I have been asked often where can one play Go online. Actually there are many places but here are some of my favourites which I can recommend whole-heartedly.
There are mainly two types of playing Go online. One is real time games where you play with another player real time, just like you play face to face, only now you play over the internet. Typically, you log on to the server and there are usually hundreds, if not thousands of players online from all over the world. You can then set a game or join a game and start playing, usually with people around the same strength.
The other type is turn-based Go. These are not real time but players make their moves whenever they have time and log into the server. Players can agree how long to play out a whole game, sometimes one week, sometimes one month or longer depending on the players' schedule. This is like playing a game by mail in the olden days and is very suitable for people who do not have much time to spend online every day or would just like to have a leisurely pace, playing several, sometimes even a dozen or more games at the same time but taking their time to think about the moves at a more relaxed pace.
On the internet, Initially it may be hard to find an opponent because you are still new and do not have a solid rank yet but as you play more, sometimes with bots (i.e. software that plays Go which you can find as their programmers enter them into the system to "train" the software), you will gain a solid rank.
Whichever type you like really depends on your time available and the pace that you like. It can also be a mix of both.
Online real time servers
So from the four servers above, which one is right for you?
If you like a strong sense of community, meeting friends online and sometimes just chatting and playing a casual game, the KGS is a really great place. The people are friendly and sometimes there are also free lectures. Many games especially European games are broadcasted on KGS, sometimes with commentaries. You will see a lot of players online watching games especially during the European Championships.
If you like fierce competition and just wanted to drill your Go and if you are more than just a beginner, then Tygem or WBaduk is the place to go. I would recommend Tygem above WBaduk but you cannot go wrong with both. You will find many players there but beware that there are many sandbaggers there and your experience may not be good if you are a beginner. If you are a beginner and would like to play real time Go online, I still recommend you go to KGS. If you are already a pretty good player having gone past the beginner stage and is aiming at progressing the high kyu and especially the Dan level rank, then Tygem is the place for you to fight it out. Sharks are here.
Pandanet is a nice place to Go too and it has a good interface but the community there is not as strong as in KGS. If you are English speaking, then KGS is a no brainer. But if you would like to play with Japanese players, Pandanet is the place to go.
against the computer
From the above, I hope you can find what you look for. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask us or your teachers at your N-World Go center. They will be very happy to assist you.
Together with the 3-4 point, the 4-4 point is a very popular and common opening. It is especially so for beginners because it is the point where they receive handicap stones and therefore this is their earliest encounter of the 4-4 point.
In this series of 4-4 point joseki, we will explore the common moves and the reasons for the moves. It is hoped that after this series, you will have a better understanding of the 4-4 point and the related joseki and apply them in your games.
Black can answer White 1 with the high move of Black 2 in Diagram 11 instead of the small knight move in Diagram 1.
However, due to the inherent weakness of the high move, Black will need to play another move at either Black “a” or “b”.
If White find a chance, White will force Black by playing at White “a” as in Diagram 12 above and Black will have to answer with Black “b”, if not, if White plays at “b” instead, the Black group will be without a base and will be subjected to an attack
One reason for Black playing the high move of Black “2” is it can look forward to the nice high-low extension to Black “a” later. Compare this to Diagram 14, Diagram 14 is flat and the point of Black “a” is not attractive.
This concludes our first post on the 4-4 point joseki. In future posts, we will explore more on this.
If you have any questions, you can ask the teachers in your class. They will be more than happy to explain to you.
Till the next time, enjoy playing Go! Bye.
Go boards are generally divided into table boards and floor boards. As the name indicates, table boards are played on the table whilst floor boards are played on the floor with players sitting on the floor. Floor go boards are traditionally used especially in Japan but they are also used in classical China and Korea.
In this blog post, I shall discuss about the table go boards and the thicker version of it, i.e. the 2.4 inch version. In coming posts, I will discuss some thinner options.
The pictures above shows the grains on the sides of the board. You can see clearly that the Agathis has a very dark color and that's why the top is painted on. The Kaya grains are actually very nice but for this board that I have, it is made out of 4 different pieces because a single piece Kaya is very expensive. Because it is assembled from 4 different pieces, you can see clearly the joints at the side but from the top, it is barely noticeable as the craftsman made sure that the grains line up as best as possible if seen from the top. The grains on the Shin Kaya is really nice as well and because this is a one-piece board, the grains are very nice and consistent. If the Kaya board is made of one-piece wood, it will be as nice as this too.
Below is the picture taken from the top.
As you can see above, the painted top of the Agathis gives a consistent look although some part of the paint may be a bit inconsistent. However, some people prefers the Agathis painted top to the Shin Kaya or even Kaya because they may find the grain distracting.
The Shin Kaya's grain is very nice and the Kaya's one is a bit finer. The grid lines on the Kaya is finer than the Shin Kaya. I bought the Kaya board from Kuroki Goishi Ten and apparently they use a samurai sword to draw the lines.
so which one is right for you?
The Kaya wood is the softest of the three and has a very nice fragrance. Every time I play with the board, I enjoy its fragrance very much. The other two boards does not have any fragrance emitting from it. Because the wood is soft, the feedback to the finger is not as sharp which is a good thing because if the wood is harder, in this case the Agathis is the hardest of them, the feedback to the finger is a bit too hard.
In terms of the sound when the stone is placed on the board, the Agathis produces the sharpest sound. The Shin Kaya and Kaya boards produces a more mellowed sound which I like and between the two, the sound on the Kaya board has this bright snapping sound which I prefer. The Shin Kaya's sound is a bit dull in comparison.
Kaya wood is now very scarce and costs quite a lot. A 4-piece composite board like the one above will cost about USD400.00 while a one-piece Kaya board will cost almost USD1,000.00. Shin Kaya is a good alternative to Kaya. It has good grain patterns and although the color and the sound is not as bright as the Kaya, it costs a lot less and at the same time, it is still very beautiful to look at and play with. A one-piece Shin Kaya board costs about USD300.00, which is about one third the cost of a one-piece Kaya board.
If you do not mind the painted surface and if you find the grains distracting. the Agathis board is a very good option. In fact, my first go board is an Agathis board which I bought in Beijing. It is hardy and you do not have to worry about denting it too much. The Agathis board above costs about USD170.00 but will last for many, many years.
If cost is no object, I will definitely go with a one-piece Kaya board. The color is very beautiful and the grains are very fine and nice. It also has a very nice fragrance which can help calm the mind and when stones are played on it, it produces a very bright snapping sound. However, if you purchase a kaya board, I suggest you match it with a set of slate and shell stones because they will give you great aesthetics.
For normal use, Shin Kaya or Agathis are both good. You can match these boards with normal glass/ceramic stones which are not expensive. If you really like to see grains on the board, go with a Shin Kaya board but if you feel the grains are distracting, then the Agathis is a good choice. They both look great on the table and will give you many years of enjoyment. The sound of the Agathis board is sharper and the sound of the Shin Kaya board is a bit mellow, leaning towards the sound of a Kaya board. You won't go wrong either way. You just have to decide whether grains are important to you or not. For me personally, I love grains but after playing on the Agathis board, the painted surface is really actually less distracting.
In the coming installments, I will talk about some other boards, especially table boards that are not so thick because not everyone wants a thick go board. Some thinner go boards are also very nice, like the one you can see in our store.
I will also discuss about Go stones too, comparing some slate and shell stones to glass/ceramic stones and the yunzi stones.
Over the years, I have tried many Go software and apps both to help me study Go as well as to write Go books. I still remember those days of MoyoGo which made some waves but is now no longer active. I have used SmartGo for a very long time too for game study and editing. At the very beginning for game database, I purchased a copy of GoGod for the library of games and subscribed to Go4Go.net for up to date game records and then used Kombilo as an engine to work on that database. In my earlier days, I also used the Hibiscus Go game editor.
Just by hearing me say these names you would have guessed how long I have played Go.
In this blog post, I would like to recommend some of the software that I use now on a regular basis and I hope through this recommendation, you will find something that suits you and can help you to study Go. Here you Go.
SmartGo for the desktop has two versions, one for Windows and one for Mac. I started with the Windows version and since I have switched to a Mac for many years now, I have been waiting for a Mac version which they finally released a beta version this year.
I use SmartGo on my Mac mostly to search the database for patterns and then see how professionals play in the pattern. For example, if I wanted to study more on the Mini Chinese Fuseki, I simply turn on the Fuseki matching mode and put in the pattern and I will get a list of all the professional games matching this pattern.
If I wanted to search for a Joseki pattern, for instance the Large Avalanche, I can turn on the Joseki matching mode and I will get a list of all the games where this Joseki is played and then I can scroll on the games and study the various patterns in real, actual professional game.
The user interface is very good and easy to navigate, with separate windows so that you can put the windows side by side and study the patterns.
Besides SmartGo for the desktop, they also have a version for the iPad and iPhone called the SmartGo Kifu. On the iPad and iPhone, the functions are similar and you can also study recent professional games or perform pattern search.
If this is not enough to help you study, they have another product called the SmartGo Books which is available on the iPad, iPhone and also on the Mac. It is an app which contains more than 100 Go books, from classical books to modern classics and the books are not just merely pdf copies but with interactive diagrams and very well formatted. You can purchase the books in the app and you then have a good library of books and if combined with SmartGo Kifu, a good library of games that you carry with you everywhere you go.
The app is created by Huafang Liu and they are very reasonably priced. It has a free version with quite a big collection of problems as well.
There is a HUGE collection of problems in there, including very popular sets such as the Lee Changho Life and Death and Tesuji sets. Very worth it and highly recommended.
Of course you can play Go online if you are connected to the internet. Many of these sites have apps for the smart phone, tablets and desktops. Some of the best places to play Go online are as follows:
The above are online real-time Go servers where you can find many opponents. If you would like to play turn-based Go, i.e. not real time but just on a turn based basis, you can check out the following two sites.
Everyone wants to improve at Go. Here are three tips/advice that can definitely help you improve:
1. Play, Play, PlayTo improve, first you must play more games. You need to get your hands dirty and gain as much playing experience as possible. There is a saying that as a beginner, one must quickly lose their first 100 games. Experiment and apply new ideas learned when you play, but play seriously and think about each move before you play them.
2. Do Life and Death ProblemsDo simple life and death problems helps a lot in training your “reading”, i.e. how you read out sequences. Being able to read out sequences is important in Go as it is the basis of your play. Imagine if you read the sequences wrongly, then you may not be able to execute your strategy, and in worse cases, leading to the capture of your groups!
3. Review Your GamesAfter playing, it is always good to review your game with your opponent and have someone stronger to review the game for you. This way, you can discover what went wrong and how you can play better next time. Also, stronger players can point out your weakness that may be a blind spot to you.