KGS User's Guide

  Difficulty: Beginner   Keywords: Clubs & Places, Online Go

As KGS documentation can often be sparse, this page exists so that KGS users have a place to share tips and information about the cgoban client.

Table of contents

Help installing the Client and Java VM [10]

It is possible to use a WebClient? such as GoUniverse or ShinKGS. These have less functionality, but do not suffer from the problems you will encounter when trying to run Java.

On Debian GNU/Linux, you can download the Java VM you'll need by typing the following in a root shell:

 echo 'deb [ext] stable main non-free' >> /etc/apt/sources.list
 apt-get update
 apt-get install j2re1.4

Replace stable with testing or unstable if you are running one of those distributions. Next, grab CGoban from the 'Other Unix" section on [ext] and unpack. To run it, simply type

 java -jar cgoban.jar

in the directory where you unpacked the tarball. For convenience, you might want to put a script in /usr/local/bin, see the other files in the tarball.

Q: How do you associate .sgf with the java client?

A: The KGS CGoban File Association page explains.

Q: [10]I read somewhere something about not yet to use Java 1.5 or so, but I am not sure.
Now, I get the following, automatic update message on my computer:

"Java 2 Runtime Environment, v1.5.0_02-b09"

Should I download & install it or not?
I just intalled the client 2.6.11, which can be used anytime it seems, independently of Java. (Sorry for my question, if it might make no sense, I'm not a nerd)

Getting Started - Tips for Beginners

  • Visit the Beginner's Room or a room for your language:
    • In the Rooms menu, choose Room List
    • This brings up the Room List window. You may want to expand it to full screen.
    • Expand the Lessons section
    • Select Beginner's Room
    • Click Join
    • Close the Room List window. You now should see the "KGS: Rooms" window with the Beginner's Room tab open.
    • Chat with the people there, they're very friendly!
  • Play a game
    • Bold entries in the top left are waiting for another player. You can sort the list so that they appear on top. (Just right-click on an entry and select Open games first from the context menu.)
    • Left-click on such an entry to see more information. Here you can
      • click on the "?" button to find out all details on the person offering the game, or
      • press "OK" to join the game (actually send your challenge to the server).
    • There are other good ways to start a game - see online help.

Rankings (Ratings)

  • Don't obsess about rank.
  • Hu: For a solid rating (no "?") you must win about two Rated games and lose about two Rated games against solidly rated players very close to your actual rank (accounting for handicaps, if any). To get a useful graph, be sure to play your first Rated game near your own rank. You can find your level by playing Free games.
  • Hu: Q? I won a game and lost a rank. What happened? A: Ranks are computed as fractions or real numbers and reported as integers, and your previous opponent's new results are factored into the rank calculations, so a borderline rank might easily get bumped over the line and it might seem as if you had lost a rank when it was actually just a fractional change.
    • chipuni: If your rank is uncertain (if it has a ? after it), then you can lose a surprising number of ranks after winning a game. (I won a game and went from 18k? to 27k?.) WMS wrote, 'Strange things happen to "?" ranks because they are just guesses.'
      • wms: One of the reasons for strange things like this is that there are really two ranking algorithms. The [ext] "real", accurate one, cannot function at all unless you have at least one win and one loss. Until you reach that point, your rank is just one more than your best win, or one less that your worst loss. When you transition between these two systems, unexpected things can happen; somebody with many losses against high-confidence players who finally gets a win against a low-confidence player may have their rank go down, because the "real" rating system will give the high-confidence losses much more weight than the single low-confidence win.
        I don't mind this strangeness too much because it only happens of course to "?" players. As long as people remember that "?" ranks are just guesses and don't mean very much, there is no problem.
  • Unlike rank graphs, which are computed once a day at about midnight UCT (GMT), ranks are continually recalculated.
  • MrFigFace?: Are KGS rankings really accurate? They seem pretty high, like, I'm ranked at a solid 13k but I play in the local club as 17k. Does anybody know how KGS ratings stack against other servers/countries? I cannot find a recently-updated rankings conversion chart.
    • bojo: From what I understand, the ranks are anchored into the AGA rating system.
    • wms: The ranks are accurate relative to each other. One admin (who can put their name here if they choose) has been given responsibility for maintaining the "anchors", which sets how close the system is to real-world ranks; I believe that this admin tries to make the ranks close to europe - 1, which is close to AGA, but unless they put here how they make decisions, I can't say for sure!
    • amadis: wms, after the changes that were made to the rank system in version 2.6.8, are KGS ranks still anchored to real life ranks? In the past, KGS has been useful for estimating the level at which one should enter a real life tournament.
  • Joseba?: Q: Why is the default handicap 0.5 too low? More verbosely: The default for a game between 3k and 3k is H1 (since B's first move), K6.5. The default for a game between 1k and 3k is H2, K0.5. However, AFAICS that is a rank difference of 1.5, not 2.
  • The meaning of the tilde symbol ~ behind a rating can be read on [ext] :
    '(it) 'is a mark which appears (...) after the name of a person who only rarely plays against either players rated lower than himself, or against new players ...' /discussion?


  • To upload a picture to KGS, it must be a 141-pixel (width) by 200-pixel (height) JPEG-format-format image which fits in 7kB (seven kilobytes) or less.
  • Fhayashi: But one need not worry about the exact pixel dimensions - during the upload attempt, CGoban2 will crop the file, and show you what it would look like if you accept the automated cropping. It's been very good for the handful of pictures I've uploaded. Also, in order to upload a picture, you must be using the separate client program, not the browser-based client.
  • Hu: The server will mangle pictures for you if they don't meet the specifications. Users have different standards but I have had superior results by preprocessing the image myself, in particular using a little sharpening at the end with [ext] GIMP (Graphics Image Manipulation Program). Be careful if you have your monitor brightness turned way up; the result will be images that are unviewable by most users.
  • falstaff: PNG also works although wms said it wasn't officially supported. Also -- pictures don't appear immediately. Apparently one of the admins has to look at it and OK it first.
    • This is correct. holosys
    • It seems the system uses the wrong colormap for indexed PNGs, thus displaying them incorrectly. This is a pity, as they can be very small while still being lossless. argonaut
    • wms: Please don't use anything but JPEG. I have some scripts that can run through the images, and they choke when they see a non-JPEG. I actually have always had code to tell Java to load JPEG images and return an error on failure, but "helpful" java notices if the file is non-JPEG and silently switches to an image loader that will work. Grrrr. :-( Anyway, I may blow away any non-JPEG images at any time, so please upload JPEG only.
    • Ansgar?: Can't you look at the first bytes of the file before passing it to the image loader? This way it should be pretty easy to make sure you have a jpeg.
  • holosys: is it possible to delete your picture in some way rather than just upload a blank image (which is still displayed of course)?
    • Suicide: As far as I know, a senior admin may delete a picture if they deem it necessary. This is, of course, up to their own discretion and willingness to help. I often see them suggest the blank option.

Clock (Timer)

  • glibber: As of several versions earlier than CGoban 2.4.61 (formerly Kiseido Go Server Client), if your opponent has run out of time and has not yet tried to make another move, then you may optionally add time for your opponent, which will restart the game. (See game board "Options" menu, second button down in the row of buttons near the top right). If your opponent has already tried to make another move, then this possibility will not be allowed, and the game will be permanently finished. (Credit to Thing for helping to figure this out).
aussiemate: If, however, your opponent has claimed a win then the option for more time is gone.
Thing: It seems to me that the honourable thing to do, when you run out of time, is to play another move straight away.
  • JasonD: If you agree to an absolute timer, it's fair game to win by time. Both players are capable of managing their remaining time.
  • Hu: Absolute time only makes sense with known opponents you can trust. Otherwise, we suggest Yahoo as the place to play absolute time.
  • blubb: Depending on time settings, a game may or may not be specified as "rated".
    • In "absolute" time (sudden death) games, the main time must exceed 7.30 min per player for allowing the game to be rated.
    • For japanese overtime, the formula currently used to determine the limit is:
         main_time >= 8.34 min - (63 + byo_periods) * byo_time,
             0 < byo_periods <= 50.

Tips for the Board Window

  • When reviewing, editing, or observing a game, if you hold in Shift and click on a stone or empty point it will bring you to the point when that stone was played (first occurence, searching backwards for stone, forwards for point). If the game record includes variations, only the current variation is searched. Ctrl and left (or right) arrow key takes you to the previous (or next) comment made by observers. You first have to click on one of the control buttons or in the board to make sure the focus is there (PC and Mac).
  • If you press Ctrl-L during a game you can turn the lettering around the board on and off. When the lettering is off, the board becomes slightly larger.
  • Holding in Ctrl and clicking on an intersection pastes the coordinates of that intersection into your chat box.
  • To hide the observers comments while watching a game. Make Cgoban a windowed program. Move the Cgoban window so that the comments are hidden. Thanks qwazidan for that.

Observing Players Games

  • If you see a player waiting for an opponent and you want to watch the game they play, bring up the game request window and just wait. Do not propose a game to the player, if you simply want to observe. Once that player does start a game with someone you will join the game as an observer automatically.
  • Please respect the players by keeping remarks confined to the play on the board as much as possible. Other remarks and conversations can be best handled in the chat rooms and private chat. All remarks in games are recorded with the game.

Tips for All Windows

  • Warp: If you click on the text of a chat window, an invisible cursor is put there and it will work as text fields normally with regard to selecting text. For example if you want to select all, press ctrl-a. Also press shift and then cursor keys for selecting (eg. shift+ctrl+right selects the next word). Ctrl-c copies the text to the clipboard. Ctrl-v will paste copied text.

Evpsych Define "normally" here, please? Are you assuming an OS, a browser, a Java library, KGS, ...? Some of us yokels think that C-a should mean beginning of line :-), which shows that we aren't "normal".

Naturally you can also select text with the mouse.

Player Courtesy

  • glibber: An intentional escaper almost invariably will suddenly disappear, but a player who has been simply disconnected (whether or not by design rather than accident) will appear to "hang" and do nothing, after which the nickname for that player may eventually grey out before disappearing. One should not be too quick to call out the bloodhounds. Many people live in countries with poorly run ISP's (Internet Service Providers), or suffer from bad connections on overloaded trans-Atlantic cables.
A computer crash may also cause such a sudden disappearance, so it is best to extend the benefit of the doubt, especially in the absence of odd timing such as just having lost a major group.
A common courtesy is to add more time if and when a disconnected player returns after five to ten minutes, so that he or she will not suffer from hasty play. (See the "Options" menu in a game board, second button from the top in the row near the top right). If the missing player doesn't return within ten minutes, then one may with a clear conscience close the game board for later continuation.
The server will automatically save nearly all unfinished and finished games up to six months old for easy viewing within the client, and permanently archives nearly all unfinished and finished games at [ext]
  • glibber: "The Wiggley" is really a "tilde" which is "~". It looks like a worm! It looks funny! But it is sad. It means that player is mean to weaker or new players, by not playing them very much. A funny equation is used. If games played against weaker or new players times three, plus five, is less than the total of finished games, then it's "Wiggley Time"! Ahhh!!!
Please note that it's counterproductive and silly to refuse to play a player who has been given "The Wiggley" if he or she is of higher rank than yourself.
Jade: Then again, I'm told that "The Wiggley" will not show up if you are playing against a stronger player.
lavalyn: Math terms: "~" if ( 2 * #games of equal rank or "?" rank + 5 ) < (#games against players of higher rank). So, asymptotically, if you play stronger players about twice as often as other players, then you get branded.
falstaff: Here are links to recent discussions about this feature: [ext] Patrick's explaination and [ext] Bill's clarification
bochip: Thanks falstaff. Lavalyn's formula doesn't seem to square with Bill's (wms') clarification. Has wms changed the equation? Assuming I'm reading things right, it seems to me that glibber's explanation was based on Patrick's explanation (but did not take into account Bill's clarification) and that lavalyn's explanation mistakenly used the word "equal" instead of the word "lesser". My present understanding is that the formula should read as follows: "~" if ( 2 * #games of LESSER rank or "?" rank + 5 ) < (#games against players of higher rank).
  • See note about remarks under Observing Games heading.
  • Hu: A tilde (~) is a sign that the person is not kind enough to play weaker players even five games less than 33 percent of the time. The tilde does not apply to players weaker than about 24k. Some people avoid tilde players all the time but I recommend playing them if they offer to play a weaker player. It helps the weaker player and it helps the stronger player lose the tilde. It is easy to learn more about Go by playing weaker players with handicaps, especially about invasions.

Rich: Does it only apply to rated games? How does it treat games against unranked (-) players?

Thad: What does a ~ mean when it appears mext to a rank in the "Create New Game" (aka the join game window ) window? Like bubba[10k]~ ?

Shaydwyrm: This is in fact the only place the ~ appears, its meaning is as described above.

Key List

  • glibber: Game types: (R)ated, (F)ree, (T)eaching, (D)emonstration, (S)imultaneous, (P)rivate", (*) Tournament. Also, "(Ob)servers".
Witness that "W+Time" means white won when the clock ran out for black, and that "B+Res." means black won when white resigned.

Admins and assistants

  • MK How to find an assistant when needed (no admins around)?
    • mgoetze: Well, if you look at people's user infos often, you will know some assistants sooner or later. :) In this case you can just ask one in private chat. Otherwise, you have to hope that one will notice sooner or later.
    • Hu: Ask in the English room (the most popular room) if anyone who knows an assistant can request their assistance. When you find out that someone is an assistant from their user info or an admin, then it might be useful to put them in your buddy list.
    • Grindel FYI if you don't know who admins are you may find a list at the KGS Admins page here on SL.
    • wms: There was some debate between the admins and I on how to mark assistants. I thought they should look like admins; the other admins thought they should be different somehow, like maybe in italics instead of bold. I guess they were right, there are things an assistant cannot do so they should not look just like an admin, but I don't like the italic idea becuase I think too many font effects makes a list hard to read, and bold+grey are probably too many already. On the KGS Plans page I have a plan for adding icons alongside names in a list to indicate different things, when I do that I will probably mark assistants as special. So to sum it up - I don't really intend assistants to be secret, but they are pretty close right now.
    • uxs: Admins now have a gold star next to their names, assistents have a silver star. There are also people with crowns, those are the tournament winners and those who came in 2nd in a tournament.
  • How can one become an assistant?
    • mgoetze: Basically, you just ask wms.
    • Hu: Asking for it does not necessarily increase one's chances. Please don't ask wms. He has enough to do working on the code. The best way to become an assistant is to be so helpful to users that they nominate you to the admins.
    • Hu: Assistants have the limited responsibility and power of terminating the session of users abusing the users and the server, and refuse to stop.
    • wms: Feel free to ask any admin if you would like to be an assistant. Right now, only superadmins (that is, me) can create assistants, but I may change that. Even if other admins can't make assistants, if they know you & believe that you will make a good assistant, they can leave me a note. I almost definitely go by their recommendations.
  • What can assistants do?
    • wms: Assistants can throw a user off of the server for up to 48 hours. When they do this all recent chatter from the assistant or the troublemaker is logged and sent to the admins. The idea here is that admins will very quickly spot if an assistant isn't acting in the best interests of the server, so it is OK to make lots of people assistants.
  • What can admins do?
    • wms: Admins can edit other user's accounts, edit rooms that they do not own, make rooms permanent, throw users off of the server for up to 48 hours, delete user accounts, close down games, make announcements, edit the message of the day, take away assistant-hood, and completely shut down the server. In addition, there are two superadmin accounts (mine and "Admin") which can create new admins and assistants. Furthermore, there is an "admin mailbox"; in addition to reading & answering the questions for KGS, this mailbox is also used to accept user pictures. Most admins have access to this mailbox.

Viewing Asian fonts on KGS

Richard Hunter: Some people want to be able to see Japanese characters, but all they see is little boxes. The problem is not having the right font. For more info, see the page Asian Fonts Java

Mac OS X

This procedure will enable a Mac OS X user to use KGS in English mode but also read and write Japanese. It works for the downloaded client but not for the JavaStart version, so you have to repeat the process every time the client is updated, but it only takes 20 seconds.

  1. Japanese is included in the OS X easy installation. Set your system preferences. International: keyboard: check Kotoeri (third from the end; the flag with the round red spot) for Japanese input in addition to US English. Download the KGS client. It should appear on your desktop. Modify it as follows before moving it to anywhere else, such as the Applications Folder.
  2. Control-click on CGoban icon. Choose "Show Package Contents".
  3. Double-click "Contents".
  4. In "Contents", double-click "Info.plist". A dialog box asks for an application to open it. Choose TextEdit in Applications.
  5. Find the line that reads "<string>English</string>. Double-click the word "English" and type "Japanese". It should now read "<string>Japanese</string>".
  6. Close and save.

Alternative methods are to:

  1. Set the CGoban preferences to Japanese, which gives you Japanese menus.
  2. Set the Mac OS X Finder to Japanese by dragging Japanese above English in the International System preferences.

chtito: I have a question about this. I would like to see both Korean and Japanese characters. It is clearly possible to see the Korean characters by following the preceding instructions and replacing "Japanese" by "Korean". But then how to have both Korean and Japanese?

Richard Hunter: The above method is a practical trick that works. The correct way to do it is to get you system to recognize the Java fonts. I don't know how to do that, which is why I can't see Japanese when I use the Java WebStart version. I would prefer to fix it properly, so if anyone knows, please tell.

Tempus: I suggest that this issue may already be fixed. I am and have been able to view all Korean and Japanese fonts without tweaks for OS versions 10.4-10.5.3. I always install all languages packs, though I do not enable them in the input preferences. Someone please verify that recent OS X systems do not have java display issues with asian fonts. The above issue may be outdated.

Richard Hunter: Yes, I think this issue has been resolved. I am now using the java start version and it works fine directly. So all the above tricks are probably no longer necessary.

Viewing Korean and Japanese fonts in Linux

See here.

Chinese, Korean and Japanese Fonts in MS Windows

Automatching games


See /Windows Fonts.

Anonymous Access.

See /Anonymous Access.


Be sure that you report any bugs to [email] before posting them here. All the bugs listed here should be ones that the admin already knows about.

See also KGS Bugs

Simultaneous Games

  • If you play a simultaneous game and then edit one of the games, you must re-finish all of the games or else they will show up as unfinished in your game list. (This may have gotten fixed as of about version 2.5.1). Not a bug, but worth noting: Simultaneous games are like teaching games to the server, so the players can see any comments made during the game by observers, in addition to their own comments.

Lost Password

Reset your password at [ext]

KGS Web Pages

The web page [ext] contains further information and allows to view information without being logged into KGS. E.g., you can can see games of particular persons by clicking on The KGS Archives and typing in their ID in the Games field.

See also KGS Wishlist


  • glibber: Thanks to Truc, Tsumu, aburry, minismurf, Rakshasa, Warp, eon, Thing, markspace, aussiemate, Phelan and JasonD at KGS for corrections, suggestions and general help. Also, thanks to wms for graciously devoting much of his limited time and energy to perfecting a very good Go client for the KGS Go Server, and thanks to the unknown originator of this page and subsequent anonymous contributors to it.

(As a point of clarification, wms wrote both the client and the server. The specs on the server haven't been released, but that allows wms to make changes to the server without breaking various clients, and vice versa. - Fhayashi)

Or rather, that when changes to the server *do* break the client, it is wms who must fix the client as well, and vice versa.

Other pages about KGS:

KGS User's Guide last edited by DudleyMoore on January 4, 2019 - 10:05
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