I’ve been playing Go (a board game also known as weiqi or baduk) on and off for almost 10 years. In case you don’t know, Go is a board game with very old roots, that can be traced back to at least 3500 years ago, probably a lot more. Very popular in Japan (known as Go or Igo), Korea (baduk) and China (weiqi), it has been slowly spreading among the west during the last 30 years.
It is a very hard game for a computer: harder than chess. In chess, the top computer program is close to beating the world champion, but the top computer program in Go is easily defeated by amateurs. And it’s not for lack of encouragement: there used to be a 1.400.000$ prize for a Go program that can beat a professional player with ease.
EasyGo is another must-have app for intensive go players. Although at first sight EasyGo looks like a close-cousin to SmartGo Kifu, it is not. They share a goal though: analyzing games, exploring variations and solving problems. But they focus on different sets of features, and work very different.
For one, EasyGo allows for seamless importing of problem collections and multiple SGF files, by uncompressing ZIP files. With it you can also create your own problem sets, by typesetting your problem files (for example, from a book you own). It also keeps statistics of problem solving, by the way. Since you can import your own problem collections, you can have a wealth of problems at your fingertips, since the net is full of problem collections to download. And typesetting your own books is faster than it looks, and with a little time investment you will have thousands of go problems in your pocket/purse.
The other strong point of EasyGo is following variations of a game review. As good as SmartGo Kifu is, EasyGo beats it completely in this section, since it offers a line graph to follow variations, like the SGF editor CGoban. For example, EasyGo allows you to use the freely available Kogo’s Joseki dictionary with its miriad variations, and doing the same with SmartGo is not as simple. This makes going forward and backward a breeze, also knowing when and where a deep variation occurs.
This is a universal app, meaning that for the same price you get the iPhone and iPad version: a nice bonus. This app is still in its starting steps, and the developer has a huge list of suggestions in his to-do list, and since its launch some have been already developed. As all these start rolling this will undoubtedly be one of the best Go apps in the App store. For now, it’s “only” a must-have for game analysis and problem collections, which is no small feat in itself. After all, if you play go you have to buy this app.