Real life go tournaments: how do you experience them?

I was late to join the contest. To my surprise there was many girls. I sat down in no time and began a game with a girl. The board was rare, it was 15x15. Ok, I would play at the center point if I play Black. You know, center is more valuable on small boards. Unfortunately I played White, the girl played at the center point as the move1. So I played at 3-4 as the move2. The girl laughed and played move3 at center again!? I was angry and fight against the girl around center. All of a sudden the girl laughed “I win!”!? “You win? But why? The board was so empty?” “Five in a row!” (The first game over of the contest)

So I did believe there was not many members played Go in the club.


I only went to a few live tournaments, and that was over ten years ago, before my “Go break” of 8 years.

I like the socializing aspect the most, but the thing is, big events of any kind are very exhausting for me (I’m very sensitive to noise and also can’t be around people the whole day; I need some long breaks where I can be alone), and playing several games of Go in one day is also very stressful to me by itself, so I’m more or less unable to participate in live tournaments.


I can imagine that you find tournaments exhaustive. I think that nowadays go tournaments are more flexible than they used to be ten years ago.

In the Netherlands there is a trend towards one day tournaments, exactly because of this. There are still some two day tournaments left. In some of them it is also possible to participate for only one day or even for only a few matches. So if you feel you need a brake after the first round, you can tell the organizers for example that you want to skip the second round an will be back for the third round.

Don’t know how this is Berlin / Germany, but it might be worth to ask the organizers around there.

And of cause, you are welcome to the Keizer Karel tournament in Nijmegen (near Kleve).


I think in almost every tournament it’s possible to skip some rounds, except important tournaments like national/European championships.


23 posts were split to a new topic: Arena Style tournaments

Yes, I go to two or three tournaments per year, which is about as many as we usually manage in Ireland — I’d go to more if there were more on. I’m a bit jealous of gennan having so many nearby. As far as I’m concerned, tournament play is the standard by which playing Go is measured: it’s very intense and focused, and is indeed exhausting, but I feel like it brings out the best in players. And afterwards (or maybe during) you can have a pint, relax, meet friends from other parts of the country.

I organise a lot of the Dublin tournaments so my perspective on what makes a good tournament is coloured by that. I think a good experience starts with good communication from the organiser both before the tournament and during. It should be easy to find information, whether it’s about the current standings in the competition or where you can get a decent cup of coffee nearby. You should stick to the schedule (which involves making a sensible schedule in the first place) both to avoid wasting players’ time and for your own sanity. A comfortable, well-lit, quiet venue is nice, preferably with a bar — I remember one or two tournaments over the years where it felt colder inside the building than outside and we were all wrapped up in every piece of clothing we had with us.

The challenge in starting out as an organiser is that there aren’t that many resources to tell you what to do if you don’t have an experienced mentor to hand. The BGA and AGA handbooks have some useful information in them but nowhere have I seen (for instance) a good guide to the preferences in OpenGotha or McMahon and how you should set them to get the perfect draw. But you learn on the job and after a while you’ve made most of the obvious cock-ups, gotten the hang of the logistics and you even get to the point where you can relax and enjoy the tournament while you’re running it. In my experience, most Go players are pretty sound individuals and grateful that someone is putting the work in so that they can enjoy a good tournament. I can really only remember one person who I thought was genuinely being rude (and I guess a lot of tournament directors had bad experiences with this individual over the years), otherwise any difficulty was either down to language barriers or my own feelings of stress.

I will finally get to the European Go Congress either this year in Leipzig or next year in Toulouse and I can’t wait…tournaments are the best!


How about a self supporting summer camp / weekend?
Rent a cheap place somewhere in the country and cook, clean, etc. it all by yourself (meaning the present go community). A week or weekend full of playing go, workshops, other games, a outdoor BBQ, etc. where you can come for the full period or just for a day.
In the Netherlands there are a few organizers using this formula and - from what I hear - players really do appreciate it.
If you organise this with a team it is doable. Individually it prolly comes down to quite a big enterprise.


Having software to help is a key element as things can get quite hectic, especially for tournaments over 20 people. I’ve run one with up to 80 players using a custom built software (inspired heavily by Mark Rubenstein from the Chicago Go Club)

For anyone interested in trying it out, it’s available via (it’s a webapp, so an internet connection is required). @antonTobi I’d be especially grateful if you took a look and let me know your thoughts as once I add mcmahon pairing I hope for it to be generalized in-person pairing software (along with player registration and reporting)

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You don’t really need computer and can use players cardboards. Even over 20. Could go to 80 easely so to say which exclude mostly only the big events like annual congress.
On one side you put the relevant info for the pairing: number, name, level, club.
Then each line, pairing, result, macmahon points if used. On the other side administrative infos not relevant for the pairing like accomodation and food, phone, what is paid, and more.
Essential is to well define your priorities like less handicap as possible and not let players from the same area have a game together for example.

Distortions due to computers happens at time, because organizers use the same program and then you’ll play the same opponents going from one tournament to the next. That was a reality years ago with the french pairing program, i hope it’s solved by now (i guess)
Another crucial point is: because of the need of an internet connection, you put the whole tournament under the risk of a failure of your connection. At least it’s more secure to have a program running offline, that could be downloaded. Anyway i don’t see why you have to stay connected for a pairing program.

Not talking in the wind, as i organized the Lyon tournament in the 80’s with cards and over 100 participants. The main was a regular format with fixed rounds, but we had a side one for beginners and ddk with like 40 players and that arena format. Was quite a mess indeed but mostly because they were very volatile participants (no show, come back…)! What is easiest, to put 2 cards together or to copy/paste in a spreadsheet? To watch a screen or a large table covered by the cards? Maybe just a matter of taste.


Maybe just put a sheet of paper on a table near the entrance of the playing room. Whenever two people agree to play, they agree on the handicap and after the game, they write their names on the paper and indicate the winner. At the end of the tournament, prizes are awarded for

  • most games played
  • largest number of victories
  • highest winrate.

I think a 13x13 tournament was organized like that in EGC 2019 (or was it in EYGC 2017? I don’t remember).


Very nice. I would add someone to help people joining and keep the papersheet in order.

Maybe not known to all of you, but Christoph Gerlach also developed pairing software (MacMahon) for go.

Fair, pre computer organizers obviously ran tournaments, so I’m sure it’s doable. But the editable/automated collection and reporting of information surely has some benefits, no? Regardless your experience is valid, thanks for sharing!

In part it’s because I only know how to build web applications, not desktop ones. But there are other benefits, such as being able to send pairings to players or a live list standings for people to check. These are benefits every TD can recognize.

And luckily every location that I’ve played in for at least the past 10 years has had internet. And as a backup my phone is able to act as a mobile hotspot.

Honestly the card method sounds really cool! But I promise the software is more than a glorified spreadsheet. Although it can definitely be improved and the simplicity of the card method is not to be undervalued.

A super important question. To me it seems the answer is essentially the story we tells ourselves. For some, having defined rounds helps that story feel more authentic.

But games played in an arena tournament aren’t casual and can effect rating points. It’s just as legitimate as any other tournament assuming the time settings are long enough and the rules are enforced.

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I would add assuming you don’t chose your opponent by yourself.
I think it’s something essential in any tournament to get paired by the organization.

What about self pairing tournaments?

I think the main reason why people use Gotha in France, including people who would be more comfortable with pen and paper, is that if you want to send the results to the federation for the ratings, you need to generate a text file presenting the results in a certain format.

And the easiest way to do that is to use Gotha.

On some occasions, you can even see some people doing the pairings with pen and paper, and then re-entering the pairings on Gotha just to generate that file with the results. But it feels a bit like doing the job twice.


They miss an important point, to be sure to play the unknown. (Beyond the possible self management of your rating)

To be fair, the self pairing tournaments I have known are unrated small board tournaments as small board side events to the main rated tournament so it’s a win win!

Thanks, I’ll have a look at it later!

My use case would be quite small tournaments at my local club (maybe 10 participants or so). I think the arena format in general works better the more players there are, but I’m hoping it will still be viable with few players.

I also like the suggestions for analogue solutions, and I might try something like that as well. But I think having good software for this could really help with getting more organizers interested in the format, so thanks for working on it @Devin_Fraze!


I’m sorry, but I messed up the link between those posts when splitting off some posts to a new topic.