A brief history of go in Belgium

History of Go in Belgium

<1981: prehistory of Belgian Go
1981: founding of the Belgian Go Federation
1984: opening of the Waterloo club; students discover the game
1985: beginning of organized go life in Belgium
1988: our 1st sho-dan (1-dan); go begins its growth in Flanders
1989: a year of doubts
1990: like Phoenix...
1991: Belgium organises the European Congress
1994: Foundation of 2 clubs: Liège and Ghent
1995: a year of changes
1996: 1st Belgian go week-end "Congress"
1997: 100 members !
1998: clubs become independent from the BGF
2004: 200 members !
2006: death of Belgo; birth of BelgoNet
2007: crash of the the website
2008: new Belgian stars
2010: further decreasing of membership/participation; our 1st 5-dan
2015: recovering...and bouncing
2019: the future is youth; a second EGC in Belgium
2020: freeze of Go activities due to Covid 19 virus
2021: making belgian Go great again !
2022-2023: back to the usual crisis situation
2024: current year...

Before 1980: Origin & pre-history of the Belgian Go

Nobody can lay claim to having first introduced the game in Belgium. We know that there were some players in the 60's.

Some contact addresses already existed in the late 70's (it can be found in some books), and we know a club was founded in Liège, but we have no further information.

1980: the "romantic players period"; the café "Le Greenwich"

The first confirmed club has been located since 1980 in Brussels at the café "Le Greenwich". It was more a cafe than a real club where a dozen players used to meet to play go. This was the so-called "romantic players" period: most of them were musicians, writers, great travellers, philosophers, ... There were no or very few scientists, physicists, mathematicians. These were to come later. No official infrastructure as such, but rather an environment where players could benefit from the help of a few strong Asian players. These pioneers were part of two different groups, each of them having its master, M. Nanto (5-dan) on the one hand and M. Tchang (3-dan) on the other hand. When these 2 groups met, they decided to found the Belgian Go Association

1981: founding of the Belgian Go Federation

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.

1982-1983: just born...and yet dying !

However, this did not have any direct positive effects on a practical level. All of the "romantic players" disappeared quickly from the go scene, most of them after 2 - 3 years. And in 1983, the only Belgian club "Greenwich" was slowly dying due to the disappearance of these "romantic players", threatening the existence of any organized go life in our country !

1984: opening of a go club in Waterloo; students discover the game

In 1984, Michel Gilbert realize it was high time ta react: he decided to start the first official club in a very famous place near Brussels, Waterloo. This turned out to be the best thing ever for Belgian Go. This club, the only one in Belgium, grew rapidly successful: 20 players, mostly young students, went regularly, initiated by two young players who had discovered the "Greenwich" just before it disappeared: Marc Ginoux and Jean-Denis Hennebert.

At that time, Michel Gilbert as 2-kyu (!) was by far the strongest Belgian player. Fortunately, we were lucky enough to have met M. Tsuda, a Japanese sho-dan, who was kind enough to play teaching games, nearly always with 9 stones handicap, week after week, till he had to return home in 1986. The Belgian players are very indebted to him, as he could be seen as our 1st sensei of Belgian Go.

Three months later, two other (university) clubs were founded, one in Brussels (ULB) by Jean-Denis Hennebert, and one in Louvain-la-Neuve by Pierre Sevenants.

1985: the beginning of organized go life in Belgium

1985 was really an auspicious year for the Belgian go:

  • firstly, the first Belgian Championship took place with 15 participants. The favourite, Michel Gilbert, was then surprisingly beaten by an outsider, Guy Dusausoy. (here you can find all the winners of the championship)
  • secondly, the BGF began the publication of its quarterly magazine BELGO
  • thirdly, the BGF organized its first international tournament in Brussels which met a great success (86 participants) (here you can find all the winners of this tournament).
  • finally, in the summer of 1985, we welcomed for a whole week, two Chinese professionals (one of them was Guo Juan who lives now in the Netherlands and who is still one of strongest player in Europe).

1986: 2 new clubs; the 1st interclubs

The year 1986 saw the birth of two new clubs beside the existing trio, thanks to the efforts of the editor of Belgo, Joël Saucin. Both Le Palais du Midi and Bruxelles-AEZ (AEZ = Ministery of Economy) were located in Brussels.

It was high time to set up the first interclubs competition, which was won overwhelmingly by Waterloo.

The second edition of the Belgian Championship saw the triumph of a young player who had just learned to play just some months before: Vincent Lemaître (then 4-kyu). He won this title four times in seven editions before stopping playing competitive go. Up till now, his progression in 1985, from learning the rules to 4-kyu in 10 months, is still one of the fastest ones in Belgium (without the help of Internet at that time !).

1987: slow but regular growth

1987 was a calmer year during which the number of members increased slowly but regularly, unfortunately only in the French-speaking part of Belgium (end 1987, there was only one Flemish member !). Belgian players began to play tournaments abroad, with a very favourable winning percentage. Numerous promotions followed.

End 1987, there were about 45 members. Best players were then Marc Ginoux and Alain Wettach (both 1-kyu).

1988: the first Belgian sho-dan (1-dan); go begins to grow in Flanders

In 1988, Ron Polak, a 4-d Dutch player came regularly to Belgium to set up a series of lectures and simultaneous games to raise the level of play. He can be considered as our 2nd sensei. He was successful: some weeks later, we had the pleasure to greet the emergence of our first local sho-dan, Marc Ginoux.

Moreover, Go began to flourish also in Flanders thanks to the impulse of Frank Segers who founded a club in the old University town of Leuven.

1989: a year of doubts

1989 was a less favourable year. The university club in Brussels had to close because its driving force was no longer made up of students. A worse blow was the retreat of Michel Gilbert, the founder of the BGF. This initiated a period of uncertainty and of managerial troubles. As a result, for the first time, the total membership (60) did not grow and the publication of "Belgo" was suspended from September 1988 to October 1989.

1990: like Phoenix...

The BGF totally recovered the following year under the dynamic guidance of Pierre Sevenants, the new President of the BGA. That year, the administration council mainly concentrated on the organization of the European Go Congress, a very heavy task for such a small country as far as Go is concerned !

For a few months, the best Belgian players could benefit from the help of a strong Korean player, M. Dong Wook Lee (4-dan), who kindly invited them home once a week to play teaching games.

In October 1990, the Brussels tournament became the first important tournament in the history of European Go won by a female player, namely Guo Juan, ex-Chinese professional player, for whom Brussels was the first tournament since she had left professional play.

1991: Belgium organizes the European Go Congress

1991 was a crucial year for Belgian Go as our country had the great honour and heavy responsibility to organize the European Congress. It took place in Namur and attracted 220 people. The Chinese Zhang Shutai 7-dan emerged as Open European Champion and the Russian Alexei Lazarev 6-dan (who ended 2nd behind Zhang) as European champion (as best European).

A club was founded in the second town of Belgium: Antwerpen and that a 3rd Belgian tournament (beside the Championship of Belgium and the Brussels tournament) was set up by the club of Leuven (the first tournament organised by a club and not by the BGF).

1992: capitalizing on the European Go Congress

1992 was the right year for establishing the balance sheet of the European Go Congress. Among the positive results: we were able to buy enough go boards, sets of stones and clocks to equip all 5 Belgian clubs. We also printed 5000 pamphlets in both national languages (French and Dutch). The disappointing side was that the Congress did not bring us many new contacts despite the big press campaign that accompanied the Congress (at least one article was published in every important Belgian newspaper and the president of BGF was interviewed in the TV news on the RTBF (the French national TV channel).

1993: many visits by professional players

1993 were various visits made by well-known professionals: Nagahara-sensei (6-p), author of some famous go best-sellers; later on, five (!) professionals among three of high rank: Kano (9-p), Abe (9-p) and Ms. Sugiuchi (8-p, the highest-ranked woman pro in Japan) and finally the Chinese Master Jiang Ming-jiu (7-p)

1993 also saw a revival of the interclub competition, seven years after the first edition (winner among the 4 participating clubs was Brussels - Pantin). Last but not least, a 4th Belgian tournament, organised by the club of Louvain-la-Neuve, was born.

1994: Foundation of two new clubs: Liège and Ghent

The club of Liège was founded by Vincent Croisier and the club in Ghent by Dieter Verhofstadt and Stefan Verstraeten.

Another fact worth mentioning: the first victory by a Belgian player in an international tournament: Jan Bogaerts (then 1-dan) won the tournament of Tilburg despite opposition of two Dutch 3-dan and six 2-dan.

1995: a year of changes

After five years (1990-1994) of doing a terrific job (in particular organizing the European Go Congress in Namur in 1991), president Pierre Sevenants decided to resign because of other personal commitments. During his brilliant presidency, the number of members had increased from 50 (in 1990) to 80 (in 1994), our federation has got a solid financial foundation and enough game sets to equip all the clubs. The new elected president was Jan Bogaerts, a strong chess player (about 2350 ELO).

One of Bogaerts' first big success was the definitive revival of the interclubs in which six clubs (for a total of 46 players) took part. The winner was once again the Brussels club Le Pantin.

End 1995, the Belgian Go Federation counted 85 members among whom one 2-dan (Alain Wettach) and nine 1-d (7 Belgian players).

1996: the 1st Belgian go week-end "Congress"

In May 1996, the BGF organized for the first time a special week-end go congress. The purpose was to enable people to improve their strength, to have fun, and to become acquainted with players from other clubs. This go week-end took place in a lodge in the middle of a great natural park near the Dutch border and met with a big success with 30 participants.

Another important event in 1996 was the visit of a Japanese delegation to the club of Ghent (thanks to cultural agreements existing between the towns of Ghent and Kanazawa) among who Master Honda Kunihisha (9-p).

1997: a milestone: 100 members !

Thanks to the emergence of a group of about 20 young go-players - friends just graduated from the University of Brussels - the go-club of the Brussels University (which had closed in 1989) re-opened. These members were called les Brasseurs (from the name of a flat located "rue de la Brasserie" where many of them had learned to game in the years since the beginning of the 90's).

Partly due to the opening of this new club, the membership outnumbered for the first time the fatidic number of 100 !

1998 - 1999: the clubs become independent from the BGF

A big decision was taken in the Annual General Meeting in December 1997: the constitution of the BGF was reformed so that all the Belgian clubs could/should become financially autonomous from the BGF. Practically, this meant that only the so-called "federal activities" (organisation of the Belgian Championship, publication of "Belgo", organization of the week-end congress, organization of the Brussels tournament, the regular publication of a classification, ...) would stay in the hands of the BGF (the finance coming from a "federal" membership-fee), whereas all the other activities and the needed material would be organised (and financed) by the clubs theirselves (the clubs could purchase the material they needed from the BGF at a "symbolic" price for the first wave of acquisition). The clubs would finance this with a specific membership-fee, to be set by clubs individually.

In 1998, Nicolas Dandois was elected President to succeed Jan Bogaerts.

In October 1998, we welcomed two Japanese professionals, Yasuda-sensei (9-p) and Miss Yuki Shigeno (2-p) whose purpose was to come and illustrate how to teach go to children. They paid a visit to two schools in and near Bruges. And in April 2000, other professionals (Miyakawa Goro (9-p), Chizu Kobayashi (5-p) and Inoue Hatsue (1-p) came to Brussels, ...

2000: training our members

In 2000, regular go-lessons all along the year were set up in most Belgian clubs, with the objective of improving the level of all the Belgian players of whatever level (depending on the level, the participants received lessons by Guo Juan (7-dan), or by Jan Bogaerts (4-dan) / Alain Wettach (3-dan) or by some strong kyu players. These lessons met a great success, except for the courses for the "double-digit" kyu players.

2001-2002: a quick developpement

In 2001, Dieter Verhofstadt succeeded Nicolas Dandois as President.

2001-2002 were starting years of an période of quick developpment with a rapid growth in the number of members and many innovations.

We welcomed the birth of 3 new (still tiny) clubs, in 2 small towns: one in Ath, the other in Hasselt, followed the next year by Charleroi. End 2002, the BGA counted with 115 members.

And as innovation we decided to create a new function: the national coach", whose role was to support and train local (club) coaches, to write technical articles for "Belgo" and to coach directly 4 promising "young stars". 1st holder was Jan Bogaerts. Our Web site was totally reviewed and updated, and a specific internet newsgroup was launched. We finally also launched a new yearly trofee, the "Iwamoto Cup", whose purpose was to incitate more players to take part in the Belgian tournament. Points were given on basis of the number of victories accumulated in all Belgian tournaments along the year...(Leuven, Belgian championship, Gent, Louvain-la-Neuve, Brussels)

We organised some lectures given by a strong and sympathtic young Japanese amateur, Koji Watanabe (6-d), who then stayed in the Netherlands for a few months.

And the Club of Liège won the Rhein-Maas liga (a interregio interclubs competition in which german and dutch clubs of this region participated).

2003: an auspiscious year

2003 was another "good milesime" with a strong growth and many innovations:

Jean-Denis Hennebert succeeded Dieter Verhofstadt as President.

The growth went on ! The number of members increased to an unprecedented 140, thanks to the succes of the manga "Hikaru no Go" and thanks to the developpement of Go on Internet, on "KGS" in particular wherin a specific "Belgian Room" is created; two more clubs (!) opened their doors: Bruges and Namur.

Two new competitions were initated: the Belgian Championship of quick games (blitz games) and the Belgian Internet Championship (on "KGS").
We also created an enterely informatized database of the members, directly linked to our website, with variable "access rights" in fonction of the status: member / club responsible /administrator of the BGA), a very clever and flexible way to handle the management of the members...

On the other hand, a source of desappointement was the fact that despite of the growth in the membership, the number of players effectively present in the clubs remains more or less unchanged, and that still less and less members participated in tournaments or events (f.i. there were only 9 participants in the Belgian championship and only 10 attended the yearly lecture given by Guo Juan !). Perhaps, this was a negative effect of the quick development of Go on Internet (?)

2004: reaching a historic peak: 200 members !

2004 will remain as a historic year: for the 1st time in its history, the BGF counts with 200 members . Moreover, the BGF goes on introducing innovations to the benefit of its members...

Given the poorly attendance in the "live" lecture given by Guo Juan in 2003, we organised for the 1st time a lecture on an "e-version", via the "Belgium Room" of KGS in which there were 8 active participants and 15 observers.
We also organized a new specific Belgium championship for beginners (max 12-k)
But 2004 will probably remain as an historic year as far as visits by delegations of strong Asian players are concerned:

  • in February, we welcomed Okada sensei, 8-p accompagnied with 12 (!) high-dan Japanese amateurs
  • in Augustus, a group of 4 high level Korean amateurs led by Prof. Hahn Sang-Dae, 6-d, paid a visit to Belgium. They were acommpagnied by a journalist and a cameraman of "Sky Baduk TV" (also strong players)
  • in November, another Korean delegation, composed by 2 female professionals: Yoon Young-Seong, 4-p (presently -2009 - living in Germany) and Kang Seung-Hee, 2-p, and by some 6-d amateur players

The interclubs meet with a great success (10 clubs, 110 participants !), so as did the go week-end (33 participants),

But not everything was so pinky:

some events disapeared f.i. the Iwamoto trofee, which actually had never really started, the Gent Tournament and the Belgian Internet Championship,
Also worrying was the fact that most new created clubs remain still tiny (less than 4-6 regular players).
Last but not least, we had to deplore the retreat, for personal reasons, of one of the great organizers of the go life in Belgium (president from 2000 to 2003), Dieter Verhostadt.

2005: a year of consolidation

In 2005, 2 new competitions were created:

  • the Belgium pair championship, which met directly a great success with 9 pairs (the pair was not obligatory composed by one male and one female)
  • the match Belgium-China, on the model of the NEC Cup (a player goes on to play till he is defeated), with 9 players in each team (China won 9-7). (This remained unfortunately a one-shot edition).

We also opened a official “Belgian Go Room” on the internet go server “KGS”.
We also welcomed some strong Korean amateurs (ex-insei): Cho Seok Bin, followed by the couple Kim Se-Hyun (maybe the strongest amateur woman) & Kim Hanwul.
End 2005, BGA federated 13 clubs for 192 members.

2006: death of "Belgo", replaced by "BelgoNet"

Cédric Declerfayt was elected President and succeeded Jean-Denis Hennebert.

Given the great devoppment of go among the young generation, it was time to organize a Belgian championship for young players (< 18 years old) and Belgian championship for students (< 30 years old) (winner of each of the 2 competitions represent Belgium in the European Championship).

But unfortunatelly, 2006 was also the start of the agony of “Belgo”, our official national quaterly magazine (whose 1st issue had been published begin 1985). “Belgo” slowly stopped to be published due to the lack of volunteer writers (2 issues were still published in 2007 and one last issue – nr. 83 - in 2008).
"Belgo" was soon replaced by a digital newsletter “BelgoNet”, which is publishet every 2 months. The Go week-end (40 participants) was extended to 3 days (with Cho Seok-bin 7-d as main instructor). End 2006, the membership amounted 164 for 11 clubs (closing of Hasselt and Charleroi).

Just for the record: here is the details of the membership by club:
Pantin-Brussels (42), Chaff – Brussels (19), Gent (17), Louvain-la-Neuve (17), Leuven (17), Antwerpen (17), Namur (12), Liège (10), ULB-Brussels (7). Ath (4), Brugge (2)

2007: annus horribilis: the website crashed...and the further declining of the membership

2007 was a poor year for the BGA: the Board was reduced to 4 people so that no much innovation could be expected by such a small team. Moreover, the BGA was hit by a disastrous event: on 18 of April, for some unknown reason, our website (of which we had no backup) crashed and disappeared. This was a severe blow, because we then not only lost the website but also the whole database of our members (their address, e-mail,…), which was linked to it!
This caused, as you imagine, much trouble in communicating with the members and organizing federal events.
It took various months before the administration of the BGA recovers from this lost. The good part of this misfortune is that we took the opportunity to create an entirely new website, more based on a “web 2.0” approach, which was nearly totally functional before the end of the year. Nevertheless, there were some other positive events such as the visit by 4 strong Korean players: Prof. Sang-Dae Hahn (6-d, leader of the group), Young-Gil An (6-p, former world amateur champion), Kang-Wook Lee (3-p, also former world amateur champion - in 2004) and Kyung-Nang Kang (7-d, insei girl, 17 years old). And our go-WE met once again with a big success with 40 participants (Motoki Noguchi 7-d as main instructor)

Unfortunately, the membership did go on with its decline: 126 (which means a loss on a third of members in 3 years !). After the closings of ULB-Brussels and Brugge, there were then only 9 clubs left in Belgium (and moreover Liège was held only formally alive).

2008: a year of recovering; stay of Kim Jung-Hyeup

2008 marked a recovering compared with “anus horribilis” 2007: we started some innovations and the Belgian go life was more active (more clubs tournaments, new clubs, new members,…); last but not least, a young generation of new players begins to his way to the top...

The highlights of 2008 are numerous:

the most important event of the year was the 3 months stay in Belgium of young (17 years old) ex-insei Kim Jung-Hyeup, 7-d, who visited various clubs to give lectures and play simultaneous games. Kim would have liked to stay in Belgium for longer but had to come back to Korean because of visa problem.

Another gift from Korea: thanks to the effort of some Korean sponsors (and in particulary of Dr. Hahn), Belgium could sent a national representative to a new world competition held in Korea, the Korean Prime Minister Cup (KPMC). So that we organized a KPC qualifying tournament reserved to the 16 best ranked Belgian players, with a double knout-out formula; during this event, we were honoured by the visit of the Korean pro Kang Seung-Hee (2-p) who commented games and played simultaneous games.

Another "grande première" was the participation of a team of 5 Belgian players in the 1st World Mind Sport Game in Beijin (Thomas Connor, 3-d; Benjamin Gigot, 1-d; Kristof Bossee, 1-d; Renaud Braye, 1-k and Michael Meeschaert, 1-k).

We have also chosen the best player living in Europe, the Chinese professional Fan Hui, as main instructor for our traditionnal goWE (which was organized for the 1st time in another place and gathered 43 participants, a record) (as Kim 7-d was also present, we could actually benefit of a strong teaching staff !).

BGA decided to give financial support for its members who followed lectures on the go server “KGS +”, so that the real prize they pay was only 50 % of the “normal” prize. 10 members seized this opportunity.

No less than 3 new clubs tournaments appeared on the Belgian calendar (it was high time: there was only the tournament of Leuven left !): the clubs of Louvain-la-Neuve and of Ghent reactivated their tournaments after an interruption of respectively 3 and 6 years...and Antwerpen organized its 1st tournament. All were successful: 56 participants in Leuven (a record), 32 in Antwerpen, 38 in Ghent and 14 in LLN.

The agonizing club of Liège revived again, and a new club was founded in Roeselare, thanks to Ivan Cloostermans (who would tragically die in a traffic accident some months later).

Last but not least, a new generation of young and talented players, all of them round 20 years old, reached dan-level (Thomas Connor, Lucas Neyrinck, François Gonze, Simon Fain, Alexis Gottcheiner, Kristof Bossée,….).

And, last but not least, the membership finally started to go up again: 140 members (+15 compared with 2007)!

2009-2010: mitigated years

2009 and 2010 were mitigated years, with good and bad events.

The good ones:
- the confirmation of the talent of a "youngster": Lucas Neyrinck becomes new Belgian champion
- the ("Hikaru") wave of young new players goes on
- three clubs organise their own tournament: Leuven (43 players), Gent (39) and Antwerpen (27)
- the birth of a new club, in "Erasmus", the faculty of Medecine of Brussels

The bad ones:
- the end of the quarterly review Belgo after 23 years and 83 issues
- the tournament of Louvain-la-Neuve disappeared after just one year revival
- even if the "Hikaru" wave goed on, it clearly starts to slow down

In 2010, Marie Jemine succeeded Cedric Declerfay as BGA President.

That year, we reactivated the concept of coaching for kyu players (after an interruption of 10 years). The coaching consists in the sending of 4 games a months to a national coach, Nelis Vets (2-d), for comments. Three members effectively started the coaching...but the project faded away after some months...

Also worth mentioning: the tournament of Brussels moves from suburb to downtown...

2011-2012-2013-2014: decline of the membership and of the participation

Years 2011 to 2014 showed a decline not only in the membership, but also in the participation in the activities proposed by the BGA.

The decline of the membership, which had begun in 2009, went on and became worrying: in 2013, we count only with about 75 members, which is the figure of...15 years before !

Also the participation in the events organised by the BGA drops dramatically. Here under a few examples:
* only 15-20 people attended the go week-end (in comparaison to a traditional 40 audience) despite the presence in 2011 of the sympathic In-Seong Hwang, 7-d, who is just as strong as good teacher, as main instructor,
* just 3 to 4 clubs still competed in the interclubs,
* less than 10 participants in the Belgian Championship of quick games ("blitz")
* due to the lack of participants, the young (< 18 years) and student Belgian championships had to been suspended !
* a new competition, launched in 2013, a "Belgian team championship", a one-day competition for teams of 3 players, was a failure: 2 teams took part. Accordingly, this tournament only knew one edition.

Another bad news was the end (in 2011) of "BelgoNet", the e-bulletin which has succeeded the quarterly review "Belgo". (actually, more than a sudden death, "BelgoNet" had progressively faded away: the 1st year (2006), 9 issues had been published; in 2007, 6; in 2008, 5; in 2009, 3 and in 2010,...2).

Nevertheless, there were still some more positive news, such as:
- the confirmation of the talent of Lucas Neyrinck, who became once again Belgian champion and the 1st Belgian 5-dan ever !
- the opening of 2 new clubs (Geel and one - more - in Brussels), even if all still tiny (a 3rd one, in Baelen, only lasted one year)
- the organisation, in November 2011, of a workshop of 2 days in Brussels animated by Hwang-In Seong (7-d) with an audience of 15 people
- the visit in October 2013 by 2 Korean pros Lee Young Sin 5P and Yoo Young Min 3P, followed the following year by the visit by 2 female Korean pros, Cho Mykyung 8P in June 2014 and by Kim Yoo Young 4P in October 2014
- the numerous participation in the 3 traditional clubs tournaments (Leuven, Ghent and Antwerpen)
- the participation of Belgium in the Pandanet Go European Team Championship (in B league)

For the record: in 2013, Thomas Connor succeeded to Marie Jemine as President, and in 2014, Joost Vannieuwenhuysen was elected president.

2015-2016: end of decline - bouncing back !

From 2015 onwards, Belgian go life restarted progressively: the number of members grew up progressively (124 in 2016...to compare with 75 in 2013), and so did the participation in the various activities (f.i. in 2015, 6 clubs participated in the interclubs, 20 participants in the training WE, 20 in the preliminary rounds of the Belgian championship, 71 in the Brussels tournament,...).

Another good news were:
- the re-birth of the review "Belgo": 2 issues were published in 2015 and 2 other issues in 2016.
- the creation of 2 new clubs: Andenne and Hasselt

Belgium had also the great pleasure and honor to organize the 2016 edition of the European Women Championship in Antwerpen, which met a great success (16 participants).

Finally, the General Meeting of the EGF (European Go Championship) elected Belgium to organize the 2019 edition of the European Congress in Brussels.

2018 - 2019: development of Go among the youth generation; second EGC in Belgium

Membership stabilizes. Good news: Go is growing in some schools (in Baarle-Hertog, Brussels and Antwerpen) so that, despite not (yet ?) being "members", youth players represent 2/3 of the number of Belgian players, evidence that Go is popular amongst children. Also 2019 is the year of the second EGC in Belgium (Brussels), 28 years after Namur. The European Go Congress is the biggest Go event in Europe. The Congress met a great success: it attracted no less than 900 participants !

2020: year of the Covid 19 virus

In 2020, Jean-Denis Hennebert becomes president of the Belgian Go Federation, again. A bi-monhly newsletter is published.
But due to Covid 19 virus, almost every Go event (festivals, tournaments, Go camp...) has to be cancelled. Players meet on Internet, or scarily come to club wearing masks...
Go life organizes slowly around play on Internet and chat on Discord. Club meets again online, but we all miss the touch of the stones and the noble beauty of the gobans...

2021: making belgian Go great again

In 2021, Michaël Silcher becomes president of the Belgian Go Federation, but as often it's not a big change - just a switch of jobs between the secretary and president...
Covid 19 still prevents players to meet again in clubs for the first half of the year and wearing masks remain mandatory. In summer, the regulations allow clubs to open again but most of the activities are online. Therefore, many Go activities take place online: Belgian Go Baduk Cafe (online Discord link) opens in February and a new online Tournament the "Belgian Go Masters" starts. The Federation also organizes lessons by local pro players Lucas Neirynck and Kim Ouweleen.
Lucas wins again the Belgian Championship for the 11th time... Also this year for the first time Belgium participates in the European youth team championship and a Rengo championship has been organized again.
In 2021, for the first time an AI has been used by a player during an online competition, and for the first time AI analysis has also been used to detect cheating. The history of Go continues to evolve, after centuries of teaching from Go masters to students, we are now in an era in which AI defines high level play.

2022-2023: back to the usual crisis situation

After the long months of Covid quarantine, activities slowly develop again. The partnership with the Belgium-China association (via the Phenix Club) is confirmed and allow the Federation to use their locals with advantageous price.
The partnership with Lucas Neirynck (multiple winner of the Belgian Go Championship and teacher at the annual Go camp) is confirmed.

But it doesn't go much better for Go in Belgium in general. It seems we are in an eternal crisis of volunteers and membership in the Federation.
At the beginning of the year 2023, Gints and Benoit leave the board that is now reduced to its minimum critical size (president + secretary + treasurer). Also the participation of club players is very low - there is not much news from clubs and a majority of club managers don't even show up at the General Assembly.
In Belgium Rapid Championship, half the present are board members, Ghent tournament gets poor participation and the Rengo Championship of 2023 sees only 2 teams registering.
Especially, the southern part of Belgium remains partially disconnected from the Federation - and if every club stay on their side this does not encourage the resilience and development of Go activities there.
As years go by it seems Go activities become more and more complex and difficult to organize by lack of will to engage into serious organizational activities. What suffers is Go itself condemned to stay at a state of "niche" game for ever in Belgium, despite its potential for development as both entertainment or educative purpose. This is quite sad and there is a long way forward for Go in Belgium to reach the level of influence it has in South Korea...

Among other bad news, the long awaited "new Gofed site" project started 7 years ago has got to be abandoned for human and technical reasons at the beginning of 2023. The development starts again on a new basis with new volunteers in Augustus 2023. Wait and see...

2024: connecting more

2024 starts with renewed participation of club managers in the General Assembly and Guillaume De Kijser who joins the board.
The calendar for the year looks quite busy, which is good news.


List of the successive BGF presidents

Year President
1 1981 Lucien Hendrichs
1982 Lucien Hendrichs
2 1983 Michel Gilbert
1984 Michel Gilbert
1985 Michel Gilbert
1986 Michel Gilbert
3 1987 Marc Ginoux
4 1988 Guy Dusausoy
1989 Guy Dusausoy
5 1990 Pierre Sevenants
1991 Pierre Sevenants
1992 Pierre Sevenants
1993 Pierre Sevenants
1994 Pierre Sevenants
6 1995 Jan Bogaerts
1996 Jan Bogaerts
1997 Jan Bogaerts
1998 Jan Bogaerts
7 1999 Nicolas Dandois
2000 Nicolas Dandois
8 2001 Dieter Verhofstadt
2002 Dieter Verhofstadt
2003 Dieter Verhofstadt
9 2004 Jean-Denis Hennebert
2005 Jean-Denis Hennebert
2006 Jean-Denis Hennebert
10 2007 Cédric Declerfayt
2008 Cédric Declerfayt
2009 Cédric Declerfayt
11 2010 Marie Jemine
2011 Marie Jemine
2012 Marie Jemine
12 2013 Thomas Connor
13 2014 Joost Vannieuwenhyse
2015 Joost Vannieuwenhyse
2016 Joost Vannieuwenhyse
2017 Joost Vannieuwenhyse
2018 Joost Vannieuwenhyse
2019 Joost Vannieuwenhyse
9bis 2020 Jean-Denis Hennebert
14 2021 Michael Silcher
2022 Michael Silcher
2023 Michael Silcher
2024 Michael Silcher