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British Open Not So Open

In a controversial move, the British Go Association (BGA) has made membership of the BGA or another national go organisation a condition of entry to the 2014 British Open, to be held the weekend of 1st-2nd March in the English south-coast resort of Bognor Regis, alongside the European Youth Go Championship (EYGC), which itself runs from February 28th to March 3rd.

http://www.britgo.org/files/tournaments/eygc2014/seagull.jpgReactions to the news of this novel restriction appearing on British Go community email subscription list Gotalk have ranged from initial disbelief to thorough-going approval. In the past there has normally been a small surcharge for non-members wishing to enter, but no prohibition. However, it seems that the restriction has possibly not been imposed as the result of a policy decision, but more as an administrative convenience due to the complexity of running the British Go Congress (BGC) - which the Open is part of - and the EYGC together. BGA President Jon Diamond explained:

"The Organising Committee decided that the entry forms and payment were sufficiently complex that additional charges for non-BGA membership for each of the three events [...] as in previous years would complicate matters even further for all[...]

"Unfortunately, the interaction between players at the EYGC and BGC events make the BGC entry form more complicated this year."

He also suggested the BGA's £24 annual membership fee could be regarded as the equivalent of a surcharge for non-members. However, Colin Maclennan points out that

"An 'open' tournament in most sports means a tournament that is open to all, as distinct from club tournaments that are restricted to members[...]. The point is that some people may not want to join the BGA (or their own national organisation in the case of overseas visitors) for their own reasons. For example they may not wish to join the organisation because they do not like its policies or officials. These are not valid reasons for barring them from an 'open' tournament."

On the question of what constitutes an "open" tournament though, Greg Smith cites examples such as the US (tennis) Open, the Chicago (chess) Open and the World (chess) Open, which all require entrants to be members of the appropriate organisation.

Longtime BGA member and former president Francis Roads is fully in favour. He says:

"The BGA Council is entitled to make whatever rules it sees fit for the events that it runs. People who don't like them have their remedy at the AGM. Since the tournament would not take place without the BGA's administrative support, a small financial return from all players through membership is eminently reasonable."

Billy Woods, an active BGA member, dislikes this attitude, which he says amounts to 'The BGA can do what it likes, and nobody cares if you don't like it', and thinks that

"the BGA is *supposed* to represent British go players. In that sense, all discussion amongst British go players is healthy. In particular, if most British go players agree that something is a bad idea, then the Council or the organisers need to consider seriously that something may be going wrong. Not to do so may have little effect on this tournament, but a large cumulative effect on future membership."

BGA Treasurer Toby Manning strongly takes issue with this view, which he says

"is not true, and is a (probably unintentional) slur on hardworking Council members (including me) who do a lot of work for the Association: Council understands completely the importance of keeping members (and, if possible, non-members) onside. We DO care about what you think", adding "Council will consider what has been posted, and MAY alter its policy: this is likely to be in the first week of January when a telephone conference call is planned."

European Go Federation (EGF) President Martin Stiassny, answering a query as to the EGF's position on the question, said it was not something that had been discussed in the Executive Board (which is the EGF, effectively), but expressed strong personal views in favour of the requirement, saying:

"I fully support this step and I hope many other tournament-organizers will follow. Over about 15 years (minimum) I tried to get members in the German Go Federation, and a tournament-participation is one of the goodies we can offer to members. [...]. The word 'open' only means open for any nationality (in my interpretation), not more."

He is confident that other members of the Executive Board would be in favour, too, but warned,

"I know that it's difficult to install such a procedure in each tournament because 95% of the tournaments in a country are not organized by the association/federation."

Official EGF policy on open events is presently stated at the European Tournament Calendar page as:

"The tournament organisation will define whether the tournament is open for all players or restricted to some players. The decision should be made according to the nature of the tournament, the rules of organising body, the rules of the national association (if involved), the rules of the EGF (if involved) and possibly considering the sponsors. The information, who is entitled to play should announced to the public in good time before the tournament. If no information is published, nor apparent from the context, the tournament is open by default."

Addressing the question of how membership of foreign (or at least European) memberships are validated, Stiassny stated his own wish for "a membership-document European-wide, which can be downloaded from an European database, of course only with passwort-security(sic), while the countries update this database with their actual membership-data. But maybe overplay, and personal data-security is also a problem. Anyway, I think this should be something the EGF should do."

You can enter the British Open (but currently only if you are a member of a national go organisation) here, and the EYGC (open to junior players of all European nationalities) here.

This year the winner in the Under-20 category of the EYGC will gain a place in the new GLOBIS Cup World Youth Go Championship, to be held in Tokyo, Japan on 8 – 11 May 2014, with a top prize of three million yen.


placed by EurogoTV-UK on 02:56 Mon 30 December 2013

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