What is the community concensus about keeping notes?

I play mostly correspondence. Tournaments being what they are and me being a forever TPK, I lose track of what I was thinking when I made a move, since it may be a week until I have to play again in a particular game.

I’ve seen many threads about the use of joseki etc, and I agree with the notion that joseki etc is basically allowed because of the nature of the correspondence game.

My question is, knowing that whatever I do is between me and the rain: would you consider it “cheating” in your mind, if your opponent kept notes during your correspondence game?


  • I see one of my groups that seems hopeful, but I read it out and it turns out it’s dead, so I avoid a move that seemed promising but isn’t. After a week (I use a week as an example, not specifically), I’ve forgotten about that, I’m not in the same headspace and fail to read that the group is dead, so I play that promising move. If I have a note for the game saying “X group is dead”, would this be "unethical’?
  • I play a move and play out 3 possible outcomes with the analysis tool. After a week, my opponent has played one of the 3 moves I anticipated, but I don’t remember the nice sequence I had come up with. If I have noted down the moves, would this be “unethical”?

Totally acceptable for me.

I personally only use notes in (somewhat) close endgames, so I don’t have to re-count the entire board again every few moves. Just saves me time, but gives me no information that I couldn’t re-create on the spot.


I definitely do not consider it cheating or unethical. I think the existence of the Malkovich log tool even seems to encourage the practice of keeping notes.


Unethical is when you steal someone else’s notes or you use an AI to dictate your moves.
When you make your OWN notes, I do not see any problem. They are your thoughts after all :slight_smile:


Isnt malkovich log there because precisely this reason?


The Malkovich log is for notes you don’t want your opponent to see and I presume exactly for things like this. Also in a live game you’d remember these things so how can it be cheating in correspondence to also remember them.
Finally, great that you checked! I’m going to guess that almost anything that naturally occurs to you is legit as you are the sort of person who naturally wants to do things right.


I’m also totally fine with my opponent taking notes.

So far, I haven’t taken notes for myself in my games. Only now I wonder if this could help when reviewing the game later, because then I often don’t remember what I had in mind in a certain situation.

However, I don’t think it would help me during the game. It happens that I read a situation out again and again, because I’m not confident about the outcome anymore, but I usually don’t need to remind myself of something. If I noticed something important once, I will remember it later - unless I play when I’m very tired, but then a note probably wouldn’t help. :sweat_smile:


I don’t typically have that many games in progress at one time that I can’t keep track of my thoughts in each game, but I have used the malkovich log to record my thought process in some games against significantly lower ranked players as a means of giving them a window into my thought process when the game is finished. Keeping a record of your thoughts is the whole point of the log being an available feature.


As a side question, kind of related. Are you allowed a pen and paper in over the board tournaments?

I haven’t tried to or haven’t asked at a tournament before because it hadn’t occurred to me (although at one tournament they did hand out blank kifus and move number stickers).

Anyway, the purpose would be just to write down numbers for endgame counting, similar to

I haven’t been very good at doing counting in my games up to this point. It just takes a lot of effort and I tend to forget which points I’ve counted in my head, or what the numbers were or the sums. (It took me a long time for instance to count one of China vs Europe games Benjamin played that was very close -like half a point maybe?)

(I usually just play moves that I like or want to try out, or I think are best - without backing it up with counting. I know I’d have to get rid of that habit to get better though.)

Wondering if anyone came across that in a tournament before?


Malkovitz I think has two drawbacks:

  • It’s visible after the game and to onlookers, so it’s a bit weird to take notes in my language, shortcut, or in a joking way. It won’t make sense (also what’s on the internet stays on forever).
  • Depending on the game, I’ll have to scroll all the time, while on a paper it’s much easier, and also I’m old-school.

However, I really like Malkovitz in teaching games, where I get to study them on my own later and see the thinking of the better player behind a move, or when I’m playing a commentary game, where we can share thoughts afterwards.

It seems my karma won’t suffer if I start keeping notes. :slight_smile: I might even get better at Go. :stuck_out_tongue:


It’s pretty normal to make a game record on paper at tournaments since you usually can’t use an electronic device but I wouldn’t expect to see notes about counting though. After all it’s a live game so presumably less chance of forgetting from one move to the next and only the game itself to focus on between moves. Both elements are unlike correspondence.


I have three thoughts about notes at a live, in-person tournament:

  1. You’d likely end up burning some of your time on notes. Even if you take them during your opponent’s turn, that’s time you’re not considering possible variations.

  2. Your opponent is probably able to read upside-down and could benefit from these notes as well.

  3. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it was considered distracting by a tournament director, and you would be asked to discontinue doing so for that reason, as opposed to any advantage that note-taking could provide. The difference from a game record being that both players know what’s being recorded on a kifu, but your opponent would likely be distracted with “what are they writing over there?” if you were taking personal notes.


I dont think it would be distracting, since some ppl use to write down kifus with pen&paper in real life tournaments, but i would personally use my limited time on actually reading the board xD

But on correspondence its quite nice if you write down your thoughts and plans on malkovich log, it will also help both you and your opponent to review the game afterwards. So ye go for it, use malkovich as much as possible, its really nice feature but not as commonly used as it could/should.


I think the point here is the writing down kifus is not distracting because both players know what this is and what it looks like when you are writing it but if you started making extra notes then this would be a distraction because you’re opponent would surely want to know what you were writing about. I would anyway!


On a related game: http://chess-news.ru/en/node/18591


Oh, that must have been a bad experience. However, it was a very clear rule and it was a tournament, and if someone breaks a very clear rule it’s on them.


On a related note of distracting opponents, one of the styles for putting down your stone is to plonk it on the board and slid it to its place. It’s pretty cool. But at least in Korea this way of placing a stone is forbidden and you should put down your stone as close as possible to intended intersection.


Oh no, my whole Go life is a lie!

Is this also not real???

(The flaming head gif is sorely missing to make this joke complete. Also, I just off-topic’d my own thread. :woman_shrugging:t2: )


When you say

you presume I don’t just forget the number I assign to one part of the board, almost immediately after I start counting another part of the board.

Sure I could just say 30ish points or 10ish etc, especially in the early game this makes sense, but by late game where there isn’t too much left to play (lets say only endgame) I find it hard to keep a bunch of random numbers in my head (at present). I imagine it’d only be worse with a live timer, considering I was finding it difficult to do watching someone elses game!

I know if I practice it I’ll get better - I’m already getting faster at counting boxes and counting in twos etc.

You could say the exact same thing about counting in general.

If your opponent could benefit from seeing just a number like ‘15’ written down without any context, then sure.

I did this in a tournament recently enough when they ran out of stickers - it’s fun until byo-yomi or there’s a ko.


hrm… I always just make my notes in open chat :thinking:
“VicktorVauhn: This looks bad…”

Honestly… perhaps try and look at it a different way.
As players get better, they will often focus on keeping their hand off the mouse… because of just jumping on the next item in your train of thoughts, it can almost be seen as BETTER to forget what you are doing and re-analyse THE WHOLE BOARD to find the best move, rather than working to stay focused on the local situation.
As with anything, its complex… but the truth is looking at the board with new eyes each turn is likely to yield better results then exerting effort to maintain a narrative.
People often find themselves having to work on stopping themselves to re-evaluate the entire board with fresh perspective. I wouldn’t fight to hard in the opposite direction.

but as has been said, we have a feature to facilitate this… It is WELL within your rights.