History of Go in Ireland

Although the Irish Go Association was formed in 1989, there had been various informal groups playing from the 1970s onwards. The strongest presence has historically been in Dublin, and it was two Dublin clubs (Trinity College Dublin and Collegians) which first got together to form the IGA. They were, it seems, helped by the keen influence of the visiting Japanese player Isao Toshimo 2-dan. The IGA was accepted into the IGF in 1990, the year in which tournaments were first held in Ireland, with the Irish Open and a National Championship taking place. The following year, Ireland was accepted as a member of the EGF.

Ten years later, in 2001, the Irish Go Assocation, with assistance from the BGA, took on the grand task of organising the European Go Congress. 327 players took part in the biggest ever competition organised on Irish soil – EGD entry here. John Gibson published an informative  tournament diary on Geocities, but this appears to have been lost to posterity, following the sites shutdown.

Go in Belfast

The first recorded Go Club in Northern Ireland was started by Tony Goddard. Tony was one of the strongest players in Europe at his peak. In 1976 he narrowly missed out on being European Champion, losing to Patrick Merissert-Coffinieres in a play off for the title. Tony left the UK around the time Thatcher came to power, and after living in various countries, eventually came to Belfast in 1992. He formed a club there at the university, teaching several people. In July of that year he helped organise the first tournament there. He was aided by his star pupil, Paul Donnelly. Paul reached 1dan, went to the World Amateur in 1997, but was then lost to Ireland when he married a Japanese lady. With Tony and Paul leaving, the club vanished after 1997.

It was not until around 2006 that a new Club appeared. This was formed when the Romanian player, Tiberiu Gociu, found work at the same company as Ian Davis. The club steadily grew from this point. In 2007 Ian Davis broke the 17 year long Dublin ownership of the Irish Championship. 2007 also saw the start of an annual tournament there, and James Hutchinson provided evidence of the growth of the club by also taking the Irish title in 2011.

Go in Cork

The Cork Club began meet in late 2003, with irregular meetings in Cobh and Cork. Activity increased dramatically in 2006, during which the club was lucky enough to have been joined or visited by several mid-level amateur players from the USA, Poland and France.

Early 2007 saw a regular turnout at weekly meetings, but the big step forward came when one player managed to get a regular club running in UCC late that year. In January 2008, the UCC Club ran Cork’s first ever go tournament. The one-day event drew a total of 18 participants.

In late 2009, UCC Go took an academic year out. This led to the 2010 invasion of the Idle Hour pub by Cork Go players, exposing several local chess aficionados to the game.

Fortunately, during the second half of 2010, new management shook fresh life into the UCC club and the annual tournament had its best turnout to date, despite the now-traditional disastrous weather.

Cork Go History Timeline

UCC Tournaments

  1. January 2008 – UCC ORB Building Results: http://www.ucc.ie/en/goclub/tournament/
    Natural disaster: none.
  2. January 2009 – UCC Canteen: Results: https://www.irish-go.org/clubs-tournaments/cork/ucc-2009-results/
    Note: High winds cause slates to fall from roofs so tournament moved to Thirsty Scholar pub.
  3. November 2009 – UCC Mini Restaurant. Results: http://www.ucc.ie/en/goclub/nov09/
    Natural disaster: Severe flooding cause damage to UCC and results in no heating.
  4. December 2010 – UCC Science Building. Results: https://www.irish-go.org/clubs-tournaments/cork/ucc-november-open-2010/
    Natural disaster: Severe cold weather (-10C) brings snow and ice.


Colin Lafferty and Rick Brennan were the first players we ave on record out on the west coast of Ireland. They began the Galway Club, which has steadily grown, and has now a branch at the university NUIGalway.


A list of Dan Players in Ireland
2dan – Ian Davis, Noel Mitchell, Gavin Rooney
1dan – Paul Donnelly, James Hutchinson, Karl Irwin, Stephen Flinter, Terrence McSweeney

7dan – Wei Wang
6dan – Tony Goddard
4dan – Tong Yu Cao
3dan – Roman Pszonka, Kate Yu, DK Kim
2dan – Isao Toshima, Liming Wang
1dan – Scott Hopkins, Daniel Paraschiv

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