Chapter 7 Planning a Tournament

Chapter 7
Planning a Tournament

This chapter contains information and advice for those considering organising their own go tournament. Most of the information is directed towards one-day tournaments, although section 7.8 deals with the extra considerations required for longer events.

7.1 Date and Venue

You should start planning a date and venue at least four months in advance. Naturally, choice of date will have an impact on the availability of venues, so it is good to be as flexible as possible for both. The BGA Tournament Coordinator can help you find a suitable date, although the tournament calendar, available on the BGA web site, can also help. It is obviously preferable that your tournament does not clash with another event; however, this does not matter so much if the two events are taking place several hundred miles apart, as there are not likely to be many people hoping to go to both! Also try not to choose a date too close to other nearby tournaments. Please contact the Tournament Coordinator for advice about your selected date.

When deciding on a venue, there are several factors you should take into account.

Hire cost
This is perhaps the most important, as it will typically be the largest cost of your event and will therefore have the greatest impact on your entry fee. Consider, given the hire cost, how many entries you will need to break even.
How many entries are you expecting? Although it is not easy to know the answer to this, particularly for a new tournament, it is still good to have a target in mind in order to set a budget, and to ensure that you have an appropriately sized venue.
Will there be enough tables available at the venue, or will you need to hire extra? Will they be the right size for a go board, stones and a clock? Try to give people as much elbow room as possible.
Tea and Coffee
Will you be able to provide tea and coffee and other refreshments? Some venues have a kitchen area available; if not, you will need to make alternative arrangements (perhaps there is a nearby coffee shop). Also note that go players eat more biscuits than you can possibly imagine, so providing some along with tea and coffee is a good idea.
Will you provide lunch? Some tournaments provide a buffet (although most do not). You should also consider how near the venue is to a restaurant, pub, or sandwich shop, and display a map at the tournament.
How easy is it to get to the venue by public transport? Is there car parking available? In particular, you should be sure that the cars carrying books and equipment can park nearby!

You should also check that the lighting and heating are adequate. Many lecture rooms and suchlike venues are only adequately lit at one end, and although it is not very difficult to obtain extra lights by asking for them in advance, it can be almost impossible to do so at 5 p.m. on a Sunday when the problem becomes apparent.

Once you have decided on a date and venue you should send the details to the BGA Tournament Coordinator, who will add your tournament to the calendar.

7.2 Format

Most tournaments in the UK are run on the McMahon system, with three rounds (see Chapter 9 for details). However, this does not mean you should have to follow this format - in fact, it suggests that you should try something different, as many people would prefer a variety of formats. Some other formats which have been tried include:

  • Four or five round McMahon, with faster time limits (e.g. Wanstead, Wessex, Fife)
  • Bar-Low tournaments (with a maximum entry grade, e.g. Scottish Bar-Low, Cambridge Bar-Low).
  • Handicap tournaments (e.g. West Surrey)
  • Handicap tournament with a top group (e.g. Cheshire, Liverpool)

You should decide the format well in advance, and inform the BGA Tournament Coordinator so that he can include it with the tournament details. See Chapter 11 for a discussion of the various tournament formats you might consider other than McMahon.

Tournament Class

The results of BGA tournaments will in most circumstances count towards EGF ratings. Ratings are weighted according the tournament class, and the format you choose for your tournament will determine its class. Tournament classes recognised by the EGF are determined as follows:

  • Class A, minimum 60 minutes main time, minimum 75 minutes adjusted time.
  • Class B, minimum 40 minutes main time, minimum 50 minutes adjusted time.
  • Class C, minimum 25 minutes main time, minimum 30 minutes adjusted time.

Adjusted time is the main time plus the time to make 60 moves in overtime. Other tournaments (such as lightning or small board tournaments) are unclassified and do not count towards ratings.

The tournament coordinator will add this information to the calendar, although it may be chaged at the discretion of the EGF ratings committee. You may also demote the class if the lower class better suits your intentions (e.g. if you are trying a new tournament system). In this case, you should let the tournament coordinator know, and include the information in your publicity.

7.3 Publicity

The two principal methods of publicising a tournament are through the BGA web site, and the newsletter. When you have sent the details to the Tournament Coordinator, the information will be posted on the web site and added to the newsletter for you. However, there are some extra things you can do which make this more effective:

7.3.1 Tournament Website

It is useful to create a tournament website with further information about your event; the tournament coordinator will place a link to this on the calendar. The BGA can host a small website for you. This website can include the following information:

  • Location of tournament, including a map and details of access by public transport and by car.
  • Date, and closing date for entries (and late entry fee, if any)
  • Times for registration and for start and end of play (usually about 10.00 to 18.00, but check arrival times of suitable trains)
  • Details of meal arrangements / accommodation.
  • Details of prizes.
  • Time limits, number of games, rules.
  • Entry fees and who to pay cheques to.
  • Name, email address and phone number for enquiries.

In addition, it is good to have an online entry form, to make it as easy as possible to enter - the Tournament Coordinator can help with this. You should request at least: name, playing strength, club, whether they are a concession (e.g. student or unemployed) and whether they are a member of the BGA (see section 7.6.1 for details of the BGA levy).

