Acorn 1984

The First Computer Go Tournament

The Acornsoft Computer Go Tournament was held in London, on January 7th and 8th 1984. It was sponsored by Acornsoft, the software division of Acorn Computers, manufacturer of microcomputers including the BBC Micro and the Electron. Much of the planning was done in Cambridge, where Acornsoft's head office was. The event itself was held in the Acorn showroom in Covent Garden, London.

The event was also called the "BBC Micro Go Tournament". The programs all ran on BBC microcomputers, provided by the sponsor. No other hardware, and no extras such as additional memory, were permitted.

It was played on 13x13 boards. A form of Chinese rules was used, which required stones to be actually captured during the game if they were to be regarded as dead. The komi was 5½. The time limits were three hours each, plus one minute byo-yomi. The British Go Association was involved as organisers and tournament directors.

The event was the idea of Charles Matthews, who suggested it to David Johnson-Davies, the Managing Director of Acornsoft. Acornsoft provided the organisational support. Charles compiled the shortlist of entrants, planned the tournament, and organised its running.

There were eleven entrants. These were reduced to eight after test games against human players. The kifu (paper records) for these test games survive, but as the names of the programs, and programmers, are not recorded, they are of little interest and are not presented here, except for one specimen.

The tournament itself involved the best of the eight computer programs playing against each other; no human play was involved in this final stage. It was a simple knockout, as shown below. The names of the programs (if any) are not recorded. The entrants are referred to by the names of the programmers.

round 1round 2round 3Winner
Bronyslaw Przybyla 
gameBronyslaw Przybyla 
 gameBronyslaw Przybyla 
David Skidmore 
gameDavid Skidmore 
 gameBronyslaw Przybyla
Richard Granville 
gameRichard Granville 
 gameRichard Granville 
John Hobson &
William Brakes
gameHobson & Brakes 
Michael Reiss 

The game records given here were transcribed from the original paper records, provided by Charles Matthews.

A trophy and a cheque for £1,000 were presented by Acornsoft to the winner Bronyslaw Przybla, shown to the right in the picture below as he receives the prize from David Johnson-Davies. The board in the background shows the winning game. His program was probably written in BCPL, a C-like language developed at the Cambridge University Computing Department. Acornsoft marketed a BCPL compiler for the BBC Microcomputer.

Other computer Go Tournament results