Please visit our Picture Gallery for many photos of this event.
Hopefully the 89 young players in the 19th European Youth Go Championship went away with happy memories of their time at the event. Inevitably there was the odd tear or two when a blunder was made in a game and unfortunately one girl had to withdraw due to sickness, but most players had a really good time both on and off the board. By holding the event at the Butlins holiday centre there was a lot to amuse the children between and after games and very few were seen at the venue after the second game of the day was over.
Bognor is the sunniest place in England and the weather did not disappoint on that count, although the competitors were greeted by rain when they arrived on the Friday and the Sunday evening turned stormy too. The recent storms have reshaped the beach at Bognor, with the shingle moved up over the path in many places, and it was just a few steps from the camp entrance to enjoy the sea views.
On arrival at the Shoreline Conference Centre the players and adult team members were given their badges, but more importantly for the children they were given "Play Go!" goody bags, full of sweets, magazines, souvenirs and the very popular black woollen ski hats with the same message embroidered on. At 19:00 on the Friday evening the opening ceremony was called to order by the Arundel town crier. After a few speeches of welcome from the Presidents of the BGA and EGF, entertainment was provided by Rhubarb the Clown (aka Martin Solity 4k) who showed off how to ride various heights of unicycle. After this players were allowed to join in the first event of the parallel British Go Congress weekend, the British Lightning.
The European Youth tournament got underway with the first game on the Saturday morning. 89 young players sat down in three divisions by age in the large and spacious Grosvenor Suite. The 12-player Under-20 group played a Swiss system by Japanese rules, as the top prize was a trip to a new event in Japan later in the year. The 35-player Under-16 and 42-player Under-12 sections were using Ing Rules and a McMahon system, as the aim was to select players to play in the World Youth Goe Championship played by Ing Rules, which is being held this year in Kuala Lumpur in the summer. As the BGA does not own enough Ing sets and no Ing timers, there was the ritual of counting the stones to ensure 180 at the start of each round, which was quite like the twittering of sparrows heard when playing Mahjong, and an unusual time-purchase system for overtime.
In parallel on the Saturday and the Sunday the British Open distracted some of the adults that accompanied the children.
On the Saturday evening, after the second round, and before the BGA's AGM the Brighton Morris Men entertained for 45 minutes, including getting the Go players dancing with large sticks, but unfortunately most of the children were elsewhere and missed this sample of English culture being presented on St David's Day. Later in the board room the EGF executive held a meeting to discuss various current issues, whilst adults and players from the British were able to relax and enjoy the bar.
Two more games were held on the Sunday and the British Open came to its conclusion. The evening was given aside to a Pair Go tournament, split into two divisions: one for the normal male-female pairs and another for same-sex pairs. This was much enjoyed by both young and old who took part, but there was not enough time to play the planned four rounds, meaning joint winners only in the doubles section. In a side room Go teachers from Czechia, Germany and the UK discussed various issues about teaching Go to children and how the different cultures affect what is possible in each country.
Throughout the weekend there was the chance to get your games reviewed by one of the two professionals available, Mr Masaki Minematsu and Ms Chizu Kobayashi, and indeed several youngsters were seen keenly listening to a pro's advice. Also the pros gave some lectures and on the Monday ran a special teaching day for British and other adults. Meanwhile the children were playing the last two rounds of the tournament, with a group picture before the last round, and finally the results and winners were known. These winners were then awarded with their trophies at the prize-giving and closing ceremony, at which the long and complicated draw process was followed to select the players and reserves for the WYGC.
Finally all the packing up was done, the players had left to get their planes, trains and cars home or to move on for an extra night's stay somewhere, and the organisers went on for a well-earned rest.