American Go E-Journal » Tools: books, software & hardware

INAF announces three more online go lectures in English 

Sunday January 8, 2023

The Iwamoto North American Foundation for Go (INAF) has released three more online go lectures, all in English. This follows release of two lectures last month. In the first of the latest batch, which features a number of interesting plots, Ohhashi Hirofumi 7P, an expert on AI play, comments on his game with the young Tengen-title holder Seki Kotaro, who’s also well known for studying and emulating AI play.

The second lecture is by Michael Redmond 9P, who comments on a game by Kevin Yang, the new North America professional. Yang played this game in the 2022 Globis Cup against the Kansai Kiin’s young star, Nishimura Jin.  

The third lecture is by Ishikura Noboru 9P, the most well-known go teacher in Japan who also offers go courses at the University of Tokyo. Here he comments on some modern fuseki ideas.


INAF announces two new lectures on YouTube

Monday December 19, 2022

Two lectures by Yanagisawa Satoshi  6p, sponsored by the Iwamoto North American Foundation and Nihon Kiin, are now available on Youtube. The first, “Ko Threat for Dan players”, discusses how to make ko threats bigger before using them. The second, on “AI joseki“, discusses a popular AI joseki frequently seen in modern games.


AGF Launches Kids Go Server

Saturday September 10, 2022, a new site designed specifically for kids aged 6 to 12, is now live on the web as a beta release. A joint project of the American Go Foundation and the British Go Association, the server is designed to be a totally safe and kid friendly environment that can be used by anyone, and in schools. The site is accessed through a website, and requires no software, and no login. Graphics and animations help kids realize when stones are in atari. Your choice of rocket ships on the home page will take you to a lessons page or a playing page on one of several planets. For now, the lessons are only text, but voice actors will read them in the future. More lessons, as well as go problems, will be coming as well.  Kids can play either 9×9 or 13×13 against weak AI bots, as well as against other kids. Chat is limited to preselected phrases so there are no safety concerns. Kids who wish to save their avatar can generate a login code or just pick a new avatar every time they come.

The graphics and characters were all designed by Nick Snyder, a professional animator and artist. The coding is by Akita Noek from OGS, with lessons by Paul Barchilon, and conceptual design by Barchilon and AGF President Terry Benson.

Click here to visit the site, and here to give us feedback on the beta.


Go vendors unleash summer sales and product upgrades

Tuesday July 12, 2022

New equipment, new openings; go vendors Kiseido Publishing and SmartGo continue their support of the game this summer with fresh products, sales and new upgrades to their services.

For those looking to upgrade their go equipment, Kiseido is offering deals on high-quality kaya table boards, shell and slate stones and some rare mulberry bowls. Kaya table boards are available at a 25% discount on already reduced prices, free shipping included. Sets of shell and slate stones are 10% off, again with free shipping, and a wide range of thicknesses—from 7.5mm to 11.3mm—is available. A special offer is two pairs of rare mulberry bowls made from Mikura Island mulberry trees by master Tagami Sukeshiro. Click here for complete details.

Kiseido is also offering two new books from Shibano Toramaru 9d, which it says “are perhaps the most important books on the opening since Go Seigen and Kitani Minoru introduced their ‘New Fuseki’ theory in the 1930s.” “Fuseki Revolution: How AI Has Changed Go” and “Joseki Revolution: Overthrowing Conventional Wisdom” both offer detailed insights into how go has evolved since the emergence of AlphaGo in 2016, examining AI’s influence on fuseki and joseki.

SmartGo’s SmartGo One app has added a handy new feature called Tournament Mode. When selected during tournament play for recording a game, Tournament Mode disables all AI functions and joseki matching. The mode is clearly indicated to both your opponent and tournament officials through onscreen icons, allowing easy game recording without the risk of computer-aided interference. “Looking forward to using it myself at the US Go Congress,” says SmartGo’s Anders Kierulf (read more here). SmartGo pro tip: When you replay a game on the iPhone, you can zoom in to make the board bigger. As play moves to different areas of the board, SmartGo automatically keeps the current move visible.
– Hailey Renner


SmartGo One: new SmartGo for iPhone and iPad releases today

Thursday April 7, 2022

Five years in the making, the all-new version of SmartGo for iPhone and iPad will be released today. SmartGo One includes an improved user interface, more features, better integration, and stronger computer play. “One app for all your go needs,” says creator Anders Kierulf. “Whether you want to learn the game, play against the computer, solve problems, or read go books, it’s all there.” SmartGo One is “is SmartGo Kifu and Go Books rolled into one, and taken to the next level.”

Kierulf says every part of SmartGo has been improved, including:
• Stronger computer play, based on KataGo, and thus much stronger than previous versions of SmartGo.
• Better problem solving: problem solving flow is much better, with improved statistics, and you can add additional problem collections.
• File management: Folders, game collections, sync using iCloud Drive, open ZIP files, and more.
• Additional features include dark mode, syncing, books, player biographies and easy board rotation.
Click here for a full comparison. 

The books from Go Books are all integrated into SmartGo One, so if you bought books in Go Books, you can read those in SmartGo One.

SmartGo One is a free download, and all the game recording and organizing features are available for free, as is computer play up to 13×13. Advanced features, computer play on 19×19, and updates to the complete GoGoD collection (current 114,000+ game records and 4,400 mini-biographies) are available via a modest $12/year subscription (with a 14-day free trial). To get a full month free, use this link.

