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 Post subject: Re: European Go Cultural Centre is closing its doors
Post #41 Posted: Sun Jun 16, 2019 10:47 am 
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I have never been an organiser of much so I have no expertise on which to base an opinion. But Catalin's opinion (as quoted above: I haven't seen the source) still seems to make sense to me.

I live in an area surrounded by golf courses. I don't play myself but I sometimes walk around them. I also see, worldwide, millions of ordinary people paying a lot of money to join golf clubs or play on their courses, every day of the year. What do they get for their money? Basically it's just the right to walk around a large field that is partially mown, has a few sandpits and a few holes in the ground every now and then. Anything else the golfer wants he pays extra for (and very expensively): equipment, clothing, pro lessons, buggies, tournament fees, drinks at the bar, lunch in the restaurant, books of golf jokes, golf holidays, etc. etc.

All that these ordinary people are doing is hitting a small (very expensive) ball with a (very expensive) stick. This exercise, at their level, poses no intellectual challenges and requires a physical fitness level sufficient merely to climb out of a buggie and wave a stick in the air.

Despite the exorbitant costs, there is no class barrier. There may once have been in England, In Scotland, the home of golf, it has always been an ordinary person's game, and I believe this is true in the rest of the world. Apart from gender (to a rapidly decreasing extent) and money, there are no barriers to playing the game. And it seems there are millions who don't believe money is actually a barrier.

So how is it that an intellectually challenging and history-laden game like go makes less impression on the world than the dimple on a golf ball?

I don't know the answer, but FWIW, after observing the game both in the West and in the CJK countries, I am now inclined to think that the fault in the west may lie, as mentioned above, with the previous generation of western organisers who imposed their own ideals on the game and decreed it had to be free.

At least I find it hard to believe go here struggles just because it's a mind game, because bridge has acquired at least a veneer of golf's aura of success. But bridge clubs can be very expensive to join...

And I don't think it's about publicity. The two biggest hobbies in the UK are apparently angling and birdwatching. Neither gets any significant newspaper or tv coverage. But, with equipment and travel, both can be expensive to pursue...

Finally, a BGA member a few years ago presented a paper at a Korean go symposium in which he quoted some poll figures. The gist of it was that very many of the people in the west who said they either loved go or would be willing to give it a try were attracted to the game because of the beautiful (i.e. very expensive) Japanese go equipment.

Maybe more westerners would play go if they felt it made them feel part of a rich man's world. It's always sunny in the rich man's world. Aha-ahaa.

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 Post subject: Re: European Go Cultural Centre is closing its doors
Post #42 Posted: Sun Jun 16, 2019 10:55 am 
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JethOrensin wrote:
So, I am not saying that Taranu is wrong, but the question is: can Go manage to leave the cradle of the "it is our hobby" and survive the transition to turning into an actual enterprise ?


I do understand where you are coming from. We can't go overboard as you've just explained. But without money there is nothing - no promotion, no venues, no places to gather etc. We can't continue moving backwards as we are now. Throwing money at the issue won't solve anything, but if Go clubs and organizations are losing their footing, then we have to change our way of thinking.


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 Post subject: Re: European Go Cultural Centre is closing its doors
Post #43 Posted: Sun Jun 16, 2019 12:35 pm 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
Finally, a BGA member a few years ago presented a paper at a Korean go symposium in which he quoted some poll figures. The gist of it was that very many of the people in the west who said they either loved go or would be willing to give it a try were attracted to the game because of the beautiful (i.e. very expensive) Japanese go equipment.


Do you happen to know if the paper is available? If so, how can I search for it?

Thanks.

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 Post subject: Re: European Go Cultural Centre is closing its doors
Post #44 Posted: Sun Jun 16, 2019 1:29 pm 
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that would be Paul Smith's paper. It should be on the BGA website if I remember correctly.

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Post #45 Posted: Sun Jun 16, 2019 2:08 pm 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
I also see, worldwide, millions of ordinary people paying a lot of money to join golf clubs or play on their courses, every day of the year.(...)

Maybe more westerners would play go if they felt it made them feel part of a rich man's world. It's always sunny in the rich man's world. Aha-ahaa.


I also like the song, however I wouldn't spend thousands of euros each year on a hobby, and that's one of the reasons why I don't practice golf. So I don't know if making go much more expensive would attract more people, but it could also deter others.

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 Post subject: Re: European Go Cultural Centre is closing its doors
Post #46 Posted: Sun Jun 16, 2019 11:09 pm 
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Javaness2 wrote:
that would be Paul Smith's paper. It should be on the BGA website if I remember correctly.


This one? I couldn't find it referenced anywhere on the site, I had to use Google fu, and the author's name is barely there.

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 Post subject: Re: European Go Cultural Centre is closing its doors
Post #47 Posted: Mon Jun 17, 2019 12:18 am 
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Yes, that's the presentation I remember Paul Smith making at the international seminar.

There has to be something in the suggestion that Go Centre's find it difficult to remain alive because of the financial value we place on the game. At the same time, I do think that the price of venue hire specifically, and of property in general, is really starting to get prohibitive for a Go Centre business model in many European countries.

Bridge clubs seem to be the model to follow. How much is your average Bridge Club charging for membership these days?

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 Post subject: Re: European Go Cultural Centre is closing its doors
Post #48 Posted: Mon Jun 17, 2019 1:18 am 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
I have never been an organiser of much so I have no expertise on which to base an opinion. But Catalin's opinion (as quoted above: I haven't seen the source) still seems to make sense to me.

I live in an area surrounded by golf courses. I don't play myself but I sometimes walk around them. I also see, worldwide, millions of ordinary people paying a lot of money to join golf clubs or play on their courses, every day of the year. What do they get for their money? Basically it's just the right to walk around a large field that is partially mown, has a few sandpits and a few holes in the ground every now and then. Anything else the golfer wants he pays extra for (and very expensively): equipment, clothing, pro lessons, buggies, tournament fees, drinks at the bar, lunch in the restaurant, books of golf jokes, golf holidays, etc. etc.

All that these ordinary people are doing is hitting a small (very expensive) ball with a (very expensive) stick. This exercise, at their level, poses no intellectual challenges and requires a physical fitness level sufficient merely to climb out of a buggie and wave a stick in the air.

Despite the exorbitant costs, there is no class barrier. There may once have been in England, In Scotland, the home of golf, it has always been an ordinary person's game, and I believe this is true in the rest of the world. Apart from gender (to a rapidly decreasing extent) and money, there are no barriers to playing the game. And it seems there are millions who don't believe money is actually a barrier.

So how is it that an intellectually challenging and history-laden game like go makes less impression on the world than the dimple on a golf ball?

I don't know the answer, but FWIW, after observing the game both in the West and in the CJK countries, I am now inclined to think that the fault in the west may lie, as mentioned above, with the previous generation of western organisers who imposed their own ideals on the game and decreed it had to be free.

At least I find it hard to believe go here struggles just because it's a mind game, because bridge has acquired at least a veneer of golf's aura of success. But bridge clubs can be very expensive to join...

And I don't think it's about publicity. The two biggest hobbies in the UK are apparently angling and birdwatching. Neither gets any significant newspaper or tv coverage. But, with equipment and travel, both can be expensive to pursue...

Finally, a BGA member a few years ago presented a paper at a Korean go symposium in which he quoted some poll figures. The gist of it was that very many of the people in the west who said they either loved go or would be willing to give it a try were attracted to the game because of the beautiful (i.e. very expensive) Japanese go equipment.

Maybe more westerners would play go if they felt it made them feel part of a rich man's world. It's always sunny in the rich man's world. Aha-ahaa.


Even if you try to minimize the technical skills required to play golf, hence the challenge it brings to novices and aspiring players to do it well, you can't deny the physical aspect of walking outdoors, on a domain restricted to members while having the sensation of kicking something in the air and see it take its "course". Yes, walking outdoors is accessible to anyone who has the means to escape from the city, so there's a lesson of exclusivity to be drawn from golf.

One of the problems with Go (compared to Golf) is that you can play it online, more easily, against a wider variety of opponents. As we all know, online play has a number of drawbacks: manners, the 2D-perspective, no other physical sensation than finger on mouse, and the sheer fact of being alone behind your computer instead of together in a club.

So, this aspect probably deserves attention and amplification. Perhaps we *should* teach newcomers how to hold a stone, how to put it on the board, say "onegaishimasu" at the start of each game, play with luxury bowls and boards exclusively and locate our clubs in posh clubs where you can have Japanes tea, a bowl of Ramen and have editions of Hikaru No Go lying about.

Someone should try it out: a luxury club with a high fee which emphasizes all the physical aspects of playing go face to face.

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 Post subject: Re: European Go Cultural Centre is closing its doors
Post #49 Posted: Mon Jun 17, 2019 2:20 am 
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Knotwilg wrote:
Someone should try it out: a luxury club with a high fee which emphasizes all the physical aspects of playing go face to face.

I don't know many details, but think Igor Grishin and his https://senseis.xmp.net/?GoFederationRussia has done something like this, targeting wealthy businessmen and things like corporate team building days.

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Post #50 Posted: Mon Jun 17, 2019 9:06 am 
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Knotwilg wrote:
As we all know, online play has a number of drawbacks: manners, the 2D-perspective, no other physical sensation than finger on mouse, and the sheer fact of being alone behind your computer instead of together in a club.


From the perspective of someone who played only online for the first few years of his "career" I see most of those as advantages.

