Game analysis...a crutch?

So i have been endevoring to teach two of my friends the wonderful game of go. One of them up untill a few days ago has been using the game analysis to help him read out variations and the other has not.

The one that hasnt has used it, but dies not like using because she claims that it does not help her learn.

The other who has been using it a lot has not stopped claiming that he uses it too much.

In my own experience here i have used the game analysis myself. When i first came to ogs is never been on a site like this one with so mant tools that i could use such as the score estimste and rhe game analysis. And i relied on it heavily. So heavily in fact thst i beleive that it has somewheat stunted my growth as a go player in a way that is going to take a long time to undo.

I have now gone on to my settings and perma disabled it so i am not tempted to use it.

But i do think that the game analysis is a crutch to learning that may well be doing more harm tban good. The human brain is lazy… it seeks efficient and easy ways to solv problems… and if that means using the analysis to take over the burden of properly reading then it will.

To firther my statement that its a crutch… i have many times heard that reading ability and doing go problems is an excersis not unlike working out your muscles on your body… they deteriorste when not used. But… if these musckes of the brain sre not being engaged fully from the get go then suerky the famage may well be further reaching in terms of go development. Especially when you rely on it for so long… and the suddenly come to a game where the other has disabled it. It would be a mental shock to the system. And without the ability to read using the analysis you may not be able to read the gsme very well at all thus damaging your overall rating in GO.

What are everyojes thoughts on this?

When I started playing I played mainly correspondence and used analysis a lot. I think it generally helped me. When you start, you can’t really do any of the go stuff properly yet, so smacking stones around in analysis is like additional training. You can see which moves lead to which shapes and your brain makes the connection from current position to what you’ve come up in analysis. That doesn’t work in real reading because brain is too preoccupied with visualizing stones.

Another plus is that with analysis tool you’re basically doing post-game analysis during the game. I’m a sloppy reviewer and after the game I at best quickly go through it, but if I use analysis I spend a lot of time on going through variations during the game, I in fact spend much more time than I’d spend in post-game review.

The only problem can be with reading training, but I don’t think that go is all about reading. If you look at games of weaker players, they make tons of mistakes in places where zero reading required. Experience, judgment, familiarity with shapes are more important. As I understand BattsGo doesn’t outread his opponents in Back to Basics videos, but applies common sense, how is he doing that if reading so important, am I right?

So in conclusion analysis is an awesome tool that helps you get stronger. Score estimator on the other hand should burn in hell for tempting us.

And nothing is as good and as efficient in eliminating all positive effects of your studies as real life.


You bring up some very good points. None i can logically argue against actually eith the exception of the analysis used in live games… do you think if its used in live games people could become dependant on it in a tricky situation where reading is requiered?

Also… i still use score estimste… and i hate myself for it. XD.

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It seems fair to me and kind of wonderful tools if you and your opponent have time and right to use it.
Now each time you don’t use these like in a real life game or like in short time setting you may feel a bit lost sometimes?
I mean you could have some goals to play good without these tools and for this you will need some training too (without the tools).

Well, being in the middle is basically my answer to everything :smiley: but back then when I still had time to play live games every now and then I had a strict rule never to analyze during live - forcing myself to learn to read and having to trust what I have read out, and happily analyzed during correspondence, which in turn helped me to learn what “parts of reading” to focus on and trying to get new moves on my radar - moves I would not normally even consider, which I think is a great benefit, one can hardly (or I guess just more slowly) learn by only playing serious non-analyze games, where there is no time/confidence to even consider these “different” moves.

So my idea is to find a balance. If you only use analyze mode without reading yourself you might not learn to read anytime soon. If you never give yourself the opportunity to explore the variations or try out some “innovative” moves, you might get stuck in your (while well read) habits too much. I think both have benefits.


I play correspondence. I do a lot of moves based on “common sense” as seen on Dwyrin videos. When in doubt I use analysis to check variations.

Right now here’s my situation: on OGS I have a cool SDK rank but in real life I’m still DDK, according to tournaments results. Furthermore both in live games and correspondence games I noticed recently that my reading skills are far worse than expected to match with my rank: I’m lazy at reading and sometimes I do silly mistakes that could be prevented easily by a very limited reading. Life and death situations, especially in corners. But also bunch of stones lost because of very simple moves by my opponent that I didn’t foresee.

So, right now, my opinion is that analysis is a crutch indeed.

It helped me learn and progress, as @S_Alexander said, but now I’m paying the consequences.
I should disable it too and train reading better.


You both have good points. For me it did help to skrt of try out new moves that i hadnt considered before i started using it. But back when i first joined ogs i was a super low rank only around 16kyu. And was teaching myself because i had no books or at the time knew of no respirses to learn.

I think its okay for a lower level to use soaringly myself because i think it may create or embed in to useres habbits that are hard to break out of.

@lysnew i completely agree, for me when i started hitting about 10kyu, i knew my reading was radically weaker than what it should have been fir my rank. Ive never played in an IRL tournament, but i have played on my board vs my lower rank friends. And id say because of my lazy reading that im at least 2 stones weaker on a roal board. Which is something im trying to rectify by playing out pro games on the board as well as do go problems on it too.

But the best way i think to really increase reading skills is go problems online… do em fast and do a lot of them. The reading abiloty is like a muscle… it needs to be trained hard.

I mentioned bad habbits before when it came to using the analysis. What i mean by this is a sort of combination of shape and sequences of moves that may get embedddd in to a lower players head that isnt actually right, or perhaps less than the optimal variations that will then stick with them for longer because they have been reading using the analysis rather than say, doing go problems to increase reading in more optimal ways.

Of course the analysis, does have its upsides. For example, if im playing a weaker opponant, i can go in to analysis and ‘share’ some vsristions wjth the opponant that im teaching. It has other functions that are fantastic for teaching with the ability to reveiw the game without actually starting a reveiw. I does have its advantahes.


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I disagree that game analysis is a crutch.

I think that there is a serious misconception about what reading actually means. Most people think that the visualisation part is the main problem, but I disagree. When I was much weaker, I decided at one point to make a new account and play all moves with extreme use of josekipedia and game analysis. The new account settled at the same kyu rank as the old account. Because you cannot try out all moves with or without game analysis and josekipedia will not warn you that playing this joseki gives your opponent a moyo over three quarters of the board.

The crucial thing when reading is to think of the moves that are worthwhile to try and only of them. Game analysis lets you train this, record the variation you were expecting and then compare it to what your opponent did to kill your group. When you read without game analysis and your group is dead, you never realise what your actual error was.

And yes, there is some visualisation training necessary, and it is worthwhile to play some games without game analysis, but one should not blame game analysis for not seeing snapbacks.


Do you really do that? How?
In Malkovich mode?

I see your point, but the way i see it is this. If you are using the analysis all of the time, in every game you play then suerly you would become at least oart way dependant on it to take ivee the visualisation aspect of reading.

I dont dissagree with you that is is a great too to test out moves yoi would otherwise not play. And in that way it is a good tool to help build up a basic understanding of situations that you may not have been in before.

As to life and death, and problems like tsumego, i dont think the game analysis offers much in the way of actually learning how to read though the situation quickly and accuratly.

Reading is more than visualosation its also simply knowing what would happen when you play a stone in any given situation… or at least having a lretty good idea of what moves are coming and where to play after those moves.

I for one, am bloody aweful at visualisation, ironic as im a writer (especially considering the spelling errors), so ive sorta had to hammer in different variations in to my head over and over again until something sort of sticks.

I have used analysis, and even now when ive disabled it i still find myself cliking the arrows tk try and find out what happens when you do this or that. Which leads me on to one final thing.

Playing on a real board in the real world. You dont have score estimation or analysis, which is why i think that the key to really developing those skills is to begin using those skills without an aid that you would not get in the real world.

Back on to life and death and the like. Gsme analysis can only do so much. And if you dont know what went wrong in a game… then do a reveiw after the game. If you still cant spot the misakes then i personally ask someone better than i am. And then make a point of doing more tsume go, and more life and death problems. But also looking iver pro games… they are super enlightening.

I still personally see game analysis as a crutch personally. But as a tool for learning rather than as a tool to help a person win games… it is invaluable and no dount helps to build insight and intuition in the game as well as reading skill.

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I do not accept the underlying assumption of this discussion, which is that reading is a skill inherent to the game. Its parallel use in chess shows that it has nothing to do, inherently speaking, with either game. It is an incidental skill that is an historical contingency, a concession to practicality. Time controls are another example of a concession to practicality. Good visual memory (the basis of reading) and quick thinking are not equally distributed in the population, hence some people are handicapped from the start just as a 5-foot player is in basketball. Moreover, most older players face decline in both visual memory and quick thinking. In view of the foregoing, I prefer to play correspondence because I prefer to play better go (better play from my opponents and better play from myself), and if that means the use of tactile analysis, so be it.

I would rather win or lose a game based on a wide range of strategy and tactics, rather than based on a memory lapse.

Yes, like Wulfenia, I record many variations (by hand in my case), although I am doing less and less of that as I progress, because I find that my opponents too often do something unexpected (and strong). LOL, I guess this means my positional sense is very weak, which just goes to show the limited value of tactile analysis.


I’m sorry, I can’t understand your point. I don’t play chess and I don’t understand what “tactile” means here.

Also I think that is absolutely normal that people (and players) are not equally skilled.

