Is using game analysis during a game cheating?

I admit that I, at times, use game analysis during live games. I very often use it during correspondence games. However, I can’t help but feel like I am cheating. I say this because part of the challenge of go is figuring out in your head how a situation will turn out. Using game analysis takes away at least some of the uncertainty. Obviously, there is no game analysis if you are playing a live game with a board. Therefore, I am curios if others think it is appropriate to use game analysis while playing.

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I would argue that if the analysis tool is not disabled then it is not technically cheating. You are, however, cheating yourself by using the analysis tool during live games.


tl;dr: My short answer is “no!”

[quote=“ChrisPhillips, post:1, topic:7741”]
I admit that I, at times, use game analysis during live games. I very often use it during correspondence games.[/quote]Me too … of course.

[quote]However, I can’t help but feel like I am cheating.[/quote]But why? Both sides have the same tools at hands …

Yes, but :wink:

  • It only takes away some of the uncertainty, as you say.

  • Where do we begin with our variations?
    Which variations evade us?
    How much fantasy do we have?
    Are we bold enough (or in some cases silly enough) to try something new?
    etc., etc.
    Same questions as in games w/o analysis functions.

For a long time I didn’t take my OGS rank “seriously” b/c I almost exclusively play correspondence games here, with analysis function enabled—until I realized that then the same would have to be true for my opponents, and then I let go of that distrust :smiley: I also find that these many, often quite thorough, analyses have helped me in the Real Life games I play, in that I apparently have a larger spectrum of possible reactions to a move than I had before. Also, my ladder reading seems to have gotten better.

So … I think that it’s just another way of learning to play Go, and as long as both players have agreed on using this function, also a valid one—just like if we may, for example, ask “open book or closed?” in a correspondence game (re: using Joseki dictionaries, another possibly just as controversial topic).


If it’s enabled, it’s not cheating. I used it heavily when I started playing, but ultimately I want to play the game as if I was sitting at a real goban in front of my opponent, and that means learning to read.

During a game with analysis turned off, we began a sequence of forcing moves, where there was really only one correct way to play it out. I commented to my opponent how conditional moves would be nice just to make it quicker, but realized the moves should be obviuos anyway.

I was then thinking it would be really good to be able to shut off the marker that shows the last move made.

[Edit] Deleted my first question

In life games I would argue that the analyzing feature is allowed as long as it is enabled (though I never used it during a life game for time reasons).

In correspondence games I would argue that everything is allowed as long as it is not explicitly forbidden (as in Chess correspondence games, where there is one »no engines please« branch, otherwise you can do what you want: engines, databases, opening books etc).

I for myself use a database (SmartGo) during correspondence games for the opening and joseki (always questioning myself whether it is useful or not to follow a certain pattern in a certain corner regardless of the rest of the board). And I also use some tools from SmartGo here and there. In life games I would argue that this behavior is kind of cheating though I didn’t find rules regarding this topic. My judgement for both (life and correspondence) comes from playing Chess, Backgammon and Poker online for ages.

But you brought up an interesting question: At least until now engines in Go are not that much of a problem (as far as I can judge this). What will happen, when a new, very strong version of Crazy Stone will be published in a few days (I’m planning to buy it). Would the help of this engine be allowed in correspondence Go or not? I ask this first independent from a probable discussion, whether the usage of such an engine would be helpful for your own development in Go. Because there already have been endless discussions in Chess, whether or not engine support in correspondence chess is a helpful training or not.

In correspondance, even if analysis is disabled, it doesn’t really change anything. Anyone could still set it up on a board and play it out. I guess traditionally that was probably done in any type of correspondance games. There’s no way to stop the other player from looking in a book or playing out variations.

I play correspondance mostly as a way to play without the constraints of normal time limits. My favorite games usually have some “live” time each day where we’re both making moves as if it were a live game. It just makes it easier to play with someone who may live in another part of the world, or to play a game when you don’t have an hour or more to sit down and play a full game.

In my experience with any sort of online game, there are going to be ways to “cheat” and people who cheat. I just play my game regardless.


IIRC some call this “Three-Brain Go”, I like to call it “Cyber-Go”.

I’d say it depends on agreement. If it’s NOT explicitly agreed upon I’d tend to think of this as cheating.

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To answer your question, it’s generally considered appropriate unless analysis has been disabled. It’s just a part of correspondence play.

As a side note, I think a lot of people overestimate the effect of analysis; it is not going to improve your game all that much. It’ll keep you from making a serious blunder, but you’ll still make a lot of reading mistakes, believe it or not. And it won’t help your positional judgement at all, of course.

as others have said, I don’t generally consider it cheating, but it’s definitely a crutch. If you over-indulge in it, you’ll vastly hinder your rate of improvement, and you’ll definitely feel the effect of your addiction if you ever play a game where it’s disabled or unavailable. XD


Like what others have said, it is technically not cheating but I feel it is cheating the ideals and integrity of the game. Admittedly, I do allow analysis to be enabled when I accept games too fast which is a fault on my part. Which is probably because of me being used to KGS, which does not have this feature.
Then again, in a live game, the opponent does not usually have the luxury to indulge in it too much or one will find oneself running out of main time before one knows it.

In a correspondence however, I feel that all gloves can come off. I like to think of it being similar to the Go Seigen - Honinbo Shusai match where Shusai was able to adjourn the match at any time, making the game akin to a correspondence game. Obviously when both players go back, they would plan out possible variations and such, and they would play it out on a board and not in their heads so I feel it’s the same. :smiley: A more common occurrence of this live correspondence happening is the current title matches in Japan, where the match would usually take a minimum of 2 days usually, and at the end of the first day, they would most definitely analyse their games.

Trivia: the last move of that day would be sealed in the envelope though so no one but the player of the last move will know the next move.the next day.

Analysis is still possible though.

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It’s only ‘cheating’ when you have a computer program make your moves for you – if even only the difficult ones. However, relying too much on any ‘Analysis’ feature would indeed keep you weak. But as a learning tool, while you are playing: I have no issue with that myself, per se.

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i think about it this way. if my opponent uses analysis and i don’t, then
i’m getting games against stronger players. and if i read through myself -
thats all good practice.

what that means is that i’m invariably paying less attention than my
opponent and lose when i shouldn’t.

but when i play live, my game has gone up quite a bit against similarly
ranked players.

cheating - but only yourself


It s all about control. How can you control what someone use to help him play better (be playing sequences on a board or on the screen, josekipedia, a go software (playing program or recognition pattern, books, even a strong player at his side)?

No one can so all is possible. After that said it is up to each player to appreciate to be over-ranked or not, to enjoy to play just with your normal abilities or to feel like mastering better the game.

You finally just play someone at your level, although the way of playing may look strange sometimes: what a master of josekis but who get crushed a few moves later, or what some strange move always looking into the center or whatever.

I don’t think it is cheating because the same resources available to both parties but i always take the games like real life games which you can’t do that kind of analysis. I calculate everything in my head intead of analysis mode, which is probably better if you want to improve… Using analysis mode during a game is like going to a Math exam/lesson with a calculator… If you always use it you will always depend on it…


I’m a newer player and, frankly, those more experienced than I am are also more experienced at using Analysis. So, it is a disadvantage to me, and thus I turn it off in my game invitations.

Should I strive for proficiency at using Analysis during a correspondence game, given its “crutch” nature that most above suggest? I defer to your respected views, but live Analysis seems, on the face of it, something to avoid.

Cheating is semantics and not addressed in my answer; the essential question is whether it’s pure and natural to play Go with the aid of Analysis.

Another way to think of it: for frequent Analysis users, if it’s turned off for an entire game, do you feel, even slightly, less proficient?

I walk, I stumble, like those who have played this game for thousands of years before me with only a goban and stones. :grinning: But you have technology, why not use it to improve? After the game, yes. I respect any differing opinions.

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Disclaimer: I don’t know whether you’re talking about live or correspondence games!

[quote=“Cool1, post:15, topic:7741”]
live Analysis seems, on the face of it, something to avoid.
[/quote]It may seem so to you, but not so to me who plays lots of slow-paced and therefore long correspondence games :slight_smile:

[quote=“Cool1, post:15, topic:7741”]
the essential question is whether it’s pure and natural to play Go with the aid of Analysis.
[/quote]Imagine … 50 years ago … we’d play a correspondence game over snail mail, sending each other postcards with the coordinates of our moves. I’d think it would be perfectly natural to play out variations, to experiment.

We could even agree on which Joseki books we’d allow each other to consult, or not to do so.

[quote=“Cool1, post:15, topic:7741”]
for frequent Analysis users, if it’s turned off for an entire game, do you feel, even slightly, less proficient?
[/quote]For correspondence games: yes, definitely, quite sure. But I still also play corr. games w/o analysis enabled

For live games: just slightly, but in reality rather not, because in my Real Life live games I also cannot play out variations, so I’m used to exclusively using my “wetware” aka brain.

I don’t mind allowing it in live games though, but overall I can imagine that it might rather be a distraction from the “whole board” perspective.

Oh, “one more thing”: disabling analysis, of course, also disables sharing variations to the Malkovich Log, which, to me, would be a great loss for corr. games as I often put lots of comments and variations there.

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Depends on your goals, I think. If you play mostly correspondence, I see nothing wrong with relying on analysis heavily… on the other hand, if you plan to compete in real life events, avoiding analysis might be not a bad idea.

Not really. When I press the Analyze button and it doesn’t work, I feel annoyed, not less proficient. :wink:
Sure, analysis helps and without using it I might misread some complex life and death situation that I’d read correctly otherwise, but such situations do not occur on every move. In general, if I could win comfortably with analysis on, chances are I’d still win comfortably with analysis off.
Overall, my play is much more affected by how much free time I have to think about my moves than by whether analysis is available.

Thank you for those interesting answers, temifar and trohde

Question: is Analysis exactly the same as taking a live board and playing out variations before making a final move, or is there more to Analysis mode (on OGS)? I’m new to it, thanks.

analysis allows you to play out variations essentially, there are no additional aids for deciding on a move (so that would be the same as playing out a variation on a real board, only that its much less work :)). of course that helps for capturing races and life and death, but its not useful for improving overall game sense or direction of play. after ogs v5 analysis can also be used to play a game to the end and use the score estimator to see if you are ahead (theoretically … xD) but since the SE sucks i wouldnt recommend it.

additionally disabling it will also disable planning conditional moves and downloading the game as sgf before its over. as @trohde mentioned not having analysis available also prevents you from sharing a variation either in chat or the malkovich log (because you cant playit out in the first place).
The review function however is not disabled, so it is still possible to start a review during the game and play out variations there, but that will be visible to your opponent.

personally i dont think using it is cheating, but it can be detrimental to your overall progression, because it is very easy to make a habit of clicking wildly before trying to read a position in your head.


So basically you can make a review during the game and then delete these variations so it would seem like you pressed “review” accidentally. Didn’t think about that until now.