There are often opportunities to demonstrate Go as part of a convention, festival or exhibition. In the past Go has been demonstrated at anime and games conventions, Japanese and Chinese festivals, exhibitions of oriental art and culture, and so on.
The type of demonstration to be considered is the kind where a stall is manned on a continuous basis over several hours, with members of the public stopping by to learn about the game.
Though it might seem obvious what is needed to carry out these demonstrations, we have collected here various useful pieces of advice collected from experience of these events over twenty years.
Areas to be considered are:
Also ensure you have enough volunteer teachers to man the stall, with a chance for each teacher to have some time off for refreshments or a chance to see what the rest of the event has to offer. It is worth keeping, say, bottled watered behind the stand in case you are too busy to get away.
The location for your demonstration is very important.
Usually, as the stall is not for commercial purposes, organisers of events will let you have a stall for free. However this may mean you are a second class citizen in their eyes and be largely ignored and squeezed into some appropriate spot late in the planning.
Make sure the organiser is happy to include you in their programme and on their website. Usually you will have to provide them with appropriate wording about Go, provide the BGA logo or other suitable picture or graphic, and provide contact details. At least then if people miss you or forget what you have told them they can look it up afterwards.
Now teaching Go creates a bit of noise through chatter, so it is no good being somewhere where you have to be quiet (for instance if there is a performance going on), and similarly as you need to be heard so it is no good being next to the taiko drummers or someone playing loud pop music. Usually there is an appropriate demonstration or sales area where you can be located.
You next need to be somewhere where people will see you. The entrance to the refreshment room worked very well, but under a staircase in a dark dead-end corridor did not!
If you are outside, then it may be best to be in a tent or under a veranda as it sometimes rains (or worse) in the UK. However if the weather is nice an outside spot would be grand. Watch out for wind being a hazard as stones and leaflets will blow away, or if too strong even the tent!
Although Go can be played on the floor, most people will expect to be able to sit at table and chairs to play. Of course if you have a demo board on a stand and space to do it, then some people will like to stand up and play on the demo board, or watch others do the same.
You need enough table room for usually two people each side to sit and play, or more room if you have more helpers, and room for anything you are displaying and for the leaflets and so on. The minimum for two teachers is a table 2m to 3m long. Longer than this and you will feel lost. However if you have lots of things to display - such as a Go ban, computer, sales stock - you will need more table space.
A cloth might be needed to cover the table if it is too old and dirty, or to improve presentation. A suitable old sheet or blanket would do, or the organisers may provide rolls of paper.
Chairs should be a minimum of two each side, but often families or couples turn up and some want to sit and watch one of them play, so more chairs are useful. Beware of other groups taking them if they are temporarily not in use - guard your territory well!
Additional stall space will be needed for a demo board on a stand or for display boards of photos etc.
If your stall is against a wall then you have the advantage of being able to put up pictures and signs, but check what fixing medium is allowed. If you have a computer, then you will probably need to make sure there is a power source.
Obviously you will need Go sets. Most people believe 9x9 is the best size to start teaching on, and certainly the length of game played on 9x9 is the most suitable for the amount of time people will want to spend on their first game. If people come back for more then you could introduce 13x13, but it is not essential.
9x9 sets of stones in pots with secure lids is the best playing material to bring, but beware of being outside when plastic stones may blow away.
Beware of having a 19x19 board on the stand. Often someone who has played before will turn up and want to play on the big board against one of the teachers. This then has the affect of locking up half your teaching space and teaching resource for an hour or more. If the board is not there then the problem goes away. Especially nice though is to have a Go ban to look at, though usually this is impractical to bring because of the size and weight, and because it takes up a lot of display space. If you have a 19x19 mat then it would useful just to show the size to students, but keep it out of sight of the returning veteran.
Sometimes it is possible to have a seperate playing area - say in a lounge or cafe - and leave a suitable set for people to play on - though security may be an issue.
Having the stall looking welcoming is part of the trick of attracting people.
Covering the table with a cloth, and sticking photos and pictures on the unused areas makes the stall look better.
Using the wall space behind effectively is important, so make sure there are some good pictures, posters and signs behind (and do not forget tape or blutack to stick them up). It is good to have a sign inviting people to learn Go and that it is free - some people expect activities at events to cost money. Sometimes you may not have a wall and, unless you have a display board to hand, you will have to display material on a table top.
