Go in Britain 2019
2019 was a year of stability, with the London Go Centre in its second year and the usual range of UK tournaments, again dominated by players with Chinese heritage. Two events celebrated noteworthy anniversaries: Wessex at 50 and Cambridge Junior Chess and Go Club at 25. Andrew Kay regained the British Champion title.
British Go Congress
The British Go Congress was held in a hotel in Manchester in April and attracted a good 80 players to the British Open. This was won by Chao Zhang from London. In second place was Xenrui Xu from Cambridge. Peikai Xue won the Lightning; the weekend featured teaching by Toby Manning and the Annual General Meeting as usual. Alistair Wall with 31 points managed to stay ahead of Chao Zhang’s 28 points to regain the annual Stacey Grand Prix trophy.
In 2019 the tournaments were mostly won by players from China now living in the UK. The top event winner was again Chang Zhao, the businessman and former Chinese professional from London; he won Maidenhead, Harpenden, Oxford and the MSO 13x13. Peikai Xue won three tournaments, with victories at the Scottish, Swindon and Three Peaks, and also the T Mark Hall Lightning special side event at the 50th Wessex. Nottingham University’s Tetsuro Yoshitake won his local event, Durham and Sheffield. Tungyang Xie won Trigantius and Small Board, both local to him in Cambridge. Zheng Li won Wessex and Coventry.
Single event winners were as follows: Xunrui Zhao (Welsh), Daniel Hu (MSO), Daqun Wang (Belfast), Jingchen Sun (Northern), Toby Manning (Cornwall), Miles Henderson-Smith (Cornish Handicap), Matthew Scott (Edinburgh Christmas), Andrew Simons (Cheshire) and Alistair Wall (Arundel).
Events at the London Go Centre included visits by professionals Liu Yajie and Antti Tormanen, the London International Teams won by Wanstead A, a Varsity match, a self-paired event won by Richard Wheeldon, the Guy Fawkes won by Zeyu Qiu, T Mark Hall Rapid won by Zhiqing Zhang, Not the London Open won by Paul Smith and Lightning won by Joanne Leung, and the Bar-Low won by Rawle Michelson.
The Leo Phillips Isle of Man Go Festival was held again in Port Erin in August. Richard Hunter won the Open, Sandy Taylor the Afternoon event, Ed Blockley won the Handicap and Charlotte Bexfield won the 13x13.
The DDK Grand Prix was won by Caleb Monk from London, with 688 points, ahead of Pierre Oliviere on 680 and Caleb's father Joe Monk with 655. Ryan Zhang was the best player who started at 20 kyu or below with 625 points.
The 29th edition of the British Pair Go Championship was held again at the Red Lion in Hatfield and attracted 13 pairs. The champions were Joanne Leung and Bruno Poltronieri for a second year running. The handicap section was won by Lizzie Pollitt and Sam Barnett. As well as the London Open Pair Go, Pair Go was also played at the youth camp for the first time (won by Alex Hsieh and David Baldwin).
The Candidates' Tournament in Letchworth attracted only 15 players, eight of whom took part in the Challengers’ League at the London Go Centre. Andrew Kay won both events, with Andrew Simons taking the other title match place. Played in the autumn, Andrew Kay won the match two games to Andrew Simon’s one, to become the champion for the fourth time in eight years.
The World Amateur was held in Matsue in Japan and our representative was Andrew Kay, winning four games to end in 27th position. Andrew was also our player in the Korea Prime Minister Cup winning four games to come a very creditable 9th.
Our online team excellently ended the 2018-2019 season of the European B-League in seventh, avoiding the relegation zone. They lost to Austria and Sweden, drew against Switzerland and Turkey, but beat Norway. At the start of the 2019-2020 season, they had good results with wins against Turkey and Netherlands, a draw with Finland and a loss to Sweden, to end the year in fourth.
The Irish Open and Confucius Cup were split into separate events. The first was won by Tunyang Xie (4d) from Cambridge (who also won the Irish Rapid) and the second by Young-Sam Kim (8d) from Germany. Philippe Renaut won in Galway. The Irish team notably won the D-League and at the end of 2019 was top of the C-League.
The Youth Championship was held at a hotel near Rugby, attended by 55 youngsters aged from 6 to 17. Jayden Ng from Bromsgrove was the Youth Champion and Under-18 champion. Runner up and Open Under-10 winner was Gene Wong, who was living in London. Daniel Yang (under-10 champion) from Birmingham and George Han from London were third. Under-16 was won by Edmund Smith, Under-14 by Scott Cobbold, Under-12 by Zoe Walters and Under-8 by Alexander Timperi. William Zhibo Wang was Open Under-12 winner. The winner of the beginners’ section was Ben Levy from Cheadle Hulme. The Castledine Trophy was won by Cheadle Hulme School and best junior school was again Harpenden Academy.
The finals of the sixteenth UK Go Challenge were held in the autumn alongside the British Small Board, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Cambridge Junior Chess and Go Club. First was George Han, second was Edmund Smith and third was Scott Cobbold. Harpenden won both team trophies, with Sir John Lawes and the Academy taking senior and junior respectively.
The Youth Grand Prix, with 115 young competitors, was won by Caleb Monk with 980 points. Edmund Smith was second with 900 points and third was Alexander Hsieh with 864.
The European Youth Go Team Championship for 2018-2019 ended with our team beating Hungary, but losing to Czechia, to end seventh out of twelve teams. At the start of the 2019-2020 season they lost to Russia A, but beat Netherlands.
No players went to the European Youth, but 26 youngsters joined the third BGA Youth Residential, again held at Caythorpe Court, an adventure holiday centre in Lincolnshire, at the end of August. Hilary Bexfield won the camp’s tournament.
The London Open ended the year as usual. It was held again at the London Go Centre. Entry was limited to a 100, but dropouts meant only 87 took part. The professional player teaching this year was Catalin Taranu. The winner of the Lightning was Scott Cobbold (5k) who beat organiser Gerry Gavigan (10k) in the final. The Pair Go was won by Zeyu Qiu and Peikai Xue, who beat Italy's Marta and Davide Bernardis in that final. For the first time since 1987, the Open was won by a British player. Daniel Hu won six games to win on sos tie-break from Zeyu Qiu. Naturally this earned Daniel the David Ward Trophy too. Third was Lucas Neirynck from France and noteworthy was young Sam Barnett winning all seven games at 10k.