This document is now superseded by a revised and updated version.
This page is derived from a scan of the BGA "Organisers' Handbook". The handbook is now very hard to obtain, but is a useful document, so it has been made available here. Much of the information in it is dated: this should be obvious.
Text in [square brackets] is the opinion of the webmaster, and carries no authority.
The British Go Association
The various chapters contain gleanings from many years' experience of go organisation, but everyone has his own favourite ways of doing things, and anyone who feels that his preferred methods or ideas are missing, or are not covered adequately, should write to the BGA with suggestions, so that future editions can include the benefit of his experience as well.
Throughout, for brevity and convenience, a player is referred to as "he," since the majority of players at present are male, despite the growing number of female players.
This edition was prepared by Tony Atkins and was word-processed by Brian Timmins [and scanned and converted to html by Nick Wedd]. It updates the 1983 edition with changes to rules determining qualifiers, and also covers computers in go.
Material contained herein may be copied as long as it is done to further the interests
of go playing and is credited to the BGA.
1.1 Aims and ObjectivesThe British Go Association (affiliated to the European Go Federation and to the International Go Federation) is a voluntary organisation with elected officials which exists to promote the game of go within the British Isles.
Membership is open to all go players on payment of a small annual subscription. Services offered by the Association (BGA) include the following:
1.2 Officials of the British Go AssociationThe BGA has a council consisting of President, Treasurer, Secretary and five ordinary members. There are various committees which report to the council, covering topics such as schools, grading and publicity.
1.3 Annual General MeetingThe Association's AGM is held during the British Go Congress, and is where the annual reports are presented, the council is elected, and motions are presented, suen as changes to the Association's constitution.
2: Starting a ClubOnce you have a nucleus of players (and this can be as little as two) you ran start to arrange regular meetings. These can be weekly, which is probably best, or less frequently such as fortnightly or monthly. An initial venue can be a member's front room; once established there, you can contemplate expansion. Many go clubs have originated in this manner.
Of the other possibilities for a venue, the commonest is one associated with a member's occupation. This includes a universfty (if he is a student or a lecturer), firm, or social club attached to a firm. The great advantages are that these are generally cheap - financial assistance may even be available - and usually fairly salubrious. Publicfty aimed at fellow employees is often successful, but it may be more difficult to attract non employees. Rules for social clubs are often quite strict, but only so as to cater for licensing laws, and a method to include non employees is usuayly not difficult to find. You should discuss the situation with officials of the social club.
Other possible venues are church halls, coffee bars, pubs, etc. They all have their pros and cons, and local intelligence will often generate some ideas. If you do not know where to start looking, find out where the local chess players meet. The public library should be able to provide that information.
One of the major problems when a club is started is that of equipment. The BGA can help here by loaning sets for a short period while the club gets going. Ultimately, of course, the club should be self-supporting.
To this end, it is recommended that small charges are made. Most clubs have two types of fee: an annual fee and a board fee for each evening. The BGA subscriptions should be added to the annual fee. It is recommended that the board fees should do more than cover the cost of the room (if any); the surplus can be used to purchase equipment or books for a club library. Typical fees might be £10 per annum, including BGA membership, and £1 per evening, with appropriate re ductions for those in full-time education etc. [These figures are for 1983 or earlier, and should be adjusted for inflation.] The details will, however, depend on local circumstances and many clubs operate free apart from the BGA subscription. Many established clubs are funded by the profits of running a tournament.
Usually there is one person, the prime mover, who starts the club going, but he should not see it as a one man show. He should delegate obs wherever possible, as this will help to ensure the continuity of the club if he should leave the district. Typical jobs are Secretary, Treasurer and Equipment Officer/Librarian. None of these duties is particularly onerous, but people tend to be shy of volunteering, yet will do the job enthusiastically if asked. The appointment of a publicity officer could be worthwhile, especially if there is someone with a flair for it.
Some go clubs are officially set up with a bank account and a constitution. Others have neither. If you want to have a bank account, and one is recommended if you intend to run tournaments, you will probably need to have a constitution. This does not need to be particularly elaborate; the only important thing is to clarify the means by which the members can check that their money is being looked after properly. A model constitution sufficient for most purposes is as follows:
Constitution of the ___________ Go Club
It is, of course, possible to be far more precise about these matters and also to define details
of the many other aspects of club management, but in practice such items tend to be forgotten or
ignored or, worse, they absorb time and effort which would be better spent playing go. [Many
Go Clubs have never had a constitution nor an AGM.]
A good way to generate free publicity is to write articles for local newspapers. These are frequently short of news and will normally cooperate [however no-one reads them], especially if a photograph of people playing go can be supplied. The article must give a short description of the game, including something about its history, and should mention the handicapping system. Recent achievements of local players should also be noted, even if these have to be stretched somewhat. It must be emphasised that beginners are welcome and will be taught how to play. In addition to giving the venue, date and time of the first meeting, the article should also give a contact address and telephone number, in order to cater for people who are interested in go but cannot attend the first meeting of the club.
There are various other ways of publicising the opening of a go club. Posters, which can be
obtained free from the BGA, 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 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.
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, who to contact for information (with 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.
Although a local newspaper will not want to publish regular articles about the game itself,
it will 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 8 for details).
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.
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 such ephemeral games 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.
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 probably only using small boards. Photocopied
small boards will usually suffice but look a bit tacky.
Some go clubs, particularly at universities, have certain meetings where more than one
beginner turns up. Others rarely see more than one new player at a time. In either case,
the rules of go need to be explained. Since it is important for this to be done clearly,
players at the club who expect to teach beginners should think beforehand about what approach
they intend to adopt. The various leaflets available may be useful for this purpose (e.g. the
BGA How to Play Go). Teaching with a board, and with the subject able to ask questions is,
however, a rather different task from teaching simply through a written text. The following
scheme is one possibility. You may choose to do things quite differently, but the important
thing is to have some sort of plan before you start.
4.2 Starting to playAt this point the beginner should know enough to start playing. (Many people prefer not to mention ko, seki or suicide until after the beginner has played several games; certainly joke positions like bent four in the corner should be left for later. If there are two or more beginners, they should play amongst themselves. Do not say more than a few words about strategy or tactics at this stage. The beginners should play their first game on a 9 x 9 or 10 x 10 board in order to clarify their understanding of the rules. After this, the person who taught the rules should say a few words about the third and fourth lines (using a full board) and describe the importance of the corners. Put a stone at the 4-4 point, play out the standard invasion joseki and explain that the resulting influence is normally worth more than the corner territory. The beginners should then play out one or two games on a 13 x 13 board before trying a full-sized board.
Things are not so easy if there is only one beginner at the club. Clearly he is to play against established players, but it is important for these people to realise that it will be some time before they can have a "real" game against the new player. It is equally important for the beginner not to be aware of this fact. The beginner should start by playing a 4-stone game on a 9 x 9 board; remember that the purpose of the first few games is to establish the rules. The strongest player should aim to win by a small margin (less than 10 points) or even lose. After this, the beginner should be taught something about general strategy, including the elements of using a 9 stone handicap on a full board, the idea being to enable him to take 9 stones from the weakest players in the club as soon as possible.
A method which has proved useful in teaching children is to give Black a solid square of stones, instead of isolated stones on the star points. For a complete beginner playing against a shodan this should occupy the whole of the fifth line from the edge. As soon as Black learns to separate the white groups the wall can be moved up to the sixth line, and then to the seventh. From here it is a small step to 9 stones. An advantage of this approach is that it becomes easy to teach the effective strategic use of solid positions.
Currently there are several go-playing programs on the market which mostly run on IBM PCs and
compatibles. They are a good way of encouraging beginners to play and improve. In a few years
dan-level programs will be available. If a club can acquire a program it would be a worthwhile
investment. The other game recording and studying programs available are also worth investigating.
The rungs of the ladder form a vertical scale which represents the grading system. Every member of the group has a marker on one of these rungs. Each grade is divided into several subdivisions, each of which is represented by one rung. Every time a player wins a game he goes up one rung and every time he loses a game he goes down one. The handicap for a game is simply the difference between the current grades of the players, giving, say, 5 points komi for each grade over.
Levels should be closer together at the top of the ladder than at the bottom; this automatically allows weaker players to change grade faster than stronger ones. There are various ways of dividing up the grades. One suggestion is as follows:
1 dan+ 0.1 grade per rung 1-6 kyu 0.2 grade per rung 7-16 kyu 0.5 grade per rung 17-24 kyu 1.0 grade per rungThe element of competition may be enhanced by giving a prize to the most rapidly improved player over some set period. This type of prize also has the advantage that it is easier for weaker players to win than for stronger ones.
