A recommended method of learning about Go is to play through games by professional players; or some prefer to play through games by players slightly stronger than themselves. You can do this with a printed record and a physical Go board. But unless you are very competent, you may find that most of your concentration is spent on following the record accurately and correcting the inevitable mistakes, leaving little for studying the actual moves. It is much easier to play through game records with a computer program that puts the stones in the right positions automatically, allowing you to concentrate on the ideas behind the moves. To do this, you need two things: a program, and some computer game records.
You may also want to record your own games, so that you can play over them yourself later, or so that you can send them to a stronger player who will analyse them for you. In the latter case, you will want to know what record formats she can use. You will need a program that can create game records as well as reading them. Choose one from the list below with Yes in the Allows recording? column.
The main format used for recording games now is SGF (Smart Game Format) which may look like
;W[ns];B[ss];W[nr] ;B[rr];W[sp];B[qs]though older files may look like
White[qf] ; Black[qk] ;Other formats are discussed at the bottom of this page.
In choosing a program, you might also consider:
This is a selection of some programs (ones not specifically supporting SGF or running on DOS only or Palm devices have been excluded):
|Name of program||O.S.||Allows Recording?||Format used|| Handles|
|GoGoD/GoGoD95||32-bit Windows||Yes||Ishi, SGF||Yes?||No?|
|Go Write ||Windows||Yes||SGF||Yes||Yes|
|SmartGo ||Several||Yes||SGF (also reads Ishi)||Yes||Yes|
|Yago ||Windows||Yes||Ishi, SGF||Yes||Yes|
Many game records are available on the web. Some available on our site are (ZIP file format and SGF game format):
|djgames ||883 uncommented professional games, provided by Dave Jarvis|
|japt-i ||About 100 uncommented Japanese title games (same games as japt-m)|
|Ishi ||Games etc. Described in BGJ92|
|Kyu-level games ||Commented games involving kyu players.|
|1739ch-m ||Ten commented professional chinese games from 1739. Posted to usenet by jzy. (same games as 1739ch-i)|
|japt-m ||About 100 uncommented Japanese title games (same games as japt-i)|
|various ||Games etc. normally distributed with "My Go Tutor". Described in BGJ 92|
|reviews ||More game records|
One particularly complete online collection is available at GoBase .
If you play go on a Go Server , you may be able to arrange for it to send you records of the games you play there.
|Arnoud's joseki tutor ||Windows 95/98/NT + shockwave||?||by Arnoud van der Loeff, the author of TurboGo above.
A joseki database and tutor.
|Jacoto ||any Java Virtual Machine||53Kb||"Java Collection Tool"
Helps managing SGF-files. It displays their properties in a table and allows manipulating it in several ways.
By Steffen Glückselig
|Kogo's Joseki Dictionary ||Any system with an SGF browser||186Kb||An SGF file containing a large variety of joseki.
|kombilo ||Any system with Python support.||A Go database program.
As supplied it is unpopulated (i.e. there are no game records in it), you populate it yourself with game records in SGF format.
By Ulrich Goertz.
Apart from SGF the main other format is Ishi, which looks like
W 1 r14 B 2 r9 W 3 r7
Recently XML has also been used. There are many other formats, and most programs use only one. Jan van der Steen has a program, sgf2misc, which converts between Ishi, SGF and other formats, and can be obtained from his site . Dieter Garling's GoBase utilities also make some of the many possible format-conversions. There are official definitions of the SGF , Ishi  and XML formats.
|text ||any||Various text files from internet sources on Go, etc.
Described in BGJ 92