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Ask HN: Who Plays Go?
136 points by thangalin on Oct 24, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 96 comments
I play on http://www.gokgs.com/ sometimes, with the same name.

I'm not super incredible (maybe 2 dan). At my peak, when I was studying in Japan, I was close to 5 dan. A week before leaving Kyoto, I hooked up with a buddy (who was also visiting) to challenge the locals at a smoke-filled Go club. He was perhaps 2 dan at the time. We walked in and slaughtered the room. They could not match us. Ah, but they insisted we return the following evening.

We did.

Waiting for us were some of their strongest players. I was seated in front of Kyoto's most ruthless amateur player, who must have been a scrappy 7 dan. He was a squat old man with grizzly eyes and a staunch, "I'm gonna' mess you up" attitude. The desire for revenge in his gaze was unmistakable.

The knives came out, we threw down dragon after dragon, chase after chase, launching attack and counter-attack, the board was intense. Eyes of groups were abandoned, trades were made, and the shrewdness of his plays were like his gaze. In the end he won four out of five games, and I learned a lesson in humility. It was a great experience, would do it again in an eye-blink.

Go is such an amazing game, with a rich history, pervasive through Asia, and unsuspecting in its simplicity. It's also a great way to make friends around the world, and meet some truly remarkable people.

Any dan players care for a game?

Your intro read like prose. In a few short paragraphs I felt I was reading a novel.

You have the touch. Are you a professional writer?

Thank you. My profession is software. I write letters on topics I feel strongly about, though. I then (e)mail them to really important people and pretend they get read.


Not sure what you mean by prose. His writing was prose, so was yours.

You're right about his semantic mix-up, but surely you knew exactly what he meant.

Prose is just prose by any other name... :o)

Do not play go. Just stay away it from it. I started to play go in Brazil while in high school and got addicted to it. Eventually I came to Japan to play go (I won't disclose the details because it'd be really embarrassing).

Later I came to Japan to study Computer Go in grad school. I planned to to stay for 2~3 years. It's been 7 years now. I don't play go anymore, but I do harder stuff (karaoke, clubbing, etc). It's been a sort of gateway drug for me.

PS: by the way, the reason an American 2-dan can slaughter a Japanese 2-dan is simply because the scales are different, mainly due to inflation in Japanese ranks. If you're AGA 2-dan (or say, European 1-dan) you should really upgrade yourself to 4-dan when coming to Japan.

It sounds like a good story waiting to be told, not embarrassing. So many of our lives are spent following the path society has carved out for us; it's refreshing and interesting to hear about someone who had a desire outside of the mainstream and followed to an extreme.

Did you join one of the go cram schools?

In the late 1970s I played both the women's world champion, and a year later the South Korean national champion in exhibition games. They both mentioned that I was about 2 kyu but experience getting bruised up by an 2 dan amateur makes me think that my rating is less than that - so I would not be a good opponent for you.

My older brother taught me to play when I was eight, and we played fairly equally for about 10 years, Then, within a year's time, I was consistently giving him 9 stones.

Also in the late 1970s, I wrote a Go playing program I called Honnibo Warrior which played poorly. I sold it cheaply for the Apple II (written in UCSD Pascal) and actually made some real money selling the source code.

I've had a design in the works for a few years that is a completely network-based Go AI. The idea is nothing new. It involves multiple computers, each assigned one problem from a board position. One computer might be responsible for calculating ladders, one solves tsumego problems, one to look at influence, one to apply joseki, another for yose, and so forth. Each of submits their top ten moves, in the allotted time, to a master engine. The master engine evaluates the moves (possibly using Monte Carlo simulations) and selects the best.

The idea was more about the framework than the actual worker machines. The ability to add and remove different problem solvers on the fly appealed to me. One of the problem solvers, for example, could be your program, or GNU Go, or a program that runs ten Go playing AIs simultaneously, returning the "best" move from each.

You've described the architecture of a ~15-year old engine called NeuroGo: http://webdocs.cs.ualberta.ca/~emarkus/neurogo/

All of the different solvers ran on the same machine, as far as I know.

It turns out that the Monte Carlo engines are doing far, far better than the grand hierarchical neural net designs of the past, though.

Wow. I really dig this idea of sharded / modular network problem solvers. It would be interesting to take it a step further and let the solvers themselves negotiate their own distribution over time, CPU use, etc. - e.g. replicate all the active solvers on all the clients but allocate chunks of variable size to each depending on which evolves to be the "dominant" solver on any given CPU. You'd need an algorithm to stop Montecarlos from becoming the dominant process everywhere, probably. Montecarlo is notorious for chewing up a processor, but in various applications it often does not need to be run constantly, so the free cycles could be used for something else.

I especially like the idea that this could be applied to anything, not just Go. I did something in this direction a few years ago with an a-life data processing platform that used SOAP to shard problems to groups of machines.

At that point there are two issues, firstly the protocol becomes a bottleneck if you're dealing in large datasets, and secondly if you're dividing something up spatially you still have to aggregate your results. It would be the same if you divided it problematically for Go moves, unless each algorithm could give a "confidence" indicator that could be used reliably so that the master engine would not have to montecarlo each result set. That could be done if the montecarlo was moved to the sub-servers to test their own moves before sending the moves back complete with percentage wins for direct comparison in the master engine. It would chew up a lot more cycles and mean more machines, but it would remove the post-processing bottleneck.

Architecture in a nutshell:


A list of 10 moves from 30 different machines, even using a heavy-weight protocol like SOAP, would be nearly instantaneous. I would favour a light-weight format such as JSON, though. For other applications, I agree, network bandwidth would be a possible bottleneck.

My initial idea was to have each engine return ten moves, in sequence, with the first move being most important. The moves need not be delivered simultaneously. The Master selects the lowest scoring move that was picked by multiple engines. Other ideas include weighting (the fuseki engine's input is not very important in chuban or yose), and imperative moves (death engine forces a play to save a 30 point group).

The Master would send requests for moves by submitting a board position and whose turn to play.

What I really like about the idea, though, is that anyone could develop an engine (in any language) that adheres to the protocol, and add it to the AI network. At any time.



Cool stuff. Do you already have an API for people to write their own solvers -- something that passes a board state and an interface to return ranked choices? How do you stop people on the network from overranking their own AI's choices (assuming this were an open project)?

I do not have an API for solvers. There would have to be a registration system, possibly white-listed by IP address.

I used to be 2-4k but had trouble holding 5k* on igs a few years ago. If I started playing now I would probably struggle holding 8k.

Life, my daughter, 2 personal projects and work got in the way.

I miss the social aspect of Go, I find the internet incarnations are too sterile. I love having a tea and a chat while playing, I spend enough time staring at the screen.

Would probably play again if I found the right group.

Pushing the upper kyus would require way too much work than I am willing to commit at the moment to the game.

Love Go, it is truly eye opening.

Talking about smoke, my Go teacher "Mr No" used to smoke 200 cigarettes a day in Go clubs in Korea.

That's crazy!

The scene here fizzled a bit when a few events happened around the same time, involving babies and our strongest players. I much prefer to play in person than online, for the same reasons you mentioned.

I am planning on taking a trip next year, with a stop in Korea. Any recommendations for (smoke-free) Go clubs?

I was once 11 kyu and improving, but I realised I was getting totally absorbed in the game. As a latent obsessive compulsive I gave it up. I'm pretty sure it was the right choice, but I retain deep respect and admiration for the game. Far, far better than chess.

Deep down I wish I still played ...

You made the right choice :)

I got to about 7 kyu, and then it suddenly hit me. Balance is key. Therefore you should concentrate on those aspects of your life which have become more urgent. I haven't played very much after that realization.

In my view, Go (or any other hobby, really) would stand in one corner of the board. Your family, personal life, and work would be at the other three corners. As the situation on the board evolves, you would choose your best play. Focusing too much on any one area would leave you over-concentrated. It would be too inefficient. You'd easily secure one corner but lose the other three.

