Little Golem

    Keywords: Variant, Software, Online Go

Little Golem ([ext] is a turn-based game server offering Go (9x9, 13x13, 19x19 and 37x37), a few Go variants (Hahn pointing system, random100 and toroidal Go) as well as several other games (see below). This server is centred around tournament play, although individual games are also possible.

Little Golem's main developer and admin is Rio Malaschitz.

The following provides some information about playing on Little Golem. For further information, see the [ext] offical FAQ (but beware that the official FAQ is currently somewhat out-of-date and not entirely accurate in places).

General information

Little Golem uses JavaScript (HTML5), and should be usable on most graphical browser, and probably even on WebTV.

Time limits

Time limits on Little Golem are the same in all games: ten days plus 36 hours per move Capped Fischer Timing. In addition, each player has 20 vacation days per year. The following describes the time system in more detail:

When a new game starts, both players have 240 hours on the clock. The clock of the player whose turn it is to move counts down one hour per hour. When a player makes a move, the time on that player's clock is increased by 36 hours subject to a maximum of 240 hours. When a clock reaches 0 hours, a vacation day is triggered if the player has any left, otherwise the player loses on time.[1] When a vacation day is triggered, 24 hours is added to the player's clock in every game that the player is currently playing.

Note that the triggering of a vacation day can cause the time on some clocks to exceed 240 hours. However, if you play a move when your clock is over 240 hours it will drop down to 240 hours.

Each player has 20 vacation days available after first joining Little Golem. The number of vacation days is restored to 20 at the beginning of each calendar year.


All tournament games are rated[2], but non-tournament games (started by invitation or through the waiting room) are unrated. Go ratings are displayed as dan or kyu ranks, but are internally handled the same as ratings for other games (20 kyu means 1500-1549, 19 kyu means 1550-1599, etc.). For chess and go, players can set their initial ratings, but for other games everyone starts at 1500.

The actual rating system in use has never been specified, but may be the same as the one given on [ext] this page (with K = 32), except that Little Golem does not use provisional ratings. Against a player of equal rating, you gain 16 rating points for a win and lose 16 for a loss. Against higher rated players, you gain more for a win and lose less for a loss, while against lower rated players you gain less for a win and lose more for a loss. Note, however, that a game has no effect on ratings if one player resigns without having made a move.

If a game is played with handicap (which currently is only the case for 19x19 go monthly cup games), then the rating change takes the handicap into account.


All tournaments at present are all-play-all tournaments (round robins) and are won by the player with the most points (2 points for a win, 1 for a draw, 0 for a loss) with ties being broken by Sonneborn-Berger (shown in the "Son" column) where possible. To play in a tournament, register in the appropriate place on the [ext] tournaments page.

All tournament games are rated.[2] The cross-table for a tournament shows two ratings for each player; the one in black is their rating at the time the tournament began, and the red rating in parentheses is their current rating.

Tournaments come in three types: rating tournaments, monthly cups and championships.

User Tournaments

User who pay a membership fee can create tournaments for all players. The paramaters include number of games (1/2) free/pasword and so on.

Monthly Cups

All tournaments in the first round of a monthly cup have five players, and a new one should start within a few minutes once there are five players in the queue.[1] There is no restriction on the ratings of players, so you are likely to meet players much stronger or much weaker than yourself if you play in a monthly cup.

All the winners of first-round monthly cup tournaments which started in a particular month go forward to a second round (assuming there were at least two such winners). The second round should start as soon as all the first-round tournaments have finished. If there are fewer than 10 first-round winners, they play in a single tournament to determine the winner of the monthly cup. If there are 10 or more first-round winners, then they are split into three (or perhaps more) tournaments, with the winners of these going forward to a third-round tournament.[3] Note that you can play in more than one first-round monthly cup tournament in a given month if you like, but you only need to win one in order to qualify for the second round.


A new championship should start seven days after the last game of the previous championship has finished.

The first league of a championship is a single 9-player tournament, the winner of which will be the champion. The second league has two 9-player tournaments - assuming there are enough players, otherwise the tournaments will be smaller in size and/or number. The third league (if any) has four 9-player tournaments, again assuming there are enough players. Sometimes there is a fourth league, with up to eight 9-player tournaments, or even a fifth league, with up to sixteen tournaments. Street Soccer tournaments have leagues of 18 players.

The winner and runner-up from each championship tournament (except the first league tournament) are promoted to a higher league for the next championship, and the lowest placed players may be demoted to make room for them. In Street Soccer, the top four are promoted and the bottom eight are demoted. In practice, however, it is nearly impossible to be demoted from any league other than the first, because even if you lose all your games there will almost certainly be enough dropouts (players choosing not to play in the next championship) to enable you to keep your place. For the same reason, it is common to be promoted even without finishing in the top two of your tournament.

