Playing Through and Creating Game Records

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

though older files may look like
Other formats are discussed at the bottom of this page.

In choosing a program, you might also consider:

  • does it display any comments in the record?
  • does it display variations given in the record? I find it very useful when the game record shows what might have happened if another move had been chosen. Others dislike this as they claim it weakens their reading skills.

Programs for Playing through and Creating Game Records

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/GoGoD9532-bit WindowsYesIshi, SGFYes?No?
Go WriteWindowsYesSGFYesYes
SmartGoSeveralYesSGF (also reads Ishi)YesYes

Game Records

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.

The GoGoD (Games of Go on Disc) collection was created by two former members, T Mark Hall and John Fairbairn. It has now changed to Games of Go on Download and continues to provide a collection of many thousand professional games.

If you play go on a Go Server, you may be able to access the games you play there.

Databases for storing game records

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.

Other game formats

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
Last updated Tue Oct 24 2017.
If you have any comments, please email the webmaster on web-master AT britgo DOT org.