Due to the development and popularization of technology more and more people started to use electronic devices to record their Go matches.
However, after the machines started to beat humans, on many tournaments the organizers started to forbid using any electronic devices while playing.
And on the world’s most prestigious tournaments there started to be even security controls, similar like at the airports.
If you want to have a record of your face-to-face game, you have several options:
- You start to play on the top boards and your match is being broadcasted, thus the match will be saved online.
- You are able to remember your game and click all the moves on your phone/computer after the game is over.
- You write down your game while playing with the use of a pencil or pen and a so-called kifu (a sheet of paper dedicated for writing down a Go match).
If you are not yet strong (or rich) enough to have other people record your game and you aren’t able to memorize your game either, it will be helpful for you to learn how to write down your game.
How to write a kifu?
Step 1. Draw a Go board on a paper or print a ready to use kifu or buy a notebook with printed kifu.
Kifu to print (PDF, A4 paper size):
Notebook with printed kifu to buy (we earn an affiliate commission when you buy the kifu on Amazon from clicking on the kifu notebook cover below):
Step 2. Take your kifu, pencil, eraser and go to the playing room (you can also use a pen for writing, but when you are just beginning to write kifu, better to take a pencil and an eraser).
Step 3. Start playing. For black stones write down the number corresponding to each move. For white stones use the number corresponding to each move and then draw a circle around that number.
Step 4. If a player plays a move in a spot, where used to be some other stone (i.e. it was taken off the board after being captured), don’t scribble on the previous number in your kifu! Instead, in the "Notes" section (below the board in your kifu) write the number of the first move played in that spot. Then draw an arrow to that number. And next to the arrow write the number of the move which has just been played in that spot. In the future, if another move is played in the same spot again, simply write a comma (“,”) and the number of the move which has been played there then.
Step 5. After the match is over, write down the result and the total number of moves.
Writing kifu and time management
Not to lose too much time for writing, you can make a rule for yourself that you always write down the moves after your turn (i.e. you write two numbers - one corresponding to your opponent’s last move and one to yours). The reason is that usually your opponent is going to think for a while after your move, so in such cases you don’t lose “your” time for writing.
It’s also recommended that when you start to run out of time (e.g. you enter byo-yomi), it’s usually better to stop writing. Then, unfortunately, your match will not be fully recorded. However, if you are short on time and you also sacrifice some additional time to write down the moves, it might be much more difficult for you to win the game.
Summarizing, there are some disadvantages of writing the moves while playing:
- It will be probably a bit more difficult for you to focus.
- You will lose some of your time for writing.
Both can lead to more mistakes being made and a slightly worse performance overall compared to not writing down the game.
However, if you have the game recorded, you will be able to review it. And the reviewing of your games is one of the most effective ways to improve in Go.
Not to have the need to write the moves while playing, learn to memorize your game. Then you will be able to write all the moves after the game is over. And if you improve at memorizing even more, you will be able to remember your game longer, so that you could record and send the game to your Go teacher after you come back from the tournament.
Tips for making less mistakes while writing a kifu
- Think why did you or your opponent play a certain move.
- Look at the shapes instead of checking the coordinates.
Example (move no. 41)
Was your opponent's goal to have his stone laying somewhere on the 3rd line or did he want to make his group safer by creating a base, while playing a two-space jump?
Example (move no. 14)
Did you want to play randomly somewhere on the 2nd line or your plan was to create a weakness at the opponent's corner (so that you could be able to connect in the future with move no. 6)?
In vast majority of situations the coordinates don't matter at all and there is no need to check them while writing kifu.
Find sense of the moves, then it will be much easier and faster for you to write kifu.
How to read kifu when showing the game to your teacher at the face-to-face review?
- Try to remember what was happening in the game.
- Ask yourself about where would you play in the current position.
- After you found the number of the move in your kifu - don't check the coordinates and don't count the lines of the board. Make use of the lower numbers in kifu (surrounding stones on the board) and replay the move by connecting it in your mind with shapes instead.
Various ways of writing moves in the "Notes" section at your kifu
There are two popular kinds of writing moves at the "Notes" section:
- With the use of coordinates
- With the use of previous moves
Notes section with the use of coordinates:
When you intend to write your match into an electronic device afterwards (and show the match to your teacher at the online review), you're fine with using coordinates, because the electronic kifu editors have the coordinates visible there. It means that if at your kifu there is already a written move in a spot where another move has just appeared (e.g. ko or connection after capture), in the"Notes" section you can simply write the number of that move and next to it the coordinates of where the move should be played.
Example - notes with coordinates (handwriting)
Example - notes with coordinates (digital version)
Notes section with the use of previous moves:
When you intend to show the match to your teacher at the face-to-face review, it's more difficult to use the coordinates in your kifu, because the wooden Go boards don't have coordinates written around. It means that if at your kifu there is already a written move in a spot where another move has just appeared, in the"Notes" section you can write the number of first move, which appeared in that spot, then draw an arrow from it and then write the number of the current move. In the future (e.g. when ko is captured more times) you can write the next moves that are played in the same spot again as the next numbers after a comma.
Example - notes with previous moves
The reason of drawing a straight line in the "Notes" is that a new ko appeared (lack of space below). And the reason that this line is quite far from the numbers is that at the time of writing (when the game is still on) we don't know how many times the ko (on the left side of the "Notes") will be captured, so the further line leaves some margin for writing the numbers of the possible next ko capturing moves.