Go Teaching Ladder


If you have not yet done so, please read the introduction available.

Questions, comments, suggestions? Please send them to gtl@xmp.net

Table of Contents

1. Welcome to the GTL
2. Getting your own games reviewed
2.1. How do I get a game reviewed?
2.2. Which games should be submitted for review?
2.3. How do I get the most out of my reviewed game?
2.4. Who can I select as reviewer?
2.5. How many games may I submit for comment?
3. Participating in the GTL
3.1. How can I volunteer as a reviewer?
3.1.1. How much work is it?
3.1.2. What if I'm on vacation?
3.1.3. What if I don't have time?
3.2. How do I make a review?
3.3. Who should I send the review to?
3.4. What about reviews that were not requested through the GTL?
3.5. How about reviews in French or other languages?
3.6. Can I have my review reviewed?
4. What is SGF?
4.1. How can I edit/display SGF?
4.2. Common problems with SGF

1 Welcome to the GTL

The Go Teaching Ladder is an excellent resource for Go players who would like to improve their game.

Several high dan players have recommended getting your own games reviewed by stronger players as a good way to make progress. However it is not always easy to find stronger players willing to comment your games.

The Go Teaching Ladder has been set up for this purpose. Volunteers in the ladder comment games made by weaker players. Anyone may submit a game for commenting by a stronger player.

All reviews performed through the GTL are available in the GTL archives and can be used for study independent of any games you submit. The strength of the players vary from absolute beginners at 30kyu to strong amateur dan players. Just start browsing and we are sure you will find something of interest to you.

You can use the GTL in various ways:

  1. Ask for reviews of your own games
  2. Join the GTL and comment on games of other players
  3. Browse archives and look through reviewed games
  4. Subscribe to the GTL newsletter and receive commented games

This FAQ explains how you can get the most out of the GTL. Please read it before you send us an email.

If, after reading the FAQ, you still have questions or comments, you can contact the GTL administrators at gtl@xmp.net.

In whichever way you decide to use the GTL, enjoy!

2 Getting your own games reviewed

2.1 How do I get a game reviewed?

Getting your own game reviewed is very easy. You can either send the review directly to us or select a reviewer on your own. Requesting the review through us is the preferred way. Just go to "Get your game reviewed" and follow the four steps.

Also, please have a look at section 2.2 below.

2.2 Which games should be submitted for review?

When you request a review please remember that the reviewer is going to invest one to four hours (sometimes even more) into reviewing your game.

A quick overview of "do"s and "don't"s (explanation afterwards):

Do submit Don't submit
serious games quick (lightning) games
close games games you won easily
fights where you didn't know what was going on fights where you slaughtered your opponent

Ask yourself why you're submitting a game for review in the first place.

It's quite obvious: you want to get stronger at Go. This may be achieved by knowing your weak points and correcting them, or by being introduced to new ideas.

The reviewer is a stronger player than you, and consequently knows more about the game. What the reviewer can point out to you are your mistakes. But when you easily win a game, what should the reviewer point out to you?

If you don't know where you made your mistakes, then the reviewer can point out new ways to look at the board and at local positions. This will help to improve your feeling for Go. The same goes for close fights where you came out ahead, but where it wasn't clear at all who would prevail until the end.

If you play a fast game and don't think much about your moves, why should you bother other people to think about mistakes which you could find yourself if you had invested a little bit more time.

Thus: send in serious games, i.e. games where you really were thinking hard, had proper time limits and were somehow overcome by your opponent without you recognising where you made a mistake. Here a review can help you to open your eyes to new aspects of the game.

2.3 How do I get the most out of my reviewed game?

Having your game reviewed gives you the opportunity to have a stronger player look at and comment on your moves. When you receive your reviewed game, please go through it carefully and try to fully understand the advice given to you and the variations included (if any). If you have any questions at all, get in touch directly with the reviewer - our reviewers are happy to answer questions on games they have commented.

However, there is even more you can do to get the most out of your review:

2.4 Who can I select as reviewer?

We no longer publish the email addresses of our reviewers. Please request reviews through us.

2.5 How many games may I submit for comment?

You may submit as many games as you like. However, please don't submit more than two games at once for review. After these reviews have been done you may request new reviews again.

Note that the ladder will work best if those who get their games commented also volunteer in turn to comment on the games of weaker players.

In order to volunteer as a reviewer, see section 3.1.

3 Participating in the GTL

3.1 How can I volunteer as a reviewer?

Just fill out this form.

As soon as we have processed your request to join the ladder, we will send you an email (usually in one or two days).

Please send an email to the GTL administrator if your email address changes or if you are temporarily not available for making reviews.

3.1.1 How much work is it?

You can expect to do a review once every 3 to 6 months.

Currently about 200 reviewers participate in the GTL. If you are in the 3k*-9k* IGS range then about 50 people are as strong as you (+/- two stones). We receive one or two requests per week which would fit your strength. Assuming that the load is distributed equally you would get a request every half year or so.

For a detailed statistic see our member statistics.

We know that many reviewers would like to do more reviews. If someone has any suggestions please tell us. We will try our best. Meanwhile we suggest that you look out for some friends at a Go server of your choice and review their games and send them to us.

A note for people weaker than 15 kyu: usually we don't assign reviewers weaker than 15k. Please don't be upset. Instead I suggest that you start requesting reviews of your own games. Not only will you get stronger than 15k eventually, but this will also give people stronger than 15k some more work to do :o)

3.1.2 What if I'm on vacation?

Please send an email to the administrator if you are temporarily not available for making reviews.

If we don't receive an answer to our emails we assume that you are unavailable until further notice.

3.1.3 What if I don't have time?

If you cannot review a game or if you suspect you will not have time to complete the review within two weeks of receiving the game, please notify us as soon as possible after receiving our request.

3.2 How do I make a review?

It is mandatory that all reviews be done using the SGF format. If you have questions related to SGF, see Part 4 below.

For an in-depth explanation of the logistics behind the review process have a look at "The Review Process".

When you receive a request for review from us then please answer it immediately. All we need to know is if you are going to do the review or if you don't have time. In the latter case we simply select another reviewer. After your reply email you have 14 days to do the review itself.

Please inform us of any change of circumstances as soon as possible!

Delayed or forgotten answers cause much trouble at our end.

General guidelines when doing reviews:

The reviewer should remove any kibitz not related to the game, in order to make the game suitable for publication. (Personal remarks about the players should also be considered as not related to the game.) The GTL administrator cannot do this filtering himself because this would be too much work. Since the reviewer has to go through the game anyway it is very easy to remove the spurious kibitzes.

The comments should be made in English whenever possible. However, a review can be made in another language if the requester and reviewer have a common language and have difficulties writing or understanding English.

The archives contain many good reviews. If you want to look at examples of other reviews, browse through a couple of reviews in the archives.

As examples, you can check out:

Review by a dan:

Review by a single digit kyu:

Review by a double digit kyu:

3.3 Who should I send the review to?

Send the commented game to the person requesting the review, with a copy to the GTL administrator. Optionally you can send a copy to the other player as well. Sending the review to the other player can encourage him/her to join the ladder.

Here is a sample letter that you can adapt to your own taste:

    To: [player1], [player2]
    Cc: gtl@xmp.net
    Subject: Review of [player1]-[player2]

    Hi [player1]!
    Here is the review of player1-player2 that you requested. Enjoy.

    [Player2], I hope you will enjoy the review too. It was made in
    the context of the Go Teaching Ladder.
    For details, in particular if you want to join the ladder, see
    By default, the commented games are made available on the website so that
    the comments can be useful to more than one person. If you do not
    want your game to be made public, please say so to
    [include SGF file with the reviewed game]

3.4 What about reviews that were not requested through the GTL?

We are happy to include any review you have made. It does not matter whether it was requested through us or through someone else. Also, reviews of games on 9x9 and 13x13 are welcome.

This way more people can benefit from your work.

3.5 How about reviews in French or other languages?

Although the preferred language is English, any review is welcome. If both the reviewer and the requester speak the same language the review can be written in that language.

Please use English whenever the requester doesn't speak your language. Also, with English you are able to reach a much wider audience.

3.6 Can I have my review reviewed?

Commenting on a game of Go is rewarding for the reviewers, as it forces them to look at new situations and explain concepts in an easy way. In the reviewing process, it is therefore not only the original requester who benefits, but the reviewer benefits as well.

However, sometimes reviewers may want to have their reviews looked at by someone stronger than them, to check that the logic applied and comments made are valid.

Using the GTL, reviewers can, if they want to, submit their review to be commented on by another player who is slightly stronger. Keeping in mind that this 'second' review is more a review of the initial comments than of the game itself, this should be very beneficial to the initial reviewer.

In order to do this, the initial reviewer just submits the reviewed game or the review number from our archive to the GTL following the normal guidelines.

However, in order not to overload our strongest reviewers, this service is only open to reviewers 7kyu IGS or weaker.

4 What is SGF?

SGF is short for Smart Game Format.

SGF is a file format used to store go game records. It is a text-only tree based format, i.e. it doesn't contain binary data and thus can easily be emailed or posted to newsgroups. Tree based means, that starting from a root one can follow a main path or switch to variations (or variations of variations). SGF provides many features such as board markup, comments, game information, setup positions etc.

For more information have a look at the SGF User Guide at

4.1 How can I edit/display SGF?

There are many freeware, shareware and even commercial programs with which you can display and edit SGF files. Indeed, most Go games on the Internet are stored in this format.

To find an SGF client for your system, take a look at one of the following places:

You can also prepare your WWW browser for go games. Have a look at Jan van der Steen's page:
http://gobase.org/software/sgfformat/SGFandWWW.html on how to set up your browser.

4.2 Common problems with SGF

There are some compatibility problems between the various SGF viewers. Most problems stem from using old applications.

If your SGF application is older than one year then please update it!

Common errors are: