I first encountered Go in my gap year at work where I was writing bits of the operating system for the long defunct mainframe computer company English Electric-Leo-Marconi. I was struck by the novelty of the game and immediately went to the limit of my teenage budget and constructed a board drilled with 361 pinholes with coloured drawing pins for stones.
With less than a dozen games of Go under my belt I took up Bridge instead at University but returned to Go a few years later. I founded the Corby Go Club, moved to Manchester, where I became the secretary and reached a weak 1-kyu grade. Marriage, children and other hobbies intervened and although I occasionally looked at Go books, that was it for some 30 years.
I had always valued in Go both the friendly community and the mental challenge from the huge range of strategic concepts. So come retirement from a varied life in I.T., I thought it would it would be fun to make one more push – from my supposed 1 kyu level and reach shodan. Big shock. Even after getting back into practice, I was just 5 kyu. In my absence, somebody had moved the goalposts, as seems quite clear from anecdotes, player graphs and Toby Manning’s earlier BGJ article “Why am I getting weaker?”
It has also been a surprise – after my 30-year gap – to find so many of the faces unchanged and the BGA membership, at its lowest level since records began. This despite the evidence from the website of a huge amount of effort and professionalism from those running the BGA. No doubt we have to blame the internet and other competition for people’s time, but I’ll see what I can contribute on this front.
I have found tournaments a joy, particularly the two-day ones, which allow more time for socialising and local exploring. I recently took over the small Shropshire tournament and hope to quietly develop that as an attraction for kyu players and Stacey points.