The BGA organises the British Open, the London Open, and the British Championship cycle. All other British Go tournaments are the responsibility of clubs, or more rarely individuals. This section covers the advance planning needed to run a successful tournament .
You should start planning a date and venue at least four months in advance. The tournament calendar lists dates of future tournaments, and it is best to avoid date clashes with other tournaments, particularly ones relatively close to yours. The BGA Tournament Coordinator can advise you on this, and help you to chose a date.
As soon as you have fixed a date, you should inform him, so that your date can be placed on the calendar. As well as informing potential players, this will deter others from arranging their events on the same date. It is reasonable to reserve a date for your event a year or more in advance, if you are this well organised. If you delay fixing a date for too long, some players who might have entered will already have other commitments; also, you risk making it difficult for the BGA people who provide the sets to get them too you.
When deciding on a venue, there are several factors you should consider.
You should check that the lighting and heating are adequate. Many lecture rooms and suchlike venues are only adequately lit at one end, and while it may be easy to obtain extra lights by asking for them in advance, it can be almost impossible to do so at 5 p.m. on a Sunday when the problem becomes apparent.
Once you have decided on a date and venue, you should send the details to the BGA Tournament Coordinator, who will add this information to the calendar.
The BGA has public liability insurance that covers all BGA affiliated events. For more details of exactly what is covered, please contact the BGA Treasurer.
Availability of the venue is likely to govern the choice between Saturday and Sunday, but travel logistics can be significant: travel is generally easier on a Saturday. Public transport is better, and while the roads are generally clear in the morning of a tournament, traffic can build up on a Sunday evening. You should ensure that it is feasible to travel to the venue by train, particularly from London or other local big cities. Parking can be easier on a Sunday.
The tournament format includes things like the number of rounds, time limits, and pairing method. These can affect the value of the results submitted to the EGF for ratings purposes.
Most tournaments in the UK are run on the McMahon system, with three rounds. However, this does not mean you should have to follow this format – in fact, it suggests that you should try something different, as many people would prefer a variety of formats. Some other formats which have been tried include:
You should decide the format well in advance, and inform the BGA Tournament Coordinator so that he can include it with the tournament details. See Other Tournament Systems for a discussion of some tournament formats you might consider other than McMahon.
The results of BGA tournaments will in most circumstances count towards EGF ratings. Many players value these ratings, and some are more likely to attend an event which can contribute more to their ratings. Ratings are weighted according the tournament class, as explained in the European Go Federation's page under Tournament classes, and the format you choose for your tournament will determine its class. At the time of writing, the requirements, which assume the use of Canadian overtime, are
"Adjusted time" is the main time plus the time to make 60 moves in overtime. Other tournaments (such as lightning or small board tournaments) are unclassified and do not count towards ratings.
Note for the purposes of the rating list, the maximum number of rating points you can gain is the same in a three-round class A event, a four-round class B event, or a six-round class C event.
The tournament coordinator will add this information to the calendar, although the class of a tournament is in fact at the discretion of the BGA Tournaments Committee and the EGF Ratings Committee.
You may apply for your tournament to be treated as having a lower class than it qualifies for. This can happen for example if the premises turn out to be unsatisfactory in some way.
Part of your planning is arranging to get playing equipment delivered, borrowing the BGA laptop for the draw and providing space for the bookshop if it will be present.
The BGA can provide up to 100 go sets, boards and mechanical clocks for your event to use. Some of these are superior sets which are normally only used for special events. The normal tournament sets come in multiples of 12 (some loads have 15 clocks to cover for breakdowns). In order to defray transport and maintenance costs, the BGA applies a levy for the use of the equipment that it provides.
Usually volunteers carry sets from one event to the next. This is arranged through the Tournament Coordinator. Clearly it may be more reliable and helpful if you collect some sets from the previous event, although this is not a requirement. The Tournament Coordinator will contact you some time before your tournament to arrange equipment. You will need to estimate how many sets you will require (obviously this will be half as many as there are players). This is not always an easy thing to do for a new tournament, but the Tournament Coordinator will be able to help based on the number of entries you have had so far.
There is a laptop with a printer available for the use of tournament organisers. The laptop can be used for doing the draw, and the printer for printing it out. To arrange use of the laptop, contact Geoff Kaniuk (draw-program at britgo dot org).
You should ensure that there is a mobile phone available that can be used on the day for players to ring in and inform you of late or cancelled entries. The phone number should be publicised on the information on the tournament web-site.
The BGA bookseller may be able to make a book and equipment stall available for your event. This depends on whether he would be coming to your event anyway or whether you can collect some stock from him in advance. A table at one end of the playing room will usually suffice to accommodate this. Please contact the Book Seller if you want to take advantage of this.
Alternatively if you have a local games shop, they might like to run a stall and could even maybe pursuaded to donate some prizes or provide them at a discount.
The two principal methods of publicising a tournament are through the BGA web site and the British Go Journal. When you have sent the details to the Tournament Coordinator, the information will be posted on the web site and added to the BGJ for you. However, there are some extra things you can do which make this more effective:
It is useful to create a tournament website with further information about your event; the tournament coordinator will place a link to this on the calendar. The BGA can host a small website for you. This website should include the following information:
If your event is open to all, and you have a web site which gives its details including the schedule and directions for getting there, the URL will be listed in the British Room on KGS.
In addition, it is good to have an online entry form, to make it as easy as possible to enter – the Tournament Coordinator can help with this. You should request at least: name, playing strength, club, whether they are a concession (e.g. student or unemployed) and whether they are a member of the BGA (see details of the levy).
If you maintain on the web site a list of those who have already registered, it will help by encouraging others, who see that their friends will be there, to enter. A few people will not want their names to be published on such a list, so you should allow for this. The Tournament Coordinator may be able to help you in setting up such a list.
Nowadays, most people will enter your tournament online, whether by email or through an online entry form. It is good practice to acknowledge receipt of each entry.
You will probably find, no matter how far in advance you announce your tournament, that most of the entries are received in the fortnight before the event. Therefore you should not be too worried if entries appear to be coming in slowly! You can encourage early entry by either having a good discount on the fee for early entry or a tough penalty for late entry.
It is no longer possible to include an entry form or tournament flyer with the BGA newsletter, so producing a flyer may no longer be very useful. This could include the same information as on your website or just basic information pointing interested people to the website.
It may be worth taking some of your entry forms/flyers to other tournaments which take place shortly before your event.
You may also announce your tournament on the gotalk email list. One announcement, about two or three weeks in advance of the tournament, is ample. Alternatively you could get the BGA Webmaster to make a news announcement on the BGA website and then forward the generated email to Gotalk. This will ensure that everyone receiving the RSS feed and Facebook subscribers also get your announcement.
You can also contact secretaries of other local clubs to announce the tournament on their club email lists, since not all of their members will necessarily be BGA members, or subscribed to the gotalk email list. Again, one announcement is ample.
Word of mouth is always an effective form of publicity, particularly for new tournaments. It is worth visiting local clubs (if you have any) and encouraging people to enter. In particular, you are likely to find several double figure kyus who would like to enter but who think they are "not strong enough for a tournament". This is of course incorrect – it is helpful to explain that there are likely to be other double figure kyus entering, and that most tournament systems allow for games between players of greatly differing strength. You can also consider a novices' tournament as a side-event.
There is a BGA Facebook Page which you can use to publicise your event directly.
If you live near a university, it may be worth contacting the editors of any student newpapers as universities are a fruitful source of new players, and many students do read these newspapers. Pictures of tournament scenes taken with a digital camera can be used to attract players
The BGA feel that it is important to provide recognition to people who sponsor Go tournaments. If your tournament is receiving sponsorship then please inform us so that it can be mentioned on the calendar.
You should work out an approximate timetable for the rounds in advance. Make sure there is enough time between rounds – allow at least 20 minutes for any unexpectedly slow games or any difficulties with the draw.
Remember to take overtime periods into account; some players regularly play through several overtime periods of 30 stones in 5 minutes, and this could disrupt your schedule if you have tight time constraints. One way to prevent this is to use an accelerated overtime system e.g. 10/5 then 20/5 then 30/5, and so on, increasing the number of stones by 10 in each 5 minutes. If your main time is 60 minutes, then this gives you a class A tournament - very efficiently run!
Allow enough time for a lunch break (around an hour). If you are playing more than four rounds in a day, you might also consider a short break (say 30 minutes) during the afternoon to give people a chance to recover before the final rounds.
Some people will have trains or buses to catch, therefore you should publish an expected latest time for the prize-giving so that they can make plans. Make sure that you include enough slack in your timetable so that it is almost impossible to exceed this time!
You should try your utmost to start the first round on time, especially if you have severe time constraints in the hall booking. This usually means closing the register when you said you were going to close it, and get on with the draw. Late arrivals can play each other!
A schedule lasting from about 10.00 to 18.00 is common, and makes sense if either someone else will be needing the venue in the evening, or your event is on a Sunday so that people living far away can arrive the previous day and lodge somewhere overnight. But if your event is on a Saturday, it may make more sense to schedule your event for something like 11:30 to 20:00.
The usual way of allocating prizes for a McMahon event is to give the biggest prize for the best (as defined by the tiebreak system) score, and further prizes for all those with at least some number of wins. You need not specify this number in advance, but can select it so as to ensure that you have enough prizes (you will have a bit more flexibility here if you set the komi to be odd integral so that jigo is possible). Even so, you cannot expect to predict exactly how many prizes will be needed, so you should arrange to have enough prizes to cater for the worst case. This means that you are likely to being taking some home again at the end of the event; so you should choose prize material that you wil be willing to buy back from the event and consume yourself – this is why bottles of wine are often used. Alternatively have something that can be used in subsequent years. When you have a rough idea of numbers, you can contact the Tournaments Committee firstname.lastname@example.org who will be able to supply a plausible prediction.
Special prizes can also be awarded to people who have done well without winning any of the other prizes, or to juniors. Some tournaments also have a team competition, and award prizes to the team with the best combined results in the main tournament; this can tend to make newcomers feel excluded, as they will see other players win a prize which they were not able to enter for.
Commonly awarded prizes are wine, chocolate or books (but do be careful not to award alcoholic prizes to children!). You may also want to buy a trophy (although many tournaments do not; it is difficult to get a Go themed trophy) or award a cash prize, if your budget allows it.
When deciding upon an entry fee, remember that the following expenses will have to be covered:
You should aim to make a small surplus on the tournament, which can go towards purchasing new books or equipment for your club. Note that there are usually several people who enter in the day or two before the tournament, or even who just turn up on the day. If you need to know numbers in advance (e.g. to make catering arrangements), it is therefore wise to set a closing date for entries and include a late entry fee, payable by those entering after the closing date.
Many events set their charges using
Look at other events to get an idea of the going rates. Obviously, it is reasonable to charge more for a two day event (to cover room hire and the BGA levy), or if you are providing food.
The BGA levy is a fee charged by the BGA to cover services provided by the BGA to your tournament. This includes public liability insurance, advertising and equipment hire. As of 1st July 2012 the levy is:
Tournaments usually charge more to non BGA members in the entry fee; effectively, this gives BGA membership for the duration of your tournament. Any concessions are at the organiser's discretion, but the Concessionary categories for the Levy above are those defined for BGA membership, i.e. as of April 2012 Under-18, Under-26 Students in full-time education at an approved UK educational establishment, or receiving Unemployment, Disability or Pension Credit benefit (not simply in receipt of the old-age pension).
For new events with uncertainty over the number of entrants, the BGA Treasurer may consider reducing or waiving the levy in case of loss. Also if your event is longer than two days or experimental in some way, please contact the treasurer to request a discount.
The levies as listed are what the tournament organisers are obliged to pay to the BGA, in return for providing equipment and services. You are not obliged to base your own entry fees on them. You may, for example, choose to admit non-BGA members at the same rate as BGA members, or to surcharge them £10; it is your decision, your only obligation is to send the listed amounts to the BGA treasurer.
If you think you may have problems in affording the BGA levy, you should discuss it with the BGA Treasurer in advance of the tournament. He has the discretion to allow discounts in some circumstances.
The club that runs the tournament is the host and this section suggests some things that one may do as a good host to be welcoming to your entrants.
Many people travel to tournaments not just for the Go, but in order to meet and talk to other Go players. Also remember that some people may have travelled a long way to come to your event. A social event, for example going for a meal after the tournament, is one way to make your tournament more enjoyable and memorable for these people, and may help attract them back in future years.
Even for a one day event, there may be people who would like to travel and will require accommodation, particularly those in remote parts of the country which do not hold many local tournaments. Sometimes, local people are willing to offer accommodation (e.g. a spare room or a sofa) to those who would not otherwise be able to afford to attend (particularly students). However, people do not like to ask, so you should make it known (for example on the gotalk mailing list) if such accommodation is available. Note that it is better to give priority to students and unemployed.
If you are organising a two day event (such as the Scottish Open or Welsh Open) there are some extra things you can do both to encourage people to come to the tournament, and to make the tournament more enjoyable. There are also some further organisational things you need to consider.
Apart from the three-stage British Championship, and the London Open which are run by the BGA, tournaments are run by clubs. The British Go Congress is run by a club on behalf of the BGA. The organiser is usually agreed a year in advance, and offers from clubs are always welcome.
The British Go Congress is a weekend event, including the British Lightning championship on Friday evening, and the British Open. The weekend also features the BGA AGM. The British Open is a six round McMahon tournament, normally with one hour each on the clock. It is usually residential, with accommodation usually in halls of residence or a hotel. You may also let people find their own accommodation. Full board should normally be offered. As a rough guide, the 2007 British Go Congress in Cambridge attracted 98 entries, the 2008 in Hastings 50, and the 2009 in Chester 61.
A congress bank account should be opened, with two signatures required for withdrawals, as the amount of money handled can exceed £5000. The work can conveniently be split between one person responsible for accommodation and money, and one responsible for the tournament itself.
Since this is a large event, there is an associated financial risk. The club organising a Congress has two options: they can either take all the risk, and do whatever they wish with any profit; or have the BGA underwrite the risk (against a documented budget approved by Council) in which case any profit is shared 50-50 between the BGA and the organising club.