Guidelines of reviewing for someone?

The only guide for reviewing I found is sensei’s one:

But I feel like there should be more to this than that.

Could experienced reviewers share their methods and secrets for making a good review?


I’ve done probably hundreds of game reviews and have experimented with a few “review styles.” I can summarize the one’s I’ve tried:

  1. Comprehensive Review: Talk about every mistake. This is the most difficult method, since every mistake is discussed. Potential pitfalls include the fact that your review is highly likely to feature your own opinion rather than fact. Extensive and authoritative discussions may also strain the player’s attention span. Even the best points are worthless if they are never heard.

  2. Small Sample Review: Select a portion of the player’s mistakes (first 10, random 10, etc.) and talk about those. This is the second most difficult method, since many mistakes are discussed. This has the benefit of casting insight on the quality of the player’s remaining moves that are similarly flawed. It’s also less likely to drain the player’s attention than a move-by-move analysis. But it still requires a lot of effort in reviewing.

  3. Overriding Theme Review: Identify an overriding theme or essential concept that unites some or all of the player’s mistakes, and discuss that. The advantage of that is that it can repair several mistakes at once by undermining the flawed thinking of them all. It’s also most likely to force the player to adjust their thinking because they are confronted with the logic behind many of their mistakes rather than by any one of myriad mistakes in the game.

  4. Turning Point Review: Ask the player to select and summarize the turning points of the game, and discuss that. This is one of the easier methods, since only one concept is discussed, and the burden to do some of the legwork is put back on the player. It’s also more likely to result in a collaborative discussion that can change the player’s thinking because it forces them to consider what is actually important and consequential in the game, rather than seeing right or wrong as an abstract concept applied to their moves. This method, however, depends on the player actively engaging with you and defending their move choices, which is generally more than I find many players are willing to do. The player may also be offline and unavailable to discuss moves with you.

  5. Biggest Mistake Review: Select the biggest mistake in the player’s game, discuss it, and look for similar mistakes where the same thinking applies. This is the one of the easiest methods, since it’s the lowest effort. But if the effort is less than the player was expecting, they may not value what you have to say about their play.

  6. Lazy AI Review: Send the game through a computer engine and report the output with some basic rationale. This method is unlikely to help the player, because the rationale is post-hoc justification and may not help the player identify similarly good moves in future games. If you don’t have much time to review the game, however, this is better than nothing.


I started a topic about this some time ago, just spouting my own opinions:

I never summarized it in a readable format, so here we go: :slight_smile:
This is for offline reviews, meaning: when you’re not having a dialog with the student at the same time.

The aim of a good review is to identify the student’s worst mistake and build one effective lesson around it.

To do this, I look over the whole game to see where that worst mistake is. The mistake is not the move itself; it is just the symptom. Try to comprehend where they are coming from. There is an idea in the student’s head that made them play those moves. Focus on this as the spanning theme of the review.

Next, use the following ingredients to construct an effective lesson:

  • Identify the concrete mistake and the erroneous thought process behind it. Put it into words and make it clear to them.
  • Offer positive advice. Tell them what to do, not only what not to do. Our brains don’t pick up on don’ts.
  • Justify everything from general concepts and proverbs, not just variations. The student must learn to apply this knowledge in a new situation.
  • Engage (a little bit). For example, ask the student what the next big move is, immediately before you suggest it as a variation.
  • Use clear language and talk in a way that will “get to them”. You need to try and connect with the student on an engaging level. They should read your comments and take them to heart, instead of falling asleep or rolling their eyes :slight_smile:

Some examples:

“If you had done this one thing better, you might not have lost.” encourages the student to want to learn the one thing and apply it.

I usually leave a summary comment at the end, addressed to “Dear Student,” followed by the pros and cons of their play and some suggestions on how to improve. It’s a great place to establish the spanning theme (like “aggression”), because it is the last piece of information and will thus be remembered better.

Negative example: never leave a comment on a move like “this is bad because you are pushing from behind.” -> Student’s face: “wtf, what else am I supposed to do then?!?” - Tell them where to play instead.

That can get a bit tricky when you get to unnecessary exchanges (which should be left out). I usually turn it into “be careful” and “make purposeful moves”.

When you say that B is better than A, you always need to give a justification. For example, “A makes you heavy, B is light, and you are willing to sacrifice the marked stones”. Use concepts like “thickness” and proverbs to connect the idea with the situation on the board in their head.

I like to use superlatives and exaggerations to get the point across, like “Black just got the biggest bestest wall ever while white lives with 2 points”. Don’t forget to mention features that “dominate the whole board” or moves that “land a knock-out blow”.

Someone asked me for a review recently. My reply was (as usual): “Get back to me with one loss that you played to the best of your ability”. Several days later, I heard back from them. They thanked me and said that they had no loss to show me, but had improved and ranked up thanks to their radical shift in attitude following my challenge.

Don’t give them the lazy AI review. :smiley: Above all should be your concern for the student’s improvement.