Go Go iGo! I want an app that teaches Go.
December 11, 2016 11:01 PM   Subscribe

My child wants to play Go, the game with black and white tokens, on my iPad. I want an app that will allow them to play games and also teach the game. I am willing to pay for a good app. Does this exist?
posted by bq to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (5 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Here's what I found to be the state of the art for iOS Go apps, as of about 18 months ago... I haven't checked out any newer apps, so maybe someone else can tell us the good new ones.

SmartGo Kifu ($20): Good library of Go problems, decent AI for playing against the computer. Annoying because it makes you win games at 9x9 or 13x13 before it unlocks bigger boards. Good ability to record games and save them in SGF format (the standard format for Go game records.) Has a library of Pro games you can view, though that's an intermediate/advanced activity.

SmartGo Books (pay per book): Learning from Go books is not as easy as learning from a teacher, but when you have some experience, there are some pretty helpful Go books. Using them in this format, I have found, is way better than the physical paper books. The interactive charts are super valuable. I'd start with Graded Go Problems For Beginners Volume 1, and pair it with some in-person teaching.

Tsumego Master: An app with a bad interface, but good Go problems. It's organized by workbooks, with the first few being free. My young niece did very well on the 'Before Start Tsumego' workbook, and it seemed like a good way to introduce a young person to Go.... if the interface didn't get in the way. This app can supplement other learning methods.

Light Go 13x: A pretty decent app for straight-up 'play Go against a computer'. Though it makes you be white, a disadvantage for the human. Might take a while to beat it. I think it's free; can't tell whether I paid for it.

I'll be interested to see if anyone has fresher app recommendations.

For a real beginner, some web resources will be more helpful than the iOS apps I know of:

The Interactive Way to Go: Best way to start, really. Brings you from 50 kyu to 30 kyu. (In many circles, 30 kyu is the lowest rank. This web site tells you some good things to understand before sitting down at a Go board as a 30 kyu player.)

GoChild: Interface is not obvious. Choose 'Life and Death Basic', then either Attack or Defense. You get a random birdcall if you get the problem right. Very good for grasping life and death, once you get how the interface works.
posted by isthmus at 11:29 PM on December 11, 2016 [3 favorites]

I learned go decades ago, and have been brushing up with SmartGo Kifu. It may be a little frustrating that you can't get to the bigger boards immediately, but I actually found that good for me, since it kept me from jumping ahead too far too fast.
posted by DaveP at 3:21 AM on December 12, 2016

Almost everyone I met at Go clubs in London and Oxford had started with igowin 9x9 (http://www.smart-games.com/igowin.html) - when you're starting out, a bigger board is just confusing, the AI is fast so you can play a lot (a Go proverb runs: "lose your first fifty games as quickly as possible"), and the handicaps it gives you at the start are so huge that even a complete beginner can find their level.

It's also free!
posted by piato at 11:47 AM on December 12, 2016

Super helpful, thank you everyone!
posted by bq at 1:01 PM on December 12, 2016

EasyGo Lite
posted by dhruva at 11:32 PM on December 12, 2016

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