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History of go in New Zealand

The first record of people playing go in New Zealand is a series of articles published in a Dunedin Newspaper in 1902. Some chess players discovered Korschelt's book, translated it, made their own go equipment using marbles and boards with depressions, and taught themselves to play. the articles in the nespaper ran for more than a year but after that no record exists. Alas they had no lasting influence on the game here.

In the 60's and 70's there were groups of people playing among themselves. A club met at the University of Auckland from 1965 to 1968 and they arranged for the manufacture (and sale in shops) of go sets with square coloured stones. It required the arrival of Rob Talbot from England to bring a significant number of people together and to form the Auckland Go Society in 1975. the Auckland Go Society organised tournaments and arranged for the importation of plastic stones from Japan. There were two clubs in Auckland at this time.

A club was formed in Wellington in 1976 and a group of professional players led by Haruhiko Shirae visited the country. At the New Zealand Go Congress held in August that year it was decided to rename the Society to the New Zealand Go Society to include groups from the whole country.

The Otago University Go Club formed in 1977 with a small group of dedicated players. The second New Zealand Go Congress was held in Wellington. The first secondary schools go congress was also held in that year with 3 Auckland schools and one from Hamilton participating.

In 1978 the Dunedin Go Club formed with 10 regular players. A club was formed in Palmerston North and a match was played against the Wellington Go Club. A club was formed in Christchurch. The New Zealand Go Society adopted the Chinese rules of Go.

In 1979 New Zealand was represented at the first World Amateur Go Championships in Tokyo. Our representative, Graeme Parmenter, was a bit outclassed losing his first game in the knockout tournament. The first moves towards a national rating system were taking with the announcement of Ray Tomes' handicapping system. The first Go Fest was held in Christchurch. A Go Fest is a much less structured gathering of go players than a tournament.

In 1980 Graeme Parmenter was the first New Zealand Go Player to be promoted to 4 dan. No promotions have since been made to any higher rank.

In 5 years the New Zealand Go Society developed from a few isolated kyu strength go players to an organisation with 5 clubs, a regular supply of stones and books from Japan. The strongest New Zealand rank increased 1 stone per year during that time. The New Zealand Go Congress circulated around the country with strong attendance from outside the host city. This was an exciting time to be involved in a growing game.

©2004 Leon Phease