Forum for Rules of Go - introductory

Where to begin? [#1736]

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reply Where to begin? (2009-02-10 22:50) [#5770]


I've just started playing go and have pretty much everything to learn.

I am using Goban because it is the only i can find that works on the mac osx.

I'm having some problems. Firstly it beats the hell out of me every time, I can add handicaps but sometimes it just gives up because it is so outnumbered and the other games feel like a race to get across the board.

It's not actually helping me learn anything.

The other major problem i have is that when I have a corner of the board sectioned off with a solid wall of stones it somehow counts as 'surrounded' in white's territory and points go to white, but when the opposite happens the corner is seen as white territory.

Are there any bugs with this programme?

Does anyone know of a simple software i can use on Mac OSX ppc (not intel) that has adjustable skill levels, preferably that go into the minus!



X Re: Where to begin? (2009-02-11 00:38) [#5772]

Goban is a well established program using GnuGo for its engine. As far as I know, there are no bugs. But as HermanHiddema suggests, it may just be your misunderstanding of what is alive and dead still.

First, you can change the board size to something smaller (like 13x13 or 9x9). That will help you have an advantage while you are learning, and help you see what's going on quicker. (click the info "i" button before starting to play)

Also, Go to Preferences -> Players -> gnugo adjust its playing strength.

Second, there should be a setting to force the computer (GnuGo) to play to the end without resigning. That will also help you see what's happening and not leave you confused. (can't find it at the moment -- just know, that when it gives up, you've beat it -- even if you can't see how yet.)

Of course, playing with people (in-person or online) will be the fastest way to learn and improve, but in the meantime, you've got a good enough opponent for quite some time.

Goban is also an IGS client (a very good online Go server), although many recommend KGS for beginners to find help when playing online.

see also: MacintoshGo

HermanHiddema: Some suggestions (2009-02-10 23:20) [#5771]

When it counts your seeming territory a its own, it may be that that is actually true, because it can capture those stones.

For example:

Black can be captured  

These black stones in the corner can be captured. To avoid capture, you need two eyes. But it is also possible that the program has bugs. I am not familiar with it.

So, some things to quickly get you started:

First, do the [ext] Interactive Go course. Play through it, perhaps a few times, until you feel you solidly understand all the concepts.

After that, you could try is to play against GnuGo online, at: [ext] (starting on a 9x9 board, choose appropriate color & handicap as you learn).

Both of these should work on mac osx, as they are online java & javascript apps.

When you feel confident that you understand the rules, you can try playing online. The server at [ext] works through java (either as an applet, or as a download). Best thing there is to go to the beginners room (choose Rooms -> Room List from the menu, the Beginners Room is under Lessons), which has a lot of new players, as well as strong players willing to teach newcomers. As an absolute beginner, your rank is probably 30k (or perhaps 25k, if you've already trained a lot against the computer)

TheBigH: My experiences (2011-03-06 09:32) [#8348]

I've found it very hard going learning this game so far. I can solve many of the exercises here and at Hiroki Mori's page, and understand what's going on, but as soon as I try to play a game against the computer (gnugo on CGoban), I get mercilessly slaughtered. Not even going to consider a game against an actual human being yet! I'd just be wasting their time and mine.

The computer kills my groups, invades my territory, and there's not a thing I can do about it. This is very disheartening because I rarely have any idea where my mistakes were and so it's impossible for me to learn anything. I know the advice is to lose your first fifty games as quickly as possible without becoming upset over getting decimated, but there seems to be little point if I'm not learning anything or improving my play. I was on the verge of just giving up.

Then I found the KGS home page and their tutorial flash thingies. There's one where you play against the computer and the only point is to capture a piece. I couldn't become overwhelmed right from the start. For the first time I felt as though I was comprehending the game, even when I lost. Even better is that the computer is really stupid without being completely random; this can't be said of gnugo. Then they have a 9x9 board where I get a nine stone handicap. Cool. I have a huge advantage, let's see if I can keep it.

There it seemed as though the comp only had a few things it could do, and once I learned how to deal with those I was invincible. So I tried the 9x9 board with a 9 stone handicap against the more formidable gnugo. It was tougher, but I saw the same tricks turning up again as well as a few new ones that I duly learned to counter. So I dropped to an 8 stone handicap, and after a few goes mastered that as well. Right now I'm playing on 11x11 with a six stone handicap and winning about half my games, so I feel as though I'm making progress.

I guess my experience runs counter to the advice I've seen. Rather than "lose your first 50 games as fast as you can" it's more like "find the weakest opponent you can and play them until you can pummel them mercilessly". Probably this approach is getting me into some bad habits that I will eventually have to break, such as being too obsessed with forcing the opponent into the corners in order to retain control of the centre. But I finally feel like this is a game I can get the hang of. What does everyone else think?

X Re: My experiences (2011-03-06 12:03) [#8349]

The proverb to lose 50 games asap indeed has a flavour of chastice. I'd say, if progress by jumping over increasing hurdles, while keeping a feeling of superiorit, suits you best, by all means.

You can find all about my teaching ideas on my teaching subpage. Basically, I advocate teaching Go as a game of alive stones (not merely surrounded territory) and to play very small boards (rather than extreme handicaps).


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