Different styles of the "teaching game"

Many nice people have offered teaching games here, I’ll post a few of my experiences, feel free to share your thoughts on the matter.

  • A game where I got input throughout the game, after important moves.
  • A game where I got variations of moves.
  • A game where I got a review of the game afterwards.
  • A game where I was asked to do my own review with no input.

What do you consider pros and cons of the above? What other teaching styles have you encountered or use? What do you prefer and why?

Bonus question: which styles would translate well in IRL games?


Here are some pages from Sensei’s I bookmarked a while ago.





I once played with @mark5000 (even though it wasn’t a teaching game, ) He gave me a lot of variations throughout the game.

[Edit: I completely lost.]

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He is a very nice person that is why @mark5000

Of course he is so much better

This is an important and difficult topic to discuss. I have already started and scrapped one response, went away, and now have come back. I see that this thread has 26 views and only one reply so far, a revealing stat.

The things you have listed as style are structural aspects. Personally, I think a review afterwards is just a game review. Any game can be reviewed, and a good review certainly has a teaching effect, but I don’t think it is a teaching game per se. Variations are good as part of a teaching game at a higher level—say for an SDK instructed by a dan—but that is getting into the weeds for a DDK unless the variations are short. Moreover, variations by themselves don’t teach principles or thought processes. Therefore, to my mind, only continuous input is a real teaching game. This input might be at important moves, or more often, even every move, depending on age and experience.

In contrast to the foregoing “structural” style of teaching games is the “teaching” style. This would draw on the “differentiated teaching” styles used in general education. A young child needs a different style than someone older. An absolute beginner needs different content than someone who knows the rules and some basic concepts. One teaching style, for younger or weaker players, might be to diagnose the situation on the board and suggest several moves for the student to choose from. A more Socratic method, for older or more experienced players, would be to ask questions that would show how to think about the position: Are you in danger? Does your opponent have a weak group? What is the biggest move? How might the opponent respond? Is it sente?

It is probably worth mentioning that great experts in any field are not necessarily great teachers. Most of us, I expect, can think back to our educational experience and realize the truth of that.


My personal “ideal” teaching game ideas:

  • Non-handicapped. Personally I find HC games more fun (for the stronger player), but less educational, as the game has many different variables from a normal game. Fuseki training is completely out of the window and the stronger player often feels pressured to try complicated or even “trick” moves.
  • The “teacher” should try to keep the game more or less balanced. It is easy to “kill” a significatnly weaker opponent in the first 40 moves, but it rarely helps. There will be no sensible mid-game nor endgame (which I find is often surprisingly significant weakness of otherwise decent players), the “student” will just feel bad or try desperate nonsense moves completely out of his/her usual style. This is not always easy as the stronger player wants to “keep the respect” and not risk losing or not play nonsense when a TPK plays a zero point move (or worse). I sometimes even consider passing to keep the game relatively close, but fear it might come across as rude :smiley:
  • Simple basic moves - protect your cuts, cut opponent, divide, surround. Attack (don’t kill) weak groups, protect your own. Reading is an aquired skill that cannot really be taught too much. Keep your fancy 10 moves tesuji to brag about in the review. Newer players need basic concepts, not fancy and long sequences based only on reading.
  • Both parties should discuss and give input for the review. For me it does not matter too much whether we talk during the game or after (feel free to ask for what is more comfortable for you), but it should not be a one sided lecture. Often times I find the “student” had a good general idea, but chose the wrong move/shape or vice versa played a decent move I would normally just shrug off as “good”, but with a completely wrong reasoning behind it. We should discuss the ideas behind the moves, not only the moves. For that it really often helps when the “student” reviews the game first and the stronger player can then build on the ideas.

If I try first to answer the OP

1 usually I prefer to not interfere in the game or I will finish by playing against myself. I prefer to try to take note (mentally speaking) of the weaknesses of the student instead and even maybe to create a position in the game which could illustrate even more these weaknesses.
2 (same)
3 Yes. Well I won’t try to be exhaustive, just show what seems essential and having care to not overwhelm. I have to give a way for his next games, not a study case of all his failures.
4 In some way I try to interact, it happened for exemple to start back from the end and try to find at what time the resignation was a good option.

Next there is not a way to teach but many different ways too. It may depend a lot of who you are teaching, some like exhaustivity, some will be happy with the shortest advice. Some like 9x9 some can hear only about 19x19…

This forum should have a lot more on that so that’s all.


I plain don’t like to give “teaching games” because at some point, in the early game, the weaker player will usually make a really bad move. Now, you’ve got to either:

  1. Play on, meaning that comments on the rest of the game lose a lot of practical realism since the moves don’t have any impact on the result;

  2. Respond with your own bad move to keep the game even, which is anti-educational;

  3. Inform them why their move was bad, give them a choice of good moves and ask them to play again, which slows down the game and can make them feel patronised.

Now, #3 “A game where I got a review of the game afterwards” is just a regular game for people trying to improve. Join the OSR league, where the stronger player will always review the game for you. If you’re grinding on match-up, ofc, you have to do #4.

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If the mistake is really large, I usually just fix my shape somewhere (saves dealing with a reckless suicidal invasion later, as well) and tell them it’s a deliberate slow move for them to also fix their shape. Also, even if the whole board game is lost after 30 moves, there is merit in playing out the local situations.

If someone feels hurt for being patronised in a teaching game, they shouldn’t be playing a teaching game in the first place.


Now I know why you said that so many times in our teaching game…:slight_smile: