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Someone told me, when I asked about how to improve my openings, that I should memorize the first fifty moves of one-hundred different pro games.

Is there anything legit about this idea? Would it help me, a hapless 10k or so? Or is this in the same idea that it's too soon to be memorizing pro games?

I just thought I'd ask some people with more go-savvy then myself.


Arno: I guess you will improve a lot if doing so. Although, the cause of your improvement may not be that you handle the opening better, but that in order to remember 50 moves of 100 games you have to study a lot and have to recognize shapes in josekis etc. The real question is: would you improve more if you did the same amount of studying of e.g. life&death and tesuji problems? I think so. Reading ability is the single most valuable asset a Go player has. If your reading is strong, the other points (strategy, evaluation of positions, ...) will follow too.

kokiri as an alternative, why don't you see how many moves of your own games you can remember - this is usually a good sign of how much you are concentrating on your moves. Usually I find that i can remember a game for about 100 moves, give or take, but that I forget just when things start to go wrong - i.e. when I stop concentrating properly on my moves.

Rakshasa: I think at 10k you will gain more by doing life & death and lots of relatively easy tesuji problems. Except for the fun of it, i don't think replaying pro games at that level is that helpfull compared to doing a large quantity of tsume go. The pro games will show you josekis, complex tesujis, balance and more but most of it will be lost on you if you don't have the basics.

Velobici: Further support for doing lots of life and death problems. The Korean Problem Academy is an easy resource. I have been studying life and death mainly for about six months now. The result is that I see sequences that cause my opponents grief and other sequences that relieve my concerns about my own stones. Life and Death is the basis of everything.

unkx80: Yes, I agree on picking up basic techniques. For a 10k, learning more on life and death and tesuji might be more worthwhile than learning things like joseki.

Bill: There is something to the idea. However, there is a better way to study the opening that is similar. Get a program that lets you replay games without seeing the next play, and play over the openings of several pro games, trying to guess the next play. Spend up to a minute or two on each play. If you guessed wrong, try to figure out why the pro played where he did. If you do that, you will not only improve, you will find that you have memorized nearly all of those openings in the process. ;-)

It wouldn't hurt to read a book, either.

Good luck!

Account by Floris Barthel

Since this Monday 10 November I've started another way of studying go: memorizing professional games. So far I've memorized the following games (up until a point I've decided the game has become uninteresting).

You might wonder why I am doing this. Well, the reason is, I can memorize all the moves, but not all the game info (besides the result) ^_^

  • Rin Kaiho Honinbo (B) - Ishida Yoshio 9p, 1984 Judan
  • Go Seigen 9p - Kitani Minori 9p (B), 1957 1st Japanís Strongest
  • Cho Chikun 9p - Otake Hideo 9p (B), 24th Oza
  • Kuwahara Shusaku 4p (B) - Gennan Inseki 8p, Ear Reddening Game
  • Yoda Norimoto Meijin (B) - Cho Chikun Oza, 2002 Meijin
  • Lee Chango 9p (B) - Lee Sedol 3p, 2003 1st LG Cup

Hikaru79: Sorry for polluting this page, but may I ask on what basis did you choose the games to memorize? Are these specific games very educational for amateurs, or are they just personal favorites of yours? Also, what games do you recommend a 10-15k study? (I have already memorized Go Seigen - Kitani Minoru of 1st Japan's Deciding Strongest. Any others? ^^ Any help in this respect would be most appreciated, thanks!

Floris: Well, for 10-15k level I can't recommend to memorize pro games at all ^_^ Just replay some of favored players and watch for shapes. If you don't have favored players, study the games of Takemiya. If you must memorize, go with all famous games of course (if you want some exact names, ask) and also chose games by players thatyou like.

Niklaus: I too didn't start memorizing pro games until I was about 5k. I did have a look at pro games once in a while, but I just clicked through them online or in my sgf editor. This didn't prove very effective. But then I started printing out the diagrams and replayed the games on my real board. Several times over. Because the first time I don't really get anything of what's going on. I'm still too busy looking for the next move and so on. After maybe 50 moves I clear the board and see how far I get replaying it from memory, which by now works quite well. I continue doing that until I arrive at the endgame, where I usually stop (or at the resignation of course). Once I've got the whole game memorized, I begin to understand whats going on at least at some points in the game. The more I replay it, the more I understand. So you shouldn't memorize a game just for the sake of memorizing, but to get really familiar with it. Now the memorizing happens all by itself (of course it wasn't like that when I just started doing it). As for choice of games, I'm doing it quite at random. I think I can learn a lot from any pro game. Of course there are players which are "safe" as an inspiration to amateurs (like for example Otake or Takagawa, which are known for always playing good shape), and then there are those crazy messy all-out fighting games, which are fun to watch, but which will get you into trouble if you try to play like that yourself. Same applies to Takemiyas games: Nice to look at, but really hard to emulate.

Hikaru79: Thanks for the advice, guys! ^^ Actually, my use of the term "memorizing" may have been misleading--I memorize the game, but that's just a side-effect. I'll take a game, and play it through once without stopping to think, just to get a basic idea of what was going on. Then I'll go through a second time, slower, reading the comments, and thinking well about each move. Then I go on to playing out variations on my third run, and by my fourth, I've got my Sensei's Library printouts ready, and I'm comparing pro plays to the ideas suggested on SL. The purpose of this isn't really to memorize the game, like Niklaus said (with trying to replay it from memory), although I've usually got the game memorized by the end of the fifth go-through anyway. What is this called? Watching a game, replaying a game, studying a game? I guess I'm still too slow to learn anything just by memorizing ^^; However, I think that this sort of exercise is good for almost any level--I think it's come in handy for me. :P As for what games I do, I choose some famous games, like Floris suggested, and I also did the two games on's game collection entitled "Crystal Clear"--games that are apparently so easy to understand that even I (think) I can do it! ^^

HelcioAlexandre: I started to memorize games too. I like the games that are in Go Seigen book "Go Seigen Games" which is avaiable free on-line. It analyse almost every interesting move in the game, pointing out good shape, bad shape, strategic decisions, big fights, choice in joseki, chuban joseki, fuseki and even tewari. I find really reward to memorize not just the game, but also the variations to really understand it. I also like to memorize Takemiya games. After memorizing two of his games I understood why he called his style as natural go instead of cosmic. I've been playing some games with his natural style and I've been enjoying it.

Rich: Floris - out of interest, are the games you list in the title matches specific games, or all of the games in the title match?

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Improvement/MemorizingGames last edited by PJTraill on September 12, 2018 - 22:25
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