Go Software and Online Resources
This page is about software and Go websites that I used and can recommend to others.
While you can play both capture-Go (atari-Go) and normal Go online against the computer, it is better to play against real people. There are several online Go servers - so you can play Go on the internet, no matter if it's day or night, with players from around the world. I'm only listing here the ones I used and liked.
- KGS - look for "Download the Client" link. This is mostly an English language Go server, at least compared to IGS, but there are quite a lot of Asian players as well, some of them very strong.
- IGS - look for "Getting Started" and "Registration" links for how to use it. This is the most popular international Go server. Most of the games are fast, and people don't usually review their games.
- Cyberoro is an Asian Go server - but they put a lot of effort into a decent English client. They have also predefined commands for like 10 most common phrases to communicate with your opponent in case you don't speak a common language. What I like best about this server is their live broadcast of professional games from Japan, Korea, China.
A special category is the one of turn-based Go servers where the moves are not in real time, but one moves whenever he is available - the time limits are very long (one or more days per move). A game takes weeks/months to complete, but it's much more relaxed than on a normal Go server, and one can play many games at the same time:
Game databases and pattern searching tools
The kind of Go software that I found really useful are the game databases coupled with a nice pattern searching tool. My main use case is to:
- input a certain pattern on the board
- find all the games in the database that have that pattern (including symmetries and color inversion)
- find the list of the next moves in that pattern, ordered by frequency.
- select one particular continuation, filter the games that matched in step 2 just for this next move
- look through some of the games, to try to understand why the move was chosen
- go back to the initial search results at step 3, maybe select another continuation and research it
- go all the way to step 1, maybe modify the pattern a bit or change the search area (increase or decrease it)
- do step 2 again...
This is an excellent way to study Go, since you can find out what the masters play in a certain position, and study the context as well (the actual games where the local position occurred).
Kombilo is an awesome, free, stand-alone pattern searching tool. You have to install it as a desktop application, and it works on any major operating system, since it is developed in Python. It is my favorite pattern searching tool - it is very simple and it seems to be optimized for my main use case.
It doesn't come with a game collection to run it on - you'll need to have a game collection from a different source. I bought GoGoD several years ago for this purpose, to which I added whatever free games I found on the internet. One good starting point to build your own game collection is the Sensei's Library links to game collections.
Gobase is a website that offers both the database and the searching as an online service. Just follow the "Pattern search" link, then "Enter your repository" and then "Edit board". It will return up to 100 professional games that match the position you entered.
Game viewers and editors
- Drago - Windows only; very lightweight download, my favourite software for recording and replaying games
- Jago - works on any system that supports Java; great software for recording and replaying games; also an IGS client.
- GoWrite - works on any system that supports Java; I only use this to get nice Go diagrams
- ZGo is one of the best ways to embed an interactive game viewer applet on an html page.
The best Go encyclopedia I know of is GoGoD. I bought only the 2001 or so version (they must have added a lot to it meanwhile), but I was delighted with their articles on Go history, players, events... I also love their New in Go articles.
While not an encyclopedia in the strict sense, Sensei's Library is a wonderful resource. Use the search field to look up on anything Go related - you'll most of the times find something useful.
There are several websites which I use for the latest news in professional Go:
There are also several good newsletters you can subscribe to for Go news and more:
Live games broadcast
Some of the Go servers do live broadcasts on the internet of top professional Go games.
In order to fully enjoy following these matches, I recommend to look up the players' names and career highlights in advance on Sensei's Library to get familiar with them.
The best server I know of for live broadcasts is Cyberoro. Every Thursday in Japan (Wednesday evening in US, midnight in Europe) there are top professional games at the Nihon Ki-in that you can follow live. There are also top pro games from China and Korea very often - but I don't know the schedule.
Also, IGS does live broadcasts for important titles - look under the "Events" section. The advantage here is that you can kibitz in English :-)
Online Go Communities
I am a member of and warmly recommend LifeIn19x19 Forum.
There is also the older Usenet group rec.games.go, which is not moderated and therefore there is a lot of noise to filter out.
Computer programs playing Go
For those familiar with computer Chess where top programs play at the human world champion level, it may come as a big surprise to hear that best Go programs are still far from top human players.. Many talented programmers are working on computer Go nowadays so I am sure things will improve. If you are interested in computer-go, you definitely want to join the computer-go mailing list.