When a new championship starts, players who have registered for the championship but did not play in the previous championship are added to the lowest leagues in order of rating. In particular, for the first championship of a newly-added game the first league will contain the top 9 rated players who want to play, and the second league will contain the next 18, and so on.

Little Golem's Admins

Games available on Little Golem

As of Oct 2017, tournaments are ongoing for normal Go and some variants:

More details on little Golem ([ext] link).

The games available on Little Golem (as of Feb 2015) are listed below. See this [ext] link for the newest list.

  • Classic board games
    • Go. For information about go, see Sensei's Library. :-) Little Golem allows for 9x9 and 13x13 games as well as the standard 19x19. Each board size counts as a separate game, with separate tournaments and separate ratings. You should set your initial rank when joining Little Golem, unless you want to start at 20 kyu. The chosen initial rank applies to all board sizes. All games are played according to Japanese rules and, except for the 19x19 monthly cups, are even games with komi. The komi varies according to the board size. Because of the use of Japanese rules, automatic scoring is essentially impossible and the players have to score by marking the appropriate groups as dead. (When in scoring mode, clicking on a group marks it dead.) In case of disagreement or uncertainty, ask a stronger player or on the [ext] go forum.
      • 9x9 go. Komi is 5.5. If you have never played go before, it is advisable to start with 9x9 games, since turn-based games on larger boards take much longer to play.
      • 13x13 go. Komi is 8.5.
      • 19x19 go. Komi is now 6.5 in even games, although it used to be 5.5. The 19x19 monthly cups are played with handicaps - maximum 9 stones, traditional placement (except for 3-stone handicaps) and a komi of 0.5.
    • Chess. Ratings are roughly in line with FIDE ratings, and you should set yours before playing.
    • SHOGI
    • Reversi. Othello. See [ext] for the rules. Played with both the traditional 8x8 board and a 10x10 board, each tallied seperately as in go and Hex.
    • Gomoku. The Japanese five-in-a-row game. True gomoku is a known first-player win, so the game played on Little Golem uses [ext] some extra rules to make the game fairer.
    • Dots and Boxes. D&B involves connecting dots, which are placed in straight-line rows. Once a box of four dots is completely surrounded, it is claimed by the player who moved. That player then moves again. It is played on a board of 6x6 dots (i.e. 5x5 boxes).
  • Modern board abstract games
    • Polyomino
    • DVONN. One of Kris Burm's Project GIPF games. See [ext] for rules and basic strategy. Games in rating tournaments are played with random start positions (that is, the server plays phase 1 randomly, subject to [ext] some restrictions), but in all other games the players play phase 1 themselves.
    • Four in a row. Connect Four on an 8x8 board (except the first few games, which were 7x8).
    • Twixt PP. Twixt is a connection game like Hex, except that pieces connect by knight-move bridges that may not cross each other. Details of Twixt can be found at [ext] Twixt Fanatic or [ext] Wikipedia. Twixt PP differs from standard Twixt in that links may cross other links of the same color. (There are other minor differences which are inconsequential, so long as the possibility of a player crossing her/his own links exists.) A player who is in contact with Little Golem's developer reports that he expects standard Twixt will replace Twixt PP soon.
    • Hex. Played on a 13x13 board with swap option. Recently, a 19x19 version was introduced. The results for each version are tallied seperately, as the three versions of go are.
    • Amazons. See [ext] for information on this game of territory.
    • Breakthrough
    • Lines of Action
    • Connect6
    • Havannah. Havannah is featured base-4 to base-10 with swap option. The results for each version are tallied seperately.
      See [ext] or [ext] for the rules.
    • Slither
    • Catchup. See [ext] for rules and more information.
    • Morelli
  • Word and family games
    • WYPS
    • OSKI
    • Golem Word Game. Unique to Little Golem - see [ext] the rules. The rules were changed slightly after a few months - games played under the new rules have a pink board in order to make the difference obvious. Valid words are those in the ENABLE list, available from [ext]
    • Street Soccer. Street Soccer is the newest game on LG and has perhaps become its most popular. It is a soccer board game developed by [ext] Cwali. See [ext] the LG page for rules.
    • Game of Empathy
    • EinStein würfelt nicht!

[1] Occasionally, the daemon which is supposed to start new tournaments and deal with clocks reaching zero is not running. When this happens, unusually long queues for tournaments may build up and some clocks may show negative times, but all will return to normal once an administrator restarts the daemon.

[2] There is a badly worded sentence in the FAQ which could be construed as meaning that championship games are unrated, but this is not so.

[3] The range of sizes for second-round monthly cup tournaments stated on the Little Golem website (both in the FAQ and on the main tournament page) is wrong - there can be as few as two players in such a tournament, and as many as nine. In rounds beyond the second, there will never be fewer than 3 players in a section.

For comments about LittleGolem: See also /Discussion
Other Games Considered Unprogrammable

Little Golem last edited by Malcolm on October 10, 2017 - 08:29
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