Go server reviews and reports

    Keywords: Online Go

Table of contents

Please use this page to mention which server you like or not, and not the informative pages KGS, IGS and the like.

Reviews: Real-time playing

These servers are mostly used to wait for the opponent to move in front of your computer. RealTimeGoServers


GoPanda is a nice standard client (August 2013) and it does work without any problems on linux. (Debian Wheezy, just download and click.) IGS provides best linux experience of the servers in my opinion now.

I rather like the double click for a move feature in IGS, but I feel that the default client is pretty horrible. IGS does seem to have the bulk of the strongest Internet Go players though. -- exswoo

The new glGo 1.2 client is very good and offers the option of a 3D goban. For look and sound, this is my preferred client.-- ChiyoDad (July 2005)

No problem to find nice opponents within a few minutes (after checking their "stats" for equal strength, prefered time limits, and IGS experience.) My convenience with IGS resulted in a "short help FAQ" for IGS beginners. -- Frs (Jan 2003)

It's easy to find an opponent your own strength that's willing to play right away, but it's not nearly as user-friendly as DGS or KGS. Still, it's good enough for me. - Quicksilvre


KGS sadly seems to be in a downward spiral. It has been sold [ext] https://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/25523313#25523313 Admins there seem to be becoming more nervous and overbearing and any discussion of the new ownership is brutally stomped out by banning. I hope KGS can stage some kind of revival, but things are looking bleak.

I don't think that Admins on KGS are any more or less nervous than they have been before. That said, it will be interesting to eventually learn about the new ownership deal and what changes, if indeed any changes, will be made.

This is where I play the most often. The interface is really clean and there are actually some conversations going on in KGS, which is a lot more than I can say for the other two servers. I think this is the ideal server for teaching or experimental games. -- exswoo

Plus: KGS deserves enormous credit for breaking the mold of the older servers (IGS and the NNGS-sourced family). By changing the basic operation of looking for a game, from challenging one person, to offering a game to anyone, it made a large improvement in the community feeling. -- JohnAspinall

Minus: A closed-source client means you can't get rid of annoying features. My pet peeve: the constant stream of adolescent drivel in the "chat" pane, and I can't get rid of that pane. -- JohnAspinall

holosys: If you're using Windows then grab a copy of ChatHider from [ext] http://holosys.co.uk/chathider (link updated 23/05/16). Note that this little utility is not supported by anyone, least of all wms or KGS. Please read the full details on the page. If you're using a Linux system, chances are your window manager will allow you to position a featureless window over the chat area and toggle it to be 'always on top'. I've used KNotes in KDE to do this, for example.

The chat pane can be closed down by grabbing the bar between it and the games listing and pulling it down all the way to the bottom.
Um, no. It can't. At least not with the UI components used by Java 1.3.1 on Unix. The scrollbar refuses to go below a certain fixed height.
The height it goes to on my client is about one line high, meaning that the game list completely dominates the view. The reason that the client is closed-source for now is because the client protocol is still under very active development (for features like tournaments, persistent messages, buddy lists, and different room structures). By keeping the protocol spec closed for now, wms doesn't have to worry about breaking popular clients over which he has no control when he introduces new features. -- PatrickB
I think that having a single client is a virtue rather than a vice, for it allows the server to be modified at will, so that only a single client needs to be modified. Thus, KGS is becoming better and better all the time. -- Dansc

I like how the server and the client are continually tweaked by wms. Just recently (March 2003), some new functionality was added to KGS, including some mentioned by PatrickB: buddy lists, messages to those not online, different room structures, etc. -- Fhayashi

Zook deleted anonymous and disrespectful comments and the answers to those. Poster not banned yet.

Tamsin: About the above mentioned and meanwhile deleted comments but still relevant as such --Zook: I agree too. It's all about respecting the rules: if Bill wants people playing on the server he created to use only his client, then that is his prerogative. Trying to get around this is just not on. Making your own client for KGS when you have been told not to is just like going into a person's house and repainting the walls because you don't like that person's choice of colours.

Hu: The KGS server is highly reliable. As I write this, it has been up 15 days. At one point it had been up for about 60 days without interruption. Long runs of uptime are most often interrupted only to update the software with new features.

Tapir: Great place, though sometimes difficult to get a game (the more so with the ? ~ marks) because quite a number of inhabitants use it for chatting and as a community thing instead of playing. I guess, it is the only place where you can find this amount of teaching, game discussion etc. in several languages (most of the time english of course).

Max: minus: KGS client doesn't handle well disconnection, you'll have to discover it each time by yourself and restart all the process on your own. This is a big issue when you have a bad quality connection.

Anonymous: KGS is better for stronger players from the upper kyu rank on up. For the lower kyu players it is not as much fun as other servers. It would be nice to see hourly stats on how many players are playing by rank. I think we would see the graph skewed toward higher ranked players.

Anonymous: Minus: KGS needs anchors dispersed throughout the ranking system to prevent ranking drift. This is a serious problem among certain players that are not well established. There have been several proposals that robots be placed in strategic locations to act as anchors for these players.

Anonymous: Starting to play on KGS in the 15-20k range was a horrible experience. The interface did not work well on my Apple computer (and was ugly), it is almost impossible to get someone to play a ranked game with an unranked person, there are few people with a rank below 10k, so the automatch matches you with other unranked players who time out or are 10k higher or lower than the rank that they estimated and the bots belong to programmers who are also proud that their bots do not play in this shameful low double-digit kyu range. 9x9 games are not ranked to preserve the purity of the ranking system, so you cannot play quick games to get an estimate on your rank, you have to wait 30 minutes for a game, then play an equal game against someone 10k stronger, then wait 30 minutes for the next game, then wait for someone to time-out and repeat this 5 to 10 times with your rank changing randomly without settling down. In the chatroom of the English playing room, people (unsolicitedly, of course) informed me that the wage gap between men and women exists, but is unimportant, so feminists should direct their energies to more important things than equal wage for women. There is no way to easily access a tutorial. The people in the teaching ladder room were nice, but that did not make up for the hugely unwelcoming technical setup, missing ddk range players and openly sexist chat community.


Horrible. Many players are rude and will either:
A) Cheat so that the game won't end no matter what you do.
B) Boot you if you're winning a game (unless you own the board). AVOID AT ALL COSTS! -- exswoo
C) Constantly escape from the server...I had a game (my last) where I won vs. what appeared to be 6 different players on time.--TimBrent
D) Dispute dead stones. It happens on other servers but users on Yahoo games are less likely to know the rules. --ChiyoDad

E)Time cheaters :(

Well I had the same (years2006-2008) so 'nothing more nothing less' Very BAD Go server. -- Marek

Dashn (aka DashBaduk)

Dashn ([ext] http://www.dashn.com/) is a Korean go server. Don't expect people understanding much english, bugfree software, mathematically sound rating system or good manuals. It is a great server to practice as there are many strong players wanting to play against lower rated players. Moreover, the style adopted by koreans is quite different from what most people are used to in my country. I think one can learn more by playing in different places where different knowledge is present. -- JanRamon

Tamsin: I agree with Jan's comments about the style of play on dashn. Please see dashnstyle for more discussion of that.

ilan: After having played 1000 games on Dashn then 1000 games on the Cyberoro Korean server, my conclusion is that Dashn represents Dashn style, not Korean style. In other words, Cyberoro Korean style is much more reasonable.

Dieter: Just to mention that I signed up with dashn as knotwilg.

JohnAspinall: I'm disappointed that their client is Windows-only. Guess I won't be playing there.

Ectospheno: Since I don't have Windows I can't check this server out. Why do people blast KGS for only having one client but don't mind all of the other servers (like this one) that not only have one client but one not everyone can use?


Cyberoro is a Korean service, which also has servers in China, Japan, Thailand, and Taiwan. On the Korea 1 server, there are usually 4000 players logged on, and a comparable number on the China 1 server. It has had a good English interface for the last year, but is Windows only.

ilan For me, Cyberoro is by far the best server. It has most of the advantages of KGS and Dashn without (what I consider) the disadvantages. It even has features from IGS, in particular, you can follow the Honinbo match live on the Japan 1 server.

Ectospheno: Since I don't have Windows I can't check this server out. Why do people blast KGS for only having one client but don't mind all of the other servers (like this one) that not only have one client but one not everyone can use?

tapir: Easy to get a game, massive amount of players from the 3 major go playing countries, the broadcasts are another plus. But there is one big caveat: They don't care about you, i.e. account creation doesn't work for several month.

Thiago?: I think they solved that problem. I created my account in minutes. I haven't played any games yet but their home page has tsumego, video lessons, text lessons, and a testing area. It is one of the best online go learning sites I know and is worth visiting even if you are satisfied with your server.


TimBrent: I myself prefer the slower pace of Turn Based Go Servers in that I like taking my time and not being on one game for a long period.

JG: Terri Schurter wrote some excellent articles about Go servers in 2000. You can find them on the BGA web-site at [ext] http://www.britgo.org/gopcres/agaart/index.html. The articles begin in 2000, but the most recent articles there are from 2002. Two years is a long time in the evolution of servers, especially KGS.

Reviews: Long-term playing

These servers are designed to do something else while you wait for your opponent to move. You can receive an e-mail when it is your turn. Turn-Based Go Servers


Frs: I prefer playing on turn-based Go Servers like Dragon. It prevents me from making too silly moves due to time limits that rule real-time Go Servers. -- That simultaneous games teach me to review whole board situations over and over again. Which is a skill I use at IGS and my local club afterwards. -- About 8 turn-based games on DGS enable similar sessions as on real-time servers because some of my opponents are online, too.

DaveSigaty: I have also started playing on DGS recently (Feb. 2003). It has almost replaced regular on-line servers for me. There are two main reasons:

  • The practical day-to-day reason is that I do not have to worry about whether I have enough time to play. There is always time to click over to the status page and see what some or all of my opponents have come up with next. (The other practical reason that some people might find of interest is that DGS, being completely browser based, works through the firewall at work :-)
  • The more fundamental reason is the ability to spend as much time as you want to study a situation. So far I find that a game typically takes about a month to play. Since the usual time limits are about 90 days each, there is no time pressure to speak of. Since I play at one or another Go club on weekends, playing on DGS provides a forum for more intense study than is possible over the board. I highly recommend it if you enjoy trying to read more deeply into positions.

TimBrent: I also prefer DGS,and basically split between there and LittleGolem now. I prefer the pace to try to read out the positions a litle more.

BenAxelrod: One of things I like about DGS is that it is very open. (Much like this site). Their site is easy to navigate and improvements are constantly being made to it. The site creators are easy to contact in the forums and they are always happy to receive suggestions for the FAQ and other site improvements.


xela: OGS is similar in spirit to DGS, but I personally find the interface easier to use. My favourite feature on OGS is the "conditional moves" option: you can input your opponent's expected response to your move, and your planned reply (this information is hidden from the opponent until after they make their move)--this greatly speeds up joseki sequences, ko fights, endgames and so on.

Phelan: I also like the in-site tournaments and ladders, they are great motivators for competition.

tapir: The only turn-based server I know. Easy handling, nice design, friendly players, well-suited for all kyu-ranges, but lacking strong players. (Shodan players will be in the top 20 - as of September 2009)

Anonymous: I started to play on this server with zero prior knowledge about go, and it was easy to use, easy to find a tutorial, nice design, the rank worked well and gave me good balanced matches from the beginning and people are friendly and answer questions, including stupid ones. I have never had a rude opponent there in hundreds of games. I like the combination of live games and correspondence games. Many nice functions and ideas, from move analysis and conditional moves to the ladder tournaments.

Anonymous: moderators and scripters are very unfriendly and arrogant.

Little Golem

TimBrent: I also play here as there is a wide selection of players, plus I like playing the occasional non-Go game. I find the time limit to be about right for me and have some fairly good encounters there.

