How to Study Your Games

Hi all. An excellent way to improve your game is to review your games afterwards. Your games are a springboard to additional learning when you identify your weaknesses and any missing concepts that cost you the game. One problem many players encounter is they haphazardly go over the game—they run through it quickly and maybe even let an engine do most of the work. The problem with this approach is that most learning comes from pondering the game and asking questions about moves and ideas you had at the most critical moments.

I made a downloadable Game Review Checklist to give you ideas of what to look for while reviewing your games. The Checklist breaks down the review process into three distinct phases:

  • Phase I – manual review with no engine help. This should be done on the game board.

  • Phase II – engine review, or if you have a teacher or stronger player to review the game with you this is where they would come in. (If using an engine, Go Review Partner is good for this purpose.)

  • Phase III – identify lessons learned. Identify all things you need to work on based on your analysis and the engine / stronger player analysis. You should then add these to your study journal.

In this way, I hope you will improve your game and find more enjoyment in reviewing your games.


I love it but I a question. In the middle and end game sections, you have a row called “Themes”. What should be written there? Some examples would help too.


My pure guess would be things you see happening quite often. For example; You tend to attack whilst only having weak groups around the board. Or you have a really hard time with a certain joseki shape, like 3-4, you pincer and he plays 2 space pincer. Or something… Maybe even like, It’s typical that early midgame you always fall behind even if you had a good fuseki.

At least that’s what got into my mind when I heard themes. xD


@Levvo has it right. My entry for “Themes” is more or less asking what are the prominent features of this game compared to your other games.

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Reading, running fight, tsumego, moyo invasion, sabaki, sansan, avalanche, follow smurphing on twitch, capturing race, self-atari, puppy go, envy, greed, overplay…


I guess I’ll have to work to train myself how to detect themes in a game to begin with. Maybe I’ll get stronger just because of that! :slight_smile:

I’m curious about the “don’t use an engine first” thing as well. I’ve received conflicting information in that regard. What I have been doing was to run the game through goreiviewpartner (using Leela 11) immediately have the game is over, then look at the moves where it said I made the biggest mistakes and analyze why it’s choice was better than mine. Sometimes I can’t figure it out and so I ask on a forum somewhere.

That said, I feel like I’ve hit a wall so changing things up is probably a good idea…


A principal goal of post-game review is to study your thinking during the game. Engines make it difficult to do this.

Imagine you blundered during a game. Your post-game review should involve figuring out why you blundered and how to avoid making the same mistake in future.

An engine can be problematic because it is inherently distracting. It tells you several different things about that position, and then you can’t remember what you were thinking during the game, and now you can’t analyse your thinking.


What a great post,

Thank you Mark5000 for taking the time to put this together. OGS has such a great community!
I look forward to using this when reviewing my games. (bookmarked!)


I really like this document and the 3 step approach to reviewing games, but some of the items on the list are a little confusing. There seems to be a lot of overlap. For example ‘Mistakes made’, ‘Tactics missed’ and in both Middlegame and Turning Points. Unless I’m just misunderstanding what ‘Turning points’ means.

Well, assuming you aren’t using a bot to figure out winrate swings as an indication of “turning points”, you can use the manual divide and conquer approach: compute the score at Nmoves/2. If you’re ahead, do the same for Nmoves/2 + Nmoves/4 etc. until you arrive at a figure close to ~50/50. ;D

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Thanks for your comments. I am content if there is some overlap in categories, because the purpose is only to give you ideas of what to look for while reviewing your games. It is perfectly ok to leave some fields blank, too

On “mistakes made” and “tactics missed,” I intended the former as things like bad shape or bad direction of play, and the latter more as missed tesujis or life and death. I also intended “turning points” as putting a laser focus on the key moments of the game and ultimately why you won or lost.

My intent is not important however. Feel free to customize or even repost the spreadsheet if it suits you better.