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Subject: rec.games.go FAQ v 2.11 (Last Update:May 2004)

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rec.games.go FAQ v 2.11 (Last Update:May 2004) Frequently Asked Questions - And Their Answers =================================================================== =================================================================== =================================================================== IMPORTANT NOTE I have for some time now allowed this FAQ to be posted without actively maintaining it, as I have not ben able to devote any time to it. In the interest of rec.games.go, it would pobably be useful if the continued maintenance was taken over by someone who does have some time. If anyone is interested in taking over the maintenance of this FAQ, please drop me an email on the address given above. Unless I manage to find someone to replace me, I plan to stop the automatic posting of this FAQ after the summer of 2004. Thanks, Morten =================================================================== =================================================================== =================================================================== 0. Welcome --------------------------------------------------------------------- 0.1. What is this FAQ? --------------------------------------------------------------------- This FAQ is posted regularly in ascii version to the newsgroup rec.games.go and is also maintained in HTML version on <http://senseis.xmp.net/?rggfaq>. This FAQ is an attempt to answer those questions which we all have when we are new to a place and hopefully you will find it useful. The FAQ is also a description of what to do and how to do it on the newsgroup. If you are new to Go, newsgroups in general or RGG in particular, it is suggested that you read the FAQ before posting. If the FAQ does not answer your questions, or if you have any other comments on it, please contact the FAQ maintainer, you will find his name and address at the end of the FAQ. Of course, you can always post to the newsgroup. rec.games.go is not moderated. Another last point before you go on: this FAQ is most easily read if you have it displayed with a mono-spaced font (E.g. Courier). 0.2. What is in this FAQ? --------------------------------------------------------------------- Part 0.: Welcome 0.1. What is this FAQ? 0.2. What is in this FAQ? Part 1.: Go in general 1.1. What is this game? 1.2. What are the rules? 1.3. A brief history of Go 1.4. Why has this game got so many names? 1.5. Does perfect play exist? 1.6. Does komi and handicap change with board size? 1.7. What is a 'Dan' or 'Kyu' player? 1.8. What is a handicap and how is it used? 1.9. Does Go have an equivalent to ELO rating? 1.10. Why is the standard board size 19x19? Part 2.: Real Life play 2.1. How can I play in real life? 2.2. How do I find a club close to me? 2.3. How are tournaments organised? 2.4. Equipment: books, boards, stones etc. 2.5. Can I make my own equipment? Part 3.: Internet Play 3.1. Can I play on the internet? 3.2. How do I find a Go server? 3.3. How do I find clients? 3.4. How do I act towards someone I cannot see? 3.5. What does 1/5 or 1/10 mean? Part 4.: Improving and teaching 4.1. How can I improve? 4.2. Which parts of my game need improving? 4.3. What rank am I? 4.4. I am x Kyu. Which books should I read? 4.5. Using the Newsgroup 4.6. Posting positions to the Newsgroup 4.7. Who can comment my games? 4.8. What is the Go Teaching Ladder ? 4.9. What is Sensei's Library? 4.10. Teaching Go 4.11. Are there Go-problems on the web? Part 5.: Aspects of the game 5.1. Counting at the end of the game 5.2. Counting whilst the game is in progress 5.3. Recording Go games 5.4. What are miai and deiri counting? 5.5. What is reverse sente? 5.6. What is a false eye? 5.7. What is a ko-fight? 5.8. What is all this about shape? 5.9. Where do I play my first stone? Part 6.: Computer Go 6.1. Is there a program which . . . ? 6.2. What is an .sgf/.mgt/.go etc. file? 6.3. How strong are computers? 6.4. Which is the best computer program? Part 7.: Slang and expressions 7.1. Go server expressions 7.2. Glossary Part 8.: Other internet resources 8.1. General Webpages 8.2. Mailing lists 8.3. Beginner sites Part 9.: Various themes 9.1. Copyright 9.2. Unusual gobans Part 10.: About this FAQ 10.1. General 10.2. Version history Part 11.: Feedback and Suggestions 1. Go in general --------------------------------------------------------------------- 1.1. What is this game? --------------------------------------------------------------------- The game which is the subject of this newsgroup is known under several names: Go, Goe, Igo, Wei-qi, Wei-chi, Baduk.. to name a few. For the purpose of this FAQ, the name Go will be used. Apart from the fact that it is the name which is used the most in the 'western' world, it is also the shortest and easiest to spell ;-). Go is a game of tactics and strategy which is played by two players. Players take turns at placing their markers ('stones') on an initially empty board ('goban'), following simple rules. The objective of the game is to place your stones so that they control the largest part of the goban. Although the stones, once placed, do not move, groups of stones 'move'; groups are attacked, defend themselves, are killed, connect, encircle and dominate. Several fights may combine into larger fights, but in the end a win by one point is worth as much as a win by thirty. A game of go can last anywhere from a quarter of an hour (fast 'blitz') to several days (large championship matches). Playing in clubs or on the net, a game typically lasts roughly one hour. Beginning to play Go tends to have an addictive effect on people: the more you play, the more you want to play and the more aware you become that there is still a lot left to learn. 1.2. What are the rules? --------------------------------------------------------------------- The rules of Go are very simple, and almost every beginners Go site will list them. There are several sites on the web which contain a more detailed explanation of the rules: Robert JASIEK: <http://home.snafu.de/jasiek/rules.html> Robert also posts a 'Rules FAQ' to the newsgroup which is aimed especially at beginners Jan VAN DER STEEN: <http://www.cwi.nl/~jansteen/go/rules/index.html> Mori's Go Page : <http://www.sainet.or.jp/~mori/Go.html> Interactively teaches some basics as well Tel's go page: <http://www.telgo.com/> Also provides fundamentals about connecting, attacking, etc. The American Go Association has published a booklet introducing the game of Go which is available for download in .pdf format: <http://www.usgo.org/usa/waytogo/> The European Go Federation has published a series of booklets in all main European languages, developing a simplified approach to rules, oriented toward easy teaching. Contact the European Go Federation through the address as given in section 2.2. 1.3. A brief history of Go --------------------------------------------------------------------- History has it that Go was invented in China over 4000 years ago, possibly making it the oldest surviving board game still played today. This claim is supported by various archaeological findings of Go equipment, figurative art representing Go equipment and mention of Go in literature. Legend tells of an emperor who was dissatisfied with his son's non-serious behaviour, and had one of his generals invent a game which was meant to teach his son tactics, strategy and concentration. The general then invented Go. Apparently the emperor's son thought little of it and discarded it saying that whoever played first would always win. This behaviour upset his father, who beheaded his son and appointed the general his heir. A more plausible explanation for the invention of Go could be that ancient types of gobans were used for divination (fortune telling), with white and black stones. Reference to Go in Chinese literature can be traced back to the 5th century BC. And already in ancient times, high standards of play were reached. A Japanese ambassador to the Chinese court is believed to have imported the game to Japan around 740 AD. Although Go was already known in Japan, it was the introduction to the Japanese court which spurred off great interest in the game in all the upper classes at the time. Around 1600 AD, the Japanese Shogun created a salaried 'Go-minister', responsible for all Go activities and the Shogun's teacher. In 1612, the Shogun also decreed salaries for the top players of the day, and four Go 'houses' were set up: 'Honinbo', 'Inoue', 'Yasui' and 'Hayashi'. It was the continuous competition between these schools which propelled the development of Go through to 1868, when the new emperor removed the government funding. The houses collapsed and Go lost popularity, but gradually regained it and in 1924 a single national association was formed, the Nihon Kiin, which still exists today. In China, Go did not receive the support it did in Japan, and although it was a popular game, the standard of play was below the Japanese. It is said that at the beginning of the 20th century, Chinese top players took 3 stones handicap from their Japanese counterparts. However, China did produce a player who is claimed to have been the best go player of this century, known mostly by the Japanese pronunciation of his name, Go Seigen. After the revolution, Go as a sport received sponsorship and support from the Chinese government and its popularity and the level of play increased. Today in international matches, players from Japan, China and Korea are evenly matched, with many strong young players emerging in all three countries. Although it is said that Marco Polo brought back with him a Go-set from his travels, Go was more or less unknown in the 'west'. It was the inclusion of Go in a book by Edward LASKER, a famous chess player, at the beginning of this century, which spurred off its 'western' growth. Although Go has spread since, it is far less known than Chess, and the 'west' has yet to produce world-class players (although there are several 'western' professional players. The highest ranked is Michael REDMOND (9p) from the U.S.A.). For those who are interested in more details, there are several places on the web which have details about the history of Go: Andrew GRANT <http://www.honinbo.freeserve.co.uk/> Jan VAN DER STEEN <http://www.cwi.nl/~jansteen/go/history/index.html> John FAIRBAIRN maintains the Go section of the MSO site, which features, amongst others, a series of articles about and around the game, its history, famous moments etc. Take a look at <http://www.msoworld.com/mindzine/news/orient/go/special/gofeatures.html> 1.4. Why has this game got so many names? --------------------------------------------------------------------- The original name for Go is Weich'i or Weiqi, and is still used in China today. Weiqi literally means 'encircling game'. The Japanese named the game Igo, but the variant 'Go' has since become the name which seems to have gained the most acceptance in the 'western' world. Shudan means 'hand talk' and is, sometimes, a preferred name over Igo. Goh was one spelling used early in some western countries. Ranka means rotted axe handle, and is another name for Go. In Korea, Go is called Baduk. Goe is the name given to the game by Ing Chang-ki. Ing was a Taiwanese businessman of considerable wealth, which he used to promote Go. He is also the father of the Ing rules, the Ing clocks and the Ing equipment (board, stones and bowls). One of his preferences was to call the game 'Goe', which is still used by some people today. The 'Ing prize' was (until the end of year 2000, extension still TBD) offered to anyone who manages to code a strong computer program. 1.5. Does perfect play exist? --------------------------------------------------------------------- Yes. Considering that Go is a 'complete knowledge' game, there must be a way to play which is optimal for both players, and which leads to an optimal result. Despite this result of general game theory, human players are very far from perfect play. It is extremely likely that the best moves (even in the early opening) have yet to be played. The truth is that Go is so complex that it is impossible to say, for almost any given situation, with 100% certainty, which is the best move. Doing this for a whole game is even harder. The above is true even for small board sizes. Several threads on rec.games.go have discussed this for various board sizes and various rule sets. Even for 2x2 boards, this is not a trivial task, and the result varies widely with the basic ruleset applied. For larger boards, this becomes even harder. Even the almost obvious postulate: "Black plays first so he should also win" has never been proven nor disproven. It also follows that there is no 'perfect' value for komi at various board sizes, indeed, it is open for argument whether or not komi should be adjusted (and how) according to board size. 1.6. Does komi and handicap change with board size? --------------------------------------------------------------------- See section 1.5. Regarding handicap games, the following table gives one possible way of allocating handicap and komi on 13x13 boards. First column: Strength difference on 19x19 goban, second column, handicap on 13x13 goban, third column, komi to white. Difference 13x13 Komi Difference 13x13 Komi 0 0 5.5 10 4 5.5 1* 0 5.5 11 4 2.5 2 0 2.5 12 4 -0.5 3 0 -0.5 13 5 5.5 4 2 5.5 14 5 2.5 5 2 2.5 15 5 -0.5 6 2 -0.5 16 6 5.5 7 3 5.5 17 6 2.5 8 3 2.5 18 6 -0.5 9 3 -0.5 19 6 -3.5 * In the case of a one stone difference in strength, the weakest player takes black and plays first. Tim HUNT has collected some information based on his experiences with small boards, and presents several ways of assigning handicap and komi. Take a look at <http://www.damtp.cam.ac.uk/user/tjh1000/13x13summary.html> 1.7. What is a 'Dan' or 'Kyu' player? --------------------------------------------------------------------- In Japanese, Kyu means 'step' and Dan means 'grade'. The idea is that one must progress through several elementary steps before obtaining a grade, and that there are several grades. Therefore, several steps and grades exist. The scale starts around 30 Kyu (lowest) to 1 Kyu (highest) and then continues with 1 Dan (lowest) to 7 Dan (highest). In addition, there are professional Dan ranks, which run from 1 Dan professional (lowest) to 9 Dan professional (highest). Unfortunately, the ranking system has no absolute values. (There are no 'anchors'.) Therefore, a 1 Dan player in e.g. the U.S.A. is not necessarily a 1 Dan player elsewhere. Traditionally, Japanese ranks are considered weak, followed the U.S. rankings, with European rankings being strong. (E.g. a European 1 Dan will be around 3 Dan US and 5 Dan Japan). Rankings on the internet servers (see section 3) also vary. IGS rankings are typically 3-4 stones stronger than European rankings. E.g. our European 1 Dan will rank around 3 Kyu on IGS. A 1 Dan (professional) would be the equivalent to approximately a 6 Dan European amateur, a 9 Dan (professional) would be the equivalent to approximately a 9 Dan European amateur. An IGS 4d* (see section 7) is probably around 1 Dan professional. Every Go player has a ranking. Beginners typically start around 30 Kyu, but rapidly advance to around 15 Kyu, experienced players may become 1 Kyu after a few years of playing, and then advance to 'shodan', or 1 Dan, and beyond. See also section 4.3. 1.8. What is a handicap and how is it used? --------------------------------------------------------------------- In matches between players of different ranking, a handicap is used so that the game will be balanced. The handicap consists of a certain number of stones placed on the goban before the game begins. On a 19x19 goban, the difference in ranking gives the number of stones of handicap. 9 stones is usually the maximum handicap used on a 19x19 goban, although it is fully possible to play with more handicap stones if black and white agree on this. A handicap means that two players can both enjoy the game, although they are of different levels. In tournaments, players are normally divided in classes ranging over several rank levels, with handicap given within the class. If 20 Kyu and 11 Kyu players are in the same class, a beginner at 20 Kyu can win the tournament in his class (if no handicap were given, the probability of this would be very small). 1.9. Does Go have an equivalent to ELO rating? --------------------------------------------------------------------- Beginners often compare Chess and Go and ask whether the rating systems in both games are related. The Elo system in Chess attributes a rating figure somewhere between 800 (beginners) and 2700 (top grandmasters) to every player. This rating changes depending on the performance of the player in tournaments. The basic idea of Elo is that a player should have a winning expectancy of 69% (or, more precisely, an expected score of 69) against another player whose Elo rating is 100 points less. In the recent history of Go, there have been various attempts of translating this system to our game. The most popular model is the European Rating List, maintained by Ales CIEPLY at <http://www.european-go.org/rating/gor.html> The basic observation in Go is that the winning expectancy against a player one grade weaker roughly equals 69%, as well. Therefore, it seems natural to translate Go grades to Elo ratings by using steps of 100 for every grade. Ales does so by defining 1 dan = 2100 points. Consequently, 1 kyu = 2000 points, 2 dan = 2200 points, etc. A player with 2050 points is called a weak shodan, whereas a player with 2150 goes through as a strong shodan. However, there are two major problems with this system. Firstly, the winning expectancy of 69% per grade is no constant in Go. It seems to be lower in the weak kyu range and higher in the strong dan range. (The reason for this seeming paradox is that strong dans play more consistently and less erratically than weak kyus.) Therefore, Elo's formulae have to be adjusted in complicated ways to fit the game of Go with the scale mentioned above. Secondly, the traditional grade system 'kyu - dan' is much more popular among Go players than any attempt of an Elo system. Most amateur Go players simply ignore their Elo ratings and rate themselves according to the grade system. This low acceptance of Elo ratings in Go gives them only small significance at the moment. This might change sometime in the future, but probably not all too soon. There is a rating system similar to Elo among Chinese professionals. But as with European amateurs, it does not seem to work very well. 1.10. Why is the standard board size 19x19? --------------------------------------------------------------------- Go is always a struggle of territory against central influence. Territory is most often built on the third line from the edge, whereas central influence most often arises from stones on the fourth line. The 19x19 board is the one where the balance between third line territory and fourth line influence is best. Refer to the following diagram for explanation of this fact. (The low white position in the corner is due to the necessity of having as many black as white stones on the board.) +-------------------------------------+ |. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .| |. . O O . . . . . . . . . . . O O . .| |. O # # O O O O O O O O O O O # # O .| |. O # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # O .| |. . O # . . . . . . . . . . . # O . .| |. . O # . . . . . . . . . . . # O . .| |. . O # . . . . . . . . . . . # O . .| |. . O # . . . . . . . . . . . # O . .| |. . O # . . . . . . . . . . . # O . .| |. . O # . . . . . + . . . . . # O . .| |. . O # . . . . . . . . . . . # O . .| |. . O # . . . . . . . . . . . # O . .| |. . O # . . . . . . . . . . . # O . .| |. . O # . . . . . . . . . . . # O . .| |. . O # . . . . . . . . . . . # O . .| |. O # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # O .| |. O # # O O O O O O O O O O O # # O .| |. . O O . . . . . . . . . . . O O . .| |. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .| +-------------------------------------+ Boards with odd length are much preferred over boards with even length because the central point ('tengen' in Japanese) can serve black very well to counter a white mirror mimic Go strategy. On a 20x20 board, mirror mimic games tend to become very complicated for black. Besides, the central point of the board also has some mystic meaning in Go. Its absence on a board with even length would be regrettable. 2. Real Life play --------------------------------------------------------------------- 2.1. How can I play in real life? --------------------------------------------------------------------- Go in real life is easiest played in a Go-club. Most Go-clubs have club nights when they are open for anyone to come and play. In larger cities there may even be Go-clubs that are always open. Sometimes you may be asked to pay a small fee to play a game, but more often than not, this is not the case. However, if you wish to continue to play in a club, you should become a member. Depending on country/club, this also includes other benefits: reduced entry fees in competitions, free teaching, monthly magazines, etc. Go is often surrounded by an eastern aura of tradition (and mysticism), and you should remember to always be polite, towards opponents and other players. As Go is a game of concentration, some players are sensitive to noise and other disturbances during the game. It is therefore good courtesy to avoid these. When watching a game, advice should in general not be given to the players, although commenting ('kibitzing') the game with other bystanders is fine, as long as the players do not mind. 2.2. How do I find a club close to me? --------------------------------------------------------------------- The following is a list of web sites, which will lead you to your local Go-club. (I have purposely omitted all the national clubs in Europe, since they are found through the given links anyway.) Africa South Africa <http://users.iafrica.com/h/hu/hunt/saga> The Americas Canada <http://www.uwinnipeg.ca/~erbach/cga/contacts_cga.html> USA <http://www.usgo.org/usa/chapters.html> Australasia, Far East Australia <http://www.adfa.oz.au/~dle/clubs.html> Hong Kong <http://logic.csc.cuhk.edu.hk/~z044155/> Japan <http://www.nihonkiin.or.jp/index-e.htm> Korea <http://www.hankukkiwon.co.kr/> New Zealand <http://www.es.co.nz/~barryp/clubs.htm> Singapore <http://home.pacific.net.sg/~swa/> Europe, Near east Europe <http://www.european-go.org/www/wmembers.htm> If you use the above references as starting points, but still cannot find a place close to you, try posting a question to rec.games.go. 2.3. How are tournaments organised? --------------------------------------------------------------------- Go tournaments are often a good opportunity to meet other players who do not always come to the club, and players from out of town. Furthermore, there is usually enough time after and between matches to replay, discuss or play more. All in all, in a tournament which runs over a weekend, you can expect to play more games than the number of rounds would indicate. Even without knowing the details of how tournaments are organised, you will have a lot of fun. A good tournament system enables the ranking of a large class of players (say 15-20) with relatively few rounds (typically 4-5). Several ways of organising tournaments exist. Various systems are described by Robert JASIEK in his Rules FAQ. You can also take a look on Ken's pages: <http://nngs.cosmic.org/hmkw/golinks.html#tourneys> 2.4. Equipment: books, boards, stones etc. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Outside the far east, there are relatively few shops where Go equipment is sold. Large bookshops may carry a beginners book, and large games/toy stores may carry a goban and stones. Therefore, unless you happen to live close to one of the shops listed below, the easiest way to buy equipment is via mail/web/phone order from those shops. The following lists, in alphabetical order, the details of those shops which carry a general supply of Go material and which have web sites. The IBUKI Trading Post Web: <http://www.ippi.com/top_go.html> ISHI Press E-mail: IshiPress@aol.com Web: <http://members.aol.com/ishipress/go.htm> Phone: 1-800-859-2086 (USA) Kiseido CPO BOX 1140, Tokyo, Japan Fax +81-467-57-5814 E-mail:kiseido@labnet.or.jp Web: <http://www.yk.rim.or.jp/~kiseido/> Or 2255 - 29th Street, Suite 4, Santa Monica, California 90405 USA Phone: +1-800-988-6463 Fax: 1-310-578-7381 E-mail: info@kiseido.com or sales@kiseido.com Web: <http://www.kiseido.com/> Samarkand and Good Move Press 332 Bleecker Street Suite K-59 New York, NY 10014 USA E-mail: info@samarkand.net or sales@samarkand.net Web: <http://www.samarkand.net/> Schaak en Go winkel het paard Haarlemmerdijk 147 1013 KH Amsterdam The Netherlands Phone: (+31) 20 6241171 Fax: (+31) 20 6270885 E-mail: paard@xs4all.nl Web: <http://www.xs4all.nl/~paard/> Yutopian Enterprises 2255 29th Street, Suite 3 Santa Monica, California 90405 USA Phone: (310) 578-7181 Fax: (310) 578-7381 E-mail: yutopian@netcom.com or yutopian@aol.com Web: <http://www.yutopian.com/> For all those shops which do not have a web site, Fred HANSENS site <http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~wjh/go/GoProdSvcs> also lists some other shops, as does Jan VAN DER STEEN on his site at <http://www.cwi.nl/~jansteen/go/go-2.html> For shops in Europe which are serviced by Het Paard, take a look at <http://www.xs4all.nl/~paard/goshops.html>. 2.5. Can I make my own equipment? --------------------------------------------------------------------- In principle it is very simple to make your own equipment or to buy substitute parts which can serve as stones, board and bowls. The deciding factor is how much time and effort you want to spend on it. A collection of posts on this subject in the newsgroup can be found at <http://nngs.cosmic.org/hmkw/goboard.html>. A summary can be found at <http://senseis.xmp.net/?MakingYourOwnEquipment>. 3. Internet Play --------------------------------------------------------------------- 3.1. Can I play on the internet? --------------------------------------------------------------------- Not everyone is lucky enough to live close to an active Go-club or has the time to go there as often as he likes. Therefore, it is excellent that there are now alternative places to play on the internet. On all servers, you can play Go, or discuss Go with other people. On most servers, you can replay games, have your games mailed to you or have games taught to you. Access to most of the servers is free, and the software which is required is usually shareware, so there is no cost in playing on the servers. (However, if you continue to use a shareware program, you should pay for it.) Although there may be no fee payable, all servers have rules of use which the user should acquaint himself with and abide by. The number of players on a server varies from server to server and depends on the time of the day. The largest server can have up to 5-600 players logged on and over 200 games played at any particular time. The players' rankings can range from beginners to established and strong amateur players. On some servers, professionals come to play. 3.2. How do I find a Go server? --------------------------------------------------------------------- New Go servers appear quite regularly and exist in several languages. Some servers may require you to install a special client, others can be accessed through a web browser. List of the Go servers on the internet can be found several places, e.g. here: Ken's list <http://nngs.cosmic.org/hmkw/golinks.html#servers> The British Go Association list <http://www.britgo.org/gopcres/play.html#server> 3.3. How do I find clients? --------------------------------------------------------------------- As a general rule, if the server you use requires a client, the server homepage will tell you where to find them. An index is available at <http://gobase.org/software/clients/> There is also a possibility of using Java-based clients to connect to the telnet-based web servers. If this sounds interesting, take a look at <http://nngs.cosmic.org/web-clients.html> 3.4. How do I act towards someone I cannot see? --------------------------------------------------------------------- Playing against an opponent whom you cannot see and who may be on the other side of the world is a little bit different from playing face to face. An excellent etiquette guide for play on the Go servers is posted on Ken WARKENTYNE's pages. <http://nngs.cosmic.org/hmkw/etiquette> Some of the main points bear repeating: Your opponent and you may not share a language, indeed, you may be conversing in a language foreign to both of you. It is therefore essential that one is careful in the use of slang or expressions which may not be known by everyone. Also, your opponent may be the grandmother next door or an 8-year old boy in Taiwan. Do not be surprised or short with an opponent who is slow in responding or seems to misunderstand you. Due to the intricacies of the internet, there is a phenomenon known as netlag which affects play, and in severe circumstances, can even stop play. Netlag is a function of the internet connection between your opponent and the server, and between the server and you. Netlag means that it may seem that your opponent takes a long time over his moves, whereas in reality it is the net which takes time. Most clients can compensate for this, so you may see your opponents time left on the clock increase, once his move is registered. Netlag cannot be blamed on your opponent, nor on the server, nor on anyone, really. Sometimes it is there, other times it is not. With the state of the internet, it is something we have to live with. In extreme cases, netlag may mean that a player is cut off and unable to continue play. On the servers, the games thus involved are normally stored and can be restarted at a later date. In the case of disconnection, please hang around for a while and wait for your opponent to come back. If it happens to you, try to get back on, or, failing that, send a message or email to your opponent to let him know what happened. Needless to say, it is extremely rude to disconnect from a lost game in an attempt to save face ('escaping'). Most servers will be able to tell whether a disconnection is net related or user related. Most servers have a policy which, after a certain time, gives the game to the party which did not disconnect. 3.5. What does 1/5 or 1/10 mean? --------------------------------------------------------------------- This 'abbreviation' used on Go servers indicates the time limits of proposed matches. Often, rather than having a time limit for each move or a time limit for the whole match, many Go matches have two time limits. One is the 'basic' period and the other is the 'overtime', or the 'byo-yomi' periods. The first part of the 'abbreviation' refers to the basic time limit. Often on Go servers, the basic time is one minute. You can play as many or as few stones in this period as you like. As soon as the basic time ends the first byo-yomi period starts. The second part of the 'abbreviation' refers to the length of the 'byo-yomi' periods. Byo-yomi periods require you to maintain a certain average pace: you must play a certain number of stones (typically 25) within the time period. If you play the 25 stones within the byo-yomi period, you get another byo-yomi period. So if the byo-yomi period is 10 minutes, as soon as you play stone 25, the clock starts again at 10 minutes. (Even if you have used less than 10 minutes to play your 25 stones). If you do not play 25 stones during a byo-yomi period, you lose the match. So, if someone proposes a '1/10' match, that is a match with a main period of 1 minute followed by repeating byo-yomi periods of 10 minutes each. So, when the match starts, the clock counts down from one minute, then resets to 10 minutes and starts counting down again (and again). In this fashion a 1/5 game with 200 moves cannot take more than 42 minutes: first, each player gets 1 minute, then each player gets 5 minutes to play 25 stones, another 5 minutes for the next 25, etc. If each player took the maximum time, each player would get one minute plus 20 minutes (in four 5-minute byo-yomi periods) to play all their 100 stones, for a maximum match time of 42 minutes. This and other terms used on the go servers are listed and explained in <http://home.snafu.de/jasiek/slang.html> 4. Improving and teaching --------------------------------------------------------------------- 4.1. How can I improve? --------------------------------------------------------------------- The basic ways to improve are: 1. Play lots of games 2. Review games 3. Read go books 4. Study go problems 5. Take lessons - Playing many games Playing many games is undoubtedly a good way to improve. You should play against someone who is a bit stronger than you, (ideally, around 3-5 stones stronger) so that you can still understand his moves and see your own errors. However, playing against weaker people can teach you a lot about avoiding obvious mistakes as well. It is often said that as a beginner, you should play many games quite quickly instead of few games with a lot of thought, as you will learn more from your mistakes than you can through (often wrong) analysis. The truth is probably that you should do both. Practising reading (predicting a sequence of play), through taking your time, is also very helpful. - Reviewing games This applies to your own games, but also to the games of others. Reviewing your own games is a good way to find out where you make mistakes, and is something you should always try to do after a game. You should be able to replay the first 20-30 moves of a game. Replay a game not by memorising the moves, but by rethinking the logic you followed in the first place. If you cannot remember where you played, that means that the move was probably a bad one. (Often, remembering your opponent's moves is the most difficult ..) It is even better to have your games reviewed together with someone who is stronger than you. Preferably, he should be so much stronger than you that you trust his advice. Being reviewed by someone who is your own level will always leave a nagging doubt.. Reviewing someone else's games, for instance professional games, is good because it gives you a good feeling for good shape, strength, direction of play etc. It is suggested that you play through professional games quickly, without paying much attention to the comments, just to get the feeling of it. Try to understand the logic of the opening moves ('fuseki'), attacking moves, endgame move order etc. look to the comments only if you cannot understand a certain move. (A word of warning: real understanding of pro moves usually requires pro level; what you are looking for here is appreciation and feeling for good plays.) Reviewing games should improve your 'feel' of the game, i.e. you will find yourself playing moves that seem reasonable, without necessarily being able to explain why. - Reading books Many players find Go theory books very useful for introducing new ways of thinking, for learning new methods and for improving the understanding of specific aspects of the game. General books exist which treat the entire game, but there are also more specific books which deal with certain aspects of it (opening, endgame, life and death etc.). When reading a book, try to understand what is said. It often makes sense to, after each section, think back and try to put the ideas given in the book into your own words. Do not try to remember the examples, but understand what they show. Section 4.3 below gives more details on books. - Studying problems Problem books come in different flavours; life and death, endgame, tesuji, invading etc. They also come in various levels of difficulty. Going through them is useful in may ways, and is sure to improve your play. Some tips when going through problems: - If you cannot see the answer after, say, a minute, then look it up. Problem books are meant to teach you something, spending too much time on a diagram will not improve your understanding. - Do not use a goban to solve the problems. You could not do that in real life. (Having said that, it can be useful to lay out the diagrams on the board, to accustom the eye. Pros are even said to recommend playing the stones in the right order to accustom the hand ;^) - With the exception of classical positions, do not try to memorise problems. They aim at improving your feel for the game. You will very rarely encounter the same situation on the goban as you just read in the book, it is the method you should know, not the result. - Although you will rarely encounter the same problems, you should find that you recognise shapes and can predict sequences better. This will save you time, and (for instance) save you from trying to rescue dead groups or kill live ones. - Taking lessons This speaks for itself. Locally, your Go-club may offer lessons, otherwise, there are teachers which will teach you on one of the internet Go-servers. Check out: - Gotutor: <http://gotutor.hypermart.net> - Guo Juan's Internet Go school: <http://home.wxs.nl/~guojuan> - Chull -type 'help Chull' at the IGS prompt. - FJ Dickhut's teaching site: <http://homepage.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/Franz-Josef.Dickhut/> As for the mix of these methods, you should do them all if you can. Mix them up, do a bit of each. Study whatever seems to interest you at the moment. Every Go player can improve any part of their game. Whatever you choose to study will do something to improve your game, so you may as well study what you find interesting. By studying what interests you, you are likely to do more study than if you force yourself to study something that does not interest you. This, alas, only holds true for players in the Kyu range. Upon reaching Dan levels, expert players find their progression hindered if they do not accept hard study of those parts of the game which seem boring to them :-( 4.2. Which parts of my game need improving? --------------------------------------------------------------------- A question related to 'How can I improve?' is 'How do I know which are the biggest problems with my game?' The best answer is to find a significantly stronger player (ideally at least 5 grades stronger) and play through one of your games with him watching. You do not need him to give you detailed comments, you want him to point out the big mistakes that you want to deal with. They often fall into the category of "mistakes you did not know you were making" which is why you need another player to spot them, and you would prefer it to be someone a lot stronger than you. This way you can be sure that he is confused because you did something stupid and he knows better, rather than you doing something so brilliant that he does not understand it. If you do not know any friendly stronger players then check out section 4.7, or look for a teacher (see section 4.1) Another way of trying to diagnose "mistakes you did not know you were making" is to play through a lot (say 10 or more) professional games trying to predict the next move. See if you can reach some sort of a conclusion on which types of move you are consistently failing to predict. Several Go playing tutor programs can do this. (See section 6.1) 4.3. What rank am I? --------------------------------------------------------------------- Beginners and relatively new players often ask this question. There is no 'correct' answer. There is no set of tests which say 'If you can do this, then you are x Kyu/Dan'. The entire ranking system is relative, so you need to relate yourself to players around you, or on the go servers. If you are the member of a club, you will also normally have a rank. This rank can be updated every time you play in a tournament, but also in between if you notice an improvement/regression. In most countries, you can enter tournaments with a rank defined by yourself. I.e. if you think you are a 2 Dan, you can enter a tournament as 2 Dan. (However, you may loose your games if you are wrong...) In some countries, once you are above a certain rank (2/3 Dan), this is no longer true, and you will have a sort of official certificate of your Go strength. (Or it will be written on your membership card). In the beginning, before you have an established rank, playing against other players in the club with an established rank will give you an indication. It is also worth noting that your rank will vary wildly in the beginning, often depending on your adversaries' styles of play. You can also play on the internet Go servers (See section 3.1) to find a level. However, it should be noted that the Go server ranking mechanisms are not always very reliable for high-Kyu players. In general, if you ask yourself this question, you are probably somewhere between 20 and 30 Kyu. The only way to be really sure of your rank is to play in (many) tournaments. 4.4. I am x Kyu. Which books should I read? --------------------------------------------------------------------- First look at section 4.2 to find out which parts of your game need to be improved. Then find a book which deals with this. On his website, David CARLTON maintains an excellent online bibliography of all the English Go books available, sorted by subject, player strength, and publisher. His site can be found at <http://math.stanford.edu/~carlton/go> If English is not your language, his site also links to similar sites which deal with non-English books. 4.5. Using the Newsgroup --------------------------------------------------------------------- The rec.games.go newsgroup is meant for discussion of any aspects of Go which you think may interest other Go players. rec.games.go is not moderated, so there are no fixed rules defining what is and what is not appropriate for the newsgroup. Just to give an indication: a survey carried out by Jan VAN DER STEEN in March 1999 gave the following top ten subjects for posts to the NG: 1. Go related stories 2. Go analysis in depth 3. Go questions/answers (joseki, fuseki, life and death, ...) 4. Go book reviews 5. Go book announcements 6. Go pro news 7. Go game records 8. Go software announcements 9. Go amateur news 10. Go general questions (where, when, how, why, ???) The above list is not exhaustive, but it gives an idea of the width of subjects discussed. In general: please post questions, but do not forget to also post answers and opinions. Even (and especially!) if you do not understand or agree with the other posts. 4.6. Posting positions to the Newsgroup --------------------------------------------------------------------- The newsgroup is an excellent place to post questions regarding positions that have come up in play, or problems seen in books. It sometimes makes sense to include a diagram showing the local position, with stones, as well as the sequence of moves played / variations etc. Following these guidelines will make sure readers understand what you are trying to show: - Do not use HTML or other formatting. The use of pure ascii makes sure that the diagrams do not become distorted. For the same reason, do not use <tab>s, but only spaces. - Always edit (and read) news posts using a fixed-width font, such as Courier. With a variable-width font, others will see the post different from you, which means diagrams and other "ASCII pictures" will not line up properly. Using a fixed-width font ensures others see the message as you intended it. - A White stone is given as O (capital o), a black stone is given as # or X. - The goban is represented by a set of dots/periods (.), one for each intersection. The lines on the grid itself are not shown. - For clarity, it is useful to mark the hoshi (star) points, with commas (,) or plusses (+) (according to personal taste) - Make sure it is obvious where the edge is (if relevant). Either make a mention of it ('bottom left corner') or draw the board edges on the diagram using |, - and +. - Use spaces between characters. - Sequences of moves are shown with numbers - 1,2 etc. Make sure you state whether 1 is black or white - Because of this, it is not advisable to show more than 9 moves on one diagram. If you want to show more, you should use more diagrams, each one giving the 'end position' of the last one as 'start position' of the new one. - Variations are shown with letters. 'a', 'b', etc. - If it is relevant, make sure you state how many prisoners have been taken. Since 'white:3, black:13' is easily misunderstood, write it out: 'white has taken 3 prisoners, black 13.' - Most people will read the posts on a screen, and it can be awkward to scroll back up to see the diagram when reading the discussion below. Try not to have the text too far away from the diagram. - Include a description of those aspects of the position you want to discuss/ask about. An example: . . . . . . .| . . O . . . .| . # O + O . .| . . # # O . .| . . . . . . .| . . . . . . .| -------------+ Jan VAN DER STEEN has a tool on his web site which will translate an SGF file to ascii diagrams: <http://gobase.org/online/sgf2misc/> 4.7. Who can comment my games? --------------------------------------------------------------------- There are several ways to have your games commented. In real life, you will need to have a record of your game or be able to replay it by memory. Ask a stronger player if he can help you, and have him comment the game as you replay it. Unless they are otherwise engaged, most stronger players will be happy to help. On the internet, you should set up your server so that you automatically receive a record of every game you play. With this record, you can either have it reviewed by a friendly stronger player you know from the server, or use the Go teaching ladder. (See below.) 4.8. What is the Go Teaching Ladder ? --------------------------------------------------------------------- The Go Teaching Ladder (or GTL) resides on the internet at <http://gtl.jeudego.org/>. The GTL is a prime resource for anyone who wants to improve their game through having their games reviewed or through looking at other, reviewed games. Through the GTL you can submit a game for review, review games of other players (if you are registered), or look through the archive of reviewed games. If you submit a game for review, your game will be forwarded to a player who is roughly 5 stones stronger than you. The reviewer will send a reviewed, commented copy back to you (and your opponent). In order to use the GTL, you must have a program which can read and edit SGF files. (See section 6.2.) A note on the GTL: The reviewer may spend considerable time reviewing your game, so it is only reasonable that you should also have spent a reasonable time playing it! Submitting 'blitz' games for review, when you could go through the game yourself and find errors, is disrespectful. Most often, if you won the game by a wide margin or lost by a wide margin, you will already know why. It is more useful to submit games which you lost, but don't know why, or won, but only just, etc. Once you feel that you are confident, then submit your name to the GTL as a reviewer, then you, too, can help a beginner! The archives of the GTL are also a great place to find other commented games, which you can download and look through. 4.9. What is Sensei's Library? --------------------------------------------------------------------- Sensei's Library (short 'SL') is a cooperative website for Go players of all levels. SL is based on an anarchic architecture called WikiWikiWeb which allows all users to contribute to the site - no username - no passwords. Opened in November 2000, in today (May 2004) SL contains a wealth of Go-related information and discussion with over 8700 pages, and the contents are still growing. Sensei's Library can be found at <http://senseis.xmp.net/>. 4.10. Teaching Go --------------------------------------------------------------------- It is said that Go can be taught anyone who is old enough not to eat the stones. There are various techniques of initiating new players. One of the most often used is the 'capture' game or a variation thereof. A description can be found on Mindy McADAMS' pages: <http://www.sentex.net/~mmcadams/teachgo/> An often voiced objection to the capture game is that it focuses on capturing, which is not the main objective of Go itself. Milton BRADLEY gives background for the use of Go as a development tool for children and proposes an alternative approach: <http://www.villagenet.com/~bradleym/> You can also try to log into IGS (see section 3.2), and type the command 'help Shigeno' to learn about the Shigeno-Yasuda project of teaching children. 4.11. Are there Go-problems on the web? --------------------------------------------------------------------- Yes, there are several places where problems are posted in a regular manner. Mostly, the problems posted are life and death problems. The BGA web site has a page which lists problem-sites: <http://www.britgo.org/problems/> 5. Aspects of the game --------------------------------------------------------------------- 5.1. Counting at the end of the game --------------------------------------------------------------------- Unfortunately, the method used for counting strongly depends on the ruleset used. (See section 1.2.) However, once they are decided upon, counting is only a matter of ordinary arithmetic. It is possible to rearrange territories in easily counted shapes (5 x n rectangles, for instance), but since this implies moving around the stones on the Goban, you should find out from your Go-club how and if this is done. On the internet, servers (and/or clients) usually count the game for you semi-automatically. However, problems related to status of groups (life/death/seki ?) must be decided by the players. This is probably the weakest point of those servers w.r.t. possible cheaters (who might remove your live groups or leave their dead groups on the Goban). If you feel that something wrong is happening, you should ask a stronger player for help. By the way, fine points of Japanese-style rules are much concerned with counting of very complicated (and exceptional) positions. For beginners, it is therefore often very much easier to learn the so-called 'Chinese' counting. In case of lingering doubts, rec.games.go is the place to post. 5.2. Counting whilst the game is in progress --------------------------------------------------------------------- Counting whilst the game is still in progress is in fact extremely important, as it commands major strategic decisions, such as 'Do I need to invade, or is it sufficient to defend what I have already outlined ?'. It is said that the strongest players (like Minoru Kitani in the 60's) are those who know they are ahead, by e.g. 2 points, when their opponent is still wondering if he is ahead or behind. The 'comparative' method: You look at the various territories on the board and compare them. Something like: 'My upper left is the same size as his lower left. My upper right is larger than his lower right, our sides are the same size: I am ahead'. This method is quick, but not very accurate. However, sometimes it may be all you need .. The 'counting' method: You count and add the size of all your own and your opponent's territories. On the edge, you simplify by extending the territories straight down. Try to remember the individual sizes of the territories, this makes it easier to update your count later. This is of course more accurate but takes longer. Also, territory which is only very roughly sketched out (typically the centre) is very difficult to estimate. (Tip: normally, there are very few points in the centre. If the edges and corners are shared and all groups are out into the centre, there are probably not more than 5 points altogether for either player.) If you cannot remember the individual territory sizes, try to remember how much of a difference to your original estimate the new position makes. (I.e. try to estimate a 'delta' score with respect to your last estimate, do not recount all the territories.) If you find that, after you have counted your own score and your opponent's score, you have forgotten your own score, do the following: count your own score (example: 63 points). Remember 100 and start counting your opponent's score at 37. If his score then ends up smaller than 100, you are in the lead. (The trick is that it is easier to remember '100' or '50' than other numbers) Don't forget to add komi, if any, to white's score. 5.3. Recording Go games --------------------------------------------------------------------- The usual convention is to label the Goban from left to right with letters from A to T (omitting 'I' to avoid confusion with '1') and from bottom to top (as seen by black) with numbers from 1 to 19. In Japan, the coordinates are all numbers; arabic (1,2,3) along one axis, and Kanji along the other. A move is then referred to by colour and position, e.g. Black E4. When publishing moves (in e.g. a book or an article, or in a post to the newsgroup - see also section 4.6) the most often used method is to represent (parts of) the Goban with numbers at the intersections. In publication-quality diagrams, black and white circles have move numbers inside them. Alternative moves or stones/moves discussed in the text are labelled with letters or symbols (triangles, etc.). Even publication-quality diagrams can get very crowded in a typical game (try finding move 131 in a diagram containing over 200 moves), so often they are broken up into multiple diagrams of 50 moves each, or fewer (the fewer moves per diagram, the easier the game is to read). To record games by hand, there are pre-printed sheets available with a 19x19 grid on them. As play goes on, you label each intersection with the move number. Some people use two pens with different colours (e.g. red and blue) for this, distinguishing black stones from white. Others put circles around the black moves, but not around the white moves, or similar. Notes such as "201 at 47" are made at the bottom for kos and other plays "under the stones" (playing on an intersection after the stone originally placed there is captured). This does become cumbersome after a while, though. If you play on a computer, your program (player, or client) records the game for you. Games on the Go servers (see section 3.1.) are stored as SGF files; some programs use other formats as well (see section 6.2). Using a server's "automail" function, you can have all your games automatically e-mailed to you, for easy review with SGF viewer/editor software. Programs which allow you to view, edit and comment these files exist for almost all operating systems. See section 6.1. 5.4. What are miai and deiri counting? --------------------------------------------------------------------- Both are methods of estimating the value of endgame moves. This position is an example: # # # # # # O O O O O # . . . . # O . . . O (all stones independently alive) # . . . . . . . . . O ----------------------- Deiri counting states the difference in the scores for Black or White playing first, and whether it is sente or gote (see section 7.2) for either side. Thus, this example is 2 points in gote (because either side can hane and connect in gote). Miai counting assigns a count to the position, and a value to a play in the position. In this example, the count is 2 (Black has 2 points more than White) and the miai value is 1 (Black's hane-connect shifts the count to 3, while White's shifts it to 1). 5.5. What is reverse sente? --------------------------------------------------------------------- . . . . . . O O O O O | # # # # # # O . . . . | # . . . . # O . . . . | (all stones independently alive) # . . . . . . . . . . | -----------------------+ In this position, Black can hane and connect in sente, whereas White can only do so in gote. Because White's gote play forestalls Black's sente play, White's play is called reverse sente. So, with deiri counting (see above) this is 3 points in reverse sente. With miai counting it is -2 (White has 2 points more than Black). The miai value is 0 for Black (no change of score!) and 3 for White. 5.6. What is a false eye? --------------------------------------------------------------------- To live, a group needs to have, or to be able to make, two 'real' eyes. A false eye is an eye which may have to be filled in because one of the stones or strings creating the eye can be put into atari. In the example below, both white groups are dead; the leftmost eyes of both groups are 'false': |. . . . . . . . . . . . # # # . . . .