But then, if you spread yourself too thin all over the place, trying to please everyone, including yourself, that would leave you with a vulnerable position that could fall apart at any moment. That's clearly not good either.

However, if you patiently settle your stone formations before moving on the next area, if you gain strength in one corner/side before expanding towards another, if you are fluid in your decision making process when choosing a direction (life does throw you stumbling blocks doesn't it?), THEN you'd be a wise man indeed :)

I do make it a point to participate in a local yearly tournament (five games over two days) whether I feel ready or not. One day, though, I will come back to Go in full-force.

I'm also ludwig on KGS, btw. If anyone fancies a game, you can always reach me via twitter (@ludwig1024).

With all due respect, I don't think it was the right choice at all. As I've studied go, I've learned large "life lessons" in an almost 1-to-1 correspondence. Even now, having hit diminishing returns at 5d, I still find it to be a wonderful exercise in metacognition; I can play a game to quickly see where my head's at.

That's certainly not how everyone looks at the game, but for me, go is easily the most enriching subject of study.

Just my 2c!

I've tried to make one of these life lessons explicit, answering a question on Reddit http://www.reddit.com/r/atheism/comments/c1fb7/hey_ratheism_...

How do you come to terms with death?

Learn to play Go. The game has an opening, a middle-game, and an end-game. You can take them as metaphors for the stages of life.

The opening involves playing in the corners and around the edges of the board, perhaps on the third line emphasising territory, or on the fourth line emphasing influence. Metaphorically this is childhood and education. Perhaps going for a vocational qualification, such accounting or law is like going for territory, while studying philosophy or travelling round the world is like going for influence. Or perhaps such direct parallels are over-literal. The opening moves in a game are worse than difficult; the opening is down-right mysterious. Which makes it a lot like growing up. And it creates a situation as you enter the middle game that is different in every game. Much as every adult has their own baggage left over from childhood.

Perhaps the middle game is like adult life because things keep going wrong. Your opponent invades your territory or steals the eyes from a group. You have to fight back, invade his territory or sacrifice a weak group. Adult life makes similiar demands on your flexibility and fighting spirit. If you lose your job perhaps you can find a new one with a rival company for more pay. Or change career and become happier.

The middle game may see victory or defeat, just as life may come to a premature end in illness or death. Often though one survives to the end game. The boundaries of the territories must be decided and there is still time for ingenuity and an upset. It is the time of memoirs and collected works, of playing with grand-children and of making partial amends for past errors.

If you play in tournaments there is a clock, but it is set to 1 hour, not seventy years. There is time to think about your opening, to estimate the score and plan a path in the middle game, to look for some clever moves and to save time here and there with the obvious safe play. After 40 minutes you can estimate the score again. If you think you are ahead you can try to hold onto your lead through the end game. If you think you are behind you must chose between trying to catch up with some clever end game moves or perhaps a do or die invasion. Time matters. If you are short of time you will be unlikely to be able to think for long enough to come up with clever moves. But you should be ahead, having put the time to good use earlier.

Tournament play with 1 hour instead of 70 years is the heart of the metaphor. Both the game and real life have a narrative arc and time limits. You have to manage your time and act your age, taking the big points in the opening and leaving the end-game moves for the end-game, if you make it that far.

So my advice is practical advice and not the uplifting advice that you requested. It emphasises the practical issue of getting the hang of managing a limited stock of time.

I think it probably was the right choice. I see it as a game that I will enjoy in retirement, and look forward to it.

I actually played it instead of doing well in my math degree. I am only about a 4ku in real life (played in the odd competition). I gave up after the degree for similar reasons.

I love the game as compared to chess there is real strategy involved. I am dyslexic and I find calculating locally hard i.e the kind of calculating you do in chess (dyslexics are bad at sequencing). However, in go, you have full board considerations and I am above my grade in those. In go that means I need to take a lower (than my grade) handicap from stronger players but am bad at fighting.

Stuck at 2kyu on KGS for two years, I've set the game aside temporarily, until my life situation is such that I can immerse myself in serious study. Love the game - got half a shelf of books including Invincible.

