Do let the organisers know that you're planning to attend. It helps with their planning and they can enter you into the computer system doing the draw beforehand, to shorten the time it takes at registration. The more important reason is to ensure that there are enough Go sets for everybody to play on!
It will help if you belong to a club to let them know that as well, as our draw computer will try and avoid matching you against other members of your club.
Most BGA tournaments do not take payment in advance or credit/debit cards, so you may need to bring the cash with you on the day.
If you aren't going to be able to play after you've said you would please contact the organisers. Email is normally fine, but there's usually a phone number specified on the entry form/flyer.
If you've played in a club then ask an experienced member to suggest an entry grade.
If you've played against someone with a known grade face to face then ask them for advice.
If you've only played online then our current advice when entering a BGA tournament is to subtract 2 grades from your online rating, e.g. if on Pandanet or KGS you're rated at 11 kyu then enter at 13 kyu, but please advise the organiser on the basis you've selected your entry grade, so that he can take advice if necessary.
However if your online rating is 4 dan or above then enter at 2 dan, tell the organiser about your online grade and ask for permission to enter at a higher grade if you want to do so. He will then need to ask permission from the BGA to do so and will require some evidence from you.
As most BGA tournaments use the McMahon system you should expect to play even games against players of roughly your own strength. If you win you may play stronger ones and if you lose you'll play weaker ones.
If you have a strength towards the bottom of the entry, then you may play handicap games as well. The organisers will tell you how many stones are involved.
Terms such as MMS, SOS, WMD, SODOS, and NBW are used for tie-breaking in the McMahon system. Ask someone if you're confused - they will be happy to help you.
Do turn up before the final time quoted for registration and let the organisers know that you're there (they should tick you off against their list), otherwise you may get left out of the draw for the first round. Please also stay for the Prize Giving - you never know, you might have won something even if you didn't win all your games!
If you're late or lost there's usually a mobile number specified on the entry form/flyer to contact the organisers. Please let them know, so that they can try and make special arrangements for you.
The organisers will normally announce the draw for the first round, stating who's black and white, and then post it on a wall for you to see. Listen for your name and the board number and then go to where that board is - possibly a separate room to where the announcement is being made.
There will be a (Chess) clock next to each board to monitor the times being used for each player. It is your responsibility for making sure that the clock you've been given is set so that the flag will fall when the fixed time runs out, e.g. if the limit is 40 minutes then the minute hand should be set to 20 past the hour. Oh, and check that the clocks are wound up!
White normally starts the clock, Black plays and then presses the clock with the hand he plays the stone with to start White's clock running and so on. The clock shouldn't normally be stopped during the game, so if you leave the board for whatever reason you should expect you opponent to play and start your clock... Don't forget to press your clock after you've made a move. This will become a habit in due course, but your opponent may not warn you if you don't.
You should not stop the clock except at the end of the game (or if it is necessary to call the referee in the event of a dispute). If you need to leave the board - for a drink, visit the loo or a (shame) cigarette - this will be in your own time.
It is your responsibility to note the status of your opponent's clock and bring it to his/her attention if the flag falls. If the flag falls and you don't notice that's just too bad!
Clocks should normally be started soon after the draw for the round is announced. You shouldn't wait indefinitely for your opponent to turn up - look around and if all the other games have started PLEASE start your opponent's clock (if you're Black then play your move also).
The initial time limit announced will probably be considerably longer than any you've played to before, especially if you've been used to playing online. It's advisable to use your time wisely and not play too quickly or too slowly (difficult we know), but don't speed up if your opponent is in time trouble, continue to play at your natural pace.
Most BGA tournaments use Canadian overtime for ensuring that games finish in good time for the scheduled number of rounds. You will be given a fixed amount of time each and normally an additional time plus number of stones (expressed as stones/time in minutes). If this tournament uses it please ask someone when you get there exactly how it works.
When the fixed time runs out (flag falls) then the player whose time has run out counts out the required number of stones and their opponent resets the clock to the overtime period (e.g. 40 stones in 5 minutes). If the overtime period runs out before a player has used all these counted stones then he/she has lost. If the stones run out then the clock is reset for another period. For some tournaments this may be a different number of stones/period than the first period.
Komi is compensation given to White for Black playing first and is normally 7.5 points (to ensure that draws don't occur). It is not given as prisoners and is taken into account when you count at the end of the game.
Unless otherwise stated all BGA tournaments use slightly modified AGA rules for play. In general you won't notice any difference to any other set of rules you might have played previously, but it does involve Pass Stones.
When you think the game is over please ensure that you have played on all neutral points. If you haven't then the game isn't over! If you have then say Pass, give your opponent a prisoner and press your clock. The game ends when there are two consecutive Passes, but White must Pass last.
If there is a dispute, e.g. over whether the game is really over, the status of some groups or what happens when both player's clocks have run out of time, then please stop both your clocks and contact an organiser to get help. The organiser's decision is normally final.
It's the responsibility of the winner to write the result (usually 0 for a loss or 1 for a win or circling the winner) on the Results Sheet, normally posted on a wall near your game. If you don't then the result may be taken as a loss for both players, in order that the organisers can do the draw for the next round on time.
Use your time between rounds:
Please note that it is normal practice for results to be published on the BGA web-site; the only data to be published will be your name and your club, or possibly your town (e.g. Guildford, Falkirk). Results will also be sent to the European Go Federation and will be available on their web-site.
Experience has taught most Go players to place any drinks well away from the Go bowl. Other players tend to find it amusing to watch someone, who is staring intently at the board, reaching out for a stone and ending up finding out all about the temperature of the coffee. On a more cataclysmic scale this can lead to liquid over the board or a bowl full of stones going flying across the floor.
Please don't make a noise during your game, or after it if you're analysing it, or whilst watching a game as this will disturb the concentration of players in other games - there will almost always be some games that go to the full time limits. Also, if you leave your board please make as little noise as possible on your way out.
Stopping the clock and/or placing multiple stones on the board is a good way to resign when there is a language barrier (or even when not...).
Play in another one! There's one most weekends in the UK.
Your entry grade for your next tournament will probably be different from your entry grade for this one. If you win or lose a high proportion of games (>65%) then your entry grade for next time should almost certainly be different. The BGA Rating List will be updated a few days after the tournament with the results. If you're better than 20 kyu, then this shows a strength for you that you should use next time. If you're improving rapidly then you may want to consider entering at a higher entry grade than this suggests. Unfortunately, we can't show strengths lower than 20 kyu so if you're in this group please ask an experienced player for advice.
Oh, and if your grade is 10 kyu or more you'll have earned some points for the DDK Grand Prix!