Go-playing Programs

One way to improve your Go may be to play against a computer program. If you are a beginner, almost any program will do for this. However, as you improve, you will find that playing a program of around your own strength does not necessarily improve your Go - it may make it worse: instead of learning good style, you just learn to play the particular moves which that program is unable to handle.

The best programs are commercial, although many offer a free version or a free trial period. If you can afford it, buy Many Faces of Go with its considerable tutorial material.

Since 2007 programs using the Monte Carlo method are becoming available and these are certainly at dan level on small boards at least. Leela and the latest version of Many Faces of Go feature this method.

Some freeware and shareware Go-playing programs are available from our Software Catalogue. The best of them are Igowin which is a free version of Many Faces of Go, and EZ-Go which is a free version of EGO. A recent strong program is Leela with its free version LeelaLite. Peter's Go is a good one for improvers as it has different board sizes. Also worth a mention are GnuGo, Minimago and TurboGo.

Here are some commercial programs (check current prices before ordering, postage normally extra):

Program Author Description Requires Price Suggested Source (UK if possible)
Ego Bruce Wilcox Has a range of nine "personalities" with distinct playing styles. Free cut-down version EZ-Go Dos £15 or $25 Bruce and Sue Wilcox
FunGo 2000 Yong-Goo Park English version developed from Korean version. Many features. Free cut-down version. Windows $36 Yutopian
Goemate Chinese Program from China. 32-bit Windows and a CD drive $55 Yutopian
Go++ Michael Reiss Renamed version of Go4++.

One of the strongest programs available.

32-bit Windows and a CD drive $39.95 goplusplus.com
GOddess Ken Chen One of the strongest CD Go program in the World. This program shares the same algorithm as Go Intellect, which consistently earned the top three standings in every world championship competition for the past 8 years. Goddess is implemented with artificial intelligence techniques. 32-bit Windows and a CD drive $62.10 Yutopian
HandTalk Chen Zhixing The world computer Go champion from 1995 to 1997. User interface much improved. Windows $49.00 Yutopian
Many Faces of Go David Fotland Possibly the best program for playing Go on a PC. Close behind the leaders in playing strength, and well ahead of all rivals, except perhaps SmartGo, in tutorial value. Free cut-down version Igowin. Version 12 includes Monte Carlo method. Windows £69.95 Smart Games
SmartGo for Windows Anders Kierulf Complete tool for Go players, with a database of more than 82,000 professional games. Compared to other Go programs, SmartGo is more powerful and easier to use. It's a tool to play, record, replay, analyze, annotate, and print Go games (uses SGF format). Windows/Vista $39, 15 days free trial Smart Go, Inc.
SmartGo Mac Anders Kierulf Same as SmartGo for Windows, but beta version only as of May 2015 Mac OS $39, with 15 day free trial Smart Go, Inc.
SmartGo Player Anders Kierulf Really good value. Includes an interactive tutorial about Go and more than 100 problems. It automatically adjusts the handicap to keep the game interesting – start with 9x9 then unlock 11x11 and 13x13 as you get stronger. iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad £2.29 Smart Go, Inc.
Wulu A team led by Miss Lei Xiuyu Wulu finished 2nd place in the 1998 Ing Cup. Windows $59.00 Yutopian

This site has reviews of many of the above programs.

Last updated Tue May 26 2015. If you have any comments, please email the webmaster on web-master AT britgo DOT org.