Francis's Christmas Newsletter 2023

Welcome to Francisís seventeenth electronic Christmas Newsletter. As usual, I donít buy cards, but make a charity donation.

80th birthday party
80th birthday party

May this year saw my 80th birthday. I celebrated this milestone with two parties. One was an invitation go tournament at the London Go Centre in Ravenscourt Park. My pair go partner (see below) kindly acted as tournament director. The format was that of a Japanese amateur tournament, with four rounds, and 45 minute sudden death time limits. I have been trying to persuade British tournament directors to use this system for decades. Well, I was successful for once.

West Gallery party
West Gallery party

The other party, shown in the two pictures, was for my West Gallery friends, from London Gallery Quire and elewhere. And as it was my party, we sang music either of my own composition, or pieces which I had rescued from both printed and manuscript sources in the course of my research.

Handover
Handover

I have known of amateur choir conductors who have gone on too long, well past their conduct by date. I decided not to do this, and after 26 years on the podium handed over the Musical Directorship of London Gallery Quire to my friend Phil, from the bass section. As I sing bass myself, this change did not affect the balance of the quire. Phil has already brought new ideas and enthusiasm, and left me in no doubt that I took the right decision at the right time.

Glenfinnan viaduct
Glenfinnan viaduct

In July I went on a RailTrail holiday, following a similar visit to Norfolk heritage lines in 2022. This one was based on Fort William. The most spectacular scenery was on the way from Glasgow to Fort William itself, a journey of some four hours. We also travelled to Mallaig by steam locomotive, across the famous Glenfinnan viaduct.

Also included were a boat trip around Loch Linnhe, a visit by chairlift to the top of a fog-beshrouded Ben Nevis, and a visit to a whisky distillery. I enjoyed that ...

Leipzig Rathaus (town hall)
Leipzig Rathaus (town hall)

In July I betook myself to Leipzig, for the European Go Congress. The Deutscher Go Bund had rescued this congress at rather short notice. It had been scheduled to be held in Ukraine, but the Ukraine Go Association asked to be excused in view of the unsavoury events occuring in their country.

Leipzig itself particularly appealed to me, as it is the place where the greatest of all composers spent most of his working life. I attended two concerts in St Thomas's, Bach's church, and the Bach museum. I also went to the Mendelssohn musem; that composer also spent some years in Leipzig.

Song party
Song party

The tournament took place in a school in Markkleeberg, a suburb of Leipzig reachable by suburban train. It gladdened me to find that the tradition of singing go songs, more or less moribund in Britain, is still alive and well in musical Germany.

Liar Dice
Liar Dice

Another tradition in British go tournaments that seems moribund in our country, but alive in Germany, is that of playing liar dice. Time was when a group of British go players waiting for their food in a restaurant would automatically have the liar dice out. Here you can see this tradition in a German restaurant, with my friend Jan gloating over having deceived me. But that's what liar dice is about.

Pair Go costumes
Pair Go costumes

Now, you might be amazed that I of all people should be successful in a a "Best Dressed" competition. (I did once win a beauty competition, but that was when I was aged nine months.) Yet here I am with Jenny, my Pair Go partner, pictured as winner of the 2023 Best Dressed Pair Go partnership. This is part of the annual British Go Association Pair Go Championship, in which, unlike most go tournaments, dress is regarded as an important element.

As part of my general policy of reducing my commitments, after two decades I decided that it was time to hand over the Tournament Directorship of this championship. Jenny and I are flanking Pat, the new Tournament Director.

Where is this?
Where is this?

Here is a Christmas conundrum for you. A friend posted this image on Facebook. Where is it? My musical friends should get it straightaway. But if you give up, the answer is here

I wish all my friends and family a convivial holiday period and a peaceful 2024.

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