British Go Congress History

In 1967 there was a small tournament in Oxford. It was a success, so we got together again between 22nd and 24th March 1968 at Jesus College Oxford for the first British Go Congress. The tournament was run on a handicap basis and the weekend including accommodation cost about £5. The Annual General Meeting of the British Go Association was held during this weekend, making it the Congress and not just another Tournament.

The event was repeated the following year in Bristol, and then in 1970 at St. John's Cambridge. That weekend had handicap and open sections and featured an Association dinner as well as the AGM.

The Leeds Congress in 1971 was where the McMahon system was first tried, and an attempt was still made to select the British Champion from the event. Francis Roads ran the 1972 congress in London and instigated the Friday night lightning. The Japanese Ambassador was a patron of the event and Games and Puzzles magazine donated subscriptions as prizes. Full board accommodation and entry was £6.05.

In 1973 it moved to Scotland for the first time; normally the tournament was six rounds, but in Edinburgh they played eight over three days including the Monday. 1974 was in Reading, with JAL as a sponsor and a good spread of photographs from the event in the British Go Journal. The BBC filmed it for the Open Door programme.

More on the first Congresses

Alsager, London, Leicester and Manchester were the next four, the latter having the infamous stolen suitcase incident. The universities of England continued to be visited in Bath, Birmingham and York. In 1982 president Toby Manning organised the Congress in Nottingham with help of local secretary Tony Atkins. The full board cost of the weekend was £32.75.

The Congress has never been to the same location twice, but the policy of moving round so that people in different areas can easily attend has meant it returning to the same city more than once. After Coventry the 1984 Congress there was a return to Manchester, but to a different hall of residence. After Worcester, the Crewe half of Crewe and Alsager College was visited and then Wells Hall at Reading. This was the last Congress where smoking in the playing hall was allowed, and then only in one of two rooms.

Next came two school venues: Stowe and Oakham; and then Salford in Greater Manchester. 1991 saw Canterbury used as a dress rehearsal for the 1992 European, in which year the British was again in Nottingham. Then the order continues Norwich, Warwick, Felsted (run by Wanstead Club), Durham and Egham.

Normally the local club is involved in running the event but sometimes not (Leicester ran Oakham for instance). The 1998 event was held at the social club of British Aerospace's factory with accommodation being booked in hotels in Chester, a change from the normal on-site stay; this actually took the Congress for the first time to Wales. Steve Bailey of West Surrey club ran the event at Abingdon School in 1999, and Keith Osborne of Norwich ran Ipswich in 2000, despite there actually being a local club.

The Congress in 2001 returned to Wales, with the Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff being Gerry Mills' and Geoff Cross's location, but being the capital it actually felt like Wales. The Congress logo involved Welsh and Chinese dragons. Players stayed in nearby hotels like at Chester.

Capital cities continued the theme in 2002, with Donald MacLeod running the congress at Pollack Halls, University of Edinburgh, which made a welcome return to Scotland.

For 2003 the venue was Penzance, which has never been a capital, even of Cornwall, and 2004 was in Milton Keynes in the heart of England. 2005 saw a return to Leicester and 2006 was held in Lancaster in North-West England. The 40th in 2007 was in Cambridge and in 2008 it was in Hastings. 2009 was, for a second time, in Chester and 2010 saw another return, to Edinburgh. 2011 saw the Congress in the small country town of Malmesbury in Wiltshire and 2012 a return to Durham. 2013 was in Stevenage.

2014 was held alongside the European Youth Go Championship in Bognor Regis and 2015 was in Shrewsbury and 2016 in Sheffield. The fiftieth event, in 2017, continued the Oxbridge theme, that started in 1968, by being held in Cambridge. The next two events were held in hotels in Bristol and Manchester respectively.

There was no congress in 2020 because of the Coronavirus pandemic, with the AGMs for 2020 and 2021 both being held online on Zoom; the Congress was eventually held in Leicester in October 2021. 2022 moved back to its slot near Easter, at Lancaster Universty. In 2023 the Congress was held outside Great Britain for the first time when it was held in Belfast, jointly with the Irish Go Association.

1968157Jesus College, Oxford
1969250Churchill Hall, Bristol
1970360St John's, Cambridge
1971454Devonshire Hall, Leeds
19725>90Queen Mary College Halls, Woodford
1973661Bryson House, Heriott-Watt, Edinburgh
19747104Wessex Hall, Reading
19758116Alsager College
19769108Imperial College, London
197710108Gilbert Murray Hall, Leicester
197811>100Owens Park, Manchester
197912n/aUniversity of Bath
198013104Birmingham University
198114n/aYork University
198215112Willoughby Hall, Nottingham
19831696Lanchester Poly, Coventry
19841780Ashburne Hall, Manchester
19851870Worcester College of Education
19861986Crewe & Alsager College, Crewe
198720120Wells Hall, Reading University
198821106Stowe School
19892284Oakham School
19902396Salford University
19912470Canterbury University
19922599Derby Hall, Nottingham
19932670University of East Anglia, Norwich
199427114Warwick University, Coventry
19952875Felsted School, Essex
19962978Durham University
19973083Royal Holloway, Egham
19983174British Aerospace, Chester
19993280Abingdon School
20003359Novotel, Ipswich
20013473Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff
20023548Pollock Halls, Edinburgh
20033650Queen's Hotel, Penzance
20043767Holiday Inn, Milton Keynes
20053862Stamford Hall, Leicester
20063948Lancaster Grammar School/Gregson Community Centre, Lancaster
20074098Selwyn College, Cambridge
20084150Horntye Park Sports Complex, Hastings
20094261Westminster Hotel/The Olde Custom House, Chester
20104374Teviot Row House/Canon's Gait, Edinburgh
20114448Malmesbury Town Hall, Wiltshire
20124563Durham School/Dunelm House
20134667Cromwell Hotel, Stevenage
20144761Butlins, Bognor Regis
20154868Prince Rupert Hotel, Shrewsbury
20164984Royal Victoria Hotel, Sheffield
20175068Centre for Mathematical Science, Cambridge
20185158Future Inns Hotel, Bristol
20195280MacDonald Hotel, Manchester
20215333Novotel, Leicester
20225448Lancaster University
Last updated Sun Apr 02 2023.
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