Go In Britain: 2016
2016 was dominated by the news that a computer programme had beaten a professional. France's Fan Hui lost to Google DeepMind's AlphaGo in a match at the end of 2015 (refereed by the BGA's Toby Manning), but not announced until 27th January when it was also announced it would be playing the very best player, Lee Sedol of Korea. All eyes were on this match between 9th and 15th March, which AlphaGo won four games to one.
The tournament scene in 2016 was dominated by Chinese players, both residents and visitors. Alistair Wall again won the Stacey Trophy for 2015-2016 and was top native player with three tournament wins.
Roger Huyshe took over as BGA president at the AGM in Sheffield from Jon Diamond who had served for seven years.
Internationally our online team continued to do well in B-League and our player was 21st in the World Amateur.
British Go Congress
The British Go Congress was held at the Royal Victoria Hotel in Sheffield in April. 84 players took part in the British Open, won this year by Ziyi Zhang (5d). Second was Wenshi Chen (5d from Warwick University), third was Junnan Jiang (4d from Oxford) and fourth was Bruno Poltronieri (4d from Cambridge). On the Friday afternoon, Andrew Kay ran a teaching session and Lucas Baker talked about AlphaGo and showed its 9 dan diploma. Later that day Andrew Kay won the British Lightning ahead of Alison Bexfield. The Annual General Meeting was held as usual on the Saturday evening.
In 2016 the tournament scene was dominated by players of Chinese ancestry, both residents and visitors. Alistair Wall was the only player to win three events, though, winning Skye, Bracknell and Swindon. Alex Kent won Durham and the Wessex. Andrew Simons won Maidenhead, Toby Manning won Cornwall and Tony Atkins won the Cornish Handicap. Czech's Jitka Bartova won Trigantius and Milton Keynes, and American player Lucas Baker won Cheshire. A new Belfast Handicap was won by local player Tiberiu Gociu, originally from Romania.
Xinyi Liu won both the Northern and Sheffield, Song Han won Welwyn Garden City, Hongyi Chen won the Scottish, Wenshi Chen won the Welsh, Philip Leung won Coventry, Daqun Wang won Belfast, Yangran Zhang win Three Peaks, Sai Sun from Beijing won Arundel and America's Stephen Hu won the Edinburgh Christmas Tournament.
The MSO was held again at the JW3 centre in London; this time Sai Sun from Beijing won both the Open and the 13x13, whilst Michael Webster won the 9x9.
There was no online league completed in 2016 and the autumn London team match was a head-to-head between winners Wanstead and Nippon Club.
The DDK Grand Prix was won by Joel Barrett from Manchester with 444 points, starting the year at 20k and ending it above 10k. Alan Stokes from Manchester with 438 points won the 10k-19k section, ahead of Daniel Gascoyne on 370.
The 26th edition of the British Pair Go Championship was held again at the Red Lion in Hatfield and attracted 16 pairs. New champions were Joanne Leung and Bruno Poltronieri; they beat Elaine Yu and Chao Zhang in the final. The handicap section was won by Helen Harvey playing with school boy Daniel Gascoyne. In addition in 2016 there was the usual Pair Go at the London Open, but the UK did not attend the European and International Amateur Pair Go Championships.
The Candidates' Tournament was held in Letchworth Garden City; 16 players took part. Winner was Junnan Jiang. The Challengers’ League was held for the first time at the Young Chelsea Bridge Club in West London. Junnan Jiang and Charles Hibbert both ended with six wins and would both be playing the title match for the first time. 2015 champion Andrew Simons was equal third with Des Cann. The first of the best of three games match to decide the title was won by Charles Hibbert, in August, and Junnan Jiang won the second in December to leave the match tied at year end.
Not many UK players attended the European Go Congress in St Petersburg; George Wen (3d) was 165th. Joanna Leung was ninth in both the European Women’s in Antwerp and the European Students’ in Amsterdam.
The World Amateur was held in Wuxi in China and our rep, Andrew Simons, won five games to come 21st. Unfortunately our player to the Korea Prime Minister Cup had problems with his flight tickets and did not attend.
The UK team ended the 2015-2016 season of the Pandanet European Teams in an excellent fifth position in the B-League. At the end of 2016 they were still doing well, being in second place (fourth after tie-break), having beaten Belgium, Turkey, Croatia and Sweden.
The Irish Open (Confucius Cup) was again a big international event, with 44 players in 2016. Top was Korea's Oh Mingyu and second was Euro-pro Mateusz Surma. Top UK player was Toby Manning in 16.
The Youth Championship was held this year at the National Space Centre in Leicester. It was attended by 43 youngsters, aged from 5 to 17, and included two small boys just moved from China and several players from Scotland. Zaki Betesh was the Youth Champion, also winning Under-16. Elom Willson was the runner up and Under-18 champion. Under-14 was won by Josh Gorman from Glasgow, Under-12 by Edmund Smith, Under-10 by Hannah Kudla and Under-8 by George Han. Yueran Wang of Bloxham was the Open Winner and Alfred Shu of Reading was the Open Under-8 champion.. The Castledine Trophy was won for the first time by Impington Village School and best junior school was James Gillespie's Primary School from Edinburgh.
The finals of the thirteenth UK Go Challenge were unfortunately cancelled after a problem with the venue.
The Youth Grand Prix ran for another year. Edmund Smith moved up from 2015's second place to win easily with 1028 points. Second was Zaki Betesh from Cheadle Hulme School with 640 and young George Han was third with 621.
The European youth team league saw our team beating a combined Italy-Switzerland-Austria team to come sixth in the second season, but losing to Serbia at the start of the third. Edmund Smith took 12th place in the Under-12 in the European Youth in Subotica in Romania.
The London Open ended the year as usual. 112 players took part in the Open, and much fun was had by all. Romanian professional Catalin Taranu gave lectures and analysed games too. 20 pairs took part in the Pair Go and the winners were Gudrun Breitenbauch and Gerry Gavigan. Second were Yansai Noeysoongnoen and Andrew Simons. The winner of the Lightning was Chi-Min Oh who previously won the lightning in 2014; he beat his girlfriend Zoe Constans in the final.
The Open ended up with two players on 6 wins out of seven at the top. They were declared joint winners: Seong-Jin Kim from Berlin and Qiuchi Li now living in the UK. Other players who won 6 games were Mike Webster from London and Yoshitaka Nakayama from Japan, Dan Rawson from Wanstead who was the best player below 10k. Peter Hu from the US was the best player below the bar. Andrew Simons took the David Ward Trophy for top British player.