How To Analyze Your Games – First Steps To Chess Improvement

Hello guys and gals, chess brothers and sisters in arms. This time, I would like to write an article about game analysis and why is it so important. By analyzing your games, you will learn more about yourself as a chess player, and you’ll start identifying strengths and weaknesses in your game. If used effectively, game analysis is like a mentor guiding you towards chess improvement.

If you’ve read my article The Beginner’s Tale – First Steps To Chess Improvement, you know that you need a tool such as PGN chessbook in order to analyze your games. Just Google it and download it. After you’ve played the game (because you are naturally not allowed to use the engine during the games), download its pgn file, open it in PGN chessbook and you are ready to go. Before I show you two games I’ve prepared, let’s talk about the exact process of analyzing chess games.

Don’t misuse the engine

After you have the game loaded in your chess software of choice, you should first go through it, move by move, without engine assistance. While you’re doing this, I would advise you to annotate your games. You do not need to be as detailed as I’ve been in these two games. I did it this way so everyone can understand what is happening on the board, and to share with you some of my own thoughts about the given positions along with potential variations not played in the game. This is step one.

After you go through the entire game, you are ready for step two. Turn the engine on. See if you’ve misplayed the position and where you can improve. I advise you to play with the engine freely, but don’t write down every engine line that is better than the variation played in the game. Write down the moves and engine lines you understand and explain them by annotating those moves and variations as well. In these two games you will see what I mean. Now it’s time to dive in and see the first game.

The game in question isn’t complicated at all. We had made some moves and then the opponent hung a rook out of the blue. You shouldn’t spend too much time on a game like this. Try to analyze it in 30 minutes or less. Next thing you’ll notice is the fact that there are moves that I simply don’t understand. For instance why is f5 not so great for white? I am not sure, but I mustn’t get discouraged by this, as even grandmasters can’t understand every engine move. As you study chess, you will get better at this.

These notes are very detailed, like I‘ve mentioned earlier, just so you can really get a feel for the position. When you analyze a game similar to this one, you should annotate the game, but you don’t need to be this detailed about it, as it is just not practical. The second example is completely different. It was a very close game and I’ve lost it in the endgame that could have been a draw with best play.

I have to say that I’ve really enjoyed this game, even though I’ve hoped the result would be different in the end. The reason why the game should be analyzed in depth is because you should pinpoint the decisive move/blunder. It’s not as easy to do so as it was in the first game. Apart from that, we’ve played the endgame, and it is always useful to study practical endgames. Therefore, feel free to study a close game like this for as long as you need.

Now that I’ve given you these examples, I would like to say one more thing. Even though the best way to analyze your games is to turn the engine on after you’ve done manual analysis, some of you might not always have the time to analyze properly. In that case, it’s still better to analyze with an engine turned on from the get go, than not to analyze the game at all. Be aware, however, that this method will be less effective.

To sum it up:

1. Analyzing your games will help you improve your game
2. Go through your game manually and annotate it
3. After you’re done with this, turn the engine on
4. Don’t write down every engine move/variation, just those you can understand
5. Take as much time as you need to analyze more complicated games

In the end, allow me to express my sincere gratitude to you for reading the entire article. I hope it’ll serve you well.

Till another time,