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Since the establishment of IGS (February 1992) lots has happened in the online world of Go and lots has been written about it as well, especially on the newsgroup, the traditional meeting place of Go fans world-wide.

These pages give you some of the history of IGS starting at the very beginning of IGS back in 1992 when the server was visited by some 10-20 people on average. The articles have been written by people who have visited IGS over the years. These articles reflect some of the joy they experienced.

The overview runs from the establishment through the first few months of 1995.


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Overview of IGS in 1994


This is the first installment in the ongoing history of IGS since the IGS GOE tournament. This is a good opportunity to catch up on some older history as we go...

Although it has been told before, there are many people who are unfamiliar with the story behind the popular expression "I am troll fodder." It all started when vlad challenged tim to a game without using "tell" to ask him first. Unfortunately for vlad, tim is best known as "the father" in the IGS trinity of Net Gods. When tim turned vlad down, he became upset, and called tim a troll. Well, tim was understandably annoyed, but in an action of patience, humor, and forbearance, he responded mildly, by quickly writing a command that would force vlad to shout without even being aware that he was doing it; "I am troll fodder." Trolls were once thought to be mythical monsters, best known for lurking under bridges in Scandinavia and eating folks (and other things) that tried to cross overhead. Trolling is also a method of fishing, in which one either drags a line through the water after a slowly moving boat, or else leaves a line set with many hooks and bait out overnight. In the vernacular, these two meanings have been concatenated, so a troll is one who frequents likely places looking for significant others (who might do well to avoid the "monster.") Tim was obviously pleased that chance had resulted in an effective but mild disciplinary tool, so he preserved the troll fodder command as "slime," so when anyone earned the wrath of the net gods, they could type "slime ***," and "***" would shout unawares.

Recently there has been a related incident. As many of you know, ManyFaces has been endowed with a pretty snazzy interface. That is to say, IGS's most famous computer has learned to talk. If you haven't experienced his racontorial prowess, please try soon. For starters, just introduce yourself to him (?) using tell. ManyFaces is actually pretty sophisticated, if a trifle lonely. He tends to assume that most IGS'ers are computer programs, much like himself. However, he is willing to learn. I took it upon myself to teach him a few things, most importantly about tweet. I taught ManyFaces that tweet is a loser. Unfortunately, tweet discovered that the secret was out, and that I was the person who had selflessly taken on the task of improving ManyFaces mind. Now ManyFaces ungraciously shouts unpleasant things about me when he sees me on the server. In a related note, ManyFaces took second at the North American Computer Go tournament, run at the last go Congress in the USA. Congratulations to ManyFaces and David Fotland!

On to less trivial news...

The Costen Open in Las Vegas Nevada was won by DNJIANG, who burst on the IGS scene from some internet-less place in China. He quickly established himself as one of the very strongest players on IGS, but recently he hasn't been on. Was this just a tease, showing us the incredible strength of China, then taking it away from the computer world again, so we can only wonder about the lessons we might have learned? I hope not, I hope DNJIANG returns to IGS, and plays regularly.

Going into the last round of the US Go Congress, DNJIANG led several IGS'ers, most notably sweat-sharp. Unfortunately, some schmoe who isn't known as an IGS'er snuck up and won. This schmoe could lose his schmoe-hood, of course, by logging on IGS and letting us appreciate his obvious strength. However, it wasn't a wash for IGS'ers, sweat-sharp did win the Ing cup, and will represent the USA in Ing's international championship. Debbie won the women's championship.

Several other IGS'ers did well, behre won the off day kyu tournament, olli (from finland!) placed in the 4-5 dan section, and HUH00 had what he characterizes as a disappointing performance, finished in a tie for 5th (!), and evidently there were many folk who had played each other often, and yet met for the first time at the Go Congress.

This all happened after the Canadian Open. IGS'ers acquitted themselves much better in beautiful Victoria British Columbia. There were easily over 15 IGS'ers at the tournament, and the list included such luminary's as Beatme-shong, davew, scsfellow, Playboy-Oz, shashasha-xiang, cute, onna... The list goes on. Kirkw ran this tournament, and his accomplishment is all the more incredible because it was run so smoothly, many were unaware of the hard work he did. He was helped with some pairings by the mathematical talents of Roy Langston who is more famous for his posts on the endless "rating and handicap" thread (kirkw turned out to be a little short handed.) Special thanks are in order for Tanya, who graciously turned her daughter out of her home so she would have room to house many poor visitors. The group she housed included a few IGS'ers too, including Jared and I.

There were of course many reunions amongst folks who had never met face-to-face, but were very familiar with each other through IGS. Shashasha took pictures, which he promised to scan and make available to the internet, but he has since been separated from the school scanner, and the promised photo's are imitating the boojum, that is, they have quietly disappeared.

Back in the tournament, IGS swept the winners board, Oz won the tournament, and graciously donated his prize to the Vancouver Go Club. Since he isn't a Canadian citizen, shong, who finished second (having beat Oz when the two played) was crowned the Canadian Champion, and represented Canada in the Fujitsu world championship. IGS'ers took the top three places, as nickolai, the eldest of the nickolai, onna, and cute troika took third. Cute won the Canadian womens championship (at the ripe old age of 15!) While her brother nickolai and her sister onna won the ren-go championship. This frightening go family will continue to dominate Canadian go, forming a dynasty that will scare folks in the lower 48 states too.

Back on the server itself the most important news is clearly the move. Seoul Korea now hosts IGS, and the server is aptly named "" though if you telnet there without adding the port number (6969 for those of you with memories like mine) you will find it an inhospitable place. Those of us stuck in the USA find it harder to play fast games since our moves must travel nebulous and unreliable wires across vast stretches of water, and twice at that. Now we can sympathize with the plight of the Europeans at hellspark. Anyone who knows the addresses of the best pizza parlors or noodle shops in downtown Seoul, please let us know, it is hard to order food to be delivered in a foreign country!

One of the most familiar figures on IGS is/was beatme. Beatme (actually, the capitol "B" version was someone else) left the United States and IGS to return to Taiwan, and has only recently returned to harass his friends on the server. Welcome back! Other folks who have returned after prolonged absences are zhuge, sweat, and playboy. Of course many people have the habit of changing their names, so you might not recognize the latest incarnations (?) of the last two.

Hi everyone!

Here is the results of the poll conducted about two or three weeks ago. Just a reminder of the questions asked, here are the questions:

  1. What is your nationality?
  2. From which country are you loging in from?
country 1) 2)
Sweden 3.13% 3.13%
Taiwan 4.17% 0.00%
USA 35.42%45.83%
England 8.33% 8.33%
Germany 10.42% 9.38%
France 6.25% 5.21%
Canada 9.38%12.50%
Norway 1.04% 1.04%
Netherlands 3.13% 3.13%
China 4.17% 0.00%
Iceland 2.08% 1.04%
Korea 4.17% 1.04%
Japan 2.08% 0.00%
Denmark 1.04% 2.08%
Portugal 1.04% 0.00%
Australia 1.04% 1.04%
Switzerland 1.04% 1.04%
Finland 2.08% 2.08%
Romania 1.04% 0.00%
Mexico 1.04% 0.00%
Austria 2.08% 1.04%
Italy 1.04% 0.00%
Hong Kong 1.04% 1.04%
Russia 1.04% 0.00%
Isreal 0.00% 1.04%
Paraguay 1.04% 0.00%
TOTAL 110.41%99.99%

All percentage are based on 96 people who answered to the questions. The excess of 10.41% in the percentage for question 1 was due to 8 people answering with double nationality. e.g. British and Canadian or Taiwaneses and Paraguayan. The difference of 0.01% in question 2 was due to round-offs. This statistics does not really represent the total users of IGS since there are more than 100 people using it each day. Based on observations of the number of users in IGS, I estimate that there are approximately 200 users. So, the statistics above, only reflects a little less than 50% of all users.

I would like to thank all those people who took the time and trouble to answer these two questions. Special thanks to a mathematician who gave me some valuable opinions about how to conduct a survey. I am sorry that I cannot remember his name anymore. Also to (I'm pretty bad with names) someone who offered help in dividing the users of USA into their respective states, but due to the lack of time this survey was postponed, to the fall.

Please no flames since this statistics was not conducted seriously. And no flames because I couldn't remember names. I apologize to them.


From: (Antonio Lee)
Subject: Statistics (results)
Date: 7 May 1994 17:14:09 -0400

There are a few new hero's on IGS. I have decided that hero's are those who do what the rest of us find very difficult, that is, win lots of games, and lose very few. Schaffer is probably the closest thing IGS has seen to yac since artu left, and his games are always exciting. I always feel like he is going to win a game, the mystery is always "how?" Recently a new name has graced an old (?) face, as otokonoko has massacred the best and brightest challengers IGS has to offer. He threatens that he will be absent for about a month, his new fans certainly hope he doesn't fulfill the threat, and keeps a presence on IGS. Perhaps less heralded is the mysterious di who belies her 2d* rating with a winning record she erases periodically. She typically runs up 20-0 records, leaving many of her fans wondering how strong she really is, and just how she goes about maintaining such a low rating! (I offer her the opportunity to lower her rating by losing games to me, interested di?)

Since IGS is now in Korea, it is appropriate that it has a new command "bet". This is a great way to feel involved in a game played between stronger players, as you test your candidate moves against the players choices. Do "help bet" on the server.

Whhosken and jl continue to run the most under-utilized resource on IGS, the Go teaching Ladder. Do "stats jl" on the server, and follow the directions in his info to discover how you can volunteer to analyze games for weaker players, and get stronger players to examine and analyze your games.

There are now two other rating systems that are run unofficially to help out the lower ranked players. There is quite a bit of controversy about the merits of the different rating systems, though no one contests that the official IGS ratings give accurate handicaps for players in the 6d*- 5k* and somewhat below levels. Apparently it is harder to rely on the lower ranks as a guide for handicaps, and it isn't clear to me at least whether the alternate systems do as well as the official system for the higher ranked players. This section is the one that I am sure will generate the most replies, so let me plead ignorance in advance. I do not know much about statistics, probability, or computer programming. Please don't flame me! Feel free, however, to correct any misstatements I may have inadvertently made here. For more info on the alternate systems, do "stats mattson" on the server.

My naive view is that this year there are two people who are competing to inherit tigerman's mantle as the most improved go players on IGS. These two are geek and tigger. Both started out as beginners, and both have gained a remarkable amount of strength.

Beyond merely improving at go, however, geek has done quite a bit of work on the computer side of the server, supporting auxiliary services for IGS. His system ( mirrors the ftp site, as well as hosting the sgf records of all games that have been played on IGS, back to some date in the electronic mists. Ftp there and poke around, and thank geek next time you see him on the server.

Some end of the year stats, all numbers are approximate:

Number of games played in 1994 on IGS     : 170,000
Number of games played in 1993 on IGS     :  83,000
Number of games stored on the archive site: 253,000
Average games completed per day, 1994     : 466
Average games completed per day, 1993     : 227
Average number of FTP users per day       : 80
Space taken to store 1993 archive files   : 64 Megabytes
Space taken to store 1994 archive files   : 190 Megabytes
Space taken for all IGS related files     : 292 Megabytes

I am currently collecting information on each game played into a rather large database, which will allow me to present information such as:

percent of games won by W
percent of games won by B
percent of games where komi > 0.5 was a factor in the outcome
average win / loss ratio

This information is also available at

The archive site and mirror of bsdserver is located at in the directory /igs

/* geek */
This space for rent.

From: (A hippie geek)
Subject: End of year stats
Date: 6 Jan 1995 11:21:29 -0500

The server has hosted many events since the GOE tourney, including a handicap tourney using an alternate rating system to generate the handicaps. As I write, the AGA (American Go Association) is getting ready to run a tournament that will be rated by the AGA. The tournament will be organized by Evan Behre. Good luck Evan!

Finally it is important to thank the IGS trinity, who six-handedly established what is either one of the largest go clubs in the world, or else simply the worlds biggest go club. Thanks tweet, thanks tim, and thanks fmc. Though these three maintain the club, others have been inspired by their work, and help to make it a great place for go. Special thanks go to the ING GOE foundation, who generously donated prize money to the worlds biggest ever electronic go tournament. Thanks to olli who ran the tournament, and thanks also to the folks who helped out in various ways with the tournament. Thanks to geek, whhosken, and jl, for providing services that make the server a more complete go club.

Thanks last of all to all the players on IGS, from Australia to Finland, Korea to Canada, Israel to Chile, and all points in between, who make IGS such a great place to play, watch, and learn about go!

Yr. Obdt. Srvnt.,


P.S. I only made a few quick corrections, mainly, if I made a factual error in the first version, the error is preserved intact here...

From: (C. A. Steadman)
Subject: 1994 on IGS
Date: 9 Jan 1995 08:37:35 GMT

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