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.
Igowin HD is the iPad port of one of the strongest computer programs in the world, known as The Many Faces of Go. It features a complex AI, mix of hand-coded and trained for many years mixed with a Monte Carlo based system. Top notch. The mix proves to be very effective against both humans and computers alike… And the AI adapts to your level, through very careful tweaking by playing in standard internet servers. Or at least this is what they say. The app also includes a tutorial to get you playing in no time.
The ranks in Go start at 30 kyu and progress until 1 kyu, then you become 1 dan and raise until 9 dan. Igowin HD rates me as around 4k, which is quite an exaggeration since my current rank is 8k. Maybe I’m just good against it, or I can catch its blunders easily. Anyway, it’s a very good AI to play while on your commute or lying in the sofa. Of course, you can use it also as a virtual board to play with your friends, which is a nice addition to this app.
If you are a beginner, you can get a free version, which plays the game in a smaller (simpler) board to get a knack of the game, before buying this version. But even if you are a beginner you will enjoy playing against Igowin HD.