British Schools Team Championship History

Before 1980 there was little organised to cater for go in British schools. There were school clubs in the 1970s at St. Helen's, Bolton and other places, which included some quite strong players. Brian Castledine learnt go whilst at school in Nottingham and when he tragically died in 1979 a trust was set up in his memory. The aim was "to promote go amongst players under the age of 21 in the UK and at schools, colleges and other educational institutions."

As a result of the Castledine Trust's establishment the first British Schools Team Championship was held on 2nd March 1980 at Kingsthorpe Upper School in Northampton. Twelve teams for as far afield as Newcastle, Plymouth, Ipswich and Chelmsford attended. Robin Moore's Kings Norton, David Mascord's Richard Huish College (Taunton), and Clive Fraser's Leeds Grammar were the main contenders; it was the Leeds team that won all their games to claim the first title. Hampton, Westminster, St. Dunstan's, the home team and a reserve team completed the line-up.

Again 11 schools were represented a year later at Kings Norton on 1st March 1981. Again the Leeds team of Robert Burgess, Robin Pye (replacing Mike Bramson) and Tarquin Grossman won. They had to fight off a strong challenge though from the Richard Huish Team of Hugh Bellamy, Phil Slocombe and Tony Atkins (grades 9 to 11 kyu) and from Monmouth School, led by Quentin Mills (shodan). For a second time Toby Manning and Stuart Dowsey organised the event, and Birmingham Club provided some teaching.

The 1982 event was at Madeley Secondary School in Staffordshire on 28th February. Leeds Grammar finished in their usual position. The Richard Huish club had all but folded, due to both teacher and players leaving, and so Thornleigh Salesian College (Bolton) were second and St. Dunstan's (Jeremy Hawdon's school from south London) were third. In 1983 the championship was held as an experiment in the south. Only two other teams turned up to contest Leeds' title at Campion School (Hornchurch) on 6th March. The poor turnout was blamed on bad advertising. Even so, the 1984 championship moved back north. On 1st April (no joke) Leeds were the hosts, but failed to win on home territory. Newcomers Furze Platt Comprehensive (Maidenhead) were the winners under direction of France Ellul, who got the team strong in a short time. Leigh Rutland, aged 13, at 10 kyu led the team and was picked to represent Europe at the first World Youth Go Championship in Taiwan.

Furze Platt hosted the 1985 event on 10th March, having already hosted the first British Youth (or Junior) Go Championship on 13th October 1984. Four schools were represented by the eight teams. Furze Platt's A Team of Leigh Rutland, Simon Carter and Benedict Prynn retained the Castledine Trophy. Close behind were Sam Perlo-Freeman and his friends from Woodroffe School (Lyme Regis). Next were Furze Platt D, Luton Sixth Form College and St. Dunstan's A. Matthew Macfadyen, Francis Roads and Andy Finch (then Book Distributor) dropped in, and Equity and Law Plc were sponsors of what was a very enjoyable day. Even the BGA secretary-elect ended up playing a game (for Luton)!

Although the 1986 Youth Championships were held at Lyme Regis in July, because of the teachers' dispute the Team Championship was not held until 6th December. The venue was a scout hut in Cookham near Maidenhead, and only two schools played, Furze Platt beating Woodroffe 2-1. The temporary decline was no doubt caused by the previous industrial action. On 22nd November 1987 the scout hut was again the venue. Furze Platt's Leigh Rutland, Michael Carr and Nicola Oswald won again, equaling the Leeds run. It was nice to see new faces: Alex Eve's Stowe School team played and brought with them a team of Japanese from the Milton Keynes Gyosei School.

6th November 1988 saw the tournament move to a new regular home of Stowe School with its magnificent landscaped gardens and swimming pool. Furze Platt won a fifth time, beating St. Dunstan's. This time a beginners' tournament was run by Simon Goss, which was also won by a Furze Platt team. Again at Stowe on 19th November 1989 there were six teams and three schools. Furze Platt won again by beating their B team. France Ellul's new protgs, Brakenhale School (Bracknell) were third. The small board event was won by Swanbourne House, Buckingham.

The 1990 event was held over until 1991 and Furze Platt not only won the seventh Schools Championship on 17th March 1991, but went on to win their eighth title, on home ground exactly eight months later, and a ninth title at Stowe on 18th October 1992. Had the 1993 event been held before the summer they would have surely won a tenth; by the time it was held at Brakenhale on 16th January 1994, the top Furze Platt players Sam Beaton (2 dan) and Chris Dawson (1 dan) had left for university. France Ellul's new players at Brakenhale were able to step in and take the Maidenhead school's place at the top. It had taken since their first appearance in November 1989 for them to get sufficient strong players to take the title. On home ground they went on to win the 1994 title (played on 22nd January 1995) and then the 1995 title unchallenged on 10th June. At that time no Brakenhale players were in the Under 18 section at the Youth and their top player David King was pushing shodan, so it looked like another long run at the top was coming .

In 1992 a side event was started: the Schools Lightning Championship. Interestingly there were four winners in four years: Furze Platt, Culcheth (Cheshire), Commonweal (Swindon) and Brakenhale. However after 1995 the schools championship went into decline. It was effectively merged with the British Youth Go Championships and the title was awarded to Brakenhale unchallenged as the other youth players were either individuals, families or youth clubs such as the Cambridge Junior Go and Chess Club. In 1999 France Ellul left Brakenhale school and a new Berkshire Youth Go Club was founded by Simon Goss to continue the teaching input in the Bracknell area. Although there are more than a dozen school clubs around the country, there seemed little impetus for them to travel to go events and the future of the Schools Championship title seemed in doubt.

Only Brakenhale again had enough players to stake a claim in 2000; in 2001 they failed to bring enough players to Abingdon, but Bloxham School did. So Hugh Alexander's lads from near Banbury became the fourth ever and worthy holders of the Castledine Trophy, which some thought would never see the light of day outside of Bracknell ever again. They hosted the event in March 2002, but a team from the Junior Chess and Go Club in Cambridge won; they became the first non-school team to win the Castledine Trophy.

In 2003 the play-off match was played six a side which allowed a draw for the first time, between the previous two winners. From 2004 on it was played on a points system at the BYGC, if a head-to-head match was not possible, but sometimes only one team was in contention.

WINNERS:

  • 1980-1983 Leeds Grammar School
  • 1984-1992 Furze Platt School
  • 1993-2000 Brakenhale School
  • 2001 Bloxham School
  • 2002 Cambridge Junior Chess and Go Club
  • 2003 Cambridge Junior Chess and Go Club/Bloxham School
  • 2004-2008 King Edward VI School, Aston
  • 2009-2012 Loughborough Grammar


Last updated Sun Apr 15 2012. If you have any comments, please email the webmaster on web-master AT britgo DOT org.