The main problem with any sort of ladder is that, while it is very good at describing the relative strengths of the players involved, there is a tendency for the whole club to get stronger simultaneously and the ladder cannot reflect this. Some ways of introducing inflation automatically are: - Fix the bottom of the ladder, so that no player goes below (say) 25 kyu. - Fix the top of the ladder. If the strongest player has a well established grade (e.g. a dan player whose grade is controlled by the BGA) his ladder position can be anchored. - A player winning his third successive game can go up two rungs, instead of the usual one. - Promotion after winning several games in a tournament.
However the only reliable way to incorporate inflation into a ladder is to play games against members of other clubs and to keep a cheek on the result, shifting the whole club up a few notches if the members seem to be doing too well outside.
The physical ladder can be constructed in several ways. Usually some sort of wall chart is used. The players' names are put on small markers which can be moved up and down the ladder. The rungs should be made wide enough to take several players' names at once.
A different way of representing the ladder is to use a sheet of paper divided into columns. The left
hand column contains the names of the players and the second column gives their nominal grades. The
remaining columns contain new ladder grades updated after each game. This sort of ladder has the
advantage of portability, although it will need replacing at regular intervals.
If the club is a large one, such a tournament will last too long, and it may be better to divide the players into several divisions.
A club championship can be split into several stages. One format is for all but the strongest players
in the club to participate in a short knockout tournament, the winners of which qualify for places in
a league 'where they are joined by the strongest players. This idea can be stretched further by having
a 3 or 5 game playoff between the top two finishers in the league, and by allowing players who do well
in one year to start in a privileged position in the next tournament, but it should be remembered that
a protracted tournament will make it difficult for beginners to be catered for adequately.
In order to finish a tournament in one night, it is necessary to use small boards, or quick games, or both. 10 minutes of clock time for a double elimination knockout tournament (section 11.2) on 13 x 13 boards is about right. Exact details will depend on the number of players and the range of strengths. Small boards allow a much wider range of handicaps; 9 stones on a 13 x 13 board is about right for 25 grades difference. Some of the other systems discussed in section 1 1 may be found to be useful.
Finally, all clubs are encouraged to participate in leagues where these exist. In remote areas where this
is not possible, occasional matches with your nearest club can be organised. It may even be possible to play
a match by telephone with a really remote club. It is surprisingly easy to get sponsorship for such matches.
These events can be highly enjoyable and informative, but they require a considerable
amount of preparation by the person who is to give the talk.
The success, or otherwise, of such events depends almost entirely on the personalities involved;
some study groups generate highly successful social evenings which also contribute greatly to the
playing strength of those involved, while others degenerate consistently into acrimonious debate.
In any event, it is important not to allow such groups, whether meeting as part of a club night
or not, to form a clique from which beginners will feel excluded.
One important objective in teaching is to help people to look at familiar situations from a new
angle. In this respect, for example, an exercise held at Reading some years ago in which the whole
club spent an evening playing out the last 50 moves of a game (with different opponents, but always
starting from the same position) was extremely interesting.
It is important to find a non-playing organiser for your go tournament, since the work involved
in running a tournament is not confined to the time between rounds. If the organiser has not run
a tournament before, he should receive assistance when he makes the draw. This can be given by
one of the participants in the tournament; several BGA officers are willing to help if asked.
The other form of publicity is directed to the non go-playing public, in order to inform them of
the existence of the game and of the BGA. Tournaments provide excellent foci for such publicity,
and local newspapers, radio and TV should be informed of the event about two weeks beforehand. 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.
and should request the following information:
7.4 Entry feeWhen deciding upon an entry fee, remember that the following expenses will have to be covered:
You should aim to make a small surplus on the tournament, which can go towards purchasing new books or equipment for your club. Note that there are likely to be a number of people trying to enter after the closing date. It is therefore wise to include a late entry fee, payable by those entering after the closing date, if you need to know numbers in advance. Another useful deterrent is to allocate byes (if they are necessary) to the last people to enter, but avoid byes by having a floating organiser if numbers are not a problem.
It is good practice to acknowledge receipt of entries and entry fees. This can be made easier by asking for a stamped addressed envelope from each entrant. Maps can be sent out in reply if not on the entry form.
