This year's Challengers' League, played between the top 8 available players coming out of the Candidates' Tournament, took place at the Goddard Arms in Swindon on the second May Bank Holiday weekend. Paul Barnard and Nick Wedd kindly officiated the proceedings.
Andrew Kay (the reigning British Champion) won all of his games to lead the field, followed by Andrew Simons who won all of his games except for his game against Andrew Kay. Charles Hibbert, playing in his first Challengers' League, finished with 4 wins in third place. Tim Hunt and Alistair Wall were next, with 3 wins each, followed by Richard Hunter and Harry Fearnley on 2 wins each. James Hutchinson completed the field with one win.
Being the top two players at the end of the Challengers' League, Andrew Kay and Andrew Simons will now go on to play for this year's British Championship title.
Des Cann won the Bracknell Tournament for the first time. This was hopefully good preparation for his trip to the World Amateur in June. Others of the 26 players winning all three games were Roger Daniel (5k London) and David Storkey (7k Exeter). Arundel won the team prize, Francis Roads the 13x13 on a tie break, Jil Segerman the problem-solving competition and Pauline Bailey the caption contest.
Following on from Chris Volk winning it last year, the winner this year was German 3 kyu Tobias Ungerer from Cambridge University, who won 4 out of 5 games. His only loss was to Bogdan Ghica who came second on tie break from Richard Mullens and James Murray.
The tournament was generously sponsored by an anonymous benefactor who wishes to support the Bar-Low as a great way to encourage and benefit developing players and so the winner went home with a prize of £30. The second biggest prize was awarded to young Alex Terry (10k), who also won 4. Bob Dryden had estimated his grade at 10k, but won all his games and generously declined a cash prize.
Andrew Simons won all his games to win the first stage of the British Championship. The Candidates' Tournament was held this year at The Fulbourn Centre near to Cambridge thanks to organiser Geoff Kaniuk. 24 players played, qualified based on tournament results in the twelve months up to the end of March, though not all played every round.
The qualifiers to join British Champion Andrew Kay in the Challengers' League are:
However, Des Cann is this year's UK rep for the World Amateur, so will not play and his qualification for the Challengers' League is deferred for one year. His place is taken by the next placed person: Toby Manning 1d on 4/6.
Alistair Wall made an early start in the new season of the Stacey Grand Prix by winning the 2015 Welwyn Garden City Tournament. Coming first at this four round event, held at the Red Lion in Hatfield, means he starts in the lead and looks like he has a good chance of retaining the trophy he collected at the British for the previous 2014-2015 season.
Others of the 24 players who won prizes for three wins were Ngoc-Trang Cao (2d Strasbourg), Tim Hunt (2d Milton Keynes), Karim Secker (5k), Melchior Chui (9k Cambridge), Ben Murphy (10k Billericay) and Alex Terry (10k Bungay). Grimsby's Daffyd Robinson (11k) won the fighting spirit prize.
The British Open was part of the British Go Congress and it was held this year in the Prince Rupert Hotel in Shrewsbury, over a weekend where the weather was described as "inclement". The whole event was sponsored by Pentangle Puzzles and Games.
The weekend started on the Friday afternoon with tuition by Oh Chi Min (7d), who continued with many game reviews over the weekend.
The British Lightning was held on the Friday evening. 28 players played seven tables of four for rounds 1, 2 and 3, then Swiss-style for rounds 4 and 5, to determine the winner as Alex Rix (3d Central London) with 5/5.
The Trigantius tournament was held in the bar of the Cambridge University Social Club in Mill Lane on the bank of the Cam on a gloriously sunny day.
Taking the Trigantius Trophy, and his second title since taking up tournament Go at the start of 2015, was London's Charles Hibbert (3d) with three straight wins.
Other prize-winners on three wins were Alison Bexfield (1d Letchworth), Yuji Tanaka (3k Japan), Martin Harvey (4k Manchester), Philip Smith (5k), Richard Mullens (6k London City), Fred Zhu (7k Cambridge) and Ben Murphy (10k Billericay).
Special prizes were awarded to those on two wins in categories of best Single Figure Kyu and best Double Figure Kyu.
Alistair Wall (2d Wanstead) ended top of the list of 34 players who attended the largest Cheshire Tournament (not counting the 2009 British Open). He beat the previous winner, Mark Elliot (1d Manchester), in the last round.
James Brownrigg (5k Chester) was the only other player on three wins, in this now single-section event.
An enthusiastic and well-behaved party of lads from Cheadle Hulme School did well, all winning at least one game, despite this being - for most of them - their first tournament: Alex Benton (12k) was the best junior and Daniel Gascoyne (27k) was the best novice. Jack Nolan won the most games in the 13x13 side-event (with 8) and Yusuf Hussain, teacher Zaheer's son, played the most games (14).
The players thanked the co-hosts - Tony Pitchford and Tony Atkins - for successfully organising the event.
Charles Hibbert from London entered Maidenhead-Hitachi Tournament as his first ever tournament. Having achieved 3d on both KGS and IGS, he entered at 2 dan and went on to win all three games to claim the Maidenhead title.
Also winning three games, and in second and third place, were Alistair Wall (1d Wanstead) and Jitka Bartova (1d Praha). As usual all players winning three or two games got a prize from the eclectic selection on the prize table or, this year, a mystery envelope. Those on three were: France Ellul (6k Maidenhead) and Fred Holroyd (8k Milton Keynes). 55 players took part.
Both Wanstead and Leamington teams won 9 games out of 16 to get the team prizes of sweets and chocolate. Charlotte Bexfield and Edmund Smith both won 4 games in the 13x13 side event.
Congratulations to Centrol London Go Club A team, Franciso Divers, Michael Webster and Chuck Fisher, for winning the 2014 season of the online league ahead of Belfast and claiming back the GoGoD shield, which they last held in 2011, from Edinburgh.
The second division was won by Cornish Rogues (Paul Massey, John Culmer and Rob White), who will be moving up to the first division next year, narrowly beating the Three Counties team.
We are starting to take bookings for the next season of the online league, which we hope to start promptly in April, so please could everyone who wants to take part get in touch with me at jmc AT toad.me.uk to confirm that they want to play.
Whilst we like to have teams associated with clubs, people on their own are very welcome to join up with an existing team which is low on members, so please don't hold back.