How To Remember Your Games Discussion

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(copied from RGG, thread [ext]

I was playing with another strong player the other day, and he said it would be a good idea to remember/memorize the games that I play. Because to him, he said that means you have put thought into the moves. I would love to hear your opinion on remembering the games and if you do remember it. How do you do it?

There's 361 possible points but a typical game there's about 200 moves on average per game. How can one develop that kind of memory system?

Warm regards, Tom

Does anyone share my experience that the memorized part of the game ends just after things started to go seriously wrong? Maybe it is the less attentive frame of mind that a) led to the mistakes and b) obscured my memory. It could also be that I subconsciously do not want to remember :)


IMO you will get much more strength benefit/time by memorizing pro games. And after you have memorized a bunch of pro games, remembering your own games will be easier.

-- Roy L

The first game I tried to remember was during the first tournament I played. I was 3k at that time and it was a small tournament. So after winning my first two games I got a 1d opponent (I resigned the game after roughly 130 moves). I could replay that game 2 days later (though luckily I dont remember it anymore :) ). The point is: behind the moves are ideas. Or there should be. So you don't have to remember the moves, but the ideas. And you only have to rethink that ideas in your head to be able to replay. If you played at random on the other hand ..... well that would be like a "memory game" with 400 card :). Impossible to remember, unless you are some kind of a genius.



Sometimes you might remember an opponent's move because it caused you additional trouble. You also might remember an opponent's move because it was different than what you were expecting (or what you would have played, given the same situation.) I've learned a lot from playing stronger players in this fashion.

I've memorized one pro game from Appreciating Famous Games. I think it helped with understanding shape and direction of play (as well as possibly increasing my mental capacity, IMHO.)

On the other hand, I wouldn't memorize any of my games. I do try to remember them right after I play (both to enter them into PilotGOne and also to review.) I also think the wounds are still fresh and you can remember your mistakes more clearly. :)


Chris Hayashida

I think the best procedure whenever possible is to go over the game with your opponent immediately after the game, discuss it and learn how the opponent was reasoning at certain stages of the game. Going through the game together once it is usually also much easier to remember the sequence of moves. Besides game comments on your games by stronger players, I believe that discussing the game with your opponent is one of the best ways to improve.

best regards, Henric

If you are lucky, you will have a local go club with strong players in it.

Or, you could consider travelling to a tournament with some strong players in it.

If you can't find a strong player in person, you can at least get comments on your games: [ext]


Observing the players in our club who are able to replay a game (typically the next day, up to 200 moves) and those who are not (typically stuck at moves 10, 20, 30, right after the game) I notice the following behaviour:

Those who are not able, usually spend an equal amount of thinking time on each move. As if they were to choose between some 300 alternatives each time.

Those who are able, spend a lot of time on crucial moments, then play out the subsequent moves almost instantaneously. As if they choose between "lines of play", then execute them (if evaluated as positive) until that line breaks down or a major change in the position calls for a new evaluation.

I think this difference is key to remembering games. The latter way of thinking is the natural one in mind games. Of course one must continuously be aware of possible flaws in the line of play one has chosen, which become clearer as the moves appear on the board.


When you become stronger, you start to think in sequences of moves. The most staightforward example I can think of is a ladder. Normally, when you have understood how it works, you "read" it before launching it. This means that you know when playing the first move what you are going to play if your opponent tries to escape. You don't recalculate the ladder at every move of the sequence.

In less straightforward situations, stronger players apply a similar thinking process: they want to achieve a purpose (capturing stones, making two eyes, building a wall, invading a corner, erasing a moyo,...) and they know by experience what is the "normal way" to do that. They also know by experience what the "normal" follow-up(s) of the selected move should be (learning standard sequences or proverbs can help). Of course, this can be dangerous, because sometimes the "normal" move doesn't work, but that is another question.

As to your second question, it depends on how you think during your game. If you start thinking in terms of achieving tactical or strategical goals (this usually implies thinking in terms of sequences of moves) instead of thinking move by move, you will find that it is much easier to remember your games.


OC, I don't know what Dieter means. I would think of josekis and general ideas, like building an outside wall to form a great potential territory or going for territory when your opponent's influence has little value. Against a stone on the 4-4 point, for instance, if I think that I should play in that corner, I will spend (too much) time considering: approaching or invading at the 3-3 point? if approaching, on which side? high or low, 1 or 2 points away?

My decision will depend on the expected answers, and if my opponent plays as I expected my next moves will be very fast until he plays something unexpected or I come to another turning point I had not yet thought about.

And yes, remembering the game becomes easier the more you play. To go back to my example, if you invade at the 3-3 point, your opponent will block in most cases at 3-4 on one side and you will extend on the other 4-3 point. So, remembering one decision tells you 2 moves, actually about a dozen if both play the most common continuation.

Sergio Parimbelli

I asolutely agree with Dieter in that strong players tend to spend the largest amount of the allotted time on evaluating (mentally) the result of specific sequences of moves. That is to say they read some moves ahead, evaluate the position that would be reached after playing out those moves, do the same for some variations, and choose the optimum one.

The amount of time spent on doing this hugely surpasses the amount of time spent on "finding" or verifying individual moves.

This tendency has a strong impact on the ease with which strong players can remember games, since they only have to remember certain key choices. The sequences are more or less self evident. Players who think long over every move in the opening will have more difficulty remembering their games.

Next to this I think that the factors that influence the ability to replay games the strongest are:

Experience. It is my experience that after the first ten moves 1 or 2, and hardly ever more than 3 or 4 moves automatically pop up mentally. I merely have to choose among them. The same will happen when replaying. This intuitive feel will help replaying enormously. Only when an opponent consistently deviates from what you would expect as being "natural" play, will you encounter difficulty in replaying a game.

Training. After you have done it a few times, it will become more or less second nature to you. As a test for the consistency of your own game, you could try replaying a few pro games from a book, and then replaying them again from memory. Is this easier or more difficult than replaying your own games?

Best regards,

Filip Vanderstappen

It is all about building up Several associations for each move, as becomes clear from Halti's, Dieter's and Filip's contributions. After all even very good Go/chess players won't have a significantly better memory in other areas. Experiments have proven that chess player remember random chess positions much less well than normal ones. Recall of a game becomes more difficult when playing against a computer or comparable weak partner who makes too many unexpected, unexplainable moves.

I usually have no problems replaying a game and reproducing the exact ending position.

There are cases, where I doubt about the order of moves which lead to the same sequence, e.g. timing of kikashis, endgame moves of apparent similar value.

Then I know that I did not build up enough associations with these moves to remember them in their correct (means played) sequence. My endgame is relatively weak, just to prove the point.

Thomas Derz

A brief comment: if I remember right, I read somewhere that as a student Yi Ch'ang-ho was not very good at remembering his games. So maybe being able to remember one's games well isn't so important!

Malcolm Schonfield

I believe memorizing your games is not good at all - that is memorize a game you can't remember from the .sgf or sth. similar since there is a reason you can't remember. But while improving (I'm around 2k now) I feel I remember more and more. Once ago I could only remember the opening and some moves here and there ending somewhere around move 50. Today I reconstructed a (good) game played some days ago 'til the beginning of the endgame. I understand, that my endgame is still bad so I haven't enough reasons and ideas behind the moves to remember. I'm sure somewhere in the dan ranks (if i reach them) I start to remember the whole game.


PS Are here people who remember their endgame play correctly? Do they consider themselves strong in endgame? (Not the result but the sequence.)

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How To Remember Your Games Discussion last edited by PJTraill on September 12, 2018 - 21:39
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