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

Fairbairn’s “Life, Games and Commentaries of Honinbo Shuei” One of 3 New Books from SmartGo Books

Thursday May 2, 2013

SmartGo Books has been quietly adding more books over the last months, publisher Anders Kierulf reports. John Fairbairn’s “The Life, Games and Commentaries of Honinbo Shuei” is one of three more books added recently, bringing the total to 61.

“Honinbo Shuei” contains a full biography, detailed commentaries on 79 of his games, and 11 commentaries written by Shuei. “It combines six books that were available for the Kindle (combined price $54) into one $20 masterpiece while vastly improving readability and interactivity,” says Kierulf. “One reason Shuei is so famous is because of his pure but elusive style; he is still esteemed as the best model for even modern professionals to follow.”

“Schwarz am Zug: Das Go-Übungsbuch” by Gunnar Dickfeld is SmartGo Books’ first book in German, containing 131 go problems for beginners. “As with our other multi-lingual books (“Patterns of the Sanrensei” in Japanese and “How NOT to Play Go” in Spanish),” notes Kierulf, “English is always an option.” Click here for more information on books by Brett und Stein Verlag.

“The Workshop Lectures, vol. 5” by Yilun Yang 7P looks at choosing areas in the opening, handling unusual opening moves, and protecting positions. “As always, Mr. Yang emphasizes the importance of understanding general principles rather than memorizing particular patterns,” says Kierulf.

SmartGo Books is a free app for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch, with books available through in-app purchase.

Share

GoEye for iPhones: Good SGF Reader/Organizer Falls Short

Wednesday May 1, 2013

Reviewed by Roy Laird
GoEye
, the latest go-related app for iOS 5.0+ iPhones, helps you organize, build and enjoy your sgf collection, but offers no content of its own. I’m pretty happy with the sgf readers I’ve written about before, but GoEye does have a couple of unique functions. For commented games, the PDF creator turns the SGF into a PDF file with numbered stones on a series of diagrams, and the accompanying comments at the bottom at the bottom of each page. So for instance, if the first comment appears at move 5, the PDF will show a game record with moves 1-5 and the comment; if the second comment is at move 17, the next record will show move 6-17; etc. Explanatory diagrams also appear, and the pages curl nicely as you “turn” them. There’s an “Alert” function that tells you when you get to the next comment. The game info pops up, pushing the board down, a move that is sure to get your attention; you can swipe it back into place, but I would prefer an alert that doesn’t disturb the status quo.

I was unable to load large files, such as Kogo’s Joseki Dictionary. I told the developer, who then released an update he claims fixed this bug, but I still can’t get such a large file to load. A link with Go4go.net gives you access to recent pro game records, or for €9.99 purchase the entire 33,000 game archive; but at present you can’t search Go4Go while within GoEye. They also plan to integrate seamlessly with others sites such as GoBase, but for now it’s easy enough to collect the files you want directly, then use the reader of your choice to view them.

GoEye also contains an “image recognition” feature meant to read images of go games and transform them into sgfs.  I found it somewhat tricky and picky. You can use it for instance when players post positions on GoDiscussions.com and ask for comments, but it doesn’t work well with photos. GoEye is integrated with Facebook and Sina Weibo, a popular Chinese microblogging site.

GoEye provides users with first-rate graphics and a couple of nice features, but falls short of its self-proclaimed status as “the best iOS app for go.” If you spend a lot of time looking at SGF files, and you’re not happy with any of the readers that are out there, maybe it’s worth $11.99 to give GoEye a try; unfortunately there is no free trial offer. But if you’re shopping for software that helps you study, consider other apps that offer original content and additional features.

Second Life Launches Go League Tournament

Wednesday April 10, 2013

Two dozen go players from around the world gathered in a beautiful old Japanese style dojo for a brand-new tournament on April 1. Lush bamboo rustled in the breeze while the sea whispered nearby. But the only real thing was the go. The tournament is taking place in “Second Life,” the popular 3D simulator world with millions of users all over the world. The online virtual world enables many different kinds of activities, including playing go. Second Life’s Kido Go Club is a beautiful old Japanese style location where your 3D avatar can play and review your games online using voice chat. The games are saved on the server in SGF format and can be downloaded. The Meijin League — which runs through the end of the month –  tournament is the largest in Second Life history. It has two subdivisions with 12 registered participants each, the first 7d-9k, the second 10k-30k. Players are from the United States, Russia, Japan and many European countries. Each subdivision is a round-robin where players arrange the time of their games and both leagues will reward the first right places with Linden Dollar prizes, the in-game currency. Five matches took place on April 1, when the League launched; The very first day was marked by five Go matches. The games will last at least till the end of April and new participants can still join the tournament. Click here for more on playing go in Second Life.
- Daria Koshkina

Exciting Crop of New Go Books Discounted 50% Today Only

Sunday March 31, 2013

Leading go publishers are releasing a number of exciting new books that already seem destined to be classics in the field. Go Seigen’s 1-1 Point Modern Opening Strategy has just been published by Slate & Shell, based on a manuscript that had been thought lost for years. “Go’s deep but straightforward analysis of the power of the 1-1 point opening may well revolutionize opening theory,” says S&S. Adding to their legendary “Get Strong” series, Kiseido  is offering Get Strong at Gote, which “explores the subtle strength of refusing to take sente.” In a related volume, Kiseido is re-releasing The Art of Aji Keshi, long out of print but back by popular demand “for players who want to master the ability of eliminating absolutely all play in a given situation.” From Yutopian comes a pair of books for players looking to make the jump to the next level. Making Bad Shape and All About Heaviness are “encyclopedic references no serious go player will want to be without,” promises Yutopian. Finally, SmartGo Books is releasing four brand-new books by the prolific 9-dan professional Michael Redmond — How To Die In Gote, The Joy Of Being Thick, The Wrong Direction and 21 Kyu in 21 Days – in 14 different apps and online platforms. A 50% discount is being offered on all the books above in a special 1-day offer that expires at midnight on April 1.
- David Stevenson

Your Move/Readers Write: Mac Go Suggestions

Thursday March 28, 2013

“A good program for playing go on Mac is Goban,” (Your Move/Readers Write: Mac Go? 3/25/2013) suggests Porter Howland. “It also works very well as a stand-alone .sgf reader, and I believe it can be used to play online. Goban and its underlying game engine are both open source and distributed freely under the GNU General Public License. Currently, the GNU Go engine is not the strongest; newer engines implement recently discovered algorithms that are more efficient. For example, the Many Faces of Go game engine by David Fotland.”

“For a real beginner, you can’t do much better than Anders Kierulf’s Go Kifu, for iPad (about $10),” writes David Erbach. “For desktop machines, Goban has the gnugo engine behind it, with a very nice interface. It’s plenty strong for a program, but doesn’t have Kifu’s tutorial mode, so it’s not quite as nice as a teaching tool.”

In addition to GNU Go, Ke Lu suggests PANDA-glGo; they’re both available on the IGS Pandanet site. Peter St. John flagged Wikipedia’s listof computer go playing programs and of course there’s always the AGA website’s go software page.

There was also a response posted in the AGA Google+ Community (which now has 164 members) from Ryan Case, suggesting Sen:te software.

 

 

 

 

 

Your Move/Readers Write: Mac Go?

Monday March 25, 2013

“I’m looking for a good Mac computer go program to play against as I learn,” writes an EJ reader, “any suggestions?” Email suggestions to journal@usgo.org

Your Move/Readers Write: Folding Board Found

Thursday March 14, 2013

That (Folding Board Query 3/8 EJ) looks a lot like the folding Agathis boards — B101, B102 & B104 — currently available from Kiseido,” writes Paul Barchilon. “Samarkand used to sell them too. I had one that lasted fairly well, though it did have metal hinges. I made it sit flat by putting little felt circles on the four corners. The lines eventually came off around the center, but that was after several years of frequent use. They used to sell the same model with a fabric backing, which is probably the one Ramon saw. One could inquire from Kiseido about this, and show them a copy of the photo.”

“That board looks like one that I’ve seen for sale at Uwajimaya, a Japanese grocery and market in downtown Seattle,” adds Dennis Wheeler. “Or it’s also possible that its from Shiga’s imports in the University District (near the Seattle Go Center). I’ll try to remember to stop in to see what they each currently have to offer the next time I’m nearby and report back again.”

Go Review: GoCommentary.com

Tuesday March 12, 2013

reviewed by James Acres

GoCommentary.com is a cool service from Nate Lee, a very strong amateur player living in Shanghai. His work is kind of like Yuan Zhou’s “Deep Thought” books, except that what Nate does is create a video in which he narrates a professional game while he plays out the moves and some key variations for you.

At first I felt like there would be something lazy about just watching a video of a game. After all, if you aren’t even putting stones on the board yourself, how can you possibly be doing any learning?

But the thing I’ve found about Nate’s commentaries is that they help me appreciate some of the strategic and tactical subtleties of a great professional game, without my having to do much work. And since he provides the game record, you can review the game yourself as many times as you like before or after watching the commentary.

The first thing that Nate does is name most every move. So he’ll say something like “white star point, black keima approach, white jump, black side extension…” which is very helpful in getting into the flow of the game. But at the same time, Nate will choose some specific strategic point on which to hang his narrative of the game, which particularly highlights the difference between the professional and the amateur.

For example, in his commentary on Game Six of the jubango between Go Seigen and Fujisawa Kuranosuke, Nate is careful to explain how Go sacrifices a group simply to build a a four-stone wall in the middle of the board, and how that thickness was decisive to the game. In other games he’s focused on how professionals think about ko, and prepare themselves for ko by not just creating ko threats for themselves, but even deciding to make the ko itself worth more so as to obviate some of their opponent’s threats.

Finally, Nate throws a little John Fairbairn-style historical commentary into the mix, which adds to the fun. To be clear though, where with John the historical context can be seen as the main course, with Nate it is added purely as spice.

All in all, Nate’s videos are the only thing I’ve found in English that let me just be a spectator of a professional game. And that’s a fine thing for those evenings when the kids are in bed, I’m too tired to play or do problems, but still want to spend some time with go. I very much recommend them, both his free sample videos and his subscription service. The subscription service is $5/month, and he makes two commentaries per month, which seem to average about 45min each.

Finally, I do believe Nate’s commentaries have helped me gain a little strength. I was able to push myself firmly into dan territory on Dragon Go when I started watching his videos. I’m not saying that Nate’s videos are anywhere near as valuable as doing problems for getting stronger. But if you follow his habit of naming all your moves, then it does give you a useful structure on which to hang your thoughts while you’re playing.

Tesujis: NJO Results & Standings Posted; AGA Website/Social Media Updates; 25% Off Slate & Shell Books; Guo Juan School Accepting Students

Monday March 4, 2013

NJO Results & Standings Posted: Our New Jersey Open report (Andy Liu 1P Wins New Jersey Open 3/3/2013) has been updated to include links to a full NJO tournament report, including prize-winners, and complete tournament standings, including updated ratings and all game results. photo by Rick Mott

AGA Website/Social Media Updates: Liking AGA’s Pair Go Facebook Page: The new AGA Pair Go Facebook page has new photos and urges you to check it out and “Like” it. Go9dan Added: The new go9dan.com server has been added to the AGA’s internet go page; the server’s features include the ability to observe and play multiple games, a teaching game auction, rated and unrated tournaments, and the opportunity to play against professional world go champions.

25% Off Slate & Shell Books: Slate & Shell is having a sale on all its books, publisher Bill Cobb tells the E-Journal. All S&S books are discounted at least 25% on the web site. The sale — which does not include books imported from overseas lasts through 10am EDT Monday March 11.

Guo Juan School Accepting Students: Guo Juan’s Internet Go School is currently accepting enrollment for its online group class for the 2013 second term, beginning on April 13. Participants also receive a 20% discount on annual membership of the school’s pro lectures. The teaching faculty includes Guo Juan 5P, Young Sun Yoon 8P, Jennie Shen 2P, and Mingjiu Jiang 7P.

 

Apple App Update

Sunday March 3, 2013

iPad/iPod/iPhone user alert: In “SGFs and iStuff” (2/1/13), I looked at some issues related to viewing sgf files on iPods, iPads and other mobile Apple products. I managed to confuse some readers, so please note that I was referring specifically to apps for mobile devices, not desktop-based software. One reader disagreed at some length with my conclusion favoring Smart Go Kifu (SGK) over EasyGo, so I took a closer look at the two apps. The reader raised some specific questions: What about when you’re recording a game and realize you skipped a pair of moves? How do you place un-numbered stones when setting up a problem? I found that both apps have these functions. He also offered a link to a review from last April with information that is, in some cases, incomplete or inaccurate. SGK actually does keep problem statistics, but only for one user (EasyGo can track multiple users.) SGK only imports one file at a time, but that file can contain many games or problems; just concatenate them into one file on your desktop, using software such as the freeware Kombilo.  EasyGo does offer one unique feature — a “time line” type graph that shows where the next comment will be. You can test it in the free version if you like. On the other hand, SGK’s problem collection is better. I’ve been studying a lot of problems lately. I find it is the perfect time filler when you’re waiting in line, riding the train or otherwise briefly idle. If you guess the wrong answer in EasyGo, you get a big red X that tells you to try again. SGK’s response is more thorough. Your wrong move says “1?”, and the other side’s best response appears, so you can play out failed variations and see why they don’t work. (If you don’t even get a “1?”, you know you’re not even close.) When you’re right, your stone says “1!”, but you still have to finish the variation to get credit, and if you go wrong along the way, you’ll get a “?” to let you know, and you can play it out and see why. With so many other features — a playing engine, a collection of 40,000 pro game records and a “Guess Next Move” function , to name a few — SGK still seems clearly worth the higher price. When I’m finished studying SGK’s >2000 problems, I’ll probably pick up EasyGo too, for the problem collection; or I may just get one of the classic problem books that’s available through Smart Go. Or both.
- Roy Laird