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


Thursday December 16, 2010

Continuing its 40-plus year practice publishing some of the best go books in English, Kiseido recently brought three new titles to market. The latest installment in the Mastering The Basics series is Attacking and Defending Moyos, in which authors Richard Bozulich and Rob van Ziejst  lay out the fundamental principles of building territorial framework, and attacking the opponent’s framework, then illustrate using examples from professional games, ending with 151 problems.   300 Life and Death Problems may sound familiar, but we’re not referring Volume One of the Graded Go Problems for Dan Players series. The problems in Volume One start at about 5K, and the level of difficulty increases to about 3D.  This is Volume Four of the same series, with problems beginning at 4D and taking the reader all the way through to 7D. Coming soon: two more top-level problem books, 300 Tesuji Problems and 300 Joseki Problems, Volumes Five and Six to complete the seven-volume series. Kiseido founder and publisher Richard Bozulich produced the first advanced instructional books in English in the 1960′s. With this series he has completed a continuous course of study from beginner to 7D, starting with The Elementary Go Series (seven volumes) and Graded Go Problems for Beginners (four volumes) and continuing with Mastering The Basics (seven volumes) and Get Strong At Go (ten volumes.). Altogether, his carefully crafted course of study occupies nearly two feet of shelf space and offers an accessible path to the top for anyone willing to work their way through these thirty plus volumes. And lastly, Kiseido has also published the book that go art lovers have been waiting for — Japanese Prints and the World of Go, a collection of 75 go-themed ukiyo-e.  Extensive commentary provides an understanding of how each piece fit into its time and place.
- Roy Laird


Latest Issue Of GoGoD Released

Monday December 13, 2010

The Winter 2010 issue of the GoGoD Database and Encyclopaedia has just been released and sent to subscribers. “This issue contains over 65,000 games in the database, including previously unknown games of Go Seigen, Kitani Minoru, Hashimoto Utaro and many others,” reports T Mark Hall.

CORRECTIONS: Shotwell Link Updates & E-books on the iPad

Monday December 13, 2010

Our Go Online post on E-Books And Steganography (12/5/2010) has been updated with correct links for Peter Shotwell’s writings and the steganography article as well as to a recently-posted short version of Shotwell’s Appendix V of the Origins article, the one that revamps early go history. Also, in that same post “Amazing Happenings in the Game of Go,” Volumes 1 & 2 are available on the iPad, not the Kindle, as we reported. “In fact,” says author Bob Terry, “I specifically wrote them for the iPad. The Kindle does not display color, and these books are filled with color photographs of Japanese festivals, television programs and other picturesque events that make use of the iPad’s capabilities. I want these books to reach as many people as possible, not just go players, so that they bring more people into the game. I hope that making go attractive in this way will help in that.”


Monday December 6, 2010

SmartGo Kifu 1.3 for the iPad is now available in the App Store, reports author Anders Kierulf. “The main improvements are in Book View, which is designed to present annotated games with diagrams and comments like a book,” Kierulf tells the E-Journal. Click here to see examples. “And unlike a book, you can replay the moves within a diagram,” Kierulf adds. Click here for more information.


Sunday December 5, 2010

It was only a matter of time. The e-book revolution has come to the world of English-language go books. Translator Bob Terry has just published not one, but two books available only on the Kindle, Amazon’s e-book reader.  The Startling Beauty of the Game of Go contains 200 problems from every aspect of the game, the “cream of the crop” from Kido magazine, the resource of choice for Japanese players for decades, while Amazing Happenings in the Game of Go — also drawn from the pages of Kido — “is packed with material that has rarely been seen in the West,” Terry tells the E-Journal. “It’s part almanac, part teaching manual, part travelogue, part cultural treatise and part game collection,” adds Terry, noting that this is just Volume 1 and that “each volume totals more than 1,000 pages” with “more than 30 games, with 15 fully annotated” between the two volumes. Terry — who’s also working on iPad versions of the books — is the translator of the hard-copy Heart of Go series, Shuko’s two-volume The Only Move series, Takemiya’s This Is Go The Natural Way, and other works.

Steganography, our vocabulary word for this installment, refers to a process by which information is encoded in other information. In ancient times, considerable ingenuity was required; Herodotus reported in 440 BC that one ruler concealed a message by shaving a slave’s head, tattooing a message on his scalp, and sending him to deliver them message when his hair grew back. More recent uses include watermarking intellectual property online and hiding information in e-mail attachments, a sort of digital “invisible ink.” If you like this kind of cloak-and-dagger stuff, you may enjoy a 2005 article we recently found and posted at The Bob High Memorial Library, entitled “A General Methodology and Its Applications to the Game of Go.” The authors have developed Stegogo, a program that encodes information in game diagrams. Reading this article, go author and scholar Peter Shotwell was reminded of an old mystery novel he had read, The Chinese Lake Murders, where crucial details were found encoded in a game diagram. Click here for a brief article Shotwell contributed to the Library that provides more detail; you’ll find articles there that explore many other facets of the game as well, including a recently-posted short version of Shotwell’s Appendix V of the Origins article–the one that revamps early go history.