There's a saying, "Go is life". Learning the game will tell you an incredible amount about yourself, about determinism and chance and skill, about depth and limits and building knowledge and passing on knowledge.

For a software person there is a lot to learn about complexity and patterns. There are deep lessons about not fooling yourself, about the idea that a strategy for success emerges in surprising ways from ridiculously simple rules and facts of the underlying material.

There isn't much of a gap between Go's simple rules (alternating play, capture, ko) and software's fundamental elements (sequence, iteration, choice) in terms of simplicity, and likewise these simple rules combine to yield complexities that challenge the best human minds.

Hurdling the kyu wall, for me, required a leap of insight into understanding how to use thickness for attacking. The basic idea you probably already understand: when you have a wall (or otherwise fortified position), drive your opponent's weak forces into that area. As you do so you will get another wall. If this wall faces your own position, great! If it faces an enemy position, a wall gives you the opportunity to invade or reduce the op-position.

Go beautifully combines strategy and tactics. In what other board games can you take a strategy like, "Besiege Wei To Rescue Zhao" and implement it, tactically, in various ways?

I had a conversation with a project manager. He said that we should zip the development source files over to the test machine. I suggested that the test machine should be outfitted with the repository client (CVS) because it would be simpler solution, technically. How the goal is accomplished is not nearly as important as the goal itself. Both zipping the source and executing a "cvs update" solve the problem. And both are tactical ways of solving the strategic problem: test the latest development version in an isolated environment that is similar to production.

In "Besiege Wei To Rescue Zhao" the strategic concept is to parry an attack on your forces by attacking a weak (yet slightly more valuable) enemy force. I like to think of it as the Three Kingdoms problem. Kingdom A and B are friends, but not Kingdom C. When Kingdom C attacks Kingdom B, Kingdom A can rescue B in two ways: running to B's defense or by counter-attacking Kingdom C. Counter-attacking is usually best, to avoid the least amount of bloodshed. After you've attacked a weak opponent group, you've managed to create a stronger position that you can leverage to support the group that was being assailed.

Other elements that Go and programming have in common: intuition, aesthetics, and recursion.

By the way Go is one of the most challenging games for AI:


I play, but not nearly often enough. I'm probably somewhere around 12k, far below thangalin's level. If there is any such thing as objective quality in board games, go is objectively the best game anyone has come up with yet. Wonderful, wonderful game. But also dangerously addictive. The fact that it's basically impossible to play a quick game doesn't help.

"there is any such thing as objective quality in board games, go is objectively the best game anyone has come up with yet"

Could you please elaborate?

I'm not sure I could. (If I could, I'd probably be able to omit the hedge at the start.) But here's the best I can do.

1. The rules of go are very simple. (Well, kinda. Use, say, the Tromp-Taylor ruleset.)

2. The resulting game is very subtle, in e.g. the following senses. (a) For any game, define an "increment" to be how much better you need to be than someone else in order to beat them 75% of the time. Then the number of increments between a total beginner and God is larger for go than for any other game I know of. (b) Same as (a), but this time define an "increment" to be how much better you can get with a week's hard work or something. -- That is, there's a lot to learn, and learning it really makes you appreciably better at the game.

3. The difficulty of the game isn't simply a matter of getting better at mechanical calculations: there's a whole lot of strategy and "good taste" and so on.

4. It seems to be an uncommonly beautiful game. Now, any good game is going to have some aesthetic appeal for its expert players. But it seems as if (a) really good go players get more out of it aesthetically than, say, really good chess players get out of chess, and (b) one starts seeing aesthetic value in the game earlier in the process of getting better than with most other games.

5. (This is, I think, mostly a consequence of #1.) It's a very flexible game: you can use a different size of board (changing how long a game takes and the tactics/strategy balance), or give one player a handicap (changing the balance between the two) while keeping the game substantially the same. This is convenient practically, and (for reasons I can't currently articulate) it seems to me that it indicates something deeper about the game: it's a kind of Platonic essence that can be instantiated in many different ways. (I wonder occasionally about playing go on a graph that isn't just a square grid. It seems like hexagonal go wouldn't be too big a stretch, whereas to make a decent hexagonal chess game you have to change lots and lots of things.)

6. (Related to #1, #4 and #5.) It's a game that can be played with enjoyment even by total beginners: it's much more approachable than chess, for instance.

7. Although there's a lot to learn about the game, the understanding:brute-facts ratio in what you need to learn is better than in, say, chess. You can play go very well while knowing scarcely any detailed opening theory, whereas to be any good at chess you need to learn a lot of lines.

Wow. Superb answer, just what I was looking for. I'd actually heard your point 2 repeated several times, so I guess it's a common idea.

By the way, one of the reasons I "like" Go (in a purely objective, looking from a distance without learning it kinda way) is that, from what I've heard, even average players can beat computers at the game. Obviously, this is mostly to do with accidental, mechanical facts about number of possible moves, but in an age where Chess has been "won" by computers, it is something of an appeal for me. Do actual Go players feel the same way?

Last I remember, most programs could play about 12-10kyu evenly and some specially augmented ones had hit dan levels.

Computer moves always looked unnatural to me, though, and you could often exploit this easily. I'd say most players are at least comforted by lack of computer headway into Go.

I wonder occasionally about playing go on a graph that isn't just a square grid. It seems like hexagonal go wouldn't be too big a stretch, whereas to make a decent hexagonal chess game you have to change lots and lots of things.

How about playing on a Penrose tessellation generated within some bounds, like a square or circle.

Come to think of it, I wonder what Conway's Life would look like if it were shoehorned onto such a graph. I'm not sure how one would define the neighborhood, but sounds interesting to explore.

Diplomacy scores very highly on that characterization (I'm not sure about 3).

Could you elaborate on #3? In particular, the "good taste" part.

In most games of skill, some moves "feel right" or "look good" to good players, and part of becoming a better player is acquiring the instincts that make better moves feel better. This is certainly true in go; you need to feel "no, black shouldn't play there, because it makes his stones overconcentrated in that area" or "white should do that, because the shape it makes is beautiful" in a lot of situations. It's partly pattern recognition, and partly developing somewhat-quantitative strategic instincts.

(Be cautious about believing anything I say too much. I'm a pretty weak player.)

One thing I like about go is that even a beginner like me can follow an expert game. Although I’m many orders of magnitude from being able to generate it, I can appreciate (“verify”) the quality of play in http://senseis.xmp.net/?FamousGoGames . I’m not sure that’s as true of something like chess or Scrabble, which seem to get abstruse and memorization-based at high levels.

Go has a kind of deceptive shallowness. The rules are extremely simple[0]. You can see 90% of what’s going on on a given board in a few seconds. (The board looks like a simplified illustration of something else – like the phase portrait of an uglier game.) Another beginner and I can play a game that looks roughly like a game between masters, and with a heavy enough handicap we can even play a satisfying game with them.

What’s fascinating and addictive is that there’s no big secret. Learning go, for me, is reminding myself that it’s simpler than it looks. All I have to do is surround territory. It’s very, very hard. The last 10% of understanding a board takes decades.

0. The Tromp-Taylor rules, which you mentioned and serve as an excellent introduction for the curious hacker, are at http://homepages.cwi.nl/~tromp/go.html . Notice the 150-line Haskell version.

I was entranced with go via "Hikaru No Go", a Japanese anime about a boy who discovers the game through a spirit seeking the elusive 'hand of God'. I am currently at 9 kyu but am trying to better my game.

Unfortunately there aren't too many Go players where I am, and this makes Go as a point of social focus difficult, as it often is in chess over here.

Same here -- watching all of Hikaru no Go motivated me enough to get to 1-dan. Great anime.

> Unfortunately there aren't too many Go players where I am

Put yourself on the map, just in case! http://igolocal.net/

Unfortunately this site doesn't accept my position. I keep getting the following:

You must mark a valid location on the Google Map.

I currently live in Bermuda and if there are any Go players out there traveling to or currently residing there I'd be down for a few games, I have a go board + stones.

Hi thangalin,

I'm "grooviest" on KGS. I'm only 7 kyu so you'll need to up-skill me to 1 dan so I can give you a nice game (hint hint). My relationship with Go is turbulent. Currently we are in an addictive (God, it's sooo addictive) phase and she is breaking my heart. My one regret in life is that I was 30 years old before I learned how to play. All those wasted years playing chess. sigh I recently moved from my native land of Ireland to snowy central Finland and one of the first things I did was find me a Go club - hello the Tengen Go Club of Jyväskylä, nice people all round.

That's quite the adventure! Our time zones might not let us play in real time. Facebook has a Go playing app. I'd be happy to play a teaching game with you.

I've never played, but I'd be happy if someone could point me to the best place to learn.

Easiest way to pick up the basic rules and gameplay is through:

The Interactive Way to Go: http://playgo.to/iwtg/en/

Its also available in 32 other languages: http://playgo.to/iwtg/


Beyond that I recommend 9x9 games, on Windows download yourself a free copy of iGoWin: http://www.smart-games.com/igowin.html or on OSX or Linux check out GnuGo.


There's also a Linux live cd/distro with lots of learning tools by the name of Hikarunix: http://senseis.xmp.net/?Hikarunix

p.s.: You can find me on KGS, my user name is muloka. I'm just starting to break the 5k boundary.

If you want to learn, the easiest way to start would be on a 9 by 9 board using a program like gnu-go.

Computers are awfully predictable and have a hard time even on a 9 by 9 board.

Next up, I would look at checking out a local Go club, maybe read a book or two, maybe check out igs/kgs.

For an absolute beginner I'd add that the computer should give you a 9 stone handicap. Dial the handicap down as you start to get the hang of it.

Move to a 13x13 when you want the game to get more complex. Raise the handicap again when you do so.

You have a really good tutorial on www.gokgs.com Plus you can play there with begginers.

The "learn to play go" series of five books by Janice Kim is the best.

It's a fascinating game but coding seems to fatigue the same bits of my brain that coding does, so I spend my recreational time doing things a bit more brainless, like Warcraft.

Hi thangalin,

Nice to see your post about Go. I'm from China and have been playing Go for more than 20 years. I started to play in high school and improved a lot in college. My current ranking is AGA 5~6D. I don't play very often recently except play turn-based games on my own web site (www.go-cool.org).

Because of my addiction to the game, I even created a variation of Go, Daoqi, which removes border of Go board and makes all positions have same importance. This new game gives players a new and different enjoyment.

I'm also a programmer and have spent a lot of time on side projects. I created a Javascript based game viewer (github.com/gcao/jsgameviewer), a Ruby on Rails application which integrates with a Go forum (http://www.go-cool.org/app)

Like I said, I'm happy to see your post and comments from fellow Go players. Hope I can play with you one day.


Care to explain why your level decreases without practice?

Go is deep. So deep that you could spend a lifetime studying only to yourself on your deathbed still discovering new techniques and concepts.

The first ability people tend to lose after not playing is reading. That is, visualising a sequence of moves (without playing them) on the board and judging the positional value (similar to chess, but with astronomically more possibilities). Reading requires concentration, pattern matching (shape, tesuji, vital points), and guesswork.

After reading -- the tactical part -- some higher-level concepts get lost. Forcing plays (kikashi), inducing moves, estimating the value of thickness, obscure joseki, fuseki theory, and more.

There are /so/ many concepts and techniques to Go that unless you are actively studying and playing, it is nearly impossible to keep everything at the forefront of your mind.

I don't know if this is what you mean, but Kyu levels are ranked lowest to highest in decreasing numbers (lower number = higher ranking) but Dan levels are ranked lowest to highest in increasing numbers.


Similar to riding a bike, playing an instrument, writing code or cooking -- you never 'forget', but you definitely do get 'rusty'.

I lived in China during my childhood, and one of the things that I was involuntary involved in was playing Go, my parents simply made me do it. Despite the fact that I didn't really like it, I still kept learning it for several year. And by the time when I finally convinced my parents that I was not going to or even want to be a professional Go player, I was amateur 4 dan by Chinese standard, and I was about 10 years old. I stopped playing since then, but I can still pick it up and play once in a while, maybe with a skill level of around 2 dan I guess. Look back from now, Go looks interesting, but when I was forced to learn it at the age of 7, it was all boring and dull.

This whole thread makes me want to start learning how to play again. I don't think I have played more than about half a dozen games but it is by far the on of the most compelling games I've encountered.

I've tried to pick it up, have not found any clubs or anything in Milwaukee, so I've had to play via computer. Due to that, I haven't been able to pick it up as much as I'd like.

Another Milwaukeean!

The little bit that I played was also online. I didn't (and still don't) know anyone that played, either in person or online, so I haven't had anyone I can just bombard with questions. Whenever I played online I just got slaughtered, and any pleas for "what am I doing wrong" generally went unanswered.

Occasionally, I'll hit up http://goproblems.com and I struggle with all but the most obvious answers.

Despite reading a book or two about the game, and the handful of games online, it just never clicked. But I remain fascinated by the game and am on the constant lookout for someone who actually knows how to play. It's been a while now since I last tried to play, but I'm always down.

I just started playing casually earlier this year and I'm about 13-15k on DGS. I really liked the players on KGS, but it's hard for me to find an hour or two of totally uninterrupted time. DGS is so perfect for the slow pace I like to play that I wrote an iPhone client for it: http://dgs.uberweiss.net

When I started playing, it was frustrating and confusing. Now, it's still frustrating and confusing, but it's also so much fun.

I play, can't even remember how I heard of it but my girlfriend and I learned together a few months ago, I've just got another friend hooked on it too. Having SmartGo Kifu on the iPad and the free go Client from Pandanet has made it easier to learn.

Funny thing is, a co-worker caught me playing it, then while he was slaughtering me in a lunchbreak another couple of guys came out of the woodwork too ^_^

I find it very cool that there's just one piece that can be used for everything.

I've been getting a little more back into go lately. Online games are hard for me for some reason and I like to play slower than most people on kgs.

Back when I was active I was an AGA 5dan (probably 6dan in japan). If anyone in SF wants an in-person game I'd love to play - shoot me an email at lukas@crowdflower.com. Our office has a couple learning go players and our janitor might be around 1 dan.

I learned how to play in Taiwan and it's become my favorite board game.

I'm not very good though. Do you have any suggestions for improving?

1. Play lots of 9x9 games against a stronger opponent:


2. Study tsumego (life and death) problems. By study, I mean keep replaying the same positions until you can identify the sequence to live (or to kill) immediately. Study problems slightly more difficult than your own rank (maybe 1 or 2 stones). Do this for 15 minutes every day for 6 months and you will be quite strong.



3. Replay master games. Don't merely click through games on the computer. Get a board. Get stones. Feel the stones in your hand and think about where you would place each move. Try to discover, for yourself, why the master played the move.


4. Study fuseki theory and master fuseki player games:


  Do this for 15 minutes every day for 6 months and you will be quite strong.

It's not at all clear from this page how you actually get to the puzzles. (Which sound like fun.)

Updated with more relevant links. Also, tsumego is a Google-friendly word. (Unlike Go, which is now a programming language, too. Fortunately there is baduk and weichi.)

Thanks. That led me to this page:

Which contains links to actual puzzles.

I would remove the playing 9x9 against igowin. It will do more harm than good. Play them in KGS, or in a play-by-email style in Littlegolem.net or Dragon Go Server, all against real persons.

It is (2) that got me. It just takes too much time that I've never had.

I'm probably 14 kyu.

I'm in Taipei at the moment -- don't suppose you have any suggestions for a Go club to go to?

See ludwig's comment:


I'm philh on kgs, but these days I mostly play in person at my university club. One consequence of this is that I don't really know my rank. We have our own ladder, on which I'm currently 15.5k, but it tends to underrank people as compared to KGS. I'm probably not above 10k.

If anyone's interested in a game, I can play most evenings, British time.

I always thought this would be a great game to teach to under privileged youth and the homeless.

