by William Connolley In my last game at the last London Open, both my opponent and I recorded our games on a Palm using PilotGOne. Now Smart Games has produced the Many Faces of Go Joseki Dictionary for the palmpilot, so I can see just where I went wrong in my first corner against Jim Clare.
For those unfamiliar with Palms, they are small personal data assistant (PDA) devices with limited computing and storage abilities, but very portable. I find mine invaluable and it will be even more useful now I have MFoG. Space is limited but the program plus a dictionary of a claimed 50,000 moves takes up only 79KB, which is tolerable. If you haven't got one, this article will be of little interest (I wouldn't buy one just to run MFoG) but if you have, then read on...
To get the trial version, go to: www.smart-games.com  and download the zip file in the normal way. Also as per normal, the free version is disabled and needs a key (which will cost you $20 from your credit card) to restore it to its full splendour. The disabling is rather severe: only 5-5 point joseki are usable. I think that's unwise of them: it would be better to allow a few more, so that folks can see how useful it is in looking over their own games, and get hooked.
What you get shown is a full board with available moves marked, including all the symmetric ones in all corners, for those who find it hard to turn diagrams round in their heads. Touch a move and you begin: just that corner is then displayed, with the known continuations from that move, and so on.
Joseki moves are displayed with a J; bad moves with an X (discouragingly, the 55 point is so marked), trick with a T and follow-up with an F. What you don't get, due to lack of space, is any other comment about the moves. One could argue that this is good, because you are forced to think for yourself, but it would make it a dangerous way to learn joseki: J/X/T/F simply doesn't capture the subtlety needed. Moves that are joseki in one whole-board position would be quite wrong in another.
It is useful, though, for analysing your games. When it's clear that you got a poor position out of a corner, you may now get to see where you went wrong.
How complete is the dictionary? I poked around a bit, played around with taisha variants, and found it good. But some variants in Ishida are absent. Just for example, from vol 3, the small knight response to the capping move answer to the small-knight approach to the star-point, (p199, Diagram 1, response 'b') is not there.
More interestingly, several variants that I 'knew' should be in were absent, but on careful study of Ishida these turned out to be rather poor moves that I should not have had in my mental dictionary at all.
There are some oddities: for example, in one of the taisha variants (Ishida vol 1, p74, Diagram 47) move 4 is shown as joseki, J, by MFoG. The book has: may look possible but this is a trap prepared by White.
Some joseki depend on the state of ladders (dia. 46 from the same page is an example) but the program has no way to show a symbol for 'J-but-only-if-ladder-works'!
In conclusion: a nice piece of software, and worth the money (and more importantly, the Palm space) to any moderately keen player. Its limitation, the lack of a commentary, is inevitable from the space it has to be compressed into.
review by William Connolley, March 2001
Many Faces of Go Joseki library for the Palm is available from http://www.smart-games.com/PalmOS.html