Chapter 3 Publicity For Clubs

Chapter 3
Publicity For Clubs

Publicity is very important for Go clubs, since a large proportion of the population have not even heard of the game. Some of these people would become keen Go players once they knew what the game was about.

3.1 Publicity for New Go Clubs

A good time for concentrated publicity is when a club is about to start meeting in a reasonably sized venue, possibly as an expansion from a small group meeting in a member’s house. After finding a suitable venue (see section 2.1), it is necessary to fix upon a day for the first meeting; this should allow sufficient time for advance preparation (say 4-6 weeks).

There are various ways of publicising the opening of a Go club. Posters, which can be obtained free from the BGA Secretary, should be displayed at work or school. Even better is to place notices at the local university or technical college, since students often take to Go quickly and spread the game amongst themselves. Advertisements should be placed in the personal columns of local newspapers (especially student newpapers) and in newsagents' windows. Notices should be placed in local libraries, and also in members' windows. Contact the BGA Membership Secretary to establish whether there are any unattached members already in your area who can be approached to join. Finally, a good way to spread Go is to talk about the game - many people who would ignore other publicity try out the game because a friend of a friend plays Go.

3.2 Regular Publicity

A major publicity effort is essential to get a new club started. However, it is also very important to maintain a smaller amount of continuous publicity, since a club needs a steady flow of new members in order to keep going. Furthermore, if there have been no recent recruits to the club, a beginner who does turn up is often put off by the high standard. Most clubs will not be able to spend any money on regular publicity, but there is still a lot that can be done.

The first thing is to maintain some of the initial publicity by keeping up posters and notices for as long as possible. Your local public library will normally be willing to display a small card giving details of your go club, which should include where and when it meets, a website address, who to contact for information (with email address and telephone number) and a few words about the game itself. Go should also be covered in any lists of local societies; these are often organised by libraries, newspapers and information services.

It is also worth putting a card in any local board games shop; some shops have a board of contact cards for various game-related groups and these often attract new visitors to your club.

Although a local newspaper will not want to publish regular articles about the game itself, it may be interested in results of club matches and of local players in tournaments, particularly if they win prizes. Another way to generate publicity is to organise a tournament (see Chapter 7 for details).

3.3 Club Web Site

Many people find out about go, and their local clubs, through the internet. It is therefore essential for a club to have an up to date website, listing meeting times and places, with directions (it is easy to link to a map using Google maps, streetmap or multimap) and contact details. The site should also state that the club is open to and welcomes visitors. The BGA website maintains a list of clubs and provides a small amount of free web space (up to 50kB) to BGA affiliated Go clubs. If you want your club to have its own page, but have nowhere to host it, just send the webmaster an email containing the text (in html if you can manage it) and any graphics.

3.4 Open Evenings and Freshers' Fairs

It is easier to keep beginners keen on go if they have other beginners of the same standard to play against. Partly for this reason, and partly to make teaching easier, it is a good idea to try to recruit a large number of beginners at the same time, and the best way to do this is to run widely publicised open evenings every year or so.

3.4.1 Timing and Publicity

In university clubs such events should obviously be run at the beginning of the academic year, in other clubs the best time is less easy to determine, but the Autumn is usually best. Even if you are not a university club, it is worth targetting local universities at the beginning of the academic year. Contact the students union at the beginning of the summer to get details of when they hold their Freshers' Fair. There will usually be a small charge for this, but it can be worth it in terms of the numbers of people who then come to the open evening.

The vital thing about an open evening is that it should be widely advertised. Local libraries and the local press are a good start, but deliberate raids on the chess and bridge clubs in the area have the great advantage of concentrating on people known to have a propensity for playing games in clubs. There may also be groups in your area which meet to play other games such as Dungeons and Dragons or Othello which can be raided in the same manner. Games shops are a good source of information on the whereabouts of such groups.

3.4.2 Running the Open Evening

When it comes to actually running the open evening the important thing is to spend as little time as is absolutely necessary teaching the rules, and to get people to play as many games as possible reasonably quickly (chess players in particular have a tendency to spend far too long thinking in their first few games) and only using 9x9 boards. Photocopied small boards will usually suffice but look a bit tacky.

How you run the open evening depends on the sort of people who turn up. In particular, teaching adults requires a different approach from teaching children. One way of running an open evening goes as follows:

  1. One of the club's stronger players gives a short talk introducing the basic rules and some background to the game. If you have access to a demonstration board, or even a computer and projector, with which to demonstrate the rules, so much the better. However, it is important to keep this short, perhaps no more than 10 minutes. Remember that people have come to play! It is better to leave out such details as ko and life and death, as people will have difficulty taking everything in.
  2. If there are enough experienced players present, get each one to play a beginner. During the first games, you can explain any gaps left by the introductory talk, such as ko.
  3. Get the beginners playing each other. Your goal at this stage is to make people come back to the club, and if they know there are others of about the same strength, this is more likely to happen. Be prepared to answer questions; people will ask in particular about the life and death status of groups, and whether the game is over.
  4. Above all, be friendly and welcoming! Particularly if you have a group of adults, it is good to finish with some kind of social event, even if this is just going to the pub, to get to know the newcomers. It is not unusual to find that they want to continue playing Go over a pint!

There are other approaches you can take. Some people have success teaching large groups (particularly groups of children) by beginning with First Capture Go, then moving on when dead stones stop being overlooked. Many bright children discover ko and even life and death for themselves this way.

Last updated Tue Jul 28 2009. If you have any comments, please email the webmaster on web-master AT britgo DOT org.