History of Durham Go Club


In 1993, Simon Shiu arrived in Durham to do a PhD. He was at that time a 2dan or 3dan, and hence one of the strongest players in the UK. He had lived in this area for a while, and been active with the Newcastle and Teeside clubs. Soon, he had set up a small club in the Department of Computer Science, teaching around 10 beginners one or two lunchtimes a week, all staff and postgrads. Coupled with this, he kindly took a few of us to the Newcastle and Teeside clubs.

This is when Paul Callaghan started playing properly. He had obtained a magnetic board and a short book on the subject already but it is hard to learn the game properly without playing someone who really knows how to play. With Simon's help, he struggled to about 16kyu, then got more interested in his PhD and didn't play much.

Simon's enthusiasm is well illustrated by the fact that Durham hosted the British Go Association's Congress in 1996. This was a 2-day event, taking place in the church hall opposite St Oswalds(?), and well-attended. We are often asked when the next Durham tournament will be...

Simon and Chris Cooper also travelled to the European Go Congress in Poland (1996?), taking with them Paul's magnetic board, and converting a few train travellers on the way. To our knowledge, Chris Cooper has not played since a certain party executed a 100-point plus rip-off on him. (Look, I'm sorry, ok?)

Simon graduated with a PhD in late 1996. A few of us carried on playing sporadically, with occasional trips to Newcastle and Teeside. We also discovered another strong Durham player, Dr Zhaohui Luo (now Prof.), about 1kyu. PCC then got very interested in Go during 1997, unfortunately after Simon had left, and coincidentally when he also had to do lots of work finishing his thesis. He had reached about 10kyu by the end of that year.

1998 was the lean year. The club met infrequently, usually just two or three people, Paul plus a few new players. Advertising was very low-key, just posters in a few colleges, and via a prominent link on Paul's web page.

The second age of Durham Go started sometime in 1999, when Paul and Robert Kiessling were stranded at Gothenburg Airport due to a very delayed flight. To cut a long wait short, Robert soon started to learn Go. Later, another PhD student, Michael Clark, started to learn, too.. We also got a bit more organised about recruitment, with more posters etc, so had a few more players. We also got our own proper mailing list! During this year, Paul reached 5kyu, where he has been ever since.

In 2000, one notable event was Paul's purchase of a house, leading to fairly regular meetings on the first Sunday of most months between the Newcastle, Durham, and Teeside clubs. Such meetings involve about five-six hours of playing and a barbecue. A good range of players turn up, from beginners to strong dan players. Our advertising got a bit more colourful, and we began to play more frequently, often in local pubs or the gradsoc bars. The staff of the Vic now know not to hoover up Go stones

Thanks to Robert, the club was reincarnated in 2001 as a GradSoc club, and thus received funding, which we used to purchase much-needed small boards and books. We now played regularly in PFH bar, and on some Thursday evenings had over 10 people playing. Sometime this year, Robert and a Chinese player, Yong Luo, introduced the game to Edwin Brady while they were supervising a undergraduate practical set by Paul! The mailing list now contains about 30 addresses.

The upward trend continued in 2002, with a few more beginners, but notably, we also had the good fortune to be joined by two strong players, Hu Zheng (est. 2 dan?) and Choi Hyoung-gyu (est. 4 dan?). A key event this year was significant Durham presence at the nearest tournament, the Three Peaks one held in Nth Yorks. Six Durham players attended, plus one from Newcastle and two from Teeside. The venue is an excellent pub with over 14 real ales and some 200 whiskies. Despite a few unfortunate losses, all of us greatly enjoyed it. Choi Hyoung-gyu did very well, winning 4/5 games and almost won in the remaining game, against the Tournament's winner.

In 2003, members of the club attended more tournaments, including Cambridge's Trigantius, Epsom, and the Three Peaks. Sadly, Choi returned to Korea in the spring, and was much-missed - but fortuitously, his place was shortly afterwards taken by Gang Xiong, who is about 2 dan. We held a small tournament for Children in Need in November of 2003, which was a highly enjoyable event.

2004 saw our first proper tournament in Durham for many years; a full-on BGA event, nominally celebrating 10 years of Go in Durham, and appropriately enough won by Simon Shiu.

Nowadays, the Go Club is a ratified DSU society that welcomes anyone and everyone. It meets regularly all year, in a range of locations across Durham.

This history of the club - from its first beginnings up to 2004 - was kindly written for us by Paul Callaghan


To be completed

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