History Of Go In France 1965-2007

To relate the history of the game of Go in France, I have chosen a chronological approach. Some events may be missing but I have tried to give a wide overview about the game. Due to the influence of Japanese who brought the game in Europe, it is currently known as "Go" even if the name of "Weiqi" or "Baduk" is sometimes used.
J. Hubert, August 2007


  • Claude Chevalley, a mathematician, teaches go to his university students; he learnt the game in Japan and in the US before coming back to France.

A first group of players exists also in the south of France, in Avignon while at the same time some Japanese players play in Paris at Unesco.


  • Jacques Roubaud, a student of C. Chevalley publishes the book ∈ (belongs to), an unusual poetry book where the author re-builds a game of Go with poems


  • Go arrives officially in France: some players meet at the "Impensé Radical", a bookshop situated in the Paris Latin Quarter, on Médicis street.
  • In May, the first book in French on the game of go is published by Perec (a well known writer), Roubaud and Lusson: "Small treatise inviting to discover the subtle art of go".
  • 1st July: Foundation of Sakata Go club at the "Impensé radical"
  • Summer: First training course of go at Andé Mill in Normandy
  • First article in a French newspaper l'Express: " the new fan of Japanese Gomoku"
  • Lim, a Korean master and his students meet at a coffee-shop on the Rennes street called "Le trait-d'union" where he gives lessons and plays teaching games.


  • October 18th: Creation of the French Go Association (AFG)


  • Birth of a go club in Marseille


  • First French Championship. The winner is Patrick Mérissert (a mathematics student at Ecole Normale). His challenger is Yves Langevin. Players were approximately Shodan.
  • The first volume of a thick book on go by Roger J.Girault, which explains the rules and the basic tactics is printed
  • A little later, a player from Marseille, S. Padovano, published a small treatise in 128 pages at the Impensé radical bookshop.


  • Creation of the first go club in a secondary school in Paris, Lycée Louis-le-grand, under the direction of Patrick Zemb.


  • In January, a first review called "San-San", 22 pages is published
  • In February/March, the first Go-Review is launched (64 pages and 6 issues)
  • At Pentecost: the first international French tournament. It is called the second go congress – however it is not known when the first one was. 63 players took part, 37 were French.


  • A beginner's book "ABC of go", by Hervé Dicky published. "9 stones handicap" by Master Lim published by Chiron publishing house.
  • 15 dan players and 7 clubs: Paris, Clermont-Ferrand, Grenoble, Marseille, Nice, Langres and Reims.
  • For the first time, a go tour with 2 Japanese professionals Sachiko Honda 6p and Chizu Kobayashi 5p visit Paris at Café Le trait d’union for simultaneous games.


  • In July, Pierre Aroutcheff writes the first chronicle about go in the monthly review "Science et Vie"


  • Patrick Merissert, 4 Dan, becomes European Champion. He is the only French player to obtain this title. A little later, he decides to stop playing go. André Moussa becomes the new champion.


  • André Moussa wins the championship for the second time confirming his place at the head of the second wave.


  • Birth of French Go Federation (FFG), an association of clubs. The FFG is in charge of the organization of the 22nd European Go Congress: 150 players take part to the event which occurs in Paris, Cité Universitaire. For the main tournament, which runs in parallel to the European championship, the draw is done with a computer program: results are input on punched cards. 3 players from mainland China visit the congress for the first time: one is Nié-Wei-Pin who will become professional 9p in China.
  • For the first time, the French championship is held outside Paris, in Rouen.


  • Creation of the French Go Journal (Revue Française de Go or RFG) then independent of the FFG by François Petitjean, Gérard Gabella, Pascal Reysset and Jérôme Hubert. Very soon, they will be joined by J.P Lalo, former treasurer of the AFG who will work for the review during more than 20 years. The first issue is published at the beginning of 1979 and 14 clubs are quoted in it.
  • For the first amateur championship in Tokyo, the French champion Jérôme Hubert lost his second game against the number 2 from China Chen Tsu Té. Nié-Wei-Pin 9D is the winner.


  • Almost 300 members and 30 clubs at the FFG


  • First publishing of the French rating list in the RFG. At that time, it was established by a rating committee. 37 players from 1 Kyű to 5 Dan are listed.
  • In September, creation in Strasbourg of a go club in a school, the Collège St-Etienne, by Albert Fenech: with 25 years of history now, this club is certainly the oldest French school go club.


  • The FFG gets involved with teaching. The summer training camp, which already existed for several years as a private one becomes the FFG summer camp. The same year, the FFG is publicly recognized as a member of CLE, group of mind "sports", rejoining chess, bridge, draughts, tarot and scrabble.
  • First Paris Meijin Tournament, under the direction of I. Kamino and with the support of Japanese residents association. The 24th edition, in 2006, regrouped 140 players for 3 categories in 3 week-ends in November.


  • For the first time, a computerized complete rating list is published
  • The two week summer camp is organized on by the Grenoble Go Club in July, at St Pierre de Chartreuse in the Alps.
  • The French championship became open. A 5 Dan Korean player living in France, Yang becomes French champion, beating A. Moussa.


  • A special general meeting of the federation decides upon the creation of regional leagues.
  • The first youth championship with 5 categories is organized in Paris. 3 titles are won by players from Strasbourg.
  • For the adult championship, the 20 year old Frédéric Donzet succeed in beating André Moussa, who dominated the competition with 6 titles during the last 10 years.


  • 500 members, 60 clubs (15 are youth clubs).
  • The FFG organizes the 31st European Go congress in Grenoble.


  • Creation of 36-15 ELISE*GO, the FFG minitel server.
  • The first game of the final of the Japanese 43rd Honinbô tournament is played in Paris in May. Takemiya Masaki was defending his title from challenger Otake Hideo. Many lectures and teaching games are held during the event.


  • For the first time, the FFG helps a young player to do a study trip of Go in Japan: Farid Ben Malek, now 5 Dan.
  • In February, the FFG is certified as a national association for youth and popular education.


  • Back from Japan where he spent 1 year and a half as un inseï (go student training to become professional) , Farid Ben Malek ends the supremacy of A. Moussa and wins the French Championship.


  • Beginning of the Internet era: a mailing list, hosted on an Inria server, called fr-go allows French players to exchange messages about go.
  • In RFG 66, Jean Hossenlopp and François Mizessyn present the French rule of go, directly inspired by the one from AGA (America Go Association) which itself is similar to the Chinese rules of Go. The logical aspects of the rule which resolve in a general manner all the special cases decide the FFG to adopt these rules for French tournaments. A final version of the rule is published in 1995, in RFG 71


  • As the "[ext] Poulidor" of Go, Pierre Colmez, 6 Dan at the rating list, has finished six times at the second place before winning the French championship by beating J.F Séailles, the 1994 French champion.


  • Opening of a web site for FFG by a teacher at Lyon university, Thierry Escoffier: tournament calendar, rating list, who's who of the French go community, archive of fr-go mailing list and report from the federation are now available for all internet users.
  • The Go training summer camp in Sanhilhac is a particularly good one, especially due to the presence of Master Saijo, professional 8 Dan from Japan who is a recognized teacher whose talent charmed the participants


  • FFG organizes the 41st European Congress of Go in Marseille. Almost 800 players took part, 590 for the main tournament.
  • During the congress, Miyakawa Wataru, japanese 6 dan living in France, presents "Le Go cosmique", the French translation of Takemiya Masaki's book "Cosmic go". Published by éditions ALGO, this book presents Takemiya's distinctive style.


  • FFG has now more than 1000 members. Under the direction of its new president, Bernard Dubois, the FFG organizes a national inquiry on the future of go.
  • With the support of Chizu Kobayashi, a 5p Japanese Go professional, 2 teaching go courses are done each Saturday at the Japanese Culture Center in Paris (MCJP)


  • The first game of the final of one of the most prestigious tournaments in Japan, the Kisei, is played in Paris in January.
  • New software named Gotha is designed by Luc Vannier for pairing partners for tournament draws. It can choose players according to the European or French rating list and automatically pairs players according to the chosen tournament system: Mac-Mahon, Swiss or Round-Robin.


  • FFG has 1200 members. In November, the quarter-finals of the LG Cup international championship with the 8 best players of the world are played in the Lutetia Hotel of Paris. It's the first time so many strong players, especially from Korea are in Paris together.
  • The RFG, reorganized around its new redaction director Maria Duteis, is published with a Black/Red bicolor cover and a new design for its last issue of 2000. A web site is also created for the RFG: rfg.jeudego.org. As well as news, the web site presents the best articles published in the past in its rubric "anthology".


  • FFG becomes more professional by employing one person for secretarial work and preparation of the summer camp.
  • Creation of a FFG CD-ROM with the rules of the game, an animation with Dédé, the interactive teacher, exercises for beginners, the list of clubs and some classic professional games.
  • A training program for go teachers is created, largely by Pierre Audouard. The first training session is held. 20 players interested in the promotion of go in public exhibitions take part.
  • More and more players are interested by go on internet. The KGS server is very appreciated by French players, and due to its client with capacity for teaching, its popularity increases. Another server widely used is IGS.


  • The Paris tournament is at Easter as usual but in a more prestigious place in the town hall of the 13th district. 230 players took part. The winner is a 2p Chinese professional living in Toulouse: Fan Hui
  • October: the first volume of the Hikaru no Go manga is published by Tonkam editions in French. Many new young players arrive.


  • The youth European championship is organized in Cannes at spring. It is a considerable success with 275 players. A conference on the theme Go and Communication is organized simultaneously by the Japanese master Yasutoshi Yasuda; his book "Go as a communication tool", is translated and printed for this event. Antoine Fenech, 3-dan from Strasbourg wins the under 18 years old European championship ex-aequo with 2 Russian players.
  • The go training summer camp occurs in a new place at Belmont on Rance in Aveyron (100 km north of Montpellier) and is very successful with more than 200 participants over two weeks.
  • For the first year, a team championship is organized with 2 sessions; the first session is organized by leagues in each region. For the final in Clermont on 7/8 November, 6 teams of 4 players took part and the team of Toulouse, with Fan Hui on the first board, is the winner. This championship was renamed in 2004 the Lim Cup when the final was in Levallois.
  • The first volume of "Invasion & Réduction", written in 1998 by Lee ChangHo, is translated by Francis JUH, a 3-dan korean player living in France, and Jean-Philippe LEDUC, a french 2-dan. This is the first time such an important body of high-level material is published in french.


