Life In 19x19

What methods have you ACTUALLY TESTED to get new members?
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Author:  Aidoneus [ Thu Sep 13, 2018 7:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re:

EdLee wrote:
vinyl 9x9 boards, but they only sell to clubs affiliated with them.
For 9x9 for beginners, compare the time-cost-postage with home-laserprint 9x9 laminated at a local store ( Fedex/Kinko's? ).

From our experience, unless you have a regular attendance of over 10 beginners, we rarely need more than just one 9x9. Anyone with any remote interest will advance past 9x9 within a day or two, from our experience.

Ed: Thanks again for your input. I have a wood 9x9 board, but it is hard to beat $1 for vinyl boards! Good enough for group instruction with children.

Knotwilg: You have some interesting suggestions. In particular, we just talked about setting up a study group at OGS.

Bill: Thanks for the welcome back! I think that I will email AGA about using an online rating (OGS, KGS, Tygem, etc.) as a preliminary rating. Otherwise, I don't see how a group of unrated players can ever advance to realistic rating levels. At least until a Go tournament comes to Chicago or Indianapolis. I think that I read at Anders blog that the next Go Congress will be in Wisconsin. We might be able to plan a group trip, depending on the costs.

Author:  Aidoneus [ Thu Sep 27, 2018 11:20 am ]
Post subject:  Re:

EdLee wrote:
But YMMV; curious to hear about your meetup experience over time; good luck.

While we get 1-2 new "members" each week through, none of them have ever shown up. In fact, based on their listed interests, I think they are looking for a different type of "meet up."

While at a local mall today for watch repair, I asked one of the (Chinese?) men working there if he played weiqi. He said no. I also asked another (Korean?) man waiting around if he played baduk. He started talking to me in Korean (I guess!) and shook my hand, so I explained that I did not understand him. He said he didn't play but asked me if I played mahjong. I apologized, by the way, as asking every East-Asian if they play Go might seem a little racist, though no one expressed any animosity--maybe I look too old and nerdy to take offense? ;-)

In any case, I registered for my first Go tournament, in Evanston on November 10. What's a little humiliation?!

Author:  sybob [ Thu Sep 27, 2018 12:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: What methods have you ACTUALLY TESTED to get new members

Knotwilg wrote:
So the main message is: focus on the staying, not the coming.

I concur with most of the suggestions, but I am not sure about this quote.

I think it is both.
Think of it marketing/business wise: you want to hold on to existing customers and have them return, but also want to attract new ones.

As someone who is active for an existing club, I found focus on the staying is very important.
But we also wanted to attract new members (adults).
For this existing club, we also wanted to newly establish a youth department. As we did not have youth/children (yet), we had to focus also on the coming.
I am also active in trying to establish a new club (for adults), at another place, focus on the coming was/is key, as there were no players at all yet and no location or schedule.
In both situations, visibility, activity, atmosphere and word-of-mouth are very important.

Wish you best!

Author:  sybob [ Fri Apr 26, 2019 12:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: What methods have you ACTUALLY TESTED to get new members

We recently tested a Facebook ad (paid).
Yes and no pleased with the results.
Yes, it generated many (and I mean: really many) pageviews for our goclub on Facebook and several 'likes'.
No, we did not attract new members.

If it is about visibility and awareness, perhaps create some goodwill, a Facebook ad helps. But do not expect to attract (many) new members.
Any similar experiences/views with Facebook ads?

Author:  Gomoto [ Fri Apr 26, 2019 1:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: What methods have you ACTUALLY TESTED to get new members

Once a year there is a japan festival in our local botanical garden. Our club is represented there and introducing the game to the visitors. This works quite well, we have got several new members that way.

Author:  goTony [ Thu Jul 02, 2020 11:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: What methods have you ACTUALLY TESTED to get new members

Aidoneus wrote:
I became discouraged a few years ago when I couldn't find any local Go players and put the game aside. With the end of the spring term, I finally retired from Purdue and started searching again for a chess/Go club. I finally found a pair of 12-10 kyu (online) players in an adjacent county. So, along with my wife, I passed a background check in order to reserve a meeting room at a local library. What follows is a description of my efforts at promotion. Suggestions will be gratefully received.

I paid to create a web page at I joined the AGA and turned my club into an AGA charter. I may see if I can affiliate the club with the American Go Foundation. I rejoined USCF and renewed my chess director certificate; I plan on turning my club into a USCF affiliate this autumn and running some K-3rd grade chess tournaments (the children do not need membership in USCF but will get ratings) and later some adult tournaments. My club is listed in the library's calendar of events. I also listed the club in the local newspaper's event calendar. The AGA charter listing brought a new Go player in from an adjoining state, and lots of club "members" have registered through, though few of them actually show up.

I would like to run rated Go matches/tournaments, though I don't really see how this will work out with no one having an AGA rating. At least with chess, we have several members with established USCF ratings.

It has been two years since you posted this. I am just wondering the clubs status. What worked and did not work? My guess is word of mouth, and fliers based on past experience. Meetup sadly never worked for us. People would sign up and not show. We may have got one player from it. And as others have posted a small club in a non GO playing town, can be severly affected by a key player or two moving away. You need a core group of about 4 people at least to look viable and interesting to newcomers. 5-8 really is more vibrant and engaging. I do not think there is a magic bullet. Fliers, free advertising, in the paper to do section, meetup, posting on a nations GO site, word of mouth/friends, school outreach/homeschoolers, play at a farmers market, and other events. I suppose the shotgun approach is best. However as others have said here being consistent, being there, being friendly, but not desperate, is vital.

Author:  bogiesan [ Fri Jul 03, 2020 5:42 am ]
Post subject:  Re: What methods have you ACTUALLY TESTED to get new members

tucson club admin wrote:
Ideas are a dime a dozen, but what methods have you ACTUALLY TESTED
for getting more go club members?
How well did they work or not work

We were not conducting experiments with pre-test data, rigorous conditions, and data collection and evaluation at the end of a specified period. We just know.
The Boise Go Club has died and risen several times over the last 40-45 years. I have tried everything and anything mentioned in this thread. Hikaru No Go was the singular event that improved our participation levels. Several of those HNG newbies went from taking 9-13 stones to giving me 4 stones. Don't know what happened to them, presumably they're still playing online.

Over the last five to ten years, since the club's current organizer moved the meeting place from a coffee shop to a gaming store, we have welcomed a total of six new members, maybe one a year, average. Two of those were new to the game and two are highly skilled and they found us through the AGA's club listing. The newbies found us by dumb luck. The better players were recently new to the Boise, Idaho, metro region and already knew where and how to find go clubs. We have a meetup listing thingy that has forty or more members, 90% of whom have absolutely no interest in go.

Go clubs everywhere need a major book or movie that features go as a major plot device.

Author:  Knotwilg [ Fri Jul 03, 2020 6:28 am ]
Post subject:  Re: What methods have you ACTUALLY TESTED to get new members

I have founded the Go club in Ghent. 25 years later it's still there, presided by a guy who joined in the first years but stayed much longer than the founders. I occasionally still return though (1/y). I have also run the Belgian federation for 2 years, giving active support to new and existing clubs.

As a club, there are three main things you control:
- how visible are you? if someone wants to play go in your area, how easy is it for them to find you?
- how approachable are you? when that person enters the club, do they feel welcome? are they being taken care of? do they feel they can be part of something?
- one thing that may be overlooked: is there something to be part of? newcomers can be frightened by too much attention and feel like the club is gasping for new blood to even survive. So a club needs a strong identity, to show it's not dependable, will thrive regardless of whether you stay or not, while you're welcome to join the ranks.

Things you don't control: the popularity of Go. Hikaru and AlphaGo have been the two major waves making for interest in the game. In my case it was the interest of a friend who had read Trevanian's "Shibumi". The energy we spent on Japanese markets, or Game events, or other meetups, has been largely wasted. Not that no one ever showed up again or even stayed on, but the rate to the effort invested was low.

As a national body, there's something you can do too: helping a newly emerged club across the point where they can sustain themselves, in terms of listing, material, knowledge, even presence of people to some extent. The club in Ghent definitely benefited from the founding meeting being supported by the Belgian federation and a few stronger players showing up for a couple of weeks. The federation also had lingering addresses of people in the area that had been looking for a club before.

Author:  John Tilley [ Fri Jul 03, 2020 11:02 am ]
Post subject:  Re: What methods have you ACTUALLY TESTED to get new members

I was secretary of the Winchester Club in the UK for three years. I think all the new members we attracted were through the British Go Association web page, we had some 10 to 15 enquiries in three years and maybe 5 of those came more than once. I had no success with players new to the game - they came just the once.

When AlphaGo was generating lots of publicity most people in the pub knew what the game was, but no-one actually wanted to play - we taught maybe one or two people, but they didn't come back.

We were most successful with existing players, in particular Chinese students at Southampton University. It was KEY to make sure they knew where to come and to be welcoming - the students are around 20 years old, our members "somewhat older" - I am 70! Chenyi was a female student and a one dan - she became a regular attendee until she returned to China. We exchanged several texts before she felt confident enough to come the first time and she came with a non Go playing friend on the student bus. I promised to meet them at the bus stop, which I continued to do for several weeks.

After a few visits she was confident to meet with us and was happily accepting a lift home from one of our members.

The Club met in a pub - I don't know what the average Chinese student thinks of a pub as a safe location.....

Attracting and retaining new members is a challenge. I never had the time to travel to either Winchester or Southampton Universities, due to other commitments, and to do an event at a fresher's fair - which would I think have brought in some new blood.

I moved away from Winchester in November 2018, the club still meets, it has a small nucleus of players - we used to get from 4 to 8 attendees every week. It would be interesting to see how successful the remote Zoom meetings are.

John Tilley

Author:  bogiesan [ Sat Jul 04, 2020 10:31 am ]
Post subject:  Re: What methods have you ACTUALLY TESTED to get new members

We saw almost zero reaction to the Alpha phenom. DDKs like me were sad but the games were incomprehensibly lofty so that counts as zero reaction. Computer people were pleased to see their side win. Chess people were pleased to see go fall inexorably under the juggernaut of AI. But no one else, average folks, civilians, had the slightest clue what the hubbub was all about.

Author:  dfan [ Tue Jul 07, 2020 11:04 am ]
Post subject:  Re: What methods have you ACTUALLY TESTED to get new members

FWIW, AlphaGo brought me back into the go community after several years away, and made me an active member of the local club, which I never had been even when I was playing regularly. But I may not count for these purposes since I had already been a player in the past. (On the third hand, maybe clubs should concentrate more on attracting lapsed former players.)

Author:  jlt [ Tue Jul 07, 2020 12:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: What methods have you ACTUALLY TESTED to get new members

John Tilley wrote:
The Club met in a pub - I don't know what the average Chinese student thinks of a pub as a safe location.....

Maye she was hesitant because she is female, rather than because she is Chinese?

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