Nowadays, most people will enter your tournament online, whether by email or through an online entry form. It is good practice to acknowledge receipt of entries.

You will probably find, no matter how far in advance you announce your tournament, that most of the entries are received in the fortnight before the event. This is, of course, partly because there are other tournaments going on in the mean time. Therefore, you should not be too worried if entries appear to be coming in slowly!

7.3.2 Flyers/Entry Forms

It is also possible to include an entry form or tournament flyer with the BGA newsletter. This should include the same information as on your website. Typically, it is sufficient to send an email to the editor with the entry form in .doc format. Note that many members get their newsletter by email — these will get most of the information about your tournament from the event's web page.

Copy dates for the newsletter are normally near the start of even numbered-months (February, April, June, August, October, December). The general recommendation is that tournament entry forms should be sent out with the newsletter printed one to three months before the date of the tournament, however longer, residential tournaments may wish to give more notice. The cost of circulating your entry form is one of the services covered by the levy. The newsletter editor will usually contact you two or three months in advance of your tournament with details of how to get your entry form sent out.

It may also be worth taking some of your entry forms to other tournaments which take place shortly before your event, although you will have to print these yourself.

7.3.3 Email Announcements

You may also announce your tournament on the gotalk email list. The number of emails you send to the list should be kept within reasonable limits - one announcement, about two or three weeks in advance of the tournament, should probably be sufficient.

You can also contact secretaries of other local clubs to announce the tournament on their club email lists, since not all of their members will necessarily be BGA members, or subscribed to the gotalk email list. Again, one announcement should be sufficient.

7.3.4 Other Forms Of Publicity

Word of mouth is always an effective form of publicity, particularly for new tournaments. It is worth visiting local clubs (if you have any) and encouraging people to enter. In particular, you are likely to find several double figure kyus who would like to enter but who think they are "not strong enough for a tournament". This is of course incorrect - it is helpful to explain that there are likely to be other double figure kyus entering, and that most tournament systems allow for games between players of greatly differing strength. You can also consider a novices' tournament (see section 8.5.1).

You can try to promote Go, and your local club, by getting a story about your tournament into the local media. If you live near a university, it is particularly worth contacting the editors of any student newpapers as universities are a fruitful source of new players, and many students do read these newspapers. Pictures taken with a digital camera can be e-mailed to local newspapers together with a press release. This saves them doing any work and can result in good coverage in the local papers. A sample press release is given in Appendix C.

An important follow-up to such publicity is for the organiser or his assistants to be prepared to teach beginners who come along just to see what the game is about.

7.4 Timetable

You should work out an approximate timetable for the rounds in advance. Make sure there is enough time between rounds - allow at least 20 minutes for any unexpectedly slow games or any difficulties with the draw. Remember to take overtime periods into account; it is quite possible to play through several overtime periods of 30 stones in 5 minutes, but very difficult to get through 50 stones in 5 minutes.

Remember to allow enough time for a lunch break (around an hour). If you are playing more than four rounds in a day, you might also consider a short break (say 30 minutes) during the afternoon to give people a chance to recover before the final rounds.

Some people will have trains or buses to catch, therefore you should publish an expected latest time for the prizegiving so that they can make plans. Make sure that you include enough slack in your timetable so that it is almost impossible to exceed this time! It is usually difficult even to start the first round on time, due to late arrivals.

7.5 Prizes

The usualr way of allocating prizes is to give the biggest prize for the best score above the bar, and further prizes for all those with some number of wins. However, one does not know in advance how many winners there will be. Special prizes can also be awarded to people who have done well without winning any of the other prizes, or to juniors. Some tournaments also have a team competition, and award prizes to the team with the best combined results in the main tournament.

If you intend to award a prize for all results equal to or better than some number of wins, you should decide whether to allow jigos (by having integer komi) and if so, whether the qualifying number should be an integer. You may prefer to wait and see how things turn out before you decide what result is good enough for a prize. If you allow jigos you will have more flexibility in this.

Commonly awarded prizes are wine, chocolate or books (but do be careful not to award alcoholic prizes to children!). You may also want to buy a trophy (although many tournaments do not; it is difficult to get a Go themed trophy!) or award a cash prize, if your budget allows it.

7.6 Entry Fee

When deciding upon an entry fee, remember that the following expenses will have to be covered:

  • Administrative expenses: printing entry forms, postage, telephone, miscellaneous stationery
  • Hire of rooms
  • Prizes
  • Cost of meals (if relevant), tea and coffee
  • Publicity
  • BGA levy (see section 7.6.1)

You should aim to make a surplus on the tournament, which can go towards purchasing new books or equipment for your club. Note that there are usually several people who enter in the day or two before the tournament, or even who just turn up on the day. If you need to know numbers in advance (e.g. to make catering arrangements), it is therefore wise to set a closing date for entries and include a late entry fee, payable by those entering after the closing date.

