Train your brain with GoGrinder

One of the best ways to improve your Go is to subscribe to the “drinking from the fire hose” training method. This method is standard practice in Asian Go schools, where Go is studied for hours each day. Each student completes hundreds of tsumego, which are tailored to their level. Choosing the right tsumego as your daily puzzle routine is a challenge in itself. As a rule, you should be able to solve 4 out of 5 tsumego, and each solve should take no more than a few minutes. A few may also be solvable on-sight. If you cannot do this, the level of the tsumego is too high.

Since we are not in full-time Go education, fitting these tsumego in to our daily lives is a challenge. This is where GoGrinder can help: it is available for Android devices as well as on the desktop for Windows, Mac and Linux. You construct sets of problems using your favourite tsumego sources and a decent SGF editor (such as GoWrite or CGoban), and you load them into the application. Then, the application will rotate the board and change the colours of the stones for you (you can also disable this setting if your problems contain notes that refer to the stones by their colour). If you organise your problems into separate folders, the application will even report statistics on your play-through, such as average time to solve, and error rates.

I have been using GoGrinder for a while and I find it a good way to fit in a few tsumego while travelling to and from work. The drawback of the application is that it contains relatively few problems to get you started. However, the flip-side of this is that you are therefore encouraged to make your own sets of problems. An especially nice set is the Tasuki tsumego collection which contains a few thousand problems starting from beginner level including Cho Chikun’s Elementary Life and Death series.

Going back to the Asian Go schools, a common practice is to split problems up in to sets of 100 or so, and work on them repeatedly, until those patterns shift from your short term memory to the “hard-wired” part of the brain. Usually this takes a few days up to a week. Your solve times should be fast and your accuracy high. After this, you can work on the next group of problems. The problems are looked upon as “puzzlers” much the same as a newspaper might contain a sudoku or a crossword. Looking upon them as puzzles may help alleviate the sense of monotony that can come from repeated practice such as this.

I hope you found this post useful and are ready to have a play around with GoGrinder. Here are some screenshots of the application in action.


  1. Good post Ash, It’s not quite the same as GoGrinder (horrible name by the way…sounds like some kind of sex app!) but I make use of http://www.goproblems.com in a similar way. I pay for an annual,sub so that my stats stay active on the site, but you can try it out for free.

  2. Hi! I have downloaded GoGrinder but i don’t know how to convert Cho Chikun’s Elementary Life and Death series in SGF. Can you help me? Do you know if can be downloaded from some website? many thanks!

    • Hi there! It does exist out there on the Internet but it is hard to find. You can also find other SGF collections too, again they require some digging. Good luck!

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