FREE LESSON: HOW TO ANALYZE CHESS GAMES

Analyzing a game is a very detailed and beneficial part of everyone’s chess training. Many Grandmasters have talked about the importance of analysis. Alekine had a book maker sