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Go Teaching Ladder - Frequently Asked Questions

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Archive-name: games/go/gtl-faq
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Last-Modified: July 2004

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
Go Teaching Ladder - Frequently Asked Questions=20

The Go Teaching Ladder can be found at <>

Questions, comments, suggestions? Please send them to <>.

Table of Contents

Part 1.: Welcome to the GTL

Part 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?

Part 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?

Part 4.: What is SGF?
      4.1.   How can I edit/display SGF?
      4.2.   Common problems with SGF

Part 5: Other GTL Services
      5.1.  The GTL Games Archive
      5.2.  The GTL Newsletter

Part 6: Other relevant topics.
      6.1.  Copyright
      6.2.  Converting between rating scales

Part 7: Evolution of the teaching ladder.

Part 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 <>.

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

Part 2: Getting your own games reviewed

2.1. How do I get a game reviewed?

Getting your own game reviewed is very easy.
Just follow the four steps below.

Also, please have a look at section 2.2 below.

1 - Get the SGF file of the game you've played. See 'help mail' and/or
    'help sgf' on the go servers. Don't send easy wins or fast games
    (at least 20 minutes per person)!! Have a look at section 2.2
    "Which games should be submitted for review?"

2 - Go over the game yourself and add questions or comments. These
    comments can serve as a guideline for the reviewer. Furthermore the
    reviewer can concentrate on those aspects or moves that are of most
    interest to you.

3 - Send this SGF file to <> - we will forward your game
    to a proper reviewer. Please don't forget to tell us your rank and
    if you played black or white. Alternatively you can select a
    reviewer on your own. Please have a look at the guidelines in
    section 2.4.

4 - You should receive your review within two weeks. Don't forget to
    thank the reviewer for the review. Not doing so is extremely
    impolite. You may want to ask some questions about the review too.

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    + fights where you slaughtered
  what was going on                 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 =

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 =

- Before you send in your game for review, go through it yourself and
  explain why you made certain moves, where you were uncertain and
  where you were surprised. This way, when the reviewer comments the
  game, you will not only get your moves commented, but also your

- Instead of sending the game directly to the GTL, send it to your
  opponent and ask him to add comments like stated above. In general,
  the more thoughts and comments you can give the reviewer to comment
  on, the better the review will be, since the reviewer can then
  understand exactly which aspects you have misunderstood or need to =

2.4. Who can I select as reviewer?

You can select a reviewer on your own too. Please note that the preferred=
 way is to request reviews through us. Just have a look at the list of =
<> on our web site and send your game to =
one of the reviewers listed.

To make things easier for you, let <> our =
program suggest reviewers for you.

When requesting reviews in this way please keep the following points in

- Game records should be sent and returned by email in SGF format. The
  request for review may include your own comments and questions such
  as "Should this extension have been on the 4th line instead?"

- Please pick someone no more than 9 stones stronger than you. This
  rule of thumb will help distribute the reviewing load fairly.
  (Otherwise the high dans would get all the requests.)

- The IGS ratings are normally used for the determination of the
  strength difference. People not having access to IGS will indicate
  their own strength but should take into account that IGS rating is
  stronger than the ranks used in most countries. For example a person
  of 1d AGA rank might be only 3k* on IGS, and a 15k AGA might be only
  25k*. Since the IGS ratings are known to be very inaccurate in the
  10k-30k range, the ratings determined by an alternative rating
  system are also given in the status file. You can use them to get a
  better approximation of the reviewers' strengths.

- Please try to spread the load among reviewers by not always asking
  the same reviewer. The status file indicates how many reviews have
  been made by each reviewer. Have a look and see who's popular and
  select another reviewer. In any case, it is good to get different
  points of view from reviewers with different playing styles.

- If you do not get a reply to your email within 10 days, please
  inform the ladder administrator at <> so that the
  reviewer can be marked as temporarily unavailable in the status

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.

Part 3: Participating in the GTL

3.1. How can I volunteer as a reviewer?

The easiest and preferred way is to go to our web site fill out the form =
at <>

If you don't have web access then fill out the form below and send it to =
the administrators at <>: Commentary of fields in brackets, =
options in square brackets

     (recommended but not mandatory)
Email address:_______________________________
CC email address:_______________________________
     (optional - if you like to get a copy of our emails to another
     address as well)
IGS/NNGS name and rating:_______________________________
Local club rank:_______________________________
     (optional - please include country. You have to supply at least
     one rank IGS/NNGS/local)
Reading email:_______________________________
     (optional - How often do you read email? [every (week)day / 2-3
     times a week / once a week / seldom] This helps us running the GTL
     as we will know when to expect a reply to our emails.)=20
     (mandatory - can your email program handle attachments?
     Attachments are the preferred way for sending SGF files.
     [YES / NO])
WWW access:_______________________________
     (mandatory - can you easily access the WWW? [YES / NO])=20
     (The copyright of the reviews remains with you. You grant us to
     publish your reviews on our web/ftp sites. We would like to be
     able to pass on our archive to other organisations promoting the
     game of go, so that many people can benefit from your reviews.
     Do you allow us to pass on your reviews to "non-profit"
     organisations (e.g. Go clubs) [YES / NO]
     Do you allow us to pass on your reviews to "companies" [YES / NO]
   Note: our archive will only be a 'bonus' to those products, not a
   primary component.)

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 over 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.

=46or a detailed statistic see the member statistics at =

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 we 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.

=46or an in-depth explanation of the logistics behind the review process =
have a look at <>.

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 =

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:

- Reviews should be polite and friendly.

- Comments should not be just negative ("move 10 was bad"); at least
  one suggestion for a better move should be provided.

- The comments should be made mostly on the moves made by the person
  asking for the review, but you can also comment on the opponent's
  moves if you feel generous.

- A nice finishing touch is to add a summary of important points
  either at the end or at the beginning of the review.

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 =

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]
    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
    <> or type "help teachladder" on IGS or
    "help gtl" on NNGS.
    By default, the commented games are made available by ftp 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 =

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 =

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

Part 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:
    <> on how to set up your =

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:
- The comments refer to marked points but you can't see them.

- The comments refer to points a,b,c but you can't see them.

- The comments on variations appear at the wrong node. Some viewers
  display the variations on a move at the point where the move is
  played (displayed on screen). Other SGF viewers display the
  variations one move earlier. You have to step back or forward to see
  the comment or variations.

Part 5: Other GTL Services

5.1 The GTL Games Archive

All games reviewed through the GTL are available for any interested =
player. At the beginning of year 2000, this means that there are nearly =
1000 reviewed games available for study.

Access to the GTL archives is through a WWW interface, and allows you to =
download individual games or several games at a time as zipped files.

The review archive is accessed here: <>

The web site allows you to retrieve reviews by:
- index number: <>

- by strength: <>

- by name: <>

- by date: <>

- by fuseki: <>

- handicap games: <>

- 9x9, 13x13 games: <>

- in other languages:  <>

- reviews of reviews: <>

- ZIP files: <>

5.2 The GTL Newsletter

The GTL newsletter is published each week and contains new reviews added =
to our archive during the last week and information from the maintainers.=
 You can choose whether you want to receive all the reviews or just those=
 above a certain strength.

If you would like to receive the GTL newsletter then just fill out the =
form at <>.

Part 6: Other relevant topics

6.1 Copyright

The reviewers hold the copyright of single reviews. The GTL is allowed to=
 publish these reviews on its web and ftp sites (and to pass them on =
under certain circumstances). Individuals may download and pass on =
reviews for private purposes as long as the reviews are not =
(substantially) modified.

If you would like to publish single reviews in a local magazine, club =
newspaper, or web page you have to ask the reviewer for consent.

If you would like to publish a collection of reviews then please contact =
us first. Basically if you publish it in digital form and if you are a =
non-profit organisation then there is no problem. But about one quarter =
of our reviewers didn't give us permission to pass on their reviews to =
for-profit entities (companies).

Technically speaking the GTL holds the copyright of the SGF files =
themselves, but not of the game moves and not of the commentary made by =
the players/reviewers. This is because we invest substantial work in =
making the SGF file standards compliant and clean up various other =
"oddities" as well.

The backend of the GTL site is copyrighted by Arno Hollosi =
<>. If you would like to have a peek at the inner =
workings or use some of it for your own site then send Arno an email.

The GTL site is backed by a mySQL database and driven by PHP scripts =
running on Apache web server.

6.2 Converting between rating scales

At the GTL we use the following convention for converting among the =
different scales: IGS rankings are two stones stronger than NNGS/local =
ratings if the NNGS/local rating is equal or stronger than 7 kyu. =
Otherwise the IGS rating is three stones stronger. NNGS and local rating =
are treated as equivalent.

=46or example, 6k IGS corresponds to 4k NNGS or 4k in your country, and =
12k IGS corresponds to 9k NNGS or 9k in your country.

We know that this is only a rough approximation, but for our purpose =
(finding a suitable reviewer) it is sufficient.

Part 7 : Evolution of the teaching ladder.

The teaching ladder was created in March 1994 by Jean-loup Gailly and =
Bill Hosken.

The rules of the teaching ladder have evolved over time, starting with a =
fairly strict system of credit points, and gradually simplified in order =
to encourage more people to use the ladder.

A new WWW interface to the teaching ladder was created in January 1996 by=
 Arno Hollosi. It was hosted at IICM, Technical University Graz. In =
October 1999 Morten Pahle joined as maintainer.

In December 1999 Arno created yet another web site taking advantage of =
all the latest bells and whistles and which is driven by its own =

In January 2000 we reached another milestone: review #1000.=20

In September 2002 Arno revamped the GTL website once again and we reached=
 review #2000.=20

In order to handle the ever increasing popularity of the GTL three people=
 joined the ranks of us GTL maintainers in January 2003: Mark Fyffe, =
Matthias Krings, and Corrin Lakeland.

If you have suggestions for a better organisation of the teaching ladder,=
 send them to <> (this is forwarded to the team of GTL =

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Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:11 PM