John Barrs (1914-1971) was for many years the undisputed top British player. He learned to play in 1929. He founded the BGA in 1953, and was awarded a 1 dan rank some years later. International Go tournaments were held in Japan in 1963 and 1964, and he was British board one (board two was Neil Stein in the two-man team).
The 8th European Go Congress at Scheveningen seems to have marked an important point in the expansion of British go, with 7 UK players attending. The 1965 New Scientist article by I. J. Good  (who had learned the rules from Alan Turing ) brought many into the game. Later that year John Barrs wrote of Neil Stein, Jon Diamond and Colin Irving as three players likely to reach dan level shortly.
The championship was unofficial at this time and Barrs usually won, though legend has it that Stein beat him one year.
The first British Championship was held in September 1965 between John Barrs, Jon Diamond and Colin Irving, who were all then graded 1-dan. Each player played each of the others twice. Jon Diamond won all four of his games, becoming the first British champion. For some time after this, no British championship was held as Jon was obviously the strongest player.
The 10th European Congress was held in London in 1966. By the end of that year Jon Diamond was recognised as 2 dan, Barrs, Irving and David Wells as 1 dan, and the BGA had 300 members.
Jon Diamond was made 3 dan in 1967, and was recognised as the leading British player during this whole period. However half a dozen years passed before the championship match system emerged. To begin with the British Congress was a handicap tournament, first held in Oxford in 1968; Diamond was the strongest native present, a strong 3 dan (European Class 14). The next year, with Diamond absent, his long-term rival Tony Goddard did best of the native players and was made 3 dan also. In 1970, Diamond was British Champion by being the highest placed native in the British Open, the new designation of the Congress tournament. In 1971 the McMahon system was introduced at the British Open and Diamond, now 4 dan, stayed Champion by beating Goddard in a decider.
In 1972 we have the first of the series of matches to decide the British Champion. Once more Diamond beat Goddard, this time 2-0. Both players were graded as 4 dan.
In 1973 there was a hiatus with no match held. From 1974 onwards there is an unbroken run. However JAL  sponsorship that year made for a single game, in which challenger Paul Prescott (3 dan) beat Diamond.
From 1975 onwards all matches were best of 5:
|1975||Jon Diamond (5d)||3||Paul Prescott (4d)||0|
|1976||Jon Diamond (5d)||3||Paul Prescott (4d)||0|
|1977||Jon Diamond (5d)||3||Paul Prescott (4d)||2|
1976 saw the introduction of the preliminary Candidates' tournament.
Jon decided not to contest the 1978 championship, and retired as Champion.
In 1978 the Championship went to a match between Matthew Macfadyen  and Brian Castledine. Matthew won, and has been in the match in every subsequent year except 1987. At this point the grades of the players will be dropped. The general standard had become high enough for amateur gradings to be an unreliable guide.
|1978||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Brian Castledine||0|
|1979||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Terry Stacey||1|
|1980||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Terry Stacey||1|
|1981 ||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Terry Stacey||2|
|1982||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Jim Barty||0|
|1983 ||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Terry Stacey||0|
|1984 ||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Terry Stacey||0|
|1985 ||Terry Stacey||3||Matthew Macfadyen||1|
|1986||Terry Stacey||3||Matthew Macfadyen||1|
|1987||Piers Shepperson||3||Terry Stacey||2|
|1988||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Piers Shepperson||0|
|1989||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Edmund Shaw||1|
|1990||Matthew Macfadyen||3||John Rickard||0|
|1991||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Edmund Shaw||0|
|1992||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Edmund Shaw||1|
In 1993 Zhang Shutai became eligible to play in the British Championship.
|1993||Zhang Shutai||3||Matthew Macfadyen||0|
|1994||Zhang Shutai||3||Matthew Macfadyen||0|
|1995||Zhang Shutai||3||Matthew Macfadyen||2|
|1996||Zhang Shutai||3||Matthew Macfadyen||1|
|1997 ||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Charles Matthews||0|
|1998 ||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Edmund Shaw||0|
|1999 ||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Matthew Cocke||0|
|2000 ||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Des Cann||0|
|2001 ||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Young Kim||1|
|2002 ||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Matthew Cocke||0|
|2003 ||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Matthew Cocke||0|
|2004 ||Matthew Macfadyen||3||David Ward||1|
|2005 ||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Des Cann||0|
|2006 ||Bei Ge||3||Matthew Macfadyen||2|
|2007 ||Bei Ge||3||Alex Selby||1|
|2008 ||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Hui Wang||1|
|2009 ||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Hui Wang||0|
|2010 ||Matthew Macfadyen||3||Vanessa Wong||1|
|2011 ||Matthew Macfadyen||2||Nick Krempel||1|
From 1997 Zhang did not contest the title, and individual reports of each year's championship started appearing on this site.
Fuller details of the event during that year can be found by clicking on the year heading below:
Matthew Macfadyen and Charles Matthews, the top two players from the Challenger's , played for the title because of Zhang's retirement. Matthew Macfadyen won 3-0. A report on the Title Match  is here, with game records.
Matthew Macfadyen won the British Go Championship in 1999, defeating the Challenger Matthew Cocke 3-0. Game records from the Title Match  are available, as are the results of the Challenger's League  and the Candidates' Tournament .
The rules  were changed between the 1999 and 2000 championships.
Matthew Macfadyen won the 2000 British Go Championship, beating Des Cann 3-0 in the title match. More details and the game records are available here . The championship started with the Candidates' Tournament  and continued with the Challenger's League .
Matthew Macfadyen won the 2001 British Go Championship. The championship started with the Candidates' Tournament  on 17th and 18th March and continued with the Challenger's League  on the 4th to 7th May. Young Kim won that and hence the right to challenge Matthew Macfadyen in the Title Match  which took place at the Mind Sports Olympiad from 20th to 26th August. Matthew won the Title Match and hence retained his place as champion.
The 2002 British Go Championship  was won by Matthew Macfadyen. He defeated the challenger Matthew Cocke in the best-of-five game Title Match . Matthew Cocke qualified for the Title Match by winning the Challenger's League  in Cambridge on 3rd to 6th May. The Championship started with the Candidates' Tournament  in Leamington Spa on 6th and 7th April.
The 2003 British Go Championship  was also won by Matthew Macfadyen. He defeated the challenger Matthew Cocke 30 in the best-of-five game Title Match. Matthew Cocke qualified for the Title Match by winning the Challenger's League  in Cambridge on 2nd to 5th May. The Championship started with the Candidates' Tournament  in Leamington Spa on 22nd and 23rd March.
Matthew Macfadyen retained the title by defeating Callenger David Ward by 3 games to 1 in the 2004 Title Match .
The games were published, with commentaries, on KGS. Here are details of the people  involved.
The Challenger's League  took place over the weekend of April 30 to May 3.
After the League was completed, there was a three-way tie for first place between Matthew Cocke, David Ward and Alex Rix, all with 5/7. The rules required these three to be placed in an order based on the results of the previous year's British Championship, and then the first and second players to play-off; as a result the play-off was between Matthew and David. David Ward won the game by 1/2 point, so became the 2004 Challenger.
Matthew Macfadyen retained the title by defeating the Challenger, Des Cann, 3 games to nil in the 2005 Title Match .
The first game was in Oxford on Saturday 9th July, the second at Epsom on Saturday 13th August and the third on 25th September at the Open University in Milton Keynes. All three games were relayed on the KGS Internet Go Server with pro commentaries.
The Challenger's League  took place in Trinity Junior Parlour, Cambridge over the weekend 29th April to 2nd May. Des Cann won all of his games to become the Challenger. T Mark Hall was second and Matthew Cocke was third.
The 2005 Candidates' Tournament  took place in Leamington Spa over the weekend of 20th and 21st March. Jon Diamond, Kirohiko Tanaka (both with 4/4), Alistair Wall, Mark Hall, and Des Cann (by tie-break from Alex Selby) qualified for the Challenger's League.
Bei Ge won the Title for the first time by defeating the title holder, Matthew Macfadyen, 3 games to 2 in the 2006 Title Match . Bei Ge is originally from Beijing, but in 2006 was aged 36, married, living near Milton Keynes and working in procurement for a telecom company.
The first game was at the Epsom Tournament on Saturday 8th July (won by Bei Ge). The second was on 24th September at the Open University in Milton Keynes. The third game was on 8th October in Cambridge, the fouth at the Swindon tournament on 19th November and the final game in Oxford on 2nd December. Each game was won by the white player. All games were relayed on the KGS Internet Go Server with pro commentary by Guo Juan.
The Challengers' League  took place in Letchworth over the weekend 16th to 19th June. This time, because of the 2006 rule changes , both players in the title match were selected: Matthew Macfadyen (first) and Bei Ge (second).
The 2006 Candidates' Tournament  took place in Selwyn College Cambridge over 6 rounds during the weekend of 29th April to 1st May. Bei Ge, Des Cann, Alex Rix, Matthew Cocke, Paul Christie, Francis Roads and Alistair Wall qualified to join Matthew Macfadyen in the Challengers' League.
The 2007 title match  between Bei Ge and Alex Selby took place between July and October. Game 5 was not needed as Bei Ge won the series three games to one.
The Challengers' League  was held at the home of BGJ Editor Barry Chandler in Winnersh (Berks) on the weekend of 15th to 18th June. Bei won all his games. Surprisingly Matthew Macfadyen only won 4 games; his losing scores only totalling 4.5! Alex Selby lost his first game, but then won his next 4 and the last one to end on 5 wins and clear second place; his wins against Matthew Macfadyen and Sam Aitken were both half-pointers. So Alex would challenge Bei Ge for the British Champion's title. This is only the second time since 1977 that the final would not involve Matthew Macfadyen, who ended third.
The 2007 Candidates' Tournament  stayed on the May Bank Holiday weekend, at 6 rounds, and at Selwyn College in Cambridge. There were 23 players and four local ghosts taking part, from 2 kyu to 6 dan. Winner with a straight 6 was Matthew Macfadyen from Leamington. With 5 wins were Des Cann and Alex Selby. The top four of the group on 4 wins also qualified for the Challengers' league: David Ward, T.Mark Hall, Will Brooks and Sam Aitken. They joined Champion Bei Ge in the League.
The 2008 title match  between Hui Wang and Matthew Macfadyen ended on 1st November. Game 5 was not needed as Matthew Macfadyen won the series three games to one. Bei Ge did not compete for the title in 2008.
The 2009 title match  between Hui Wang and Matthew Macfadyen ended on 26th September. Only 3 games were needed as Matthew Macfadyen won the series three games to nil.
The 2010 title match  was between Vanessa Wong and Matthew Macfadyen. Vanessa won the first game, but Matthew Macfadyen won the next three to retain the title. The last game was actually held on 16th January 2011.
The 2011 title match  was between Nick Krempel and Matthew Macfadyen. The match was reduced to best of three from 2011. Nick won the second close game, but Matthew Macfadyen won the other two to retain the title.
|2012 ||Andrew Kay||2||Nick Krempel||0|
|2013 ||Andrew Kay||2||Andrew Simons||0|
The 2012 title match  was between Nick Krempel and Andrew Kay; Matthew Macfadyen had decided not to defend his title. The match was again a best of three ; Andrew Kay won the first two to win the title for a first time.
The 2013 title match  was between Andrew Kay and Andrew Simons. The match was again a best of three; Andrew Kay won the first two to retain the title for a second year.