John Barrs (1914-1971) was for many years the undisputed top British player. He learned to play in 1929. He founded the BGA in 1953, and was awarded a 1 dan rank some years later. International Go tournaments were held in Japan in 1963 and 1964, and he was British board one (board two was Neil Stein in the two-man team).
The 8th European Go Congress at Scheveningen seems to have marked an important point in the expansion of British go, with 7 UK players attending. The 1965 New Scientist article by I. J. Good (who had learned the rules from Alan Turing) brought many into the game. Later that year John Barrs wrote of Neil Stein, Jon Diamond and Colin Irving as three players likely to reach dan level shortly.
The championship was unofficial at this time and Barrs usually won, though legend has it that Stein beat him one year.
The first British Championship was held in September 1965 between John Barrs, Jon Diamond and Colin Irving, who were all then graded 1-dan. Each player played each of the others twice. Jon Diamond won all four of his games, becoming the first British champion. For some time after this, no British championship was held as Jon was obviously the strongest player.
The 10th European Congress was held in London in 1966. By the end of that year Jon Diamond was recognised as 2 dan, Barrs, Irving and David Wells as 1 dan, and the BGA had 300 members.
Jon Diamond was made 3 dan in 1967, and was recognised as the leading British player during this whole period. However half a dozen years passed before the championship match system emerged. To begin with the British Congress was a handicap tournament, first held in Oxford in 1968; Diamond was the strongest native present, a strong 3 dan (European Class 14). The next year, with Diamond absent, his long-term rival Tony Goddard did best of the native players and was made 3 dan also. In 1970, Diamond was British Champion by being the highest placed native in the British Open, the new designation of the Congress tournament. In 1971 the McMahon system was introduced at the British Open and Diamond, now 4 dan, stayed Champion by beating Goddard in a decider.
In 1972 we have the first of the series of matches to decide the British Champion. Once more Diamond beat Goddard, this time 2-0. Both players were graded as 4 dan.
In 1973 there was a hiatus with no match held. From 1974 onwards there is an unbroken run. However JAL sponsorship that year made for a single game, in which challenger Paul Prescott (3 dan) beat Diamond.
From 1975 onwards all matches were best of 5:
|1975||Jon Diamond (5d)||3||Paul Prescott (4d)||0|
|1976||Jon Diamond (5d)||3||Paul Prescott (4d)||0|
|1977||Jon Diamond (5d)||3||Paul Prescott (4d)||2|
1976 saw the introduction of the preliminary Candidates' tournament.
Jon decided not to contest the 1978 championship, and retired as Champion.
In 1978 the Championship went to a match between Matthew Macfadyen and Brian Castledine. Matthew won, and has been in the match in every subsequent year except 1987. At this point the grades of the players will be dropped. The general standard had become high enough for amateur gradings to be an unreliable guide.
|1978||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Brian Castledine||0|
|1979||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Terry Stacey||1|
|1980||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Terry Stacey||1|
|1981||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Terry Stacey||2|
|1982||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Jim Barty||0|
|1983||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Terry Stacey||0|
|1984||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Terry Stacey||0|
|1985||Terry Stacey||3||Matthew Macfadyen||1|
|1986||Terry Stacey||3||Matthew Macfadyen||1|
|1987||Piers Shepperson||3||Terry Stacey||2|
|1988||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Piers Shepperson||0|
|1989||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Edmund Shaw||1|
|1990||Matthew Macfadyen||3||John Rickard||0|
|1991||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Edmund Shaw||0|
|1992||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Edmund Shaw||1|
In 1993 Zhang Shutai became eligible to play in the British Championship, but retired in 1997.
Fuller details of the event during that year can be found by clicking on the year heading below:
|1993||Zhang Shutai||3||Matthew Macfadyen||0|
|1994||Zhang Shutai||3||Matthew Macfadyen||0|
|1995||Zhang Shutai||3||Matthew Macfadyen||2|
|1996||Zhang Shutai||3||Matthew Macfadyen||1|
|1997||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Charles Matthews||0|
|1998||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Edmund Shaw||0|
|1999||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Matthew Cocke||0|
|2000||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Des Cann||0|
|2001||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Young Kim||1|
|2002||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Matthew Cocke||0|
|2003||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Matthew Cocke||0|
|2004||Matthew Macfadyen||3||David Ward||1|
|2005||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Des Cann||0|
|2006||Bei Ge||3||Matthew Macfadyen||2|
|2007||Bei Ge||3||Alex Selby||1|
|2008||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Hui Wang||1|
|2009||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Hui Wang||0|
|2010||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Vanessa Wong||1|
|2011||Matthew Macfadyen||2||Nick Krempel||1|
|2012||Andrew Kay||2||Nick Krempel||0|
|2013||Andrew Kay||2||Andrew Simons||0|
|2014||Andrew Kay||2||Alex Kent||0|