew only won it by half a point to be champion for the fourteenth time in 21 years.
The British Pair Go Championships proved as pleasant and as hard fought as usual. Again the venue was the Cross Roads Hotel in Weedon and again it was Kirsty Healey and Matthew Macfadyen who won. Sue Paterson and Des Cann were second. Winners of the handicap section were mother and son, Pauline and Steve Bailey.
Though Brakenhale School in Bracknell are still the undoubted best school club, the keenest youth club in Britain may now be the Cambridge Junior Chess and Go Club. They were hosts of the Youth Championships in January. 34 youngsters from age 5 to 17 and 5 to 35 kyu took part in the Championships. Youth champion was Tom Blockley 5-kyu from Worcester who was also under-14 champion. Francis Weaver 6-kyu of Brakenhale was runner up to the champion and took the under-16 title. Paul Hyman 12-kyu of Brakenhale won under-18. Cambridge dominated the other age groups: under-12 Tom Eckersley-Waites beat his twin brother Adam and William Brooks won the under-10 and also the 13x13 prize. Unfortunately, despite travelling a long way, the Isle of Man players missed out of trophies, but many were seen leaving clutching chocolates or sweets from the side competitions. With the help of the new booklet "Asia and the Game of Go" we hope to spread go to more children in 1999.
The second Mind Sports Olympiad was held in the Novotel Hotel in Hammersmith, London, at the end of August. 2500 players from 45 countries took part in many and various games, the highlight of which must have been the Rummikub champion playing whilst in a bath of water and drinking champagne. Go was of course featured with four events and a sales and teaching stall manned by Adam Atkinson and others all week. Several go players won medals in other events such as Piers Shepperson in the mixed doubles bridge and Paul Smith in no less than five categories. Unfortunately go numbers were down due to a lack of publicity and no prize money. In the main event the gold, silver and bronze medals went to Zhang Shutai, Sakagi Shoichi, and Vladimir Danek. At the weekend they went to Hayashi Migaku, Sakagi and Danek, and in the 13x13 to Danek, Gerhard Stettner and Monna Reiko. Hayashi, Des Cann and Francis Roads won the 9x9 medals, whilst the junior 9x9 medals went to Ezra Lutton, James Heppell and Josiah Lutton. Worthy of mention was Pavel Spacek 19-kyu who won 6/6 in the main and the medal-exempt second place at the weekend of tournament arbiter Kim Seong-June. In 1999 the event will be two days longer and even more are expected to take part.
In November Nick Wedd organised the Ing Computer World Championships at Hendon College, London. Best program was David Fotland's "Many Faces of Go", second was "Wulu" and third was "Go4++" by Michael Reiss. As usual the Taiwanese boys brought over by the sponsor made short shrift of the winning program.
In February the Nippon Club in London was pleased to be hosts to Japanese professionals Mr and Mrs Okada and a touring party of amateurs. The locals won the title match 10-5 and the professionals played simultaneous games all evening. In March the London International Team match saw a win for Cambridge by one point over Central London. The autumn edition of this match was a welcome win for the Nippon Club. The Thames Valley winners this year were newcomers High Wycombe. Guo Juan travelled to Leamington for a much appreciated women's coaching weekend, which included practise at being fierce at the go board. Matthew Macfadyen also continued his seminar program and email courses and also ran a beginner's course at Marlborough Summer School. In November Mrs Liu Yajie professional 2-dan from china started a three month stay in England, touring, teaching and learning better English. She was one of the teachers at the annual West Surrey Teaching Day.
The Irish Open almost counts as a home event. Matthew Macfadyen made his mark by being the first player to win it twice. Second was Christoph Gerlach, third Emil Nijhuis and fourth Des Cann. Tony Atkins was fifth ahead of Michael Marz and the top Irish players, Noel Mitchell and Stephen Flinter. The Handicap Tournament was won by Scott Hopkins, an American now living in Dublin. This year the event was special as Shigeno Yuki, the Japanese professional living in Milan and teaching go in Europe, was there. She took part in the Fast Play and came second to Christoph Gerlach. She also proved unbeatable at backgammon and not so bad at liar dice either. A reception at the Japanese Ambassador's house was put on in her honour too.
Matthew Macfadyen also played in the Ing Cup in Cannes, where he was seventh. Alongside, Tom Blockley and Paul Hyman took part in the Ing Youth Tournament. John Rickard was third in Milan and Zhang Shutai was second in the Obayashi Cup in Amsterdam. A party of British attended the European Congress as usual. Three players attended the US Congress winning the Team Tournament, the Song Contest and third in the 4-dan group (Francis Roads), third in the 5-dan group (Jim Clare 3-dan) and top 2-dan (Tony Atkins).
T.Mark Hall had recovered from his back problems of last year and was able to be our representative at the World Amateur in Tokyo. He came 24th with 4/8. Helen Harvey 1-kyu attended the 7th Sotetsu Cup in Yokohama and came a pleasing 12th with 3/6. Sue Paterson and Des Cann were our couple at the 9th World Amateur Pair Go Championships. They lost in the first round as expected but won 2/4 in the Special Handicap. European Captain was Tony Atkins who also won 2/4 in the Special Handicap, playing with Mrs Seki formerly of London.