  • Bernard Helmstetter, French champion for 2004 obtains the 4th place at the world amateur championship
  • 323 participants at the Paris tournament: a new record.
  • September: Creation in Toulouse of a Go school: unlike clubs for adult players, a go school offers young people from 7 to 17 years old a way to discover and study go regularly. The main teacher is Fan Hui. Started in Marseille by Pierre Audouard on the Korean model and in Strasbourg by Albert Fenech, there are now more and more go schools in France: in Lyon, with the Shido-go school, in Paris at the Japanese culture center (MCJP), in Grenoble (La Tronche), and in Tours.


  • The FFG has 1400 members. The final of the 2004 French championship which is held in January is won by Benjamin Papazoglou, 17 years old, the youngest French champion till now.
  • 26/28 March 2005: Paris Tournament has a record of 327 participants. In parallel to the tournament, a teaching session for young people is organized under the direction of Chizu Kobayashi, 5p professional player.
  • June 2005: the new FFG web site is unveiled: [ext] ffg.jeudego.org. The other FFG site [ext] jeudego.org aims more at go teaching.
  • Fan Hui, a 2p Chinese professional is hired by the FFG as a go teacher.
  • "Le langage des pierres", by Motoki Noguchi, 7 Dan, is published. The book gives an original introduction to Go via a dialogue between a teacher or Sensei and a novice. Motoki is french vice champion 2005 and a very active teacher.


  • The number of members of FFG reaches the record number of 1650. Two factors contribute to the spread of Go:
    • the manga comic "Hikaru no go" is translated in French; the 20th volume is released in February.
    • Interest for go servers on Internet is increasing, especially among young people.
  • September 2006: A new system to manage the player's membership through the web site is put in operation. It allows each club's membership secretary to enroll new club players via the web site. This is the first major achievement since, in 1978, the first annual card for go membership was printed by the FFG.


  • April 2007: Just before the Paris tournament, the first book written in French by the FFG national teacher Fan Hui is printed; in this book called "l'âme du go" ("the soul of go"), he explains the concept of shape, one of the fundamental aspects of the game.
  • June 2007: The French go journal published its 116 issue, the first one in an A4 format
  • August 2007: Benjamin Papazoglou, one outstanding representative of the new generation, wins the European student championship in Stockholm.

Present situation

In 2007, the federation which is composed of 9 leagues gathers 113 clubs and 1590 members, with 300 young players under 18. It is very difficult to evaluate the number of players but we can estimate that 10000 persons have been members of the French Federation since its creation.

There are now many clubs with more than 25 members:
Nantes, Toulouse (85), Strasbourg-Collège Saint Étienne , Rouen, Rennes, Paris Aligre, Paris Ouest, Paris Observatoire, Paris Jussieu, Paris, Orsay, Marly, Lyon Canut, Marseille, Grenoble, Antony, Levallois, Montreuil, Bordeaux, Saint-Étienne, Dijon et Lille

Most of those clubs organize a tournament each year; some of them have a long history.

List of main tournaments and number of participants:
Paris(292), Grenoble(107), Nantes(60), Antony(106), Levallois (89), Amiens (60), Dijon (64), Perpignan (55), Lille (40), Paris Meijin (140), Congrès Auvergnat (90), Annecy (45), Toulouse (60), Montpellier (60), Tours (65), Marseille (80), Lyon (160).

The federation organize each years several training sessions:
Summer training course (2 weeks, 240 to 300 people), Go-Ski course, youth training course, training course for trainers (2 levels)

The different championships are:
France Championship: (3 phases: club, league, National)
Team France Championship: 2 phases
Youth France Championship: 2 phases
Pair go Championship.

The women's Championship was not held during the recent years but used to happen in the past.

Some events are very recent: the Korean amabassador Cup has just started in 2006.

Besides these national activities, French players enter european and international competitions: European congress, which last 2 weeks every summer and where the European championship is played, the major tournaments in Europe, the student championship, the pair go championship, the world amateur championship and the world youth championship.

French version

This page is a translation. J. Hubert maintains the french version [here| [ext] http://jerome.hubert.pagesperso-orange.fr/Go/Histoire/Fr/go_en_france1965-2007.htm

History Of Go In France 1965-2007 last edited by hnishy on September 23, 2022 - 09:20
RecentChanges · StartingPoints · About
Edit page ·Search · Related · Page info · Latest diff
[Welcome to Sensei's Library!]
Search position
Page history
Latest page diff
Partner sites:
Go Teaching Ladder
Login / Prefs
Sensei's Library