The 22nd European Youth Go Championships were held this year in the alpine University town of Grenoble in France, with an impressive 229 entrants.
The UK team of 10 was co-ordinated by the British Go Association (BGA), accompanied throughout by the designated UK Team Leader, Martin Harvey from Manchester, and ably assisted by parents of 6 of the children.
Kindly sponsored by DeepMind (whose logo looked great on the smart, team hoodies they provided, as in the picture), the UK team faced players from 17 European countries, from as far away as Ukraine and Russia.
The event was run in three age groups and our players were generally towards the younger end of each group. Despite this handicap, there were many creditable performances.
In the age group for Under-12s, our youngest team member, 7-year-old George Han from Bexley (see the picture), finished high up, in 15th place out of the 92 in the group.
Our 5 players in the U16 group were also age-disadvantaged. Zaki Betesh from Cheadle Hulme School, Manchester, did well to finish 22nd out of 79, while our youngest player in this group, Edmund Smith from Cambridge (who despite his age of 11 did not qualify for the Under-12’s group) also did very well, winning 4 of the 6 rounds, to finish 25th. Unfortunately Oscar Selby (Epsom) was unable to miss school for the third day, finishing 34th, while Daniel Gascoyne (aged 14, Cheadle Hulme) and Hilary Bexfield (aged 13, Letchworth) - both in their first entry at this age group - each won two games, finishing 60th and 74th.
In the U20 group, totalling 52 competitors, we fielded four players, of whom three were aged 16 (Charlotte Bexfield from Letchworth, and Jacob Haynes and Tom Bradbury, both from Cheadle Hulme) and even the oldest (Roella Smith, Cambridge) was only 17! Naturally they struggled against their more-experienced adversaries. Nonetheless, they finished between 39th and 48th in this section. They won 11 games and lost 13, but that's not so much "unlucky 13" as 13 opportunities for learning.
Some of our players took the option of manually recording their games on paper, for later analysis and learning, as electronic devices were not permitted (understandable though annoyingly from this aspect).
The long weekend provided an exciting adventure for all the team. New friendships were forged, along with new culture and languages. Of course, much Go was also learned. We feel the UK has many years ahead of improved prospects.
Looking to the years ahead, this year's players will gain from the Grenoble event, and we are confident that their performances will improve, as they rise further up their sections with more years' experience. The team are already looking forward to next year’s event in Kiev. We also have a promising batch of youngsters behind the scenes, some just a little young and inexperienced at present to join the full UK travelling squad.
The team would like to thank the BGA, the European Go Federation, the French organisers led by Jose Olivares Flores, and last but not least DeepMind. The latter's generous support - married to the longstanding and hard-working BGA - means we can all be proud of the level that UK Youth have already attained and what they are likely to achieve in the years to come.
Martin Harvey, UK EYGC 2017 team leader