The 26th London Open kicked off the millennium year in the United Kingdom. However the year 2000 parties tempted some people away from the go; only 99 took part whereas 1999 had seen a record 150. Also the prize money was reduced after sponsorship had stopped; the event was, however, still part of the Fujitsu Grand Prix of Europe for the last time.
Victor Chow, the 5 dan from South Africa, won the lightning tournament for the second year running. He also improved on his fifth of last year by coming third in the Open. Second place was taken by Valentin Urziceanu (4 dan Romania) who lost in the last round to winner Zhang Zhong Yong, a Chinese 5 dan staying in London for a while. The fourth player in the knockout stage was Uemura Yoshiyuki, 4 dan from France. Only two kyu players won 7 out of 8: Konrad Scheffler (2 kyu) and Gustav Rober (10 kyu), both of whom live in the UK.
Seong-June Kim, the 6 dan Korean living in Cambridge, took control of the year 2000 winners' list. Young Kim (5 dan) did not win any and Matthew Macfadyen (6 dan) was reduced to just winning the Welsh Open, for the eighth time. The other UK 5 and 6 dans did not even bother trying by not competing.
Seong-June Kim won Furze Platt, Oxford, Coventry, Bracknell, Wanstead, Wessex, National Small Board and Cambridge Trigantius, the latter a joint win with David Ward (3 dan), Alistair Wall (4 dan) and Francis Roads (4 dan). Des Cann (4 dan) won at Leicester and the West Surrey Handicap. John Rickard (4 dan) recovered from a serious illness at the start of the year to win Milton Keynes on tie-break, Three Peaks and the Cornwall Handicap. The Cornwall Open, held by the sea in Penzance, was won by Tony Atkins (2 dan). Swindon was won by Simon Shiu (4 dan) and Alan Thornton (2 dan) won Bournemouth for a second time. T.Mark Hall (4 dan) won the Northern despite a jigo with M. Yang (4 dan). Quentin Mills (3 dan) won the Scottish Open in Edinburgh, including a win over Australian 6 dan, Wuge Briscoe. The Barlow for kyu players was won by local Cambridge player Phil Beck.
The 33rd British Go Congress was held in the East of England in the historic Suffolk town of Ipswich. For the first time the venue was a hotel, which proved very pleasant. 26 players played in the Friday night lightning. After four rounds T.Mark Hall was unbeaten, but after five rounds Tim Hunt (1 dan) was the winner. Only 59 players took part in the British Open and unbeaten winner was T.Mark Hall. Second was Alistair Wall (also 4 dan). The best club winning the Nippon Club Cup was Berkshire Youth. The Stacey Trophy for the most wins over 12 months went to Francis Roads, five wins ahead of Des Cann.
The British Pair Go was also played in a hotel. This hotel was in the Oxfordshire countryside. Attendance was also low and top UK pairing Matthew Macfadyen and Kirsty Healey could not play together because of illness. This and some partner changes made the championship wide open. However it was the lowest graded of the eight pairs that won the top section: Emma Marchant (8 kyu) and Simon Goss (2 dan) from Bracknell.
Winners of the handicap section were Fiona Campbell and Jim Edwards from Aylesbury. Youth Champions were Nicola Hurden and Shawn Hearn from Berkshire Youth and best dressed were Jini Williams and Fred Holroyd. An international pair go event was held at the Mind Sports Olympiad (see below). It was the UK's turn to sit out of the International Amateur Pair Go Championships, but Jackie Chai and Francis Roads took part in the European Pairs in the Czech Republic.
The system was modified for the year 2000. Players had to qualify at regional events during 1999 to get into the first stage, and the second stage reverted to an 8-player league, from a 24 player tournament. 22 players 6 dan to 1 kyu took part in the Candidates' with Young Kim and David Ward winning 4/4.
Two months later the Challenger's League ordering was first Des Cann, then Matthew Cocke, Young Kim, Alex Selby, T.Mark Hall, David Ward, John Rickard and Alistair Wall. So it was Des Cann (4 dan) who challenged fellow Leamington Club player Matthew Macfadyen to a best of five match.
This was held during the Mind Sports Olympiad. Des nearly won the first, but lost it and the next two, to give Matthew Macfadyen the championship for the sixteenth time.
The British Youth was held at Milton near Cambridge and attended by 26 youngsters. Tom Blockley (3 kyu) from Worcester was Youth and under-16 champion. Runner up and under 18 champion was Philip Marshall (4 kyu) from the Isle of Man. Adam Eckersley-Waites (12 kyu) from Cambridge won under-14 and Ian McAnally (11 kyu) from Manchester won under-12. Under-10 was Paul Blockley from Worcester and under-8 was Ben Parker of Cambridge. The number of school clubs is starting to climb again in the UK, thanks partly to teaching sessions run by Simon Goss using the Yasuda method.
The fourth MSO was held in very pleasant halls at Alexandra Palace, high on a hill overlooking London. There were the usual series if competitions in games both old and new, including the European Shogi Championships. All the go interest focused on the visit of the six-year old Chinese 3 dan, Liao Xingwen, who came over with Liu Yajie, the Chinese professional who is training him with her husband. The boy featured on television, radio and newspapers galore and took the Youth gold medal. Silver went to the UK's Jimmy Mao (1 kyu) and bronze to Tom Blockley (3 kyu). Liao also won a bronze in the Lightning. Silver was Seong-June Kim and gold was Lee Hyuk.
The six round Open championship was held over three days and was dominated by 7 dans. Gold went to Guo Juan, silver to Zhang Shutai and bronze to Lee Hyuk. Guo also won the 13x13 gold and Lee Hyuk the bronze. Silver went to Dong Hwan, part of a group from Korea who had been winners at the Korean MSO. Another of the group, Moon Il Do, won gold in the Rapid, Du Jingyu the silver and Lu Jinqiang the bronze.
The Pair Go championship had 12 pairs and best were easily the two 7 dans Guo Juan and Du Jingyu. Silver went to Sylvia Kalisch and Lee Hyuk. The bronze was won by a play-off between Liao Xingwen and Liu Yajie against Alison Bexfield (formerly Jones) and Simon Bexfield. It was clearly their year as they won by half a point, had got married earlier in the year and later in November gained a daughter, Charlotte. As presidents of the BGA and London Club respectively, their plan to live in Luxembourg during 2001 will cause some changes to the UK go scene.
Another Steve Bailey organised event was the Fuseki Follow On Tournament. A group of 1 and 2 kyus completed a game started by Hashimoto Utaru and Fujisawa Shuko; Jimmy Mao was the winner. Various other teaching activities were arranged including some at Wanstead, one of which was spent analysing the games from the Challengers'. There was of course a teaching stand at the MSO manned as ever by Adam Atkinson and supported by others including Shigeno Yuki, the 2 dan pro from Italy.
UK players as usual played a few overseas events with varying success. Players were at the European in Berlin, the US Go Congress, Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels. Matthew Macfadyen won at Gothenburg, allowing him to compete in the Fujitsu Cup, in which he was a semi-finalist. Matthew also won 4/6 at the Ing Cup in Helsinki. Des Cann won the Irish Handicap and Richard Hunter (4 dan), who lives in Japan, won the Irish Open. Charles Matthews (3 dan) from Cambridge was the representative at the World Amateur in Sendai. He came 32nd, failing to convert some chances to end with more than his 4 wins. Des Cann will be the UK representative in the World Amateur in 2001.
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