Category: Books

Search and URL Scheme

The newest versions of SmartGo Kifu and SmartGo for Macintosh both include the enhanced names dictionary by John Fairbairn (GoGoD), with mini-biographies of over 4,000 players: life, career, status, teacher, Go style, and notes. Just tap on the player name above the board to see the biography.

Blog takemiya bio 

Improved search

The names dictionary includes translations as well as alternate names, and these are now used to significantly improve searching for players. Just type in the search bar, and it will try to match any property containing that text.

You can use ! to negate, e.g. type ‘Kato !Masao’ to look for all the other players named Kato. Anything that looks like a four-digit year will be matched to the date property, and you can search for a range, so e.g. ‘1990-1994 Takemiya’ will search for games Takemiya played during those years.

For more precise searches, you can test for specific properties and conditions, and combine conditions using & (and) and | (or). For example, you can type ‘winner=Lee Sedol & result~~0.5’ to find half-point wins by Lee Sedol (spelled Yi Se-tol in the game collection).

Blog winner lee sedol 

URL scheme

This kind of search is powerful within the app, but you can now access it from other apps too, thanks to the smartgo:// URL scheme. For example, the following link will get you directly to Shusaku’s ear-reddening move:


Or find all the games played between AlphaGo and Ke Jie:

smartgo://games?player==AlphaGo & player==Ke Jie

Or find cool kyu-level problems:

smartgo://problems?coolness=10 & difficulty<=1k

Recent games of Gu Li playing black against Lee Sedol:

black==Gu Li & white==Lee Sedol & date>=2012

Games that Takemiya won by resignation playing black against a 9 dan:

smartgo://games?black=Takemiya Masaki & result=B+R & rankw=9d

Games played in the Kisei or Honinbo tournaments:

smartgo://games?event~~Kisei | event~~Honinbo

Three-stone handicap games played in the ’90s:

smartgo://games?handicap=3 & date>=1990 & date<=1999

Single-digit kyu life and death problems:

smartgo://problems?difficulty<=1k & difficulty>=9k & genre~~life

Please let me know how you use this new feature, and what could make it more useful to you.

Properties and operators

Here’s the complete list of properties currently supported (SGF tag):

  • Player: player (PB/PW), black (PB), white (PW), winner (PB/PW/RE), loser (PB/PW/RE), rankb (BR), rankw (WR).
  • Game info: id (GN), date (DT), event (EV), round (RO), komi (KM), handicap (HA), oldhandicap (OH), result (RE), rules (RU), time (TM), source (SO), analysis (AN), user (US), comment (GC).
  • Problems: difficulty (DI), coolness (CO), genre (GE).
  • Special: favorite (FA), any (any game info property).

The following operators are supported (comparisons are not case sensitive):

  • == or = : Equal
  • != : Not equal
  • ^= : Starts with
  • ~~ : Contains
  • !~ : Does not contain
  • >= : At least
  • <= : At most

Learn Go Now

In March, Google’s AlphaGo is going to play a five-game match against Lee Sedol. For Go, this may become the equivalent of Kasparov’s match against Deep Blue. Tremendously exciting. And if you don’t know the game of Go, you’ll miss out.

So how do you get up to speed so you have a clue what’s going on? Several possibilities:

  • Friend or Go club: If you have a friend who has been trying to tell you about Go for years, now’s the time. Otherwise, check the American Go Association or the European Go Federation for a Go club near you. (In Salt Lake City, we meet every Thursday after 7 pm at the Salt Lake Roasting Co. — everybody is welcome, and we love to teach beginners about the game.)
  • App with tutorial: The SmartGo Player app for iPhone and iPad includes a tutorial that guides you through the (very simple) rules, then provides over 100 interactive problems to apply those rules (much more complex) and practice your tactics. Then as you play against the computer, it automatically adjusts the handicap to keep the game challenging.
  • Books about Go: There are a number of books that will give you a good introduction to the game , e.g. the “Learn to Play Go” series by Janice Kim followed by the “Graded Go Problems for Beginners” series. Here’s a list of beginner books. If you have an iPad or iPhone, use the Go Books app to read and solve problems interactively; if you prefer printed books, click on the Printed Book link in that list.

Enjoy learning about Go — it’s a game worth knowing. There’s a reason it has been played for thousands of years, and it will remain popular even after computers eventually conquer it.

iPad Pro: Not Free

Remember how the savings from buying digital Go books would be enough to buy you an iPad Air? Since then, the Go Books library has grown by 27 books. Do the savings now add up to an iPad Pro, the ultimate tool to study Go? No, sorry, not quite.

You can buy all 27 books for $224 in Go Books. Or you can spend $302 to buy 19 of them on paper — eight are available exclusively in Go Books. You get more books, and the savings are real, but not enough to step up to an iPad Pro.

The books you can’t get anywhere else include “Lee Changho’s Endgame Techniques”, several books by John Fairbairn including “Honinbo Tournament – Early Years”, a new look at Igo Hatsuyōron 120 split into 120 problems, and “Just Enough Japanese” by Richard Hunter to help you understand those printed Japanese Go books sitting unread on your shelf.

You can have books sitting on your shelf gathering dust. Or you can have books in your iPad and iPhone that get better every year: fewer typos, improved layout, and easier to read at night. And I plan to keep adding value to the books you’ve already bought.

So this holiday season, get yourself an iPad for reading and start saving. But maybe not an iPad Pro.

Read at Night

Go Books on iOS now includes dark gray and black backgrounds for better reading at night. That was not a feature I saw a need for myself, but I started getting a number of requests for this, and it’s clearly a significant issue for many. Whenever you want to read Go books, I want to encourage that, whether it’s day or night.

Blog night mode

Please let me know how this new night mode works for you. So far, I have not changed the diagrams — do you also need the board to be darker?

Bonus feature: You can now choose three-column layout on the iPad. Probably not that useful, which is why I had not enabled it before, but I think you’re going to love three or even four columns on the upcoming iPad Pro. (The Mac version of Go Books already supports four-column layout.)

Summer Reading

Go Books has been growing: now at 105 books, every Go player can find the right books to improve. The backend has changed completely to enable the Mac version (and Android in the future), and books updated with fixed typos or new languages are now automatically synced to your devices.

The improved syncing has also led to some bugs with books not showing up or not opening properly. I’m sorry about that; in most cases, choosing “Register Your Purchases” in the iOS app will fix it. Plesase let me know if you still experience issues. Unfortunately, travel plans keep me from releasing a fixed version until late July. (I’ve made that mistake before.)

Whether you’re heading to the Go Congress or the beach, this is a good time to prepare for upcoming battles.

  • Solve problems: Practice solving problems so you’re ready when they appear on the board. Choices range from “Graded Go Problems for Beginners” to “Gateway to All Marvels: The Xuanxuan Qijing of 1347”.
  • Focus on one pro: By playing through many games of a particular pro, you’ll soak in their style. There’s “Invincible: The Games of Shusaku”, “The Games of Fujisawa Shuko”, and “The Life, Games and Commentaries of Honinbo Shuei”. If you don’t think you’re ready for that level of pro game analysis, start with Yuan Zhou’s “Understanding Pro Games” and his “Master Play” series.
  • Study openings: “The Chinese Opening” and “Patterns of the Sanrensei” will prepare you for specific openings, while joseki books (combined with joseki pattern matching in SmartGo Kifu) will arm you with more choices to achieve a good result in the opening.
  • Improve your technique: You know your weak spots. Getting lost in the middle game? Study “Attack and Defense”. Losing points in the endgame? Study “The Endgame” and “Lee Chang-ho’s Endgame Techniques”. Getting killed when you invade? Study “Reductions“ and “Invasions”. It always pays off to study the fundamentals.

Enjoy your summer!

Go Books for Mac and iOS

I’ve released the updated Go Books app for iPad and iPhone. Thus Mac and iOS versions of Go Books now access a common database, making your book purchases portable: use your Mac to enjoy books you’ve bought on your mobile device, and buy books directly at to read on your Mac, iPad, and iPhone, as well as Android devices in the future.

To register the books you’ve bought, choose Register Your Purchases in GoBooks on your iPad or iPhone, confirm your email, and your books should appear in the Mac version of Go Books. Note that your book purchases are linked to your email; there is no need for a password. Check here for more details.

As this drastically changes how Go Books works, there’s a lot of potential for things to go wrong. So please let me know if you run into any issues. If your books don’t show up, try Restore Previous Purchases. And bear with me as everybody hits the server at the same time.

Invincible is a treat on the iPad, but full-screen on your Mac takes it to a new level. Enjoy!

Update (2015-01-05): While it worked fine for most, a number of users have run into a crash on Register Your Purchases. I’ve figured out what’s going wrong; sorry about that. I’ve submitted an updated version to Apple and requested an expedited review.

Update (2015-01-06): That crash has been fixed in version 4.0.1.

Minutes for Go

One of your New Year’s resolutions may be to study more Go. If you can sit down for hours with a board, perfect. More likely, you’ll just have minutes here and there. Take advantage of SmartGo Kifu to use those moments for Go.

Replay pro games

  • Pick a random pro game. (Tap the Go to Game icon at the top left of the game list, choose Random Game.)
  • Turn on automatic replay, maybe 3 seconds per move.
  • Pause replay as necessary to think about what’s going on.

Guess next move

  • Pick a random pro game (see above). Maybe filter games by your favorite pro first.
  • Turn on Guess Next Move. (Tap the Tools button in the lower left of the board, choose Guess.)
  • Try to figure out where you would play. SmartGo Kifu will give you feedback: right move, right move but wrong timing, right area, or not even close.

Study problems

  • Pick a set of Go problems at your level.
  • Start working through them.

Study joseki

  • Pick one of your recent games in My Games. Replay to a corner position you’re wondering about.
  • Turn on joseki analysis for that corner. (Tap the Tools button in the lower left of the board, choose Joseki.)
  • Check out what moves professionals have played in that position.
  • Explore how games with that joseki typically develop from there. (Tap on the joseki stats at the bottom to see the list of games matching that joseki.)

Study fuseki

  • Tap on the New Game button above the My Games list, choose New Empty Board.
  • Turn on fuseki analysis. (Tap the Tools button in the lower left of the board, choose Fuseki.)
  • Explore your favorite opening.

Read biographies of pro players

  • Tap on the Players icon above the list of pro games.
  • Tap on a player name.
  • Read John Fairbairn’s mini-biography for that player. (You can also see these biographies by clicking on a player name above the board.)

And Go Books adds many more opportunities to study on the go, both problems and games.

Happy New Year!