Tygem Correspondents

Go in Belgium


Go in Belgium


Writer : Hong Seng-hee


Belgique! Belgium in English, Belgium is known as a small but strong country.
Belgium is part of the Benelux(economic association between three countries: Belgium in the south, Netherlands in the north, Luxembourg in the south-east)
Also Belgium is called the heart of Europe and the surface is 1/3 of South Korea.
Mother languages are French in the south, Dutch in the north and German in the east close to Germany.  Usually people in Belgium can speak three languages.Belgium is well known for chocolate, more than 700 kinds of beers, Carpet and Diamond.


Presently in Belgium, around 200 Go players are playing in 11 clubs and the Belgian Go
Federation has systematically one tournament every month.
Also Belgium Go(Baduk) Federation had the great honor and heavy responsibility to organize the European Congress in 1991. It took place in Namur.
Now let's look at Go in Belgium.


▲Belgium- La Grand place


▲Belgium- Manneken Pis


In the 60's, some of present members already played Go in Belgium but there was neither regular meeting nor Go club.
The first confirmed club has been located since 1980 in Brussels at the caf??e Greenwich? It was more a caf?than a real club where a dozen of players used to meet to play Go.
The official birth of Go in Belgium dates back to October 1981, when the Belgian Go Federation was founded with about 15 members. Its first president and the driving force behind it was Michel Gilbert. He worked a lot for Go club and was an important figure.
Many changes and developments occurred to the Go club during the last 30 years.


Michel Gilbert who was president created a new Go club at Waterloo in 1984 which was composed of approximately 20 members. Fortunately, M.Tsuda who is a Japanese sho-dan player arrived in Belgium Go club. He gave lessons and taught Go games every week, until he returned home in 1986.


 ▲Michel Gilbert who was president in Belgium Go club


As we know, there are many Japanese professional players staying and living in Europe, so they are a great help to European Go players to spread Go game.
Most of European Go players think that Japanese contributed to the development of Go in Europe.
Furthermore, Iwamoto Kaoru who is Japanese Go player donated the European Go Cultural Center to Netherlands.
(Netherland championship held in June at the European Go Cultural Center)

 ▲EGCC(European Go Cultural Center)

When did hold the first Belgium Go tournament?
The first Belgian Championship took place with 15 participants in 1985.
At the same time, Brussels Go tournament finished successfully with 86 people.
As Korean player in tournament, Yoo Jong Soo 7dan become champion in 1888, Park Sam Nam 6dan won game in 1997 and Cho Seok Bin 7dan got prizes for 3 years in a row.
The BGF began the publication of its magazine ?elgo?in1885.
The year 1985 brought a meaningful development to Belgium Go.
Since 1985, new Go club were born in Antwerpen, Gent, Namur, so the level of Go and number of members grew up gradually.

▲Belgian Go magazine 'Belgo'


 ▲26th Brussels tournament in 2011>


During the development of Belgium Go, there were many difficult things.
Some frictions brought a reduction of members and the clubs grew slowly.
However, the new chairman made increase the number of members and amateur players often visited Go club.
In 1991, Belgium organized the European Go Congress and attracted 220 people.
EGF(European Go Federation) had meeting each year through the European Go Congress.
Many countries competed with each other to decide where EGC will be held next year.
This means that keeping EGC gives powers and pride to the country which organizes it.
After 90? Japanese professional Go player who were famous in Japan visited regularly to give lessons. Also Guo Juan 7dan who is a strong Go player in Netherlands gives lecture.
Level of Go clubs can grow in Belgium and people have opportunities to study.

▲Go club in Namur


In addition, Leuven and Louvain-la-Neuve opened Go club on their university campus.
It is probably why many strong players started to appear little by little.
They had around 100 members in the 90? but nowadays more than 200 members are active.
Amongst other things, the members have regular meetings every week and they also participated in tournament and Go camp every year.
Although the Belgium Go Federation has a small annual membership, they open
competitions for children and students. So they help people to improve their level.
The number of Go players grew also because of the success of the Japanese book "Hikaru no Go?in Europe. It is not an exaggeration.
Japanese book "Hikaru no Go" was very well known as well by Korean, Chinese and
European Go players.


▲Japanese book "Hikaru no Go"


During his development, Belgium Go had a problem again because their website was suddenly broken. But the Federation re-built the system.
After 2000, the number of members started to progress rapidly and also there were several innovations.
Among those, strong amateurs gave lessons; Belgian Go player had meetings with the other country players and joined Go seminars.
Unfortunately Belgium doesn? have Go Master. If someone was teaching Go regularly in Belgium then there would be many strong players like Netherlands and Germany.
That? why their level can? grow up quickly and is stagnant.
Even learning Go game is difficult for beginners.
About 200 members of many various level play Go periodically but there are neither 5dan nor 6dan as leading director.


▲In Seong Hwang had a seminar in Brussels

There is good news in Belgium. In-Seong Hwang 7dan who is presently official Go-trainer in Switzerland. also decided to try teaching Go in Belgium in 2012.
It will be good for Belgian Go player? level.
Above all, members have activities on a regular basis which increase skills, but also important thing is to join young members and children together.
This is a good way to increase the number of members in Europe.
We have to think now of another way to increase membership.
EGC(European Go Congress) will be celebrating his 56th in 2012.
For the next 100th EGC, I hope more people will actively participate in tournaments.
It is the way to enjoy Go game together, I think


▲55th European Go Congress in 2011





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