Helps can be used if both players agree, so you can choose whatever set of rules and tools you like best. It doesn’t change the fact that I feel weak at reading when I play live games. I also had problems with time limits sometimes, just because I was spending a lot of time trying to read out some difficult move.

I actually believe that reading is a skill inherent this game, but I’d really like to understand better your thoughts.


We don’t really play like computers do, don’t we?
So yes I think reading is a basic skill for human players whatever, if you back it up as deep as possible with tactile proofing or not.

I am far away to be sure that trying to not rely on your reading is a right way to process the game, thinking about what you could lose on the imaginative side (without speaking on the time constraints).

You better get some fun (and will) at reading. Why do stronger players advise to focus more on solving L&D? Essentially for the reading training. And for them it proved to be the fastest way to improve your go skills.


I think that there are several reasons why people disagree:

One reason I do not accept is the “moral” argument: Counting 150 things is annoying, so it is good for your character to do it without error. I do think that it is interesting and important to decide what to count, so I would love to see the score estimator replaced with a tool where I mark what the computer should count. But this brings me to the second point:

People have very different initial ability at reading and counting. Maybe the purest version of this is to read out a ladder after understanding what it is. There is no decision, there is not really any visualisation, you “just” have to keep track of where you are. I would expect that people who are stronger at counting and reading initially without training would see game analysis less of a crutch. I know that I can count 150 items, I just don’t want to when I play a game of casual go after work.

And to return to tsumego: I like to solve tsumego. It is fun. But reading in the sense of visualisation is simply not the main work there for me.

As for the “real world”. I might be biased because I started to play go online, but I do not think of a physical board as superior to an online one. I find it very inferior that the game is not recorded. I do have trouble with actual tournaments, but not because of lack of game analysis, but because in this country, people will bump into your chair when going to the toilet and they will start to talk when they have finished, and these are things that are a huge problem for me. Also, they have given really, really icky stones to the weaker players at the tournaments, I didn’t want to touch them at all.


It depends how you use that tool. If I use it because I’m lazy and it’s boring to count, it will weaken my abilities. If I can use it to check proof what I did count, it’s awesome.
For life and death, you can have whatever different goals, when you take the challenge to read and solve them it will make you better at reading, so I don’t get your point? Besides “pure” reading training having a better understanding of the limits of life may help in the visualisation in a more global way, even if you rarely will use directly the new knowledge you got.
For virtual/real world, recording is nice but since I play on internet we never review the game and that was almost always done in real life. I like face my opponent it induce some respect between both that I miss on internet.
Your last anecdote made me laugh a lot, thx for sharing

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Tactile analysis would be to take a physical board and analyze variations using real stones.

Perhaps he meant tangible, because ironically that has a figurative meaning: “available, reachable”.

Then there’s tactical analysis, which would mean investigation of local variations as opposed to strategic analysis (investigation of more vague game plans).


As a beginner, only been playing around 6 months, 16k, I do both. I solve tsumego purely by visualization and reading; hard mental work!

But, I think any exposure to the game, any active interaction with Go, helps with reading eventually.

An analogy I make is to carpentry. I am a good professional carpenter. I can visualize and “read” many steps into building. Did I start out trying to develope my pure visualizing skills? No. They happened naturally as a result of much experience with the process. So, I think any interaction/ doing is good, Keep active. Keep you hands in it.

Joseki are very important, for sure! Like learning common building patterns / best practices in carpentry.


That’s a bit too optimistic. Go activities can become too much time consuming.
There is the fun factor indeed but you can lose a lot of time in view of your progress rate if you go wrong (like trying some exhaustive learning of josekis as middle kyu player or trying to solve far too hard tsumego)

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Sure, I just meant in general.

And I do believe, for the most part, that any activity ( no matter how small) in most things in life, is better than none at all; or being blocked. Keep Going

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I think that a wide range of strategy and tactics is contingent on reading. It doesn’t matter how good you are at playing big moves if you can’t protect your cutting points. It doesn’t matter how good you are at building influence if you can’t kill an invasion. Similarly, in chess, it doesn’t matter how good your positional skills are if you miss basic mating tactics.

That said, if you only ever plan on playing correspondence, reading out a sequence without an analysis board isn’t all that important, but even with the analysis board, SOME degree of reading will greatly speed up the rate at which you can check variations. Reading simple 3-4 move sequences, things like “this keima protects that cut because it ladders the stones in a safe direction,” or “this cut is protected by a net there,” without needing to check every variation on the analysis board, will drastically cut down on the number of deep variations you need to actually review.

If you ever intend to play live games, either over a physical board or just in live time controls on OGS, reading becomes critical, of course. That doesn’t mean that the analysis board is a bad thing to use in correspondence, though. If you want to get better at reading in live games, play live games and read.