One of the best Polish gomoku and renju players, Michał Żukowski (also known as Zukole), recently stated on the Polish gomoku discussion forum that he plays correspondence renju because he does not really have any online alternatives to play renju. He plays correspondence renju on renjuoffline.com, where he already finished 450 correspondence renju games. Of those games, in the last six months he finished 12 Soosyrv-8 renju games, 10 Tarannikov renju games, 10 Taraguchi renju games, and 10 Yamaguchi renju games.
In fact there are numerous opportunities to play renju online, and I guess that many European players are, like Michał, unaware of them, so I decided to write this short article to explain those opportunities.
In this article I won’t say much about the excellent Czech server piskvorky.net, because the Europeans know about it anyway. Soosyrv-8 renju was added there a few months ago, and this server is the server whereon the Renju Euroleague (http://renju.euroleague.cz) is played.
So I will focus on the servers the Europeans are probably unaware of.
First, you can also play Soosyrv-8 renju with an English interface on the Russian renju server renju.in (the former renju.su). Here is a screenshot illustrating how you can create a game with the same time control as in the Euroleague, 10 min +3 sec: https://sites.google.com/site/sghgfwie/home/renju111.jpg
On that server you can also play in no-prog correspondence tournaments, i.e., correspondence tournaments in which it is NOT allowed to use programs, in contrast to correspondence games on renjuoffline.com. One of such no-prog correspondence tournaments in Soosyrv-8 renju starts in a week, on Wed 24 Apr, and its participants include, in particular, Dmitry Epifanov and Alexey Lebedev: http://renju.in/en/turnaments/?tur=132 . The time control of that particular tournament is 45 days. So if you want to play without computer analysis, such tournaments are a good option. You only need to read the description of each tournament to see whether using programs is allowed or not. In no-prog correspondence tournaments you can use a real or virtual board to put stones for the purpose of analysing your position during the game, but are not allowed to run a renju engine such as Yixin or Blackstone. Practically all players there obey the rules, although there have been a few cheaters in the past.
Second, the Russians organise online renju tournaments on gambler.ru. The tournaments are played with the opening rule called ”пять реверсов,” literally ”five swaps.” I guess this opening is known internationally as the Tarannikov rule, but I may be mistaken. The time control is 7 min + 4 sec. To play in Gamber tournaments, you have to install a special program, where you can choose an English interface. If you are interested, I am sure the Russians will gladly help you get started, as the interface is somewhat confusing if you see it for the first time.
In the beginning of 2016 Dmitry Epifanov explained me the interface, so I played in a few renju tournaments there. Here are the links to some of those tournaments:
By following the links above, you can even have a look at the individual games. My nickname there was sandra113, spelt exactly as my Kurnik nickname. As you can see, in these tournaments I faced, in particular, Dmitry Epifanov (who played under the nickname Owen), Alexey Skuridin (who played under the nickname skuridin), and Alexander Razdevelyuk (who played under the nickname Полина_11). They are well-known Russian renju players. Being a complete novice in renju, I stood no chance against them, but it was an interesting experience.
As you can see on the schedule (https://www.gambler.ru/tours/… ), the Gambler renju tournamaments are set to start at 21:00 Moscow time each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, but are actually played once per two months or so. That is, usually no one or almost no one comes, which results in an insufficient number of people for the tournament to start, but sometimes people come together to play, apparently as a result of arranging in advance. The last played tournament was held about a month ago, on 22 Mar 2019: https://www.gambler.ru/tour/691593 . The last but one tournament was played about two months before that, namely on 29 Jan 2019: https://www.gambler.ru/tour/681356 , and fourteen players participated in it, including Denis Kachaev, Ilya Katsev and Alexey Skuridin.
If you are interested to play in these tournaments, you can simply get in touch with the Russians. Here is the Gambler tournament thread on the Russian renju discussion forum: https://vk.com/topic-1735025_11813504?post=11848
Third, the Taiwanese renju community plays on tw.gamelet.com/game.do?code=fiveChess . You can play Yamaguchi renju there, and I saw, e.g., Ko-Han Chen in the statistics on that server. The interface is Chinese, but I wrote a detailed instruction how to use it: https://vk.com/topic-19499145_35809185?post=31841 . The instruction is in Russian, but you can use Google Translator to understand it. To write that instruction, I asked a Taiwanese friend of mine to explain me the interface and then verified his explanations by playing there. Here is a screenshot I took during one of my games: https://sites.google.com/site/sghgfwie/home/taiwanese.jpg
Although there are very few visitors on that server at any given moment of time, you can simply create a table with the settings you want, and sooner or later you will hear a notification sound informing you that someone joined your table and wants to play. In the meantime, you can simply do other things on your computer. I myself played many games there, albeit in gomoku, not renju.
Fourth, you can play Taraguchi renju on mindoku.com. This website is the international mirror of the Estonian website vint.ee and has an English interface. Just like on the Taiwanese website, there are generally very few visitors at any given moment of time, but you can simply enter the renju room and, if you see no one, wait for a notification sound while doing something else on your computer. The sound will notify you that you have been challenged. On that website you cannot create a table, but you can challenge anyone in the playing room. A couple of days ago I entered the renju room, saw no one, started doing other things on my computer, and got a few challenges within an hour or so. One Russian player recently told me she had recently played Taraguchi renju with Timo Ilu on that website. Timo’s nickname there is allever. Sometimes tournaments in Taraguchi renju are played on that website, and Ants wrote about it on the Russian renju discussion forum: https://vk.com/topic-1735025_31490388
Finally, I have heard there are some very popular Chinese renju servers, and although they have no English interface, you can have the interface explained to you if you want. I was able to find a Taiwanese to explain me the interface of the Taiwanese renju server, so I believe you can find a Chinese who will recommend you a good Chinese renju server and explain you its interface. There are many Chinese renju players to contact. A friendly attitude and communication skills can do magic.
Even if you are unwilling to ask anyone to help you, you can learn by trial and error, as I did one-and-a-half years ago on a Japanese renju server. I passed a Japanese captcha by using the Google handwriting tool, installed the required program in order to access the server, and, despite almost everything being in Japanese, managed to play renju games there. Here is a screenshot of one of my games, where you can see me under the nickname sandy113: https://sites.google.com/site/sghgfwie/home/jap-screen.jpg . That Japanese server is apparently no longer operational, but worked at that time. Its URL was casual.hangame.co.jp/omok .
So in renju you actually do have online alternatives to correspondence games 🙂 After all, Alexey Skuridin played in as much as about 200 renju tournaments on gambler.ru (https://www.gambler.ru/user/74662/tours… ), and you could do the same 🙂
By Sandra Jones