Its also relatively easy to put together a makeshift go board. At most all one needs is white and black paint, brushes, rocks, a piece of plywood or plastic, and something straight to make the lines.

You could even teach them how to make their own board and pieces.

I've taken some interest in it and sometimes try to play against the computer, but I'm horribly bad at it.

I just found out that Go is a popular game among Clojure programmers. This is how the speakers at the first Clojure conference celebrated the night before the conference.


For the vast majority of games people play, there exists a computer opponent that can beat just about anyone.

Go is an exception. Even a moderately experienced amateur can beat the best computer opponent easily. I think this says something about the richness of the game.

I play as 'adewale' on KGS and I'm currently a 9 kyu. Although, as you can see: http://www.gokgs.com/servlet/graph/adewale-en_US.png , my ranking tends to fluctuate.

I got to about 2kyu on KGS and was very addicted. Getting beyond this apparently required me to seriously dedicate myself to studying, though, and I had to deal with my normal life. So I haven't played in over a year.

I hope to start playing again sometime.

Hey thangalin! I remember seeing you on KGS a few years ago. I'm. About 2-3d on kgs and would be happy for a game.

Also, if any go players in CA are interested, next years US Go Congress will be in Santa Barbara, 1st week in August!

That was around my peak, when I could battle a 4d KGS player with a flame's chance in space of winning (that is to say: slim to none).

I don't have a lot of time for real-time games. (Working, travelling, social activities, writing, saving the world, you know how it goes.) A non-real-time game would be ideal.


I used to play a lot on NNGS and the Palo Alto Go Club in ~98 but now I just teach. Sticking with the f2f version :)

I was into the game enough that when I had a free week in a Japan, I spent it playing every day at a club.

I sometimes hop on KGS, but I'm very rusty. Probably ~17k. Wonderful game. I teach it to the kids in my programming class whenever we have a few moments of free time (usually day before Thanksgiving, etc).

I started playing Go at 4 with dad and played a while of IGS (the Panda net thing) and got pretty high (around 2D). But felt in love with Starcraft which is for me, GO+Chess and in real time :p

I never went beyond 14-12 kyu. I still want to improve, but life is always getting in the way (also, I get pretty nervous when playing and it is discouraging). But I also love the game.

I play online very rarely (about 1d on IGS and KGS ranks). Lately I've started a couple games on DGS. I'd welcome a game on DGS with anyone from Hacker News.

I play (well, I have played) and agree it's an amazing, beautiful game like no other.

I only reached around 10 kyu though; don't have the time for it these days.

Anyone know where I can play Capture Go at multiple levels? That is, single capture, 2-capture, 3-capture, etc? 9x9 and larger boards?

I don't know where, but when you get there, I wrote an SPI HTML5/JS Goban for iPad/Safari that supports single capture and capture five on various boards:


If you want other games like 2-capture or 3-capture, I can file an issue and add the games. And nothing's stopping you from forking, making the changes, and sending me a pull request :-)

Guilty as charged: I'm a go player.

Not currently active, unless you count the occasional game against Many Faces Of Go (igowin) on the iPad.

I'm jedediah on KGS, and would welcome any game, though I'm a meager ~20k, as I've just started playing.

i play it. it's my favorite board game: i'd say it is the best example of a well designed game :)

though i do not play it online.

my dad thought me how to play it at the age of 8. for some time i played it at a go club, but that never really caught on. now i play with a couple of friends or with my dad.

I was working on this for a while: yayforgo.com.

I got a new job and just couldn't focus on it. Bummer!

Anyone want the source code?

I'm very interested in it. It looks like it is a Python web application, right? I'm a Ruby programmer and should be able to understand the code and steal some ideas if you don't mind :-P

there's a go club in soma. we're meeting at twitter every wednesday at 8am but have been thinking of moving a more accessible time and location and call it @somagoclub. anyone interested? (soma, san francisco)

9k KGS.

Same question as OP, but addressed to kyu players-?

my dad and uncle are fanaticso, send me your contact information, i'll hook you two up.

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