Look at other events to get an idea of the going rates. Obviously, it is reasonable to charge more for a two day event (to cover room hire and the BGA levy) or if you are providing food.

7.6.1 BGA Levy

The BGA Levy is a fee paid by tournaments to the BGA in exchange for use of the BGA tournament equipment (sets, clocks, laptop, software and mobile phone), public liability and loss/damage insurance, publicity and submission of results to the rating system. The tournament levy is not charged for youth events and is intended to approximately cover the costs associated with the provision of these facilities on an annual basis, including equipment replacement and travel costs.

There is no requirement for tournament organisers to relate entry charges to the levy charge. Current details are here.

7.7 Miscellaneous Points

7.7.1 Getting Equipment

The BGA can provide up to 100 go sets, boards and mechanical clocks for your event to use. Some of these are superior sets which are normally only used for special events. The normal tournament sets come in multiples of 12 (some loads have 15 clocks to cover for break downs).

Usually volunteers carry sets from one event to the next. This is arranged through the Tournament Coordinator. Clearly it may be more reliable and helpful if you collect some sets from the previous event, although this is not a requirement. The Tournament Coordinator will contact you some time before your tournament to arrange equipment. You will need to estimate how many sets you will require (obviously this will be half as many as there are players). This is not always an easy thing to do for a new tournament, but the Tournament Coordinator will be able to help based on the number of entries you have had so far.

7.7.2 Laptop

There is a laptop with a printer available for the use of tournament organisers. To arrange use of the laptop, contact Geoff Kaniuk (draw-program at britgo dot org).

7.7.3 BGA shop

The BGA no longer has a Book shop.

7.7.4 Public Liability Insurance

The BGA has public liability insurance that covers all BGA affiliated events. For more details of exactly what is covered, please contact the BGA Treasurer.

7.7.5 Social Event

Many people travel to tournaments not just for the Go, but in order to meet and talk to other Go players. Also remember that some people may have travelled a long way to come to your event. A social event, for example going for a meal after the tournament, is one way to make your tournament more enjoyable and memorable for these people, and may help attract them back in future years.

7.7.6 Accommodation

Even for a one day event, there may be people who would like to travel and will require accommodation, particularly those in remote parts of the country which do not hold many local tournaments. Sometimes, local people are willing to offer accommodation (e.g. a spare room or a sofa) to those who would not otherwise be able to afford to attend (particularly students). However, people do not like to ask, so you should make it known (for example on the gotalk mailing list) if such accommodation is available. Note that it is better to give priority to students and unemployed.

7.8 Longer Events

If you are organising a two day event (such as the Scottish Open or Welsh Open) there are some extra things you can do both to encourage people to come to the tournament, and to make the tournament more enjoyable. There are also some further organisational things you need to consider.

  • It will be more difficult to find a suitable venue for a two day event at a weekend. In particular, you are unlikely to get a Church Hall on a Sunday, and many other venues are closed on Sundays. Some places to try are hotels or pubs with function rooms (although you may have to pay a little more for these), local schools (they may not necessarily advertise that they have rooms for hire, but it is worth asking) or universities (if you have a contact at a local university, you may find that they can hire a room for free or very cheaply).
  • You may attract people from further afield for a two day event, and they will require overnight accommodation. You should at least do some research into local accommodation, and give information on your website. You should also be prepared to answer any queries from potential attendees about accommodation.
  • Consider when people might be travelling; if you start later on Saturday (e.g. around lunch time) this allows people time to travel on Saturday and save the cost of one night's accommodation.
  • Organising some kind of social event is particularly important for longer events. Advertising a place to meet on Friday evening and booking a restaurant on Saturday evening is a good and simple way to do this. When booking a restaurant, it is difficult to have any idea of numbers, so asking people to sign up by, say, mid-afternoon if they want to come is a good idea.

7.9 British Go Congress

Apart from the three-stage British Championship, which is run by the BGA, tournaments are run by clubs. The exception is the British Go Congress which is run by a club on behalf of the BGA. The organiser is usually agreed a year in advance and offers from clubs are always welcome.

The British Go Congress is a weekend event, including the British Lightning championship on Friday evening, and the British Open. The weekend also features the BGA AGM. The British Open is a six round McMahon tournament, with one hour each on the clock. It is residential, with accommodation usually in halls of residence or a hotel. You may also let people find their own accommodation. Full board should normally be offered. As a rough guide, the 2004 British Congress in Milton Keynes attracted 67 entries, and the 2005 Congress in Leicester attracted 61.

A congress bank account should be opened, with two signatures required for withdrawals, as the amount of money handled can exceed £5000. The work can conveniently be split between one person responsible for accommodation and money, and one responsible for the tournament itself.

Since this is a large event, there is an associated financial risk. The club organising a Congress has two options: they can either take all the risk, and do whatever they wish with any profit; or have the BGA underwrite the risk (against a documented budget approved by Council) in which case any profit is shared 50-50 between the BGA and the organising club.

Last updated Sat Dec 31 2011. If you have any comments, please email the webmaster on web-master AT britgo DOT org.