The manners don't really bother me, in fact being able to say "fuck it" after making a dumb move is liberating, but not necessarily something you would want to do in a quiet room with serious games going on.

I find the 2D perspective to be far superior, as you can sit relaxed and still see the whole board. In the real world to see everything I usually have to hunch over a bit more than what would be 100% comfortable.

Clicking with the mouse is easier than placing a stone, and taking large groups of the board can be a pain, also you never run out of stones online. At our playgroup we have some old sets and stones go missing/break from time to time, so during long games sometimes we have to swap back prisoners to have enough stones to continue.

The social aspect is 50/50. Obviously I enjoy playing "live" with other people, otherwise why would I go, but because it is in a public place with some noise, I am never as relaxed as I am at home and consequently I think I play at least a little worse there. The group is more about socializing, serious go is played at home.

Imo the biggest advantage of online play is having different opponents of your rank to play against. My playgroup currently has ~10 people and every week about 4-5 show up. Only one out of those 10 is within one rank of me, so if I want to play serious even games I have one person to play at best and often no one. I don't enjoy handicap games as much, so that is a serious problem for me.

All of this is very much subjective, but I think it also helps to understand while the number of go players online does not translate 1:1 to potential members of a club/play group.

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Post #51 Posted: Mon Jun 17, 2019 9:24 am 
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paK0 wrote:
Knotwilg wrote:
As we all know, online play has a number of drawbacks: manners, the 2D-perspective, no other physical sensation than finger on mouse, and the sheer fact of being alone behind your computer instead of together in a club.


From the perspective of someone who played only online for the first few years of his "career" I see most of those as advantages.

The manners don't really bother me, in fact being able to say "fuck it" after making a dumb move is liberating, but not necessarily something you would want to do in a quiet room with serious games going on.

I find the 2D perspective to be far superior, as you can sit relaxed and still see the whole board. In the real world to see everything I usually have to hunch over a bit more than what would be 100% comfortable.

Clicking with the mouse is easier than placing a stone, and taking large groups of the board can be a pain, also you never run out of stones online. At our playgroup we have some old sets and stones go missing/break from time to time, so during long games sometimes we have to swap back prisoners to have enough stones to continue.

The social aspect is 50/50. Obviously I enjoy playing "live" with other people, otherwise why would I go, but because it is in a public place with some noise, I am never as relaxed as I am at home and consequently I think I play at least a little worse there. The group is more about socializing, serious go is played at home.

Imo the biggest advantage of online play is having different opponents of your rank to play against. My playgroup currently has ~10 people and every week about 4-5 show up. Only one out of those 10 is within one rank of me, so if I want to play serious even games I have one person to play at best and often no one. I don't enjoy handicap games as much, so that is a serious problem for me.

All of this is very much subjective, but I think it also helps to understand while the number of go players online does not translate 1:1 to potential members of a club/play group.


I was trying to find a few drawbacks, in order to find a selling proposition for a live club. Of course, you are right: online play is not only a good alternative, it's the main activitiy these days and for those bred with it, the call for a club is probably hard to fathom.

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Post #52 Posted: Tue Jun 18, 2019 1:01 am 
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Hmm... The following spans some 25 years...

There used to be 4 go clubs in my city. Nothing else that I know in a 100 mile radius (maybe, just maybe, there might have been something in a small city just the other side of the border, but I'm really not aware of anything). Of those 4 clubs...

* Two were university clubs. The one I could reach more or less easily I never found anyone (although, to be fair, I only tried a small bunch of times before giving up), and died sometime later. The other one kind of (kind of not) pops up a player or two in the local EGF tournament, sometimes.

* Another was tied to the owner / club of a local bookstore. I went a couple of times to their meeting place. I managed to meet the guys from *another* club (a reading club tied to the same bookstore), but never met the players. To my knowledge, reinforced last winter, that club is also dead.

* The fourth one is alive, and organizes the local EGF tournament I mentioned above. Besides meeting them (twice?) at Japanese culture events, I never managed to meet them until this winter. Their communication and reach out could be... better (never managed to reach them by mail back when --and I tried--, or get their timetables --their meeting places are on someone else's space--, or...). And their once a week meeting... well, collides with too many things I should be doing (and doesn't look like it's going to change anytime soon on either side).

Under these conditions, online playing is a must.

HOWEVER, the problem with online playing is that you don't get a pull when your playing hits a rough patch (job, family issues...), so if you quit for a week or two, there's no-one calling and asking "hey, you up for a quick game? Clean your mind and all that", and you lapse. And before you know it...

So, I'd guess the best for quite a bunch of people would be a combination of both. Online for ease of access, fallback and study and real life for social reinforcement.

Take care. Sorry if I rambled.

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 Post subject: Re: European Go Cultural Centre is closing its doors
Post #53 Posted: Tue Jun 18, 2019 5:14 am 
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What I like with go clubs:
  • use of real (wooden) boards;
  • young children use go boards more naturally than the internet;
  • knowing who you play with;
  • no time pressure;
  • reviewing games with your partner is easy;
  • playing against stronger players;
  • possibility to chat/have a drink.

What I don't like:
  • lack of variety, the number of players who show up (in my club) is very small.
  • it's hard to find players of the same strength. It's hard for beginners when all players around are SDKs or stronger.

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Post #54 Posted: Tue Jun 18, 2019 6:32 am 
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jlt wrote:
What I like with go clubs:
  • use of real (wooden) boards;
  • young children use go boards more naturally than the internet;
  • knowing who you play with;
  • no time pressure;
  • reviewing games with your partner is easy;
  • playing against stronger players;
  • possibility to chat/have a drink.

What I don't like:
  • lack of variety, the number of players who show up (in my club) is very small.
  • it's hard to find players of the same strength. It's hard for beginners when all players around are SDKs or stronger.


In fact this can be easily solved if the club also has a few computers where you can play online.

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Post #55 Posted: Tue Jun 18, 2019 7:03 am 
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I believe there was once a faltering movement in the UK to use Hackspace ( https://www.hackspace.org.uk/ ) for Go meetings.

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Post #56 Posted: Tue Jun 18, 2019 8:27 am 
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Is space actually that big of a problem for small/medium sized clubs?

I can see why getting enough for a tournament might be hard, but regular meetups for small groups of people usually are not too hard.

- My current playgroup meets in a kind of community center, it belongs to the city and various other groups meet there, all we had to ask for was a small locker for the go boards.
- The group one town over and my old chess club used to meet in a bar.
- Another group I have not yet been to apparently has access to the church basement, where they store their stuff and play.
- My old MtG group asked for some space in a community center, and the guy currently running our FNMs convinced a billard club to lend us a few tables.

Maybe its just in Germany, but a lot of places that sell food/drinks have space on weeknights, so they gladly accept groups like this because it fills otherwise empty tables.


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Post #57 Posted: Wed Jun 19, 2019 7:05 am 
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Knotwilg wrote:
Even if you try to minimize the technical skills required to play golf, hence the challenge it brings to novices and aspiring players to do it well, you can't deny the physical aspect of walking outdoors, on a domain restricted to members while having the sensation of kicking something in the air and see it take its "course". Yes, walking outdoors is accessible to anyone who has the means to escape from the city, so there's a lesson of exclusivity to be drawn from golf.


Let us not forget some even more important differences :
a) Golf is getting a lot of publicity by movies where you see famous actors playing famous people, playing golf.
b) Golf is getting a lot of publicity by actual celebrities or rich or powerful people playing golf ...
c) There is a hard lobbying (or tradition by now) for golf being the official presidential past-time sport in the USA ( I do not recall any US president in my lifetime that did not go for golfing vacations. How likely is it that they all loved golf that much?)
d) Exapnding on point a: There are actual hollywood movies about golf and not just a couple of them : https://www.ranker.com/list/the-best-go ... vies-lists ( and some of them were good. I've watched "the legend of Bagger Vance" and I do not like golf, nor do I watch more than 3-4 movies per year)
e) There is such a thing as a mini-golf in most children's fairs and amusement parks. I've seen - and been - to a couple of them as a kid myself ... granted they failed here (almost noone plays golf in Greece), but they did try to promote it and indeed they do have a simplified kids version of the game to market it to children and bring new players into the game.

So, yeah, maybe golf is not a great example of "look what exclusivity can bring to the table", but "what aggressive marketing and many decades of conditioning" can bring to the table ...

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Post #58 Posted: Wed Jun 19, 2019 8:24 am 
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JethOrensin wrote:
So, yeah, maybe golf is not a great example of "look what exclusivity can bring to the table", but "what aggressive marketing and many decades of conditioning" can bring to the table ...


There are of course multiple reasons for a pastime's popularity. Intrinsic quality, marketing ... and coincidence. Why is baseball huge in the US and marginal in Europe (despite being pretty exclusive)?

But yeah, tough to draw lessons from other pastimes and transfer the recipe to Go. We will probably have to look at Go itself.

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Post #59 Posted: Wed Jun 19, 2019 3:17 pm 
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Some posts above leads me to think some people do not know the difference between the EGCC (European Go Cultural Centre) and the EGF (European Go Federation), or perhaps even the difference between a national go association and a local go club.

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Post #60 Posted: Wed Jun 19, 2019 9:17 pm 
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I assumed that

(1) Most EGCC visitors are EGF members, so if the EGF declines then the EGCC declines as well.

(2) EGF members consist of members of a club which is affiliated to a national go association in Europe, so if club membership declines, then EGF membership declines as well.

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