| |. . . + . . . . . + . # . . . # # # #| |. . # # # # # . # # # . . O O # O O O| |. # # O O O O # . . . # # # O O . O .| |. # O . O . O # . . . . . # # # O O .| +-------------------------------------+ 5.7. What is a ko-fight? --------------------------------------------------------------------- A ko-fight is a situation which arises due to one of the basic rules of Go, the ko rule. In its simplest form, the ko rule states that repetitive capture is forbidden. If the ko has a value (i.e. if it is desirable for either party to be able to capture and fill the ko), then a ko-fight can develop. A basic explanation of Kos which also has several examples of kos, ko threats and which shows a local ko fight can be found on <http://senseis.xmp.net/?kofight>. 5.8. What is all this about shape? --------------------------------------------------------------------- Shape is a concept often mentioned in Go. Recognising 'good' or 'bad' shape when you see it, and being able to play good shape moves will make a big difference to your game. Unfortunately, shape is not a subject which is easy to understand, and it is also not something which you can 'prove'. E.g. the fact that a group is dead can be proved by playing it out. However, a good shape is only good because it is good. It may never be able to show how good a shape it is, yet it will still influence the goban around it. So goodness of shape is an intuitive concept, a matter of experience. If a stronger player tells you that some shape is good, believe him. You will get a feeling for what he meant as your Go strength increases. (If you ever understand 'shape' fully, please let me know! You could make a fortune writing a book on it :-) Some explanations are here: <http://senseis.xmp.net/?shape>. 5.9. Where do I play my first stone? --------------------------------------------------------------------- Beginners are often very surprised to hear their opponents complain that their first move is impolite. Here is the traditional Japanese way of opening a game politely: In an even game, black's first move should be in the upper right quarter of the board, on or below the diagonal. From black's point of view, this means that the following marked points of the board are polite for his first move: +-------------------------------------+ 19 | .| 18 | . .| 17 | . . .| 16 | . . . .| 15 | . . . . .| 14 | . . . . . .| 13 | . . . . . . .| 12 | . . . . . . . .| 11 | . . . . . . . . .| 10 | . . . . . . . . . .| 9 | | 8 | | 7 | | 6 | | 5 | | 4 | | 3 | | 2 | | 1 | | +-------------------------------------+ A B C D E F G H J K L M N O P Q R S T The reason why this is polite is that white's best response is in the most convenient part of the board for him: in the lower right (from his point of view). This politeness rule is also common practice on Go servers: black plays in the upper right first (although most clients do not turn the board upside down for white, so that both players see it from the same side). In a handicap game with up to nine stones, it is traditional to place the handicap stones on the hoshi (star points) in the following fashion (from black's point of view): +-----+ +-----+ +-----+ +-----+ +-----+ +-----+ +-----+ +-----+ | #| | #| |# #| |# #| |# #| |# #| |# # #| |# # #| | | | | | | | # | |# #| |# # #| |# #| |# # #| |# | |# #| |# #| |# #| |# #| |# #| |# # #| |# # #| +-----+ +-----+ +-----+ +-----+ +-----+ +-----+ +-----+ +-----+ 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 In games with 2 or 3 handicap, white will first play in his lower right, and in games with 4, 5, 8, and 9 handicap, he is likely to first play in his upper right. Sometimes, players agree not to require the handicap stones to be placed onto the star points. Under this 'free handicap', no politeness rules are known. The politeness rules also apply on smaller boards. 6. Computer Go --------------------------------------------------------------------- 6.1. Is there a program which . . . ? --------------------------------------------------------------------- Probably, yes. Go has been blessed with a large number of contributors providing tools for every conceivable function. Programs related to Go perform several functions: Play Go (i.e. be an opponent) <http://www.britgo.org/gopcres/playit.html> Clients to the Go servers See section 3.3 above Read/edit Go files <http://www.britgo.org/gopcres/record.html> <http://nngs.cosmic.org/hmkw/golinks.html#computers> <http://gobase.org/software/clients/> Teach games and sequences <http://www.britgo.org/gopcres/study.html> <http://nngs.cosmic.org/hmkw/golinks.html#study> Create and solve problems <http://www.qmw.ac.uk/~ugah006/gotools/> Create Go diagrams <http://www.britgo.org/gopcres/diagram.html> Translate one Go file format to another <http://gobase.org/online/sgf2misc/> Some programs perform more than one of the above functions. The list of programs available is too long to be shown here, but the links above should be able to provide the answers required. 6.2. What is an .sgf/.mgt/.go etc. file? --------------------------------------------------------------------- All these are various file formats used to record a game of Go. Recently, the Smart Game Format (.sgf files) has become the most used format, and it is also the most frequently used format on the go servers. Look at section 6.1 for information on how to find editors. If you are interested in writing an SGF editor, or you want to know more about the development of the format and its possibilities, take a look at <http://www.red-bean.com/sgf/>. The sgf format is also often used to post positions to the newsgroup. Jan VAN DER STEEN has a tool on his web site which will translate an SGF file to ascii diagrams, .gif files or postscript files: <http://gobase.org/online/sgf2misc/. 6.3. How strong are computers? --------------------------------------------------------------------- It is a surprise to most people that there is no software available today which can beat an average-level human player. The level of play of the strongest playing software today is estimated at around 8 Kyu (and even this is heavily contested; see for instance <http://cns.nyu.edu/~mechner/compgo/> for an interesting analysis by David MECHNER). The main reason for this is said to be that it is difficult to estimate the value of a given move. This makes it difficult to program a routine which can choose the 'best' move. The true value of a move may not become apparent until 30 plays later in local fights, and sometimes literally 100 plays later, for endgame optimisation moves. Another reason is that, because of the large playing area and the simple rules, there is always a very large number of legal moves which are even reasonably plausible moves. This results in a very large game tree if 'dumb' search algorithms are used. Considerable resources are going and have gone into the development of strong programs. For those who are interested in the subject, there are various places to start a search: - <http://www.intelligentgo.org/> - <http://www.reiss.demon.co.uk/webgo/compgo.htm> - <http://www.usgo.org/computer/index.html> - <http://cns.nyu.edu/~mechner/compgo/> - <http://www.smart-games.com> If you are interested in computer Go you may want to join the computer-go mailing list. The computer-go mailing list was established in Feb 93 to discuss programming computers to play Go. The volume of mail on this list is rather low, but sometimes goes up in bursts. To join the list, send an email to 'listproc@listproc.anu.edu.au' and put 'SUBSCRIBE COMPUTER-GO first_name last_name' in the body of the message. (Remove all quotes and fill in your own name). You will receive a confirmation detailing how to use the list. 6.4. Which is the best computer program? --------------------------------------------------------------------- As already explained, computers make weak opponents. Since they cannot learn, they also make boring opponents, as they make the same mistakes over and over again. Of course it can be fun to beat a computer which takes a 9-stone handicap, but the methods used to beat it are unlikely to work against human players, and may even give you bad habits. However, computer programs play each other in various tournaments and can be ranked by their relative strengths. Here is an excerpt from <http://www.smart-games.com/worldcompgo.html>, edited by David FOTLAND. It gives an indication of the 'average placement in an international competition', based on recent results in international computer Go tournaments: Top ten Go playing computer programs (Last updated September 1999): Author Program Score M Reiss Go4++ 2.3 Chen ZhiXing Handtalk 2.9 Ryuichi Kawa Haruka 3.0 KCC team KCC IGO 4.0 D Fotland Many Faces 4.3 Lei Xiuyu Wulu 4.7 Ken Chen Go Intellect 6.2 A Knoepfle Modgo 6.8 Yong Goo Park Fun Go 7.2 J Kraszek Star of Poland 7.6 However, playing strength might not be the main advantage of a computer program. Other aspects might be more important, such as aesthetics, games database, teaching possibilities etc. The ideal program for you will therefore depend on what you want to do with it. 7. Slang and expressions --------------------------------------------------------------------- 7.1. Go server expressions --------------------------------------------------------------------- For a rather full list of slang used on the Go servers, take a look at Robert JASIEK's page: <http://home.snafu.de/jasiek/slang.html> 7.2. Glossary --------------------------------------------------------------------- Go in the western world has adopted a great many of the Japanese terms used in the game, and these are in constant use. An extensive list of Go vocabulary can be found on Ken WARKENTYNE's page: <http://nngs.cosmic.org/hmkw/stuff/definitions.html>. An extensive list of Go vocabulary can also be found at Sensei's Library: <http://senseis.xmp.net/?GoTerms> 8. Other internet resources --------------------------------------------------------------------- 8.1. General Webpages --------------------------------------------------------------------- There are several good places to start searching the internet for more information about Go. When using a search engine, try searching for the words 'Baduk' or 'Weiqi' instead, as they produce better results than a search for 'Go'. (Webmasters are kindly requested to add both 'Baduk' and 'Weiqi' to the keyword list of their pages.) For all sorts of news from the World of Go, check out: - Jan VAN DER STEEN's site: <http://gobase.org/> - The MSO site news section: <http://www.msoworld.com/mindzine/news/orient/go/go.html> Excellent and very comprehensive lists of web Go resources can be found on: - Ken WARKENTYNE's site:<http://nngs.cosmic.org/hmkw/golinks.html> - Harry FEARNLEY's site:<http://www.goban.demon.co.uk/bookmark.html> Other places to start out include - British Go Association site: <http://www.britgo.org> - American Go Association site: <http://www.usgo.org> - Jan VAN DER STEEN's site: <http://www.cwi.nl/~jansteen/go/> Sensei's Library is a huge site with Go-related information : <http://senseis.xmp.net/> 8.2. Mailing lists --------------------------------------------------------------------- There are several mailing lists set up which discuss Go or subjects related to it. A mailing list works such that, once subscribed, you will receive a copy of all mail which is 'sent to the list'. You can then 'answer to the list', and all the other subscribers will see your answer. In general, many countries have a mailing list which is run by or through the national Go organisation. In this case they can be found through the national Go organisation's pages, which are listed in section 2.2. Other lists are more international, and I've tried to include them below. Please let me know if you know of any which ought to be included here. The listed URL will lead to a page which has more information on list topics, how to join etc. StoneTalk Discusses games move by move. Players are at all levels, from 30k to 5d. <http://www.mcelhearn.com/go.html> GoWebmasters Discusses co-ordination of Go web pages. If you want to create or already have a go web site, please join! <http://www.onelist.com/subscribe/GoWebmasters> sgf-std Discusses the Smart Game Format. <http://www.sbox.tu-graz.ac.at/home/h/hollosi/sgf/email_list.html> Computer Go Teaching Go Rules of Go Tournament Directors More information on these 4 can be found on the BGA pages at <http://www.britgo.org/gopcres/info.html#mail>. 8.3. Beginner sites --------------------------------------------------------------------- The following is just a selection of sites which present the rules and also give some basic strategy or tactical tips. Several other beginners sites can be found on Ken's or Harry's pages. (See section 8.1) Scot McDERMID's pages give a nice introduction. If your browser supports Java then you can play through some examples. <http://home.earthlink.net/~scotmc/> Mori's Go Page explains the rules and interactively teaches some basics as well. <http://www.sainet.or.jp/~mori/Go.html> Tel's Go page also provides some fundamentals about connecting, attacking, etc. <http://www.telgo.com/> 9. Various themes --------------------------------------------------------------------- 9.1. Copyright --------------------------------------------------------------------- Much information (and misinformation) on this subject has appeared in rec.games.go. In general, the editing, collection or compilation of written material (including game records) and all game comments are subject to copyright protection in countries which have adopted international copyright conventions. Additional laws (not related to copyright) may also apply. If you are considering some project using someone else's efforts, obviously the safest approach (both for legality and social harmony) is to ask for permission. If you particularly want NOT to ask permission as your legal "right", then you should consider consulting a qualified attorney regarding all laws that might apply (including copyright laws and non-copyright laws). In any case, please take care to avoid insulting any institutional sponsors of Go. For more general information on copyright law only, see <http://www.eff.org/pub/Intellectual_property/copyright.faq> Please remember that other kinds of laws also may apply. 9.2. Unusual gobans --------------------------------------------------------------------- There have been several discussions about Go being played on other than the standard (9, 13 and 19 square) gobans. Whether the desire to play on non-regular gobans comes from the fact that 'normal' Go is too easy is unknown. For some of these boards, the rules are slightly changed, but in general 'normal' Go can be played on them. More information and several examples taken from past newsgroup discussions and some internet sites can be found at <http://senseis.xmp.net/?goban> 10. About this FAQ --------------------------------------------------------------------- 10.1. General --------------------------------------------------------------------- The contents of this FAQ has been harvested from all the questions and discussions on the newsgroup, and is as such a combined effort on behalf of many of the regular contributors to the newsgroup. The FAQ is currently maintained by Morten PAHLE, please send questions and suggestions to gofaq@pahle.org.uk. Please include the 'FAQ' word in the subject of your mail to me. The most recent ASCII version of this FAQ can always be found at <ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/faqs/games/go-faq>. There is an HTML version on <http://senseis.xmp.net/?rggfaq>. An automatically generated HTML version can also be found at <http://www.faqs.org/faqs/games/go/newsgroup-faq/>. If you know of any inaccuracies, errors or incompleteness, or you want to suggest a subject, you are encouraged to send me an email. Special thanks go to: - Simon GOSS - sections 5.4 and 5.5 - Tim HUNT - section 4.2 - Bernd GRAMLICH and Pekka KARJALAINEN - have both provided much-appreciated corrections / proofreading on the FAQ - Everyone else who has sent me feedback :-) 10.2. Version history --------------------------------------------------------------------- This section briefly lists the main differences between FAQ versions. 2.11 Added request for new maintainer 2.10 Inclusion of links to the MSO site Go section and the intelligentgo.org site in section 6.3. Several minor corrections. 2.9 A change of philosophy has led to the deletion of almost all the lists, replaced by links to lists on the web instead. In general, several changes and 'slimmings' to reduce the overall size. Changes to sections 1.2, 2.2, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 5.7, 5.8, 6.1, 7.1, 7.2, 8.1. New section on Sensei's Library (4.9). Deleted old section 3.4. 2.8 Updated CTN server IP address, Robert JASIEKs URL. FAQ is now posted to the NG as two postings: one complete and one Table Of Contents only, referring to FTP and HTML versions. WWW version moved to http://www.igoweb.org/~pahle. 2.7 New sections: ELO ranking in Go? (1.9), Boardsize 19x19 (1.10), Placing the first stone (5.9) Updated Kiseido's webpage and email addresses, IGS archives link, BGA webaddress. Correction of various spelling mistakes. Made the one-page HTML version more reachable. HTML version: improved contents frame. 2.6 New section on recording games (5.3). General editorial cleaning up errors, correcting links etc. Rewrite of sections 3.5, 9.2. Added info to section 1.4. All links should now be correct - please let me know if you know otherwise. Major changes to the layout of the HTML version of the FAQ. 2.5 New section on game record copyrights (9.1). New section on unusual Gobans (9.2). New section on finding your rank (4.3). Gave the GTL a more prominent place through section 4.8. Completely updated section 3.5. New section on web sites with beginner information (8.3). Updated section 6.4 based on recent computer go results. 2.4 New sections on Ko-fights (5.7), shape (5.8) and mailing lists (8.2). This section was added as well. Inclusion of example diagram in section 4.6. Several minor corrections/clarifications. 2.3 Version which, for reasons known only to the rtfm.mit.edu FAQ server, was never posted to the newsgroup. However, the first web-based FAQ, posted at http://altern.org/pahle was created from this version. The FAQ therefore had several layout changes applied to it. 2.2 Version based on feedback, mainly the rules and history sections. New sections on counting (5.1 and 5.2) 2.1 Version took into accounts comments on v.2.0 - correction of some errors, little new material 2.0 This was the first version of the reincarnated FAQ, posted on the newsgroup in May 1999. In honour of the old version of the FAQ, last posted in 1996, the version numbering started at 2.0. All the contents were new. 11. Feedback and Suggestions --------------------------------------------------------------------- Please send them to gofaq@pahle.org.uk and quote the word 'FAQ' in the subject. -- morten@pahle.org.uk