Acornsoft Go is an early go playing program for the BBC computer, and is one of the earliest commercial go playing programs. It was released in 1984 and plays on a 13x13 board, using Chinese counting. It is rather weak; I estimate its strength to be about 25kyu. That said, I was actually surprised at how strong it was. It plays a fairly respectable opening, understanding pretty well what shimaris and extensions are. Acornsoft Go can read correctly perhaps two moves ahead, which is not bad considering the time it was written. The wheels don't really start to fall off until the middle game, when it creates a bunch of weak groups for itself.
This old program is interesting from a historical point of view, and may still be a suitable opponent for beginners who have learned the rules but nothing much else.
Getting Acornsoft Go to run on a modern computer is a bit of a fiddle.
- First download and install an emulator for the old BBC. Pick one suited for your operating system. I, a Linux user, have been using this one: http://b-em.bbcmicro.com/
- Download the game itself, and unzip into into the same directory as the emulator. http://www.stairwaytohell.com/bbc/archive/tapeimages/Acornsoft/Go-v1_B.zip
- Run the emulator and hit F11
- Select Tape->load tape -> Go-v1_B.uef, and hit F11 again
- Now type these commands into the emulator:
*TAPE PAGE=&E00 (those last two are zeroes, not the letter O) CHAIN ""
To make things even more annoying, the BBC keys do not all match the ones on a modern day keyboard. Letters and arrow keys are fine, but things like the asterisk and quotes are jumbled. On my machine, these work:
To get the *, type " To get the =, type _ To get the &, type ^ To get the ", type @
All going well, the game will now load, taking an ungodly amount of time about it (you can speed it up by holding down PgUp). Playing the game is easy. The cursor is indicated by a flashing intersection, and you can move it with the arrow keys. ENTER plays a stone, and P passes. There are some other commands, but I haven't figured out what they do yet.