GoQuest (囲碁クエスト) is an online go server, developed by Yasushi Tanase, where people can play 9x9, 13x13 and 19x19 (only available at "peak times") go against each other and against AI. All games have a komi of 7.
The time limits are:
- 9x9 3min+1s/move
- 13x13 5min+3s/move
- 19x19 5min+3s/move
There were 38,451 registered players on 20 Sep 2016 (now 31,762 in 2019; 30,688 in Jan 2020) including professionals from Japan and Korea. The top players are (19 Feb 2019):
- 9x9 Linbee, 9D (The strongest 9D 9x9 player in 2019. The other 9D is Spaceman who is much weaker than Linbee)
- 13x13 Jinbeshark, 10D
- 19x19 (New feature, insignificant number of games played so far)
When one player gets sufficiently ahead, the game is ended with a TKO ("technical knock-out" from boxing). This is a heuristic that prevents a griefer from wasting the opponent's time.
To find a game, there are only four things you can choose yourself:
- Board size
- Friend game or not (automatch is used unless it's a friend game)
- Allow handicap
- Allow bots
Unless it's a friend game, you will be assigned an opponent by the server. Often the opponent has a rating similar to yours, while sometimes you get opponents who are much stronger or weaker. Some of these games will use handicap if you have allowed it in the settings. Handicap on 9x9 means that Black starts with a stone on 2-2 or 3-3 and gets to play the second stone where he wants.
To play a friend, you will need to make up a code (e.g. abc123) and type it in before the game. After both friends have entered the same code, the game will start.
All other game parameters are fixed. The time settings are listed above.
Typically games on 9x9 and 13x13 can be found quickly at all times of the day.
The rating system on GoQuest is very unique (and really quite funny). Actually there are two rating systems. You have a rating number (3 or 4 digits) and a rank (kyu or dan number). Every account starts at 1000 and 25k and will then slowly adjust to the true strength of the player.
The rating number works similar to Elo numbers. One peculiarity is that for new accounts, the number will usually increase after every game, even if you lose. The creators of the app have stated that this feature intends to keep new players motivated.
The kyu/dan rank starts at 25k and you will reach the next rank when you finish a "Quest". The first quests are quite simple, like "win two games in a row". For the higher ranks, it is a combination of "reach a certain Elo number" and "win x games in a row". For example, the promotion requirement for 4D is "Win 5 in a row and rating ≥ 2000". Because of these requirements, the rating and rank is actually linked to each other. However unlike the rating number, the rank can never go down. The current quest for each account is shown in the profile when you tap on the "next" button.
For players with a long game history and stronger than beginner level, both rating systems are meaningful to judge their strengths. For the other players, the numbers are mostly random.
The twofold rating system allows you to recognize new accounts during a game. When your opponent has an unusual combination, e.g. 1600 and 20k, this is usually a sign that he is still ranking up. So his true strength might actually be 2100. Trying to work these things out is much less boring than on other servers where new accounts simply get a "?" behind their rank. So in a way, GoQuest really is an adventure name, just like the name suggests.
The server has inspired an ebook.
ROOMS FOR IMPROVEMENT
- Allow exporting game records as SGF file, in addition to SGF text.
- Offer a commercial version for no adds.
- Store all game records and make them searchable.
- Add more details in the SGF records including ranks, date of play, and so on.
- Fix bugs for possible export of game records from a disconnection event.
- Edit Help page, giving more details on current ranking system.
- Do not exclude inactive players as well as very strong players.
- Show whole period rating so that we can see who are really the top players.
- Chinese scoring is used. Many players pass prematurely, before the dame are filled and points in seki claimed.
- Scoring is done automatically and is occasionally wrong. If the status of a group is even slightly complicated, play it out. Chinese rules mean it costs you nothing.
- There are many players who refuse to pass if you have less time than them. If you meet them, be prepared to make your groups extra solid and then be ready to hit 'pass' very quickly. This tactic does of course occur in real life blitz games, but seeing your opponent move his hand over the board gives a little warning as to where a move is going to be made.
- Many users have complained that the 9x9 ranking system is out of alignment with real life ranks. My personal view is that tournament 19x19 games and online blitz 9x9 games are very different and so one's rank could also be very different for each. Further, the sheer number of games played on this server mean that it is probably now the authoritative source for World 9x9 rankings.
- At some point in Feb 2017 the rating required to be 1d was changed from 1750 to 1700. I find this disappointing as it devalues the 1d it took me 1000 9x9 games to achieve.