Kombilo vs. Master Go

    Keywords: Software

As of 2017 MasterGo is no longer developed as a commerical product, but Kombilo is still maintained.


I recently saw a demonstration of MasterGo, and it is really neat (Chuck Robbins actually claims that MasterGo has features that Kombilo "would never dream of"). Now, since the asking price of MasterGo is twice that of GoGoD + Kombilo, I think it would be helpful if people who have used both systems compared them here.

Differences that come to mind (just from hearsay): 1) MasterGo runs only on Windows (or an emulator such as virtual PC or Wine) while Kombilo is Python-based and open-source, and hence quite portable; 2) MasterGo uses a proprietary format for pattern matching while Kombilo uses a non-proprietary format (does this make it easier to import the GoGoD database into the MasterGo engine than to export the MasterGo database to SGF format?); 3) GoGoD has additional material, while MasterGo claims to have a search engine with more features; 4) and so on... - Migeru

Please be careful if you respond. Kombilo is a **free** program and so should not really be compared to anything commercial. It is also independent of GoGoD. Furthermore, MasterGo is a database only (I believe - I have not seen it). GoGoD is also a database (almost 25,000 games now) but is mainly an encyclopaedia. So again comparison would be between apples and pears. And don't leave BiGO out of the frame. John F.

MasterGo is both a database and a pattern matching program. I understand that GoGoD recently started shipping with Kombilo, but even if it didn't the combination of GoGoD + Kombilo is functionally equivalent to MasterGo, so I think the comparison is fair. The fact that GoGoD has more games (MasterGo currently has over 21,000) and also contains an encyclopaedia may be an additional reason to prefer it to MasterGo or not. I don't know anything about BiGO, so maybe the three can be compared. - Migeru

I beg to differ. Kombilo and MasterGo both try to satisfy some of the same "needs" of go players. The commercial software vs Open Source software issue is a separate matter. [ext] Apache, [ext] mySQL and [ext] FreeBSD are all Open Source systems that compete very well with commercial software without regard to the price. For several years, Microsoft ran [ext] Hotmail on FreeBSD and Solaris. Microsoft repeatedly attempted to switch from FreeBSD to one of its own products. Succeeding only after several failures. The backend may still be Solaris. [ext] Yahoo! runs on FreeBSD from its inception to this day. Open Source Software are come of age. Comparisons to commercial software are appropriate indeed. Velobici

When GoGoD started shipping with Kombilo it was obviosly a win-win situation for both products, and that's just an example of how free software can work in a partnership with a proprietary or commercial product. Now, the fact that there is a fully commercial alternative (MasterGo apparently uses its own proprietary database format) will just make the whole situation more interesting. This is partly why we need a list of features of both programs put together impartially. - Migeru

I don't have MasterGo either, but as far as I could see (from their description and the demo), MasterGo is just two thing: faster, because it's completely native code, and nicer graphics. Just a comment: Migeru, you said at the beginning, Kombilo searches the SGF-Files. That's wrong, but Kombilo creates it's database from SGF-Files - a search only in raw SGF would last forever. - gimpf

MasterGo stores its data in a proprietary format. One can add games to the set shipped with MasterGo. The MasterGo game database is compiled by purchasing Go books in Japan, China and Korea; copying game records from those books into the MasterGo game database. The makers of MasterGo regard this as a legitimate activity. (See kifu copyright discussion.) However, extracting games from the is regarded by the makers of MasterGo as a copyright violation. This is interesting. Copying by computer (from MasterGo or GoGoD) is regarded as a copyright violation. Velobici - edit Charles Matthews


I used stand-alone Kombilo a long time ago, Drago with Kombilo until now. Drago is my preferred sgf-editor, but the search function is only suited to search for games with a certain position but exploring variations is impossible to me (search field way too small, handling awful). Having seen MasterGo in action lately, Kombilo stands no comparison to it. If you have some spare money and want to explore pro openings conveniently, go for it. (I'm not sure how well MasterGo works as a database software to organize your own games. And I don't know BiGo, SmartGo, MoyoGo etc.) tapir

If you choose for mastergo (instead of Kombilo) then i would suggest buy SmartGo instead of mastergo then you have an allround go program for just a little more. I have no idea about the search options in mastergo but in smartgo they are enormous. willemien

Afaik, the search function in smart go is a somehow reverse engineered version of mastergo (don't know whether it reaches the same functionality). Both share the same database, btw. tapir

SmartGo uses the database of professional games from MasterGo, Smartgo pays a royalty for every sale of SmartGo (any version that uses the database) to Chuck Robbins of MasterGo. But the search algoritm for SmartGo differs from that from Mastergo it is build up from scratch willemien

Yeah, that is what i tried to say. MasterGo just had a lot of functionality first, but that may not be important anymore. I anyway would like to see MasterGo (search engine), SmartGo (the other fancy stuff) and Gogod (content) with all their databases combined (some years earlier) in the current situation i doubt anyone is earning money with go software at all. (Maybe MoyoGo which "omitted" the time and money investment into the game database, but this is another story.) Another interesting point is that players in Japan, Korea, China obviously don't see the necessity for more refined go study software with database search etc. Otherwise there should be plenty of software from the said countries. Cheers Tapir.

I don't know Mastergo myself, What are the options that Mastergo has but are missing in Smartgo? (Maybe addd them to go software for the future ? ) also You can add the Gogod database quite easy to smartgo. I don't know about japanese Chinese and Korean software and databases. maybe somebody else can tell. Willemien

Mastergo indeed has less options (than Smartgo) - and you may argue about how necessary which option is - and is a slim and convenient search engine with a large database designed to allow fuseki/joseki study from real games + study of pro games. You can add .sgf game collections as well (only export of the native database is restricted). But it can't play Go itself, it doesn't solve or offer tsumego, has no stand-alone joseki/tesuji/whatsoever dictionary, doesn't guess pro moves, can't prepare milkshakes etc. Tapir.

I was interested in the options / functionality that Mastergo has but Smartgo is missing. I know most of it the other way around ( I am a happy user of smartgo) Willemien.

Well, a friend of mine is crying when trying to search for games by position in Smartgo (on his smartphone).

Kombilo vs. Master Go last edited by OscarBear on January 3, 2017 - 14:03
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