If you don’t have a teacher/sensei to teach you to play go and if you feel you are too weak in the opening then I strongly suggest to have your own go games database. In order to utilize all the professional games, you need 2 things:
- Professional-Go-game records (SGF)
- Application to create database and pattern search
Professional-Go-Game Records (SGF)
So far I have only found 2 good sources to download professional game records:
- GoGoD – http://gogodonline.co.uk/ – $15.00 USD
- Go4Go – http://www.go4go.net/go/games/delivery – €9.99 (Euro)
Quoting the FAQ from GoGoD, “The download includes only individual sgf files. Note that the sgf files include games on board sizes other than 19×19. Purchase only includes the latest database. It does not include access to any future updates. New editions can be purchased twice a year, summer and winter.”
While for Go4Go, When you first subscribe to the game delivery service, you will get the existing database (a package of 40000+ games in SGF format) then every week, subscribers will receive a package of latest professional games by email for the next year.
I actually bought both of them because with GoGoD I would like to have other sizes board records (21×21, 9×9, 11×11, etc) just for the fun of it, while Go4Go to get all the latest games, both providers data integrity with the games record are proven accurate and they have team to check for integrity so no question ask.
Application to create database and pattern search
For this I also found only 2 that are suitable for me:
I think the first database app for go games is Kombilo, and it has open source library so the app is tempered and one of the best database app out there. According to developer this app can run on PC, Mac and Linux however I have difficulty to run on Mac for the Mac version, My workaround is to use winebottler on my Mac OS. For the search functionality as far as I know Kombilo can only search the whole board position, no selection.
Drago is using Kombilo library for pattern search so it’s as good as Kombilo however with drago we can have selection search. The app has all the good potentials however I have difficulty to run Drago on Mac with winebottler.
EDIT: I can actually running the portable one using winebottler with success!
If you don’t have the budget or want the free online database with pattern search then the answer is Waltheri – http://ps.waltheri.net/. Like Drago you can have Fuseki search (Full board) or Joseki search (Arround stones). However i found one or two games that the record are wrong so the records integrity is questionable but overall it’s a good option.