There are some posters available for display purposes and also display panels available here . Printed copies of the posters are available from the Secretary.
The BGA owns a pull-up free standing banner that can form an eye-catching part of your display. There is also a horizontal BGA banner (about 2 metres long) that can be tied up on to suitable fixings. Both of these are available for loan (please contact the BGA secretary in good time). If not available, put the BGA logo on your signs. BGA posters can be obtained from the secretary. It is also useful to put up posters elsewhere in the venue telling people where to find you.
There are various photos on the BGA website that you can print off for display. The old Japanese Go prints that feature in calendars and on the cover of Go World magazines are always interesting to display - picking designs appropriate to the event.
If you have a computer running a presentation or automatically playing through games, this will additinally attract attention.
You should have copies of the various BGA leaflets to give out to those you teach. It is always hard to know how many to bring, but you would be doing well to teach 50 people in a day. The cartoon booklet is designed for children, but as it is simple adults like it too.
For passing trade and casual enquiries the trifold leaflet is the cheapest to give out, so a larger stock of these should be brought.
All leaflets can be obtained from the BGA via the Secretary.
Also you need a few things to show people. A beginners books is useful, for instance "Teach Yourself Go", so that people can know they can study Go if serious about it. If it is an anime convention then a display copy of "Hikaru No go" is a must. Sample journals are also available from the BGA, for display purposes or, if sufficient are available, for giving to people interested in joining.
Make sure you know the local Go club contact information and from any neighbouring cities from where people may come. It may we worth producing your own local flyer giving contacts for your club and a few neighbouring ones. Here is a sample flyer which was produced for an event in Leicestershire. Always mention to people the BGA website, as printed on the leaflets, for a source of information about where to play and so on.
If you are not selling sets, but do have a local games shop that sells Go sets, make sure you have their details to pass to local people who want to buy. Otherwise recommend Pentangle via the BGA web site.
There are almost as many ways to teach Go as to play it.
Whatever way you do it, it must be simple and easy to understand. Do not include too much in the first lesson. Certainly teach how to place stones (and that they do not move), how to capture stones and what the aim of the game is (control more than half the board). You may also like to explain the concept of territory.
The main thing is to get them playing quickly against you and talk them through extra concepts, for instance eyes and ko, when they occur.
Best is to play handicap games, for instance 5 stones (or even 6) on a 9x9 board. However always describe this as a head start, not a handicap, as people think handicaps count against them. However watch out for the ringer: the old guy who says that he played once or twice at the London Go Centre in the 1970s, who after you have given him 5 stone start reveals he was 5 kyu.
Always encourage the student. Never criticise them for misplaying a joseki for instance. If they play into atari say that it is a trap, but sometimes it is good, though usually is not.
After their lesson give them the leaflet with the rules and more in for them to study. Often they do and come back the next day with questions and the desire to play more.
Do not try and run a tournament for the beginners, unless there is a captive audience who have been around for several days and contantly returning to play. Most people just want to play once and move on, with the option of a pressure free second game if they return. Also it would take up a lot of space and resource which would be better used for teaching.
Always have a stock set of answers mentally prepared for the usual questions that students may ask, though there is usually one question that you have never thought of before.
If the terms of your event allow it, it is nice to be able to offer those who are really keen the chance to get their own Go set and book.
However this takes a lot of effort to organise.
Firstly you will need a stock of sets and books. Pentangle will usually supply these on a sale or return basis but there might be a cost for delivery or return. Also the stock is something else to have to carry to your stall, often from a distant car park or from the station. A venue that has convenient on-site parking is a rarity, and often unloading is not easy.
If you do decide to sell, then the best Go sets are 9x9 ones or the 13x13 ones with 9x9 on the back. The two types are the one with Go mats, which are cheaper and lighter, and the ones with plywood boards in pizza boxes, which are nicer to play on. You should avoid 19x19 sets as this would be a big commitment for a student to make and, as you know, small boards are better to learn on.
You may also supply a beginners book at a reasonable price, such as that by Charles Matthews or that by Neil Moffatt (both British Go players), but do not expect to sell as many as the sets.
The BGA can supply you with a supply of such sets and books to sell, heavily discounted and on a sale or return basis. You should contact the bookseller  in good time to discuss your requirements.
Also you will need appropriate amounts of change and somewhere to keep it. You will find a lot of people will not have cash on them, but at least you can show them what they can buy and direct them to Pentangle to buy on line.