GoGoD: Re-Reviewed by Francis Roads

GoGoD was previously reviewed in BGJ 135, Autumn 2004

Regular tournament attendees will be familiar with the sight of T Mark Hall sitting in a corner with his laptop, demonstrating and hoping to sell GoGoD (Games of Go on Disc). Many's the time I've walked past. "I've got a couple of shelves of Go books, half of them unread", I would think, "I've no need of that stuff." I was wrong.

If you regularly play through professional games in books (as we are bidden to do by visiting pros as means of improving), how often have you struggled to find the next move? A subtle kikashi on the other side of the board, maybe? It's tempting to give up altogether in the endgame. Maybe that's one reason why we amateurs are such rubbish at yose?

But if you can click forward and backwards through a game, you're much more inclined to see it through, and the whole process is easier and quicker. Yes, I know there is comparable material available online. But I don't think you'll find any resource which gives easy access to over 65,000 (yes, sixty-five thousand) professional games, played between 196 AD and last year. And of course there are a few fields and mountains in the UK which still lack wi-fi.

GoGoD is a suite of Go programs, together with a vast store of data. The core of this is the pro-game scores, but there is much more: a substantial number of games with commentary; articles about Go history, professional players, and much other Go lore; joseki; problems in tsume-go, tesuji and yose; a complete index to Go World; and over 100 pro 9x9 games. This is effectively a Go encyclopaedia on disc.

The main program is GoGoD95 . This gives access to the pro-games, which can be searched by names, dates, and in various other ways. There is even a facility for recognising names written in kanji or Korean hangul. Built into this is GoScorer, whereby you can test yourself on your ability to guess the next move. I found this facility most instructive and depressing.

Kombilo and Drago are programs that enable you to feed in a position; then they will search the database for games in which that position occurred, and you can find out what happened next. For example, I am a sanrensei enthusiast, so I can set up sanrensei fuseki positions and see how the professionals developed it. The fashions changed noticeably over time.

Have I any criticisms? Such as they are, they are relevant only to the presentation. To find the various programs (and I haven't described them all here) you have to root around for .exe files inside various folders, and know what you are looking for. It doesn't work like a website where you can always click your way from one area to another. Easy enough for the computer-savvy, maybe, but I think that the internal structure of this collection could be improved quite a bit for the benefit of computer-strugglers.

More serious is the effect of loading the data (the 65,000+ games) into Kombilo, which crashed my computer twice. There is a workaround, if you can find the necessary instruction file, and in any case Drago does more or less the same thing as Kombilo, which worked on my computer at any rate. (Though even working out how to load the data into Drago took some patience and several goes.) I think there must be ways of making all this a bit more user friendly.

And if you are a Mac user, you may regard the following from the instructions as a drawback: "It has been reported to us that some elements work well on Mac systems - notably the sgf games and TBase html pages - but you need to provide your own viewer and/or database program (or use a PC emulator)."

But these are all niggles. My overwhelming impression of this disc is that it is far too cheap. The sheer quantity and quality of effort that has gone into its production makes it worth ten times the price of £20. You can pay that much for a single Go book, and this disc is the equivalent of scores of them. And it can be cheaper still if you are an under-18 player, or are involved in leading under-18 Go activity. But whatever your age, get one of these discs.

Further details were at www.gogod.co.uk.

Postscript Added 13th June

I have been informed that the creators of GoGoD, ever sensitive to constructive comment, have already added a text file explaining to the user in detail what .exe files are available, where to find them, and what each one does. This meets one of my above-mentioned niggles, though people used to websites will still have to get used to a different style of navigation. This file would have saved me some time when first getting to know GoGoD.

January 2014 update

This game collection is now only available only in download form from http://gogodonline.co.uk.

Last updated Tue Jan 21 2014. If you have any comments, please email the webmaster on web-master AT britgo DOT org.