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GNU Go Documentation

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1.1 About GNU Go and this Manual

The challenge of Computer Go is not to beat the computer, but to program the computer.

In Computer Chess, strong programs are capable of playing at the highest level, even challenging such a player as Garry Kasparov. No Go program even as strong as amateur shodan exists. The challenge is to write such a program.

To be sure, existing Go programs are strong enough to be interesting as opponents, and the hope exists that some day soon a truly strong program can be written.

GNU Go is getting stronger. For one thing, we've paid a lot of attention to life and death. GNU Go 3.0 can consistently give GNU Go 2.6 a four stone handicap. In a four stone game against GNU Go 2.6, GNU Go 3.0 very often kills a group. GNU Go 3.2 is even stronger than 3.0.

Until now, Go programs have always been distributed as binaries only. The algorithms in these proprietary programs are secret. No-one but the programmer can examine them to admire or criticise. As a consequence, anyone who wished to work on a Go program usually had to start from scratch. This may be one reason that Go programs have not reached a higher level of play.

Unlike most Go programs, GNU Go is Free Software. Its algorithms and source code are open and documented. They are free for any one to inspect or enhance. We hope this freedom will give GNU Go's descendents a certain competetive advantage.

Here is GNU Go's Manual. There are doubtless inaccuracies. The ultimate documentation is in the commented source code itself.

The first three chapters of this manual are for the general user. Chapter 3 is the User's Guide. The rest of the book is for programmers, or persons curious about how GNU Go works. Chapter 4 is a general overview of the engine. Chapter 5 introduces various tools for looking into the GNU Go engine and finding out why it makes a certain move, and Chapters 6--7 form a general programmer's reference to the GNU Go API. The remaining chapters are more detailed explorations of different aspects of GNU Go's internals.


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