Before starting a club, you should investigate what Go clubs there are near you: if you are in Britain, you can find them shown on the BGA club map. You might visit one of them, for ideas and assisitance. You might plan your meetings to be on different days from theirs, to avoid clashes and provide more choice for nearby players.
The hardest part of setting up a new club is to find other players. The BGA Membership Secretary will be able to help, by providing a list of nearby BGA members. There may also be Go players nearby who are not BGA members; these will be more difficult to find. Many people play Go on the Internet, so you might use a Go server to try to contact local players. In particular, KGS has a "British Room", listed under "national". Other ways to find such players include posting an announcement to the gotalk mailing list, or to lifein19x19.com. Alternatively try Setting Up
Once you have a nucleus of players (this can be as little as two) you can start to arrange regular meetings. These can be weekly, which is probably best, or less frequently. An initial venue can be a member's front room; once established there, you can contemplate expansion. Many go clubs have originated like this.
Of the other possibilities for a venue, the most common is one associated with a member's occupation. This includes a university (if he is a student or a lecturer), firm, or social club attached to a firm. The great advantages are that these are generally cheap – financial assistance may even be available – and usually fairly salubrious. Publicity aimed at fellow employees is often successful, but it may be more difficult to attract non employees. Rules for social clubs are often quite strict, but only so as to cater for licensing laws, and a method to include non employees is usually not difficult to find. You should discuss the situation with officials of the social club.
Other possible venues are church halls, coffee bars, pubs, etc. They all have their pros and cons, and local intelligence will often generate some ideas. If you do not know where to start looking, find out where the local chess players meet. The public library should be able to provide that information.
To affiliate your club to the BGA, you must nominate a club secretary. The secretary must be a member of the BGA, and should arrange to have contact details published by the BGA. Club secretaries should encourage members to join the BGA, and may collect their fees and contact details to pass on to the BGA membership secretary.
When you have a regular meeting time and location and a nominated club secretary, you should inform the BGA webmaster, who will add the details to the website and arrange for information to be included in the newsletter and journal. If you wish to maintain your own basic information about your meeting location, date etc. then he will provide you with the necessary account for the website.
A major problem when a club is started is that of finding enough equipment. The BGA can help affiliated clubs here by loaning sets for a short period while the club gets going; contact the Equipment Coordinator to arrange this. Collection and return will be your responsibility; you can often do this at tournaments. Ultimately, of course, the club should be self-supporting.
If there are several clubs in the same region, it is a good idea to arrange occasional joint meetings with those clubs, perhaps also with a social event. For example, a group of clubs in North East England holds occasional joint meetings at weekends, with a barbecue in the evening. The main advantage of such meetings, particularly for small or new clubs, is to give players an opportunity to play different opponents from usual.
There are several ways in which a club can support itself; a small club can make do with the use of members' equipment, although you should make sure there are 9×9 boards to teach beginners. Don't forget that BGA members are entitled to a significant discount on purchasing equipment.
A club based at a university may be able to get grants from their Student Union to buy books and equipment. The most common way, however, is to charge a small fee. Two possible ways of charging are an annual membership fee, and a board fee charged for each evening's attendance. Depending on the club's costs, one or the other or both of these may be appropriate.
We recommended that the fees should do more than cover the costs of the room (if any); the surplus can be used to purchase equipment or books for a club library. Typical fees might be £10 per annum and £1 per evening, with appropriate reductions for those in full-time education etc. The details will, however, depend on local circumstances, and many clubs operate free. Many established clubs are funded by the profits of running a tournament.
Usually there is one person, the prime mover, who gets the club going, but he should not see it as a one-man show. He should delegate jobs wherever possible, as this will help to ensure the continuity of the club if he should leave the district. Typical jobs are Secretary, Treasurer and Equipment Officer/Librarian. None of these duties is particularly onerous, but people tend to be shy of volunteering, yet will do the job enthusiastically if asked. The appointment of a publicity officer could be worthwhile, especially if there is someone with a flair for it.
Some Go clubs are officially set up with a bank account and a constitution. Others have neither. If you want to have a bank account, you will probably need to have a constitution. This does not need to be particularly elaborate; the only important thing is to clarify the means by which the members can check that their money is being looked after properly. A model constitution sufficient for most purposes is given below.
Constitution of the Albion Go Club
It is, of course, possible to be far more precise about these matters, and to define details of the many other aspects of club management, but in practice such items tend to be forgotten or ignored or, worse, they absorb time and effort which would be better spent playing Go. Most British Go Clubs have no written constitution.