Entering Your First Tournament

In Advance


Do let the organisers know that you are planning to attend. It helps with their planning and they can enter you into the computer system doing the draw beforehand, to shorten the time it takes at registration. The more important reason is to ensure that there are enough Go sets for everybody to play on!

It will help if you belong to a club to let the organisers know that as well, as our draw computer will try and avoid matching you against other members of your club.

Most UK tournaments do not take payment in advance or credit/debit cards, so you will probably need to bring the cash with you on the day.

If you are not going to be able to play after you have said you would please contact the organisers. Email is normally fine, but there is usually also a phone number specified on the entry form/flyer.

Your Entry Grade

If you have played in a club then ask an experienced member to suggest an entry grade.

If you have played against someone with a known grade face to face then ask them for advice.

If you have only played online then our current advice when entering a UK tournament is to subtract two grades from your online rating, e.g. if on Pandanet or KGS you are rated at 11 kyu then enter at 13 kyu, but please advise the organiser on the basis you have selected your entry grade, so that he can take advice if necessary.

However if your online rating is 4 dan or above then enter at 2 dan, tell the organiser about your online grade and ask for permission to enter at a higher grade if you want to do so. He will then need to ask permission from us to do so and will require some evidence from you.

Handicap Games

As most UK tournaments use the McMahon system you should expect to play even games against players of roughly your own strength. If you win you may play stronger players and if you lose you may play weaker ones.

If you have a strength towards the bottom of the entry list, then you may play handicap games as well. The organisers will tell you how many stones are involved.

Terms such as MMS, SOS, WMD, SODOS and NBW are used for tie-breaking in the McMahon system. Ask someone if you are confused - they will be happy to help you.

On the Day

Do turn up before the final time quoted for registration and let the organisers know that you are there (they should tick you off against their list), otherwise you may get left out of the draw for the first round. Please also stay for the Prize Giving - you never know, you might have won something even if you did not win all your games!

If you are late or lost there is usually a mobile number specified on the entry form/flyer to contact the organisers. Please let them know, so that they can try and make special arrangements for you.

The organisers will normally announce the draw for the first round, stating who is black and white, and then post it on a wall for you to see. Listen for your name and the board number and then go to where that board is - possibly a separate room to where the announcement is being made.

Using a Clock

There will be a (Chess) clock next to each board to monitor the times being used for each player. It is your responsibility for making sure that the clock you have been given is set so that the flag will fall when the fixed time runs out, e.g. if the limit is 40 minutes then the minute hand should be set to 20 past the hour. Oh, and check that the clocks are wound up and that both go when you press the buttons!

White normally starts the clock, Black plays and then presses the clock with the hand he plays the stone with to start White's clock running and so on. The clock should not normally be stopped during the game, so if you leave the board for whatever reason you should expect you opponent to play and start your clock... Do not forget to press your clock after you have made a move. This will become a habit in due course, but your opponent will probably not warn you if you do not.

You should not stop the clock except at the end of the game (or if it is necessary to call the referee in the event of a dispute). If you need to leave the board - for a drink, to visit the toilet or a cigarette - this will be in your own time.

It is your responsibility to note the status of your opponent's clock and bring it to his/her attention if the flag falls. If the flag falls and you do not notice that is just too bad!

Clocks should normally be started soon after the draw for the round is announced. You should not wait indefinitely for your opponent to turn up - look around and if other games have started please start your opponent's clock (if you are Black then play your move also).

Time Limits

The initial time limit announced will probably be considerably longer than any you have played to before, especially if you have been used to playing online. It is advisable to use your time wisely and not play too quickly or too slowly (difficult we know), but do not speed up if your opponent is in time trouble, continue to play at your natural pace.

Most UK tournaments use Canadian overtime to ensure that games finish in good time for the scheduled number of rounds. You will be given a fixed amount of time each and normally an additional time plus number of stones (expressed as stones/time in minutes, e.g. 10/5). If the tournament uses it please ask someone when you get there exactly how it works.

When the fixed time runs out (flag falls) then the player whose time has run out counts out the required number of stones and covers their bowl of stones. At the same time the opponent resets the clock to the overtime period (e.g. 5 minutes). If the overtime period runs out before a player has used all these counted stones then he/she has lost. If the stones run out then the clock is reset for another period. For some tournaments this may be a different number of stones/period than for the first period (e.g. 10/5, followed by 20/5 then 30/5).


Komi is compensation given to White for Black playing first and is normally 7.5 points (to ensure that draws do not occur). In some tournaments it is exactly 7 points, so that a draw can occur (this is called jigo). It is not given as prisoners and is taken into account when you count at the end of the game.


You do not necessarily to read these links. They have been included for completeness: For rules of tournaments and tournament play, in contrast to the rules of Go, we have a standard set of approved Go tournament rules. The rules of the events of the various British championships are in the British Championship section.

Unless otherwise stated all UK tournaments use slightly modified American Go Association rules for play. In general you will not notice any difference to any other set of rules you might have played previously, but it does involve Pass Stones:

  • When you think the game is over please ensure that you have played on all neutral points. If you have not, then the game is not over! If you have then say Pass, give your opponent a prisoner and press your clock. The game ends when there are two consecutive Passes, but White must Pass last.

If there is a dispute, e.g. whether the game is really over, the status of some groups or what happens when both player's clocks have run out of time, then please stop both your clocks and contact an organiser to get help. The organiser's decision is normally final.

Reporting Results

It is the responsibility of the winner to write the result (usually 0 for a loss or 1 for a win or circling the winner) on the Results Sheet, normally posted on a wall near your game. Please do so as soon as possible after your win. If you do not then the result may be taken as a loss for both players - remember the organisers need time do the draw so that the next round can start on time.

Other stuff

Use your time between rounds:

  • You can review your game - preferably somewhere else so that your discussion does not disturb other games. Stronger players are usually happy to help with analysis and advice if you ask them. Please do not be shy!
  • Sometimes there are lectures by stronger players - make sure you participate
  • There are often side events, e.g. 13x13 games self-paired - use every opportunity to play!
  • Play friendly games with someone else, perhaps your opponent again.

Please note that it is normal practice for results to be published on our web-site; the only data to be published will be your name and your club, or possibly your town. Results will also be sent to the European Go Federation and will be available on the European Go Database website.


Experience has taught most Go players to place any drinks well away from the Go bowl. Other players tend to find it amusing to watch someone, who is staring intently at the board, reaching out for a stone and ending up finding out all about the temperature of the coffee. On a more cataclysmic scale this can lead to liquid over the board or a bowl full of stones going flying across the floor.

Please do not make a noise during your game, or after it if you are analysing it, or whilst watching a game as this will disturb the concentration of players in other games - there will almost always be some games that go to the full time limits. Also, if you leave your board please make as little noise as possible on your way out.

Stopping the clock and/or placing multiple stones on the board is a good way to resign when there is a language barrier (or even when not...).


Play in another tournament! There is one most weekends in the UK.

Your entry grade for your next tournament will probably be different from your entry grade for this one. If you win or lose a high proportion of games (>65%) then your entry grade for next time should almost certainly be different. Our rating list will be updated a few days after the tournament with the results. If you are better than 20 kyu, then this shows a strength for you that you should use next time. If you're improving rapidly then you may want to consider entering at a higher entry grade than this suggests. Unfortunately, we cannot show strengths lower than 20 kyu so if you are in this group please ask an experienced player for advice.

Oh, and if your grade has not yet passed 10 kyu, you will have earned some points in the DDK Grand Prix!

Last updated Sat Nov 04 2017. If you have any comments, please email the webmaster on web-master AT britgo DOT org.