Sunday October 24, 2010

“As we all know, practicing your reading is one of the best ways to get stronger,” writes programmer Tim Kington. “To that end, the popular program GoGrinder has just been released for iPhone and iPod Touch. Now you can have thousands of go problems in your pocket and fit a little practice in whenever you have a few minutes to kill. GoGrinder uses problems in SGF format, and is the only app that lets you add your own problem sets.” The iPhone and iPod Touch versions of GoGrinder are available in the iTunes store.


Sunday October 24, 2010

The Many Faces of Go iPad app, “Igowin HD” is now available in the iTunes app store.  The app plays with an adjustable AI strength ranging from 18 kyu to the full-strength Many Faces of Go engine of “about 1 dan on 9×9 and about 3 kyu on 19×19,” says author David Fotland. Users can set their strength, or have it adjusted automatically by the app, which plays on 9×9, 13×13, or 19×19 boards.  Handicap and opponent strength can be adjusted or chosen automatically. “It includes an sgf editor that supports variations, comments, and marks, so you can analyze your games when they are finished,” Fotland adds. You can try out a variation and continue the game against the AI from a new position.  Games can be saved and restored, or emailed as attachments.  At any time you can ask for a score estimate or a hint.  This is the seventh mobile app from Smart Games, all under the Igowin brand.  Igowin Tutor is a free introduction to the game.  Igowin 9×9, Igowin 13×13, and Igowin Pro let you play go against the AI.  Igowin life is for practicing solving life and death problems, and Igowin Joseki is for learning Joseki.


Saturday October 9, 2010

Tuttle, the mainstream publisher of three books on go by Peter Shotwell, has added another title, but this time, he is only the co-author, while the principal author is none other than Richard Bozulich, the architect of the Kiseido catalog. Winning Go, like his Kisedo publications, is a problem book. But whereas other problem books usually focus on a a single subject — joseki, tesuji, life-and-death — Winning Go gives us a little of everything. Problems from all aspects of the game are organized into one book, designed to help kyu-level players discover their strengths and weaknesses, with suggestions for further study. Personally, I prefer the Kiseido format, where several problems appear on one page, and you turn the page to see the answers. Here the answers appear below the problems–cheaters beware! If you have made it solidly into the SDK range, you should easily solve most of the problems; but it’s a unique resource for advanced beginners. I’ve been playing a friend some nine-stone games, and I’m putting it on his Christmas list. — reported by Roy Laird


Monday October 4, 2010

Neil Moffatt reports that he’s developed an “HTML5 canvas based go game viewer and rudimentary editor.” Says Moffat, Secretary of the Cardiff Go Club in Wales, UK, “It embraces ideas such as access to key moments in games via a list of clickable position descriptions, and a list of alternative move sequences by description.” The site includes games for beginners, josekis, “guess the next move” and game commentaries. In most games, a list of key game positions is presented. Click on ‘Black has now created a large moyo’, for example, and you will be taken you to that exact board position. Moffatt adds that “The site as it stands is in essence a kind of go blog, but it may develop beyond this” and notes that it does not work with Internet Explorer. “It may or may not be palatable to a large audience,” he says, “The user testing to date seem to be relatively happy with it.” Click here to check it out and let Moffatt know what you think at

NEW IN PRINT 2010 (PART III): Six More Important New Works

Monday September 20, 2010

First off,  Slate and Shell added three more important titles to their catalog this year. Magic On The First Line is a compendium of eponymous oddities that only the great Nakayama could have come up with. In Understanding Dan Level Play, Yuan Zhou 7d continues his popular “Understanding . . . ” series by analyzing his own games as the US representative in the 2009 Korea Prime Minister’s Cup. And with New Moves, Slate and Shell adds an important new author to its roster — Alexander Dinerchtein, a 3P in the Korean system, better known as “breakfast” on KGS. By “new moves”, the author seems to mean trick plays. Dinerchtein charges $3-$5 per trick on his site — by that measure, 25 plays for $18 is quite a bargain.

The burgeoning Korean English-language publishing industry has produced a full thirty titles titles in the past few years, all of which are available from Yutopian.  Now comes the first extended attempt to discuss haengma, a Korean construct that is difficult to translate, but has something to do with the natural flow of the game. Janice Kim called it “The Way of The Moving Horse.” This Is Haengma by Sung-rae Kim and Sung Ki-Chang, and Master of Haengma Sung-ho Beck, try to explain this elusive way of understanding the game. And the Korean titles keep on coming.

I’m on Yutopian’s “send-me-everything-as-soon-as-the-ink-dries” list, so a few weeks after the Congress, I got my copy of 21st Century New Openings, Volume 2, also by Sung-rae Kim. It’s so new it’s not even listed on the Yutopian site  yet, but it looks good. Kim continues his discussion of modern changes in opening strategy, with extensive discussion of the mini-Chinese opening and others.  Now that komi is 7.5 points, some pros feel that Black has to play more aggressively, making many of the established openings obsolete. This series is some of the fruit of that thinking. Possibly a must for the serious competitor.  To see a comprehensive annotated list of go books in English click here.
- Roy Laird