Kierulf also notes that a Mac version of SmartGo One is in the works.


Finding the “Weird and Wonderful” in go

Wednesday February 16, 2022

“As go players we all study the game in our own way, be it leisurely or with near-scientific precision. We attempt to distill the moves and find their essence in recurring, understandable patterns. But every once in a while we are struck by a move we have never seen before. A move that is so out of the ordinary that we cannot help but marvel at it. A move to remember.”

Weird and Wonderful, Volume 1: Extraordinary Moves by Professional Go Players is a collection of such moves from professional games. Chapters include such things as miraculous tesujis that resurrect dead groups, ladders that don’t work but are played out anyway for strategic purposes, and dragons that bite their own tail. And there’s more: impossible-looking invasions, endless loops to escape defeat, and rare sequences that look so bizarre they make you laugh. “If you want to study professional play and marvel at the creativity of human go,” the authors – Kim Ouweleen and Peter Brouwer – promise, “you will enjoy this book.”

More than a year in the making, “Weird and Wonderful” is the first in what’s planned to be a 3-volume set; the second will cover unusual joseki and trick plays, and the third will highlight spectacular go problems. While the book can delight all go fans, Ouweleen and Brouwer  say it’s perhaps best appreciated by those ranking roughly 10kyu and stronger.

“Weird and Wonderful”can be purchased in print directly from Kiseido and the European distributor Schaak en Gowinkel het Paard, and can be purchased as an e-book from SmartGo
– Edited by Hailey Renner


New from BOARD N’STONES: Aji’s Quest and Fukui’s creative problems on 5×5 board in English

Tuesday November 30, 2021

Aji’s Quest

First serialized as online comic by author Collette Bezio, Aji’s Quest has now been published in print by BOARD N’STONES, the English branch of primarily German-language Go books publisher Brett und Stein Verlag. Aji has been playing Go for a whole month…and he still sucks at it! Can the mysterious Master Tenuki turn him into a champion in one easy lesson? Enthusiastic, cheeky, a little impatient, but certainly not hindered by any prior knowledge, Aji allows himself to be sent by Master Tenuki on a quest to the top of mountain Moyo. After all, he wants to become 27th Dan as soon as possible. Along the way, he experiences bizarre adventures.

ISBN 978-3-940563-87-3, 184 pages, 2021

Keep Fit! With the 5×5 Board

Fukui Masaaki’s little creations show that much of what is complex and profound in Go can be found in the tight confines of the 5×5 board. The problems cover endgame moves, aspects of life and death, attacking and defending, judgments based on calculating territory, the presence or absence of ko threats, and even things pertaining to the realm of middle game fighting. John Fairbairn said once about this book: “… the whole book, by Fukui Masaaki 8-dan, is rated low kyu to high dan, but a nice touch is that the individual problems within each section are not rated, so that you have to assume that each could be be a dan problem.” Now this lovely book has been available as English edition by BOARD N’STONES.

ISBN 978-3-940563-92-7, 126 pages, Fukui Masaaki, 2021

-report by Gunnar Dickfield


KGS and OGS partner for AI review

Monday November 1, 2021

KGS is launching a new client with built in AI analysis. The effort is a partnership with OGS and will give both servers access to greatly expanded capacity for AI analysis. OGS users have had AI review available for the past couple years, but as demand increased, their cloud servers needed more capacity. Lead programmer Akita Noek wrote the code and implemented AI services for KGS in consultation with the AGF.

KGS, as always, will be free, and all users will now get a brief AI analysis after their games, with the top three mistakes highlighted and variations shown. Users who would like a full interactive analysis for the game can choose from a $5 monthly plan with 5 million deep reading operations or a $10 plan with 15 million operations. The service only works in the full Java version of the KGS client (cgoban) and is not available on ShinKGS or GoUniverse.

To download the new client visit the KGS AI page here or download from the KGS home page here.

A user guide for the service is here.

-Paul Barchilon, AGF Vice President


Buddhist Philosophy and the Game of Go published by Slate and Shell

Friday May 21, 2021

Buddhist Philosophy and the Game of Go is the second, enlarged edition of the book titled Reflections on the Game of Go, written by William Cobb in 2005. This book contains a clear explanation of the basic principles of Buddhist philosophy using Go as examples. A large number of the entries have been published in the American Go Association’s journals as “The Empty Board”.

-report an image provided by Laurie Crammond


SEVEN: The Go Super Match released by BOARD N’STONES chronicles seven Namhae island matches between Shin Jinseo 9P and Park Junghwan 9P

Monday April 5, 2021

BOARD N’STONES, the English-language branch of primarily German-language Go books publisher Brett und Stein Verlag, has published a new book covering the seven games played between top Korean professionals Shin Jinseo 9P and Park Junghwan 9P last autumn in the Namhae Beautiful Island Super Match. The seven games – played in selected locations around the island – were characterized by a combination of scenic and cultural landmarks and the highest level of Go play. With his 7-0 win against Park Junghwan in the Namhae Super Match, Shin Jinseo established himself as Korea’s top player. This book tells the story of these seven games. The new book is easily available through most online book stores, click here to visit the publisher’s website.