Alex's Go Links

If you've never heard of a fascinating game called "go" (also known as "igo" in Japanese, "weiqi" in Chinese and "baduk" in Korean), then you're missing out on both a great intellectual challenge and a deep cultural experience, as well as lots of fun! You can start making up for lost time right now by visiting the links below.

If you have played a bit of go and want to know more, then I hope that this page will be useful to you. If you're already an expert, then please look at this page anyway and tell me how I can improve it! (In fact, whether or not you're an expert, I'm very happy to receive feedback.)

If you're in Adelaide any time, check out the Adelaide Go Clubs web page for information about where to play.

Background, culture and history
Learning the rules
Basic tactics
Free software
Sites to help you improve
Playing online
Finding a teacher
Other resources and miscellaneous links

Background, culture and history

Introduction and history on the British Go Association site
Introductory remarks from the American Go Association
Legends about the origin and meaning of go from the ClearHarmony site
"Go: Life Itself"—a good description of the atmosphere of playing go, as well as a bit of history
The game to beat all games: an article about go in "The Economist"
Some notes, and a lot of links on Sensei's Library

Learning the rules

The Interactive Way To Go—this is a very well designed site: as well as explaining the rules, it gives you the chance to click on a go board and guess the next move in various positions (hence the "interactive" title)
A Beginner's Introduction to GO by John Bate
The Rules of Go—article on the GoBase site
Sensei's Library: rules of go
The Way to Go—a free downloadable book by Karl Baker
A Go-Comic by Andreas Fecke—explains the rules with the help of some entertaining pictures!
Rules of go (James Davies translation)—this is the official Japanese version of the rules, quite detailed and complex: not for beginners!

Basic tactics

Once you're learned the rules and played a few games, you'll start wanting to learn some devious tricks (and maybe even some commonsense plays)...

Go Tips on the UK go challenge site
The Beginner Study Section of Sensei's Library (more about SL below...)
Tel's Go Notes—lots of hints for new players
Greg Reid's problem sheets
Paul Smith's Go Puzzle Sheets—some interesting things to think about, even though they are presented here without any answers!

Free software

To do: rewrite this section—it's hopelessly out of date!

There's good news and bad news here.

The bad news is that computers are just not very good at playing go! If you've just learned the rules, then playing a few games on a small (9x9) board against a computer is a good way to consolidate your understanding. But after a few dozen games, you really should stop and look for human opponents (see playing online below), as spending too much time playing the computer will lead you into bad style.

The good news is that there are lots of other ways in which computers can help you study and enjoy go. Most of the programs below are SGF readers/editors. "SGF" stands for "Smart-Go Format", and is a standard for recording the moves of a game. You can record your own games, email them to people, et cetera. You can also study records of games from professional tournaments, famous historical games and go lessons presented as SGF files.

Igowin—play against your computer on a 9x9 board, easy to set up and get started. (For MSWindows only, sorry.)
CGoban—also doubles as client software for KGS
GoWrite: SGF editor with good facilities for printing game diagrams
Kombilo—database programme, good for searching through your collection of SGFs
uliGo—for setting up and solving problems; some good sets of problems included
There's also a list of SGF editors on the Kogo's Joseki Dictionary page, and a long list of all kinds of software at the British Go Association

Sites to help you improve

To do: add something about YouTube videos and other newer sites

In my opinion, there are three main ways to improve.

You can play lots of games: join a go club, teach all your friends to play, and play online.

You can review your games. If you play online then you will automatically get an SGF record of your game, which you can look at later. If you play over the board, then reviewing your game immediately afterwards is an excellent way to train your memory! Of course, you can also record the moves on a piece of paper.

Finally, you can study. This can take many forms. Solving lots of problems is the fastest way to get strong, if you have the temperament to do a bit of repetitive work every day. (It's the go player's equivalent of an athlete's fitness training or weights programme.) It's a good idea to read books and online articles to learn new concepts. Studying records of professional games will also give you lots of ideas.

Here are my top four sites for studying online.

Sensei's Library
The Go Teaching Ladder

I should warn you about Sensei's Library. It's a "collaborative" site, which means that anyone can contribute, create or edit articles, join in discussion, ask questions, et cetera. The result is about as chaotic as you'd expect, but it's also grown extremely large and contains a huge amount of both useful and fascinating material. It's easy to get addicted to trawling through SL, wandering off on huge (but interesting) digressions. If you're looking for structured information on how to improve your play, I suggest you start with one of the guided tours, or maybe the reference section. is, as the name suggests, a good place to look for problems to solve! The Go Teaching Ladder is a free reviewing service: send them an SGF file and someone will look at your game and give you helpful advice. GoBase contains a database of thousands of professional games, a bunch of articles, and some more problems (the "Korean Academy" series is especially recommended). You'll need to register an account to access most of the good features of this site.

Here are some more sites worth looking at:—forums containing a mixture of friendly conversation and hard analysis
Steve Fawthrop's counting lessons
Improve Fast in Go—A free online book by Milton N. Bradley
Fan Hui's tsumego mailing list—get three problems emailed to you every week.
GoGoD: Games of Go on Disk: a database of over 80,000 professional games (no longer on disk!)
in the Korea Times newspaper
Harada's Tsumego—a collection of problems, some of them rather difficult!
Kogo's Joseki Dictionary—a nice reference guide, but first read the SL page on how to study joseki

Playing online

Here are my two favourite real-time go servers. They are all quite different in their design and atmosphere, so do try them all and decide which you like. (Personally, I think that KGS is the friendliest place for English-speaking beginners.)

Kiseido Go Server
IGS The Internet Go Server

Technical note: Both of these servers require you to download a "client" program. KGS and IGS give you the choice of using a Java applet through your web browser, or installing the software on your own computer. The first option is easier, but means that you'll have to wait for the applet to download again each time you use the server. If you're going to be playing online regularly, installing the software is well worth the extra effort, since you only have to do it once.

For a different sort of online go experience, try the Online Go Server. It's a "turn-based" server: instead of playing in real time, you just make a move each time you visit the web site, so it normally takes weeks or months to finish a game. If you think that sounds boring, just try starting 15 simultaneous games: it will keep you just as busy as KGS!

There's also another turn-based server called Dragon Go Server.

Finding a teacher

A number of professional go players offer lessons online, usually through one of the internet go servers. The links below are a random sample of what's available; I haven't tried any of these services myself, and I'm not being paid to advertise them! If you would like your site to be added to this list, please tell me about it.

Kuro Neko Go School (Jonathan Markowitz)
List of teachers on the British Go Association web site
List of teachers on the Sensei's Library web site
KGS teachers listed on Sensei's Library
Guo Juan
Alexander Dinershteyn


Many people have written about their adventures in learning go, from complete beginners through to professionals. Here are some interesting blogs, in no particular order.

Go Game Guru
Alejo's Tenuki
Cho Hye-Yeon
A Go Player
ChiyoDad Learns Go
Terri Schurter
Li Ang
Falling Stones are not Heavy
Studying Weiqi in China
Maths and Weiqi

See also the Go Aggregator, for lots of blogs on one page!

Other resources and miscellaneous links

Harry Fearnley's go page—an enormous collection of links
The Australian Go Association
The British Go Association
The American Go Association
NihonKi-in GoHomePage—the Japanese Go Association
European Go Federation
The European Go Database
Russian Go Portal (mostly in Russian)
International Go Federation
go4go: news, game records and discussion of the current professional go scene
Empty Triangle—another comic strip about go
Cambridge University Go Society
Eric Piotrowski's Art of Go—lots of very nice pictures
Go Game Guru shop—Australian onlin store for go books and equipment
John Hardy—Australian onlin store for go books and equipment
Slate and Shell (publisher of go books)
Yutopian (publisher of go books)
Samarkand—online store for books and equipment
David Carlton's book reviews
Robert Jasiek's book reviews—another collection of links
Unofficial world rankings
American Go Association e-journal

Back to my home page, with all the musical stuff

This page last updated on 30th January, 2016