Depends on what you are looking for. Do you want to get an official rank from the AGA and participate in their official tournaments? If so, then it seems that joining the AGA is the way to Go.
However, if you are just looking for a club and to meet some local people to play, then maybe it is worth searching for some nearby chapters. Some of these chapters/clubs might not even collect a membership fee to participate in their meetups and local activities.
I believe the EGF is more of a parent federation of other national Go federations from across Europe, so you would not join the EGF directly, but rather, you would join an appropriate national Go federation instead, and I think those generally charge some sort of membership fee, in order to get an official rank and participate in official tournaments (which may have their own entrance fees as well).
EGF is an association of European Countries association. These Countries association give money to EGF collected on their own members so my guess is you won’t find any free full membership in European clubs.
Some clubs will not charge you from the first time you join as a welcome procedure but most will still expect you to become contributor if you want to stay. Depending on how you want to participate like if you are not interesteed in tournaments and local development, some will not charge you anything.
If you don’t find, you always have the option to create your own association with no entrance fee, that could interest some more players, and see what you can do together and how far you can go in your relationship with other associations.
Or you can pay to join and go into the realm of go association politics and convince members that a free membership is something good to develop.
Honestly I wanted to join an association so I could get my official rank. I don’t plan on joining live tournaments at the moment, due to the problems of today.
That’s a fun idea . Maybe my fellow NZ Tournaments friends will be into that
If joining an association means participating in actual tournaments and paying to have an “official” rank, then for now I will wait before jumping on that band wagon. Thank you for explaining it all for me
Honestly many players join because of these same reasons but that’s a very limited view of what an association does.
Many only focus on some direct benefits but forget all the promotion and development of go side.
And these association are not in any case a money factory, a huge part of the efforts being accomplished by volonteers.
A rank has no value if it’s not based on tournaments. If you want to have a reliable rank you need to play in official tournaments. I suppose it’s possible to participate in EGF tournaments without being a member of an association? For instance, some Asian players participate in the EU go congress. However most tournaments require paying an entrance fee between 5€ and 30€.
You can find a club near you and join it over on https://baduk.club
As those above me described though, the only way to get an “official” rank is to pay money and play in person. Of course OGS ranks are pretty reliable though.
It’s a bit missleading to talk only about the entrance fee, as many tournaments will ask you to be member of an association too. (And propose you to join if you are not). In Europe that will be the case for tournaments which send their results to the EGF for the rating ladder.
For what do you need an offical rank? I assume you’re talking about some rank diploma?
The EGF only manages live EGF tournament ratings (and some online, more so during the pandemic), but the EGF does not award offical ranks / diplomas other than EGF pro ranks.
A few national associations in Europe have a ranking commission that award official amateur ranks / diplomas (such as dan diplomas).
But (for example) the FFG (French go federation) is not going to give you an official rank / diploma when you live outside France, are not a member of the FFG and don’t play in French clubs or tournaments.
I don’t know if the AGA awards official ranks / diplomas other than AGA pro ranks, but I guess they also mostly manage live AGA tournament ratings of AGA members.
I don’t know if they are still issued on paper, but I got a paper 4d diploma as late as 2005, from the Dutch go association.
Kyu diplomas on paper are also still issued be a few clubs here (for selected kyu ranks, like mile stones, in the colors of judo kyu belts) and the Dutch go association is thinking about making these national (again), officially recognized by the Dutch go association.