The BGA levy is currently (1990) 30p per round per person with a maximum of three rounds per
day chargeable. Students are 15p per round and non-members double. Longer tournaments may be
given concessions. The purpose of the levy is to cover cost of all advertising, support and
A shop selling go books and equipment can enhance your tournament. The BGA Book Distributor will often want to run such a shop. This will normally be arranged between the organiser and the Book Distributor.
Consideration should be given as to whether a side-line tournament such as a small-board tournament
can be run on a self-pairing basis. This sort of entertainment is particularly recommended if children
are in attendance. Other entertainment in the way of teaching or problem sheets may be worth considering
to keep the young minds occupied.
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. A lightning tournament may be run on the Friday or Saturday evening.
If a tournament is providing accommodation then the BGA can be approached to underwrite a potential loss
in return for a share of the profits. Contact the Treasurer for more details.
The British Lightning Championship is now held during the British Congress. The Small Board (13 x 13) Championship has not been held recently due to lack of interest.
Regular events for youngsters are the Schoois'Teams Championships and the British Youth Go Championships.
These are run by the Schools Committee.
Overtime has the advantage of removing the need for tedious byo-yomi counting, whereas 5 second byo-yomi or sudden death reduce the over-all length of rounds. Ensure that enough time is left between rounds to produce the draw, allowing for late-running games. This can sometimes require more than thirty minutes and it is advisable to have more than one organiser assigned to the draw when late running is detected.
In addition, ensure that enough time is allowed for the first round starting late because of late arrivals,
though this can usually be made up over lunch time.
A team tournament can easily be run, using the games from the individual tournament. Teams should be of a minimum size (say 4) and should be formed before the first round. The team with the highest percentage (excluding games between members) gets the prize. Games between two team members should be discounted.
If the number of participants is odd, it will be necessary to have a bye in each round. One method is to
allocate these byes to the last players to enter. A better method is for one of the organisers to be
prepared to play in the tournament only of players is odd.
[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.]
The card illustrated [above]
It is important for purposes of presentation of results that the players' identifying numbers should be in order of entry strength. This means that the numbers should not be allocated until the last possible moment (even during the first round).
Computer programs can be used to perform the draw. Long is the list of tournaments where a computer draw has failed [rarely happens now], so it is advised that before use programs are approved by the BGA Council [who know nothing about them]. Currently the only approved program is the Dutch McMahon program which is available for IBM PCs / compatibles. [In fact almost everyone uses Geoff Kaniuk's program.]
Without doing a full draw by computer, programs can often be used to collate and present results in a neat and
Here, for example, player no. 27 has won games in rounds 2, 3 and 5, and lost in rounds 1, 4, 7 and 8, scoring a jigo in round 6.
Players should be ordered according to their starting grades, and numbers should correspond with those on the cards used in making the draw.
In addition to this display (and even more important than it) a list of players' opponents and table numbers for
each round should be displayed, indicating clearly which player takes Black. This list can conveniently be used
for the players to record their results on (by underlining or circling the winner's name). For larger tournaments,
or for those wno prefer a more streamlined system, a separate result slip can be provided for each game for each
round, to be filled in and returned by the winner. If these slips are put on the boards at the start of the round,
the scrummage caused by large numbers of players trying to read the draw can be reduced, although this process
could slow down the draw considerably unless a computer print-out is used.
8.9 After the tournamentEnsure that results of the tournament are received by the British Go Newsletter, BGA Tournament Coordinator, Grading Committee and the press. [It is sufficient to give them to the BGA secretary. He will arrange for them to be sent to the BGA grading committee, the EGF grading program, the Newsletter, and the BGA webmaster. His preferred format is an output file from Geoff Kaniuk's program. The press will not be interested.] The BGA levy should be sent to the treasurer using the form provided. Arrangements shopuld be made for the BGA sets to reach the next tournament. Letters of thanks should be sent to any sponsors, including the owners of premises used.
9: A Model Set of RulesThese rules are designed for a one-day tournament run on the McMahon system. For most purposes it should be adequate to photocopy this page, and to make minor changes in red ink before posting ft on the tournament noticeboard. Pedants who prefer a more detailed formulation should use their own based on the set of championship rules.
Any different systems such as "Canadian" overtime or "flexible komi" (bidding for Black and the size of White's komi) should be described clearly in the rules. As regards bidding for komi, organisers may wish to stipulate the inclusion of a half point in order to avoid draws.
10: The McMahon SystemThe purpose of the McMahon system is to arrange that each participant plays as many games against as many opponents near to his own strength as possible, and has a chance to play against stronger opposition if he does well. The eventual winner will have played most of his nearest rivals by the end of the tournament.
The basic idea is that the established grading system is used only as a
starting point, and that each player is "promoted", for the purposes of
the tournament only, each time he wins a game.
Before each round the cards are arranged in order of current McMahon score (now you see why that number is written so large on the card). Players with highest score represented are then paired off, subject to the constraints described. If too many of them have already played each other, or if there is an odd number of them, some will have to be "drawn down" to join the group of players one point below. This pool is then paired off, and the process continues until the bottom of the draw is reached. In pratice, it may be found easier to work from the top, and then up from the bottom, and to do the middle (where the number of players on each score is greatest) last, since there will be more ways finding acceptable pairings in this area.
If players must be "misdrawn" then the same player should not be in the same direction too many times. No player should meet the same twice.
Towards the end of the tournament, or at the lower end of the draw, it may become necessary for players with McMahon scores differing by more than one to meet. In such cases, a handicap of one less than the difference in scores should be given. This practice is only recommended for the lower end of the draw, since stronger players usually prefer even games, and it should certainly not be applied if either player has a chance to win the tournament.
Colours are allocated so that each player receives the black and white stones the same number of times as far as possible. Apart from that, they are random, even if the scores are one different.
For the first round, don't arrange the players in alphabetical order. This would cause the same players to meet every year.
In later rounds, match players at random within each McMahon score. In particular, avoid biassing the draw by matching up the entry grades.
Also avoid pairing people from the same club except where a prize is at
stake. There is nothing worse than travelling 100 miles to play the people
you travelled up with and play every week.
Traditionally, ties have been resolved using the Sum of Opponents' McMahon Scores
(SOS), but there is much to be said for using the cumulative sum of scores, i.e.
simply adding up the score at the end of each round. This latter method is much
quicker to calculate and not obviously less fair.
Note: In effect the top players play a knock-out to determine the winner, so
there should not be more than 8 players above the bar for a 3 round or 16 players for
a 4 round tournament.
11.2 Double elimination knockout (Judan system)The principle here is that a simple knockout tournament is accompanied by a losers' tournament, in which all players who have lost exactly one game participate. The winners of the two tournaments then play off to determine the overall winner.
This system only works perfectly for numbers of players of the form 2 to the power of 2 to the n, (e.g. 16), otherwise there will be an odd number of players in the losers' section for at least one round, and byes will be necessary.
It shares the advantage of the simple knockout that the draw for each round is automatically complete when the previous round's results are known. Furthermore it guarantees that all players will get at least two games, and that three quarters of them will get at least three.
For 16 players, it takes two extra rounds to produce a result, but if there is time, the final game between the winners of the two sections can be replaced by a best-of-three match, so that everyone has to lose twice to be eliminated.
This system is recommended for use in one-night lightning tournaments, either
as club events or as incidental entertainment during congresses lasting more
than one day.
This system ensures that everybody gets plenty of games against roughly equal opposition, and can be used to arrange all the players in order, though ordering is pretty arbitrary, especially around the middle of the list.
The usual ordering system is to give the losing finalist 2nd place, the
losing semi-finalists 3rd and 4th, the losing quarter-finalists 5th to
8th etc., but this method puts a high premium on winning early - in a 32
player tournament the player placed 8th has won 2 out of 5 games, while
those placed 9th and 17th have 4 out of 5.
This type of system is easy to organise, and players will know in advance who their opponents will be. This may be considered important for the World Football cup, but seems pretty irrelevant in go.
Mathematically, this is an incredibly inefficient way of finding the best player. The larger the zones are, the more inefficient it becomes. The problem is that after two or three games, players with widely differing results are being matched against each other, and such games are unlikely to provide any new information.
This system is only recommended for lightning tournaments with more than
16 players - it is only in lightning tournaments that the small saving in
time gained by knowing who your next opponent will be is worthwhile.
This is the ideal system for an even game tournament in which there are too many players for an all-play-all. Details of organisation are exactly as for the McMahon system described in sections 8 and 10. (The McMahon system can be thought of as a generalised Swiss system.)
Ties at the end of the tournament can be resolved either by Sum of Opponents'
Scores (SOS) or by cumulative sum of wins. Neither of these methods is
completely satisfactory, and playoff games should be used for important
places if time permits.