Frs: For playing turn-based Go, Little Golem is worth to look at. But DGS supports more Go features (e.g. proper handicap, nigiri, byo-yomi); and DGS's SGF have less bugs than LG's. On Little Golem one can play the game of Amazons, too, which is an interessting variant of Go, including many concepts and strategy found in Go. But Little Golem is not open source

Fhayashi: What I like about Little Golem is the tournament setting. Though you can play non-tournament games, most games are part of an unhandicapped ranking tournament, a handicapped monthly tournament, or the long-term championship tournament.

Related topics

Where can beginners find other beginners?

  • Above it says there are a lot of beginners on MSN.
  • There are beginners on Yahoo Go, but otherwise it is like hell there.

Discussion: Which Go server is suitable for whom?

Frs: What is the focus or concept of the Go servers? What culture (e.g. of communication) "rules" that Go server? Are most of the other players interested to increase their rank? Or do they communicate hints to weaker opponents? Or do Go servers support features for special-interest groups? Thus my proposal is: Separating Go servers into "recommended and acknowledged" and "other".

SAS: I don't follow this argument at all. By all means add some information to answer questions such as those you mention - but what has that got to do with separating into "recommended and acknowledged" and "other"?

Dieter: I think it is OK for deshi to give their opinion as below but SL as such should remain unbiased. List alphabetically or according to average number of users.

... and, simultaneously ...

Andrew Walkingshaw: I couldn't agree more. It's not SL's place, I feel, to have some kind of "official opinion" on what Go servers people should play on. I like KGS, I'm sure many other people like IGS, and I'd be surprised if NNGS and dashn didn't have advocates here, too. This isn't to say people shouldn't express their opinion - but I believe it should be clearly expressed as a personal opinion. I've hence returned GoServers to something nearer its former form, with a note to state the popularity of IGS, NNGS and KGS. (Dec 2002)

amc: I have a question to put here. How many of you, and for what reasons, have an account in more than one server? (of the same style, one real-time and one turn-based does not count) I've seen people with accounts both in IGS and KGS, why?

Stefan: Some days I like hanging out at the "Crazy Horse", other days I feel more like joining my friends in the "Blue Oyster Bar". Just mingling with a different crowd every now and then.

Dieter: Yesss ! The Blue Oyster Bar, where White begins ! Kinky ...

Andrew Walkingshaw, inspired by rec.games.go, 8th May 2003: I note that in UK primetime, the number of games going on at any given time on KGS and IGS is usually within 25 or so (125 to 150), and number of users somewhere around 500 vs 600; KGS seems to be mounting a serious challenge to IGS as far as largest "Western" server goes

(No endorsement or criticism, express or implied, is intended by this comment - but it's an interesting statistic.)

Blake: I would guess that KGS has more 'legitimacy' in the West. It is, after all, run by a Westerner, and IGS is a thoroughly Japanese company. On the same note, IGS has the status that being a 'pay' service earns it, at least in Japan, so I'm guessing that this makes it seem still more attractive to that audience. (This seems illogical, but there is a perception in many peoples' minds that something which is paid for is inherently better than something which is free. See open source arguments.)

TimBrent- It also depends on your level. A weaker player like I still am has little chance of success at IGS or KGS. The extremely casual have Yahoo! or MSN Gaming Zone,and those of us who want to play have DGS,IYT,and Little Golem. So your strength should determine your server..i.e. a better player should play at IGS or KGS,a mid-to -low level player at one of the turn based servers,and a casual/hobbyist (i.e. someone who wants to play maybe once or twice a month) Yahoo! or MSN.

Anonymous: In response to TimBrent, it is easy for a weak player to find a game with a robot. It may not be as easy to find a game with a weak human player. If they changed the rules on both servers, perhaps they would attract more weak players, and we could all have fun, no matter what our rank.

Blake: I disagree. I had a 'false start' at go (I found cgoban on a linux install and tried IGS, but was too bad to get anywhere), but began playing at KGS when I was still ~28k. I'm 17k now, and play mainly at KGS (though I do visit IGS sometimes). Yahoo and the Zone are largely futile.

BobMcGuigan: IGS has more really strong players than KGS, including a lot of pros. I'm not familiar with dashn but I imagine there are a lot of strong players there, too. Also, IGS broadcasts live many of the pro title matches.

Tamsin: I've really rather gone off KGS of late and have started playing on dashn and IGS more frequently. KGS has the best editing features and pleasantest-looking client, but the rating system is far too hard to fathom. I like to use ratings as a gauge for my progress, and yet I have never been able to understand the graph on KGS. It seems to go up and down with little concrete relation to one's results. I spent ages trying to get from 3k to 2k, then finally I got there (with a little help from one of KGS's all too frequent readjustments), and have lost all motivation to play there, since I know that even if I were to win a lot of games, that would not necessarily make much difference. In some ways, KGS ranks seem particularly severe in comparison with those on other servers, but this is not altogether true: it is still a relatively small server, and there are definitely pools of players of a particular rank or rank range who play more or less exclusively with each other and thereby keep each other at that level, regardless of that level's real strength. The ranks still lack the validity that would come from hundreds or thousands of people playing over many levels. In this sense they resemble club ranks more than genuine ranks.

Dashn's rating system is very easy to understand, in contrast, but is less far sophisticated mathematically and conceptually. The best one, IMHO, is probably still IGS's, which can be apprehended with reference to the probability command ("pr").

Hu: "all too frequent readjustments"? KGS in June 2003 adjusted ranks about 0.6 upward. This was the first adjustment in a year, not what I'd call "frequent". One may contrast this with the adjustment IGS made a year ago of three (3) whole ranks. KGS ranks are quite responsive to fast-rising players. Kageyama identifies barriers, one at 1-2 kyu Jpn corresponding to 2-3 kyu KGS / AGA. Do we have here a case of severe rank-centric behavior blinding a player to features they admit are superior? I wish you much progress on your servers of choice and will always welcome you back to KGS.

Regarding size, KGS usually has about 350 to 450 people on at a time (441 as I write, record is 591 as of 2003-06-18) and over 23000 registered accounts (many are duplicates). This is "small" compared to other servers, yes, but not "small" in absolute terms. IGS may at times have triple the number of users. KGS is doubling in size every 9 months or so, and has done that for at least three doublings. -- Hu.

Tamsin: The easiest way to get promoted on KGS is simply to play infrequently. That way games count for more. If you play a lot, then each result counts for very little, so in order to change your rank while playing there frequently you would need to win a majority of your games over a sizeable period of time. Once your rank is settled at any particular level, for whatever reason, be it actually being that strength or having lost games through being drunk or whatever, then it will stay there for as long as you continue to play often. One of my friends is a long-established UK 2 kyu, but ranks only 7k on KGS. It will take him a long time indeed to work back up to a rank there that reflects his real ability.

By the way, Hu, I haven't actually stopped visiting KGS and I still do play there sometimes. To borrow somebody else's expression, sometimes I like to drink at the "Crazy Horse" and other days I like to haunt the "Blue Oyster Bar". But I don't want to get too involved in playing rated games at KGS for the reasons stated above and because I can simply do without getting on another treadmill; it's nice to go to a place where you can find free games quite easily, if that's what you're looking for.

Hu: Ranks only rise (semi-automatically) when fast-rising players stop playing rated games, and only if your opponents are also fast rising. I am not a fast-rising player - more like steady at best. When I stop playing rated games (I almost always play free), my rank does not rise. The 2k who is rated 7k has an easy way to get rank quickly: play free games or not at all until his rank becomes provisional ("?") again. Then play rated even games against 2k, 3k, and 1k players. Do not play even games against 7k and do not play 5-handicap games against 2k. He will very quickly get ranked at 2k. Under such a situation it could even take as few as four games. The rule of thumb is that you have to win two and lose two rated games against players near your actual rank. It took me five games to get rated.

'KGS compared to IGS' page and meta-discussion

At 2004-01-29 06:25, eng60340 created a page called KGS compared to IGS?. The page was favorable to KGS and critical of IGS. The page became controversial soon after, when KGS author wms spoke against it. At 2004-01-29 17:20 (ten-and-a-half hours later), Dieter moved the discussion to the Go Server Discussion? page, and posted a delete request on the original page.

Eng's original post...

eng60340 After playing 1 year on KGS, I recently played 2 games on IGS

My observations:

1) 11k KGS == 16k IGS (or weaker)

2) In IGS, i feel extremely lost. Faceless opponents who don't talk. No main rooms to ask questions. I feel embarrassed to ASK questions. (actually i felt like logging on to KGS to ask about how to use IGS.)

3) During an IGS game, I feel that my opponent is so serious compared to KGS opponent. .. no :"hi hi", "hello", "c u". Just the playing of GO. no idle chatter in game whatsoever. As a result, i find that I have to adopt a very serious playing attitude when i play an IGS game. (that is probably good for improving my GO skills, but it feels very unfun)

4) clunky interface. I prefer KGS interface any day ^^

... and the ensuing discussion:

wms: eng, I hate to say that, but I would prefer that this page not exist. Anybody who has been to rec.games.go knows how emotional people are about servers, and how easily an attempt to compare servers can turn into a horrible flamefest that makes everybody (including the servers) look bad. I think that the things you want to say can be said on pages for the servers in ways that wouldn't risk leading to this; for example, if you find IGS more impersonal or IGS players more serious, say that on an IGS page, but don't compare to KGS. If you think a server is lacking a feature that is nice, say so on a page requesting features for the server. You see my point.

If other people disagree and like this page, then of course the page should stay like any wiki page, but I'm just really scared that we might see rec.games.go's worst moments happen all over again on Sensei's.

pajaro: Agree. This is only leading to a flame war. Each servers has its own features, but you are free to use whatever you prefer.

Stefan: Same here. Blondes can be pretty, brunettes can be pretty. You may like one more than the other and there's even nothing wrong with saying so. But let's not compare blondes and brunettes. (I guess you can tell it's Poetry Day in Belgium...)

karlnaylor?: I agree entirely. Blondes and brunettes are lovely. Redheads are nice too.

tartuffe: I find connotation-free updates about IGS/KGS rank conversions to be helpful in finding games (eng's point #1), but otherwise I agree with wms et al.

DrStraw: Agreed. SL is absolutely not the place to start flame wars. Given the apparent consensus of opinion I have taken the liberty of moving the original text to the bottom of the page as a sort of footnote. Feel free to move it back if you so wish.

geno: The long-term viability of Sensei's -- or any group -- can only be diminished by shying away from controversial issues. The best people will find someplace more free-wheeling to talk. I have watched mild and pleasant mailing lists, USENET groups, and web sites die of quiet, creeping calcification since 1987. I would hate to see that happen here; Sensei's is actually one of the best sites around, go-related or otherwise, because of its openness. I support keeping this sort of page around rather than risking brain-drain.

Also, speaking as what the US government refers to as an advocate of an expanded freedom of expression, the fact that everyone has so far posted in support of a preference that this page not exist ('Agree.', 'Same here.', '... I agree...', and 'Agreed.') is the best proof that this page (or at least its content) must remain.

The biggest 'problem' with this page is simply the mismatch between the somewhat objective-sounding title ('compared') and the mostly subjective nature of what's actually on the page (friendliness, greetings, seriousness). (See Komi / Discussion for a perfect example of how discussion groups can get bogged down in semantic issues by trying to ignore them.)

Off the top of my head, some fixes (with respect to keeping the signal-to-noise ratio high) might be:

  • a polite suggestion to the original poster that this could be home page material, which marks it more clearly as personal
  • a general comparison page, rather than one targeted at two specific servers
  • an Opinion keyword, perhaps with optional filtering as a user preference

eng60340 i am ok if the post is deleted. ^^

Bill: I agree that this page is not a good one to have here on SL. Not that we should shy away from controversy -- we have certainly had some! -- but this page invites a flame war. If rec.games.go does not have enough go discussion on it, I think a large part of the reason is that people have been turned off by the flaming that goes on there. (It used to be worse, when the IGS vs. NNGS wars were ablaze.)

Stefan: I've come to believe that rec.games.go does not have a lot of go discussion recently because SL now exists. Oh..., hang on... pre-SL it hardly had any go content either. ;-)

Let people say what they do or do not like about a particular server on a page about that server. Making direct comparisons is asking for trouble.

Tamsin: The biggest problem here is not so much that eng is comparing the two servers, but rather that his comparisons are rather critical of IGS. What might be acceptable is a table, like those you find in "Which! Magazine" in which features of different products are ticked or crossed so that you can see at a glance what features are available or unavailable on each product. That would be straightforward and non-critical; but saying one server is better than another is always inviting trouble.

Fwiffo: How about a go server feature matrix? for handy comparison of features such as: type of server (regular or turn-based), number of registered users, number online (typical, maximum, peak time of day), SGF version, editing features, predominant languages, number of available clients, supported platforms, number of pros, mean/median player strength, available rule sets, time settings, approximate rank conversions, etc.?

Neil: "Saying one server is better than another is always inviting trouble?" So you deny that it's possible for one service to be objectively superior to another?

Stefan: No, she's not denying that. That's faulty logic. Tamsin says that stating: "server A is better than server B" - regardless of whether it's objectively or subjectively true, or not - is inviting trouble. There is overwhelming evidence that this is true.

geno: Don't we have some better way of avoiding flamewars than sidelining the issue or avoiding it completely? The subtle implication seems to be that we should never discuss these issues. There is, in my opinion, great value in talking about the social tenor of different online communities, or the interface, or other subjective issues.

Avoiding the discussion because it might turn into a flamewar seems like outlawing cooking because your house might catch on fire.


Two of the best Go Servers around: Kiseido Go Server (KGS) and Internet[?] Go Server (IGS). Which is better?

I wish more people play byo-yomi games on IGS. Most of the time its pandanet style time-controls which is lame IMHO.

Benoit Lessard



  • Nicer interface
  • Much better environment
  • More Social
  • Better for teaching
  • Only server for regular 9x9 and 13x13
  • Allows more bord sizes (2x2 till 38 x 38)
  • others?


  • java
  • Closed protocol / no integration with other go programs
  • Difficult to set komi/ handicap
  • No sorting active / open games
  • Rooms are a bit confusing (too many, cannot play outside room)



  • More people and from different countries.
  • More strong players
  • Easier to find a game quickly
  • Open protocol
  • others?


  • No socialization (my exp.)
  • No one comments during games
  • Over-serious
  • Inactivity leads to account deletion
  • boredom
  • Only one timing system
  • No good help system
  • No open games list
  • Japanese rules only

Mike Kaulbars: I have to disagree about the necessity to avoid comparison. Some sense of the differences between the servers is useful to someone who is shopping around, you just have to avoid being judgemental in terms of 'better'.

For the most part each of the qualities mentioned is neither good nor bad except in the eye of the beholder. Thus a server being "more serious" is positive to one player, while "more social" is positive to another.

Even the rank issue is largely a non-issue as it's primary purpose is to help players get balanced matches within that server's community. If it achieves that, fine. If it does not then it is good to know.

Of course it is useful to know how they compare if you are thinking of playing on a different server, but you are as strong as you are, neither more nor less, whether one system calls you 'Noobe' and another calls you 'Honinbo'. The actual rank name does not matter, just it's internal consistency and hence usefulness.

As long as the attributes of the servers are compared without associated judgements I feel such comparisons are helpful. The list above is a start.

leu: I have to disagree with some of the IGS cons:

Inactivity leads to account deletion - you also have that on KGS.

Only one timing system - There is one byoyomi default but you can change it.

No open games list - There is a list of people that accept games; I would call this a open games list.

See also

Go server reviews and reports last edited by OscarBear on April 24, 2017 - 09:12
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