1996 started with the traditional London Open tournament held over the new year holiday. Again sponsored by Hitachi, we were pleased to have Mr Imamura presenting the prizes, including the camcorder won by Matthew Macfadyen in the winners' lottery. It was also good to have 140 players, forty percent of whom were from abroad. This time, as an experiment, the first period of overtime was one stone in five minutes to allow reflection on the possible game result. Also new was the awarding of European Grand Prix points after six rounds. The points went to Guo Juan, Zhang, Miyakawa, Gerlach, Colmez, Macfadyen, Laatikainen, Danek, Shepperson and Emil Nijhuis. The top four then played knockout for the last tow rounds to determine the tournament winner. In the final Shutai Zhang won, despite having lost to Guo earlier in the tournament. In the Lightning Miyakawa beat Zhang in the final, and Marcus Keinappel (7 kyu) beat Matthew Cocke to come third. There was also a rengo and a continuous 13x13 event, allowing much go to be played over the four days.
In the regional tournaments Matthew Macfadyen (6 dan) won three events in the first half of the year: Wanstead, Coventry and the Welsh Open (as always). Harold Lee (4 dan) won the Furze Platt Tournament held at Hitachi Europe's headquarters in Maidenhead. At Oxford, held in an old church that is now a restaurant, it was not clear who won; Piers Shepperson and Edmund Shaw (both 5 dan) had tied in the last round ending on 2.5 whereas Andrew Jones (3 dan) had three wins but had started below the bar. Cambridge Trigantius was won by local 4 dan John Rickard, who also won the Scottish Open in Edinburgh. Jim Clare (3 dan) won at Bracknell and Des Cann (4 dan) at Leicester. The Central London Go Club celebrated moving out of Covent Garden with a handicap tournament during the May Bank Holiday.
In the second half of the year Britain's representative to the 1997 World Amateur showed his might by winning four events. T. Mark Hall (4 dan) won Milton Keynes, Swindon and the West Surrey Handicap. At the Northern in Manchester he was in a tie for first place with Matthew Cocke (4 dan) and ahead of Matthew Macfadyen who had also won 5 out of 6.
Devon was won by Thorstein Thorsteinsson (3 dan) and Jo Hampton (2 dan) won Shrewsbury, stopping Leamington Club's long line of wins there (by Macfadyen and Cann). The long established Wessex tournament was won by John Rickard. The new Bank of China Cup, held at the bank's London Office, was won by Shutai Zhang (7 dan) in one of his rare regional tournament appearances. The Three Peaks Tournament in Yorkshire was a tie between Alistair Wall (4 dan) on 4/5 and Hennie Groot Lipman (1 dan) on 5/5 below the bar. Alistair Wall was also the winner of the 13x13 doubles tournament organised to celebrate the wedding of Paul Margetts to Yvonne Mao.
The 29th British Go Congress was held at the university in the historic north-east city of Durham. Winner was BGA President Alex Rix (4 dan) and second was the BGA Treasurer T. Mark Hall; third was Paul Smith (2 dan) of Cambridge. British Lightning champion was T. Mark Hall who beat Jo Beaton of Furze Platt in an exciting final. Reading had the best team average. The Terry Stacey trophy for the most wins above the bar in the year 1995-1996 went to Francis Roads with 45.5 points. The Youth Grand Prix winner was James Harrod; Tony Atkins won a new prize for the most losses scored by a two dan.
The first stage of the British Championship was held in Cambridge. T. Mark Hall won 6 games; Bob Bagot (2 dan), Alan Thornton (2 dan) and Alistair Wall won 5. This year the top 12 players form this stage went forward to a 16 player Swiss a month later. In this Matthew Macfadyen won all four games as expected, beating Matthew Cocke in the final. Others on 3/4 were John Rickard, Charles Matthews (3 dan) and Des Cann who keep their places in the second stage next year. In the best of five final, Matthew Macfadyen managed to win the first game, but lost the next three. This allowed Shutai Zhang, the Chinese doctor from London, to claim the British Champion title for another year.
Alison Cross won the women's qualification tournament, but Sue Paterson was to be the representative in Japan due to the points system. In the British Pair Go, held in Weedon, the top 8 of the 25 pairs present played for the title. Tony Atkins and Alison Jones were the new champions, Tony only playing at short notice after Edmund Shaw fell ill. The pairing with the most points were Alison Cross and John McLeod, but Britain had no place in Japan for 1996. The top school was Brakenhale again. David King of Brakenhale (1 kyu) was the Youth and Under-18 Champion. Under-16 was won by Anna Griffiths, Under-14 was Emma Marchant, Under-12 Thomas Blockley and Sophia Ellul was Under-10.
In the spring two CLGC teams tied in a London International match, whereas Reading won the autumn equivalent and also won the Thames Valley Team Tournament. Wanstead won the Sonoyama East Anglian League by half a point from Cambridge. A first this year was a match against the Korean residents in London, and the matches against the Japanese residents continued. In early 1996 Frank Janssen came over from the European Go and Cultural Centre to launch their teaching plan. Matthew Macfadyen started a program of teaching seminars and there was the usual teaching day before the West Surrey. In addition Mrs Kusunoki, professional 7 dan, made a private visit to Leamington club in the company of Mr Saheki of the Nihon Ki-in.
British players have again been active overseas. Matthew Macfadyen was 19th in the World Amateur with only 4/8 through having to play several tough opponents. He won 4/6 in the European Ing Cup and won Gothenburg. Shutai Zhang won Frieburg, the Irish Open, was third in Paris and in the Ing Cup and was a semi-finalist in the Obayashi Cup. Des Cann was third in Dublin and Andrew Jones was third in Milan. Colin Adams (1 kyu) won the Irish Rapid. None of the top British players went to the European Go Congress in Italy, but 35 other players did. At the European Teams in the Czech Republic the British Team, members of Cambridge Go Club lead by Matthew Cocke, drew all their matches.