Herb Doughty’s Brief History of Go in Berkeley

Herb Doughty was the cofounder of the original Berkeley Go Club in 1967

Go was played in Berkeley long before there was a Berkeley Go Club. By 1962 Professor Scott Taylor in the Cal Math Department was rated Amateur 4 Dan, and was said to be the strongest Caucasian go player in the world.

When I began working on the Berkeley Campus in August of 1967, a game room near the old bowling alley under the student union, and the math grad student lounge, then in Campbell Hall, were the two main places where I could find a game of go.

To the best of our present knowledge, the Berkeley Go Club founded October 12, 1967 by Walt Mckibben and me was the first go club in town. For about 10 years, I was president, and we usually met on the fourth floor of the Cal Student Union, where we averaged about 50 people at our weekly meetings, weeks when we could not reserve a room, we met at my home on Hillegass.

In the late 1970’s we moved to the Mens’ Faculty Club where we hosted the US championships in 1977 and 1979. In 1988 led by Ned and Joanne Phipps, we hosted the annual United States Go Congress.

In October of 1992, the original Berkeley Go Club celebrated its 25 anniversary with a simultaneous exhibition by 9 Dan Professional Jiujo Jiang (Mingjiu’s brother), but in 1995, after 28 years, it was gone.

Since the early 1980’s we had tried supplementing our large Thursday evening meetings with small gatherings at cafes on other nights, and more. Next, as a suppliment, David Wolfe and Yari (Jada) Lesky started the East Bay Go Association to meet the other six nights of the week, first on 8th at Parker St. then at the other end of the same block. In the early 1990’s the East Bay Go Association moved downtown to an upstairs space at 100 Berkeley Square. Mark Rampel (club President) and I ran the club until ‘97 when Mark Harris took over.

Inspired by the Chess in the Schools programs and especially by the success of Ernest Brown’s Go program in the San Francisco Schools, for a few years in the early 1990’s, I ran a Go in the Schools program in Berkeley and Oakland, and also taught go at the East Bay Chinese School. Unfortunately, heart problems forced me to give both up. Grad students David Wolfe and Nick Kersting were a very big help.

In 1999 The East Bay Go Association lost its space at 100 Berkeley Square. People from the EBGA then started both of the two present clubs, The Berkeley Go Club, Founded by Mark Harris at our old location upstairs from the Fifth String instrument store on Adeline at Essex Street; and the Berkeley Campus Go Club, Founded on the Cal campus by then student, James Chien, 7 Dan, which now meets at Games of Berkeley on Thursday evenings and currently includes another 7 Dan student, Matthew Burrall. I have enjoyed playing Matthew since he was five years old.

In April, 2012 I again became president of the Berkeley Go Club and by the end of the month we moved to our new location in downtown Berkeley. Major thanks to the several members who made this possible, especially Nick Burgoyne and Len Sosnosky.

Berkeley’s most significant contributions to go have not directly involved the local go clubs, but rather, have been contributions by Berkeley people to bringing go together with leading edge academic research in artificial intelligence and in the mathematics of decision making; and also in the founding of the tradition of internet go servers, providing old folks like me with a delightful way to keep our minds alert, and far more significantly, providing young kids everywhere a wonderful opportunity to become native speakers of excellent thinking, rather than going through life thinking with an accent, like most of us who didn’t really have much experience with excellent thinking until we were a little too old. See:

Mathematical Go: http://www.math.berkeley.edu/~berlek

Computer Go: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_Go

Internet Go: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IGS_Go_server

Please let us know if you have more information about early go in Berkeley!

You may be surprised to find at the remarkable Art Gallery of the Internet Go Server a painting of Herb Doughty by Rembrandt (with help from my very talented friend at IGS): Especially note the Go board under the papers!