I got a great review of my game from another player on GoKGS. So I got this *.sgf file with lots of variants (tree branches) with lots of comments... So now I am looking for a good piece of software that would:

  1. Allow me to browse through all the variants and not get lost (it would be great if it could distinguish the variants I've already seen or something, otherwise I can get lost easily...)

  2. There were certain situations (like in move 51) where the reviewer told me "this is the key point to kill the opponents group". I would like to experiment with this. It would be nice if the software could tell me if the group is alive or dead - i.e. some help in the analysis, since I am (as a beginner) not always able to find the optimal move for either side... (I've heard of GoTools, but 1) I've also heard that they have lots of bugs, besides of being closed & paid only and 2) I don't know how they comply with requirement 1).

Thanks in advance!

  • It looks like KGS's SGF is not really standard. So you probably are stuck with cgoban3.
    – lang2
    Mar 24, 2015 at 15:46
  • In the last 6 years there might have been some advancements. Might be posting a new question specifically asking whether Part 2 is possible yet.
    – MXMLLN
    Mar 4, 2021 at 5:22

1 Answer 1


I'm afraid I can only partial answer your question, but since there are no other replies yet, here goes:

To browse SGF files I use cgoban3 (the KGS client), which has a reasonable tree view and allows for browsing with arrow keys instead of the mouse. It has a few bugs, but it is generally easy to navigate around them.

There does not seem to be any editor that can determine L&D status. This is already very (very) difficult for advanced specialized Go playing bots and requires a lot of computing power. You'll probably not find anything really usable, much less in a general purpose SGF viewer.

Also, from the SGF specification it is implied that an SGF file has no way to keep track of which variations or text messages were added in which order (please correct me if wrong), so you won't find any tool that can display everything in the right order. This is quite annoying sometimes (and one of the reasons I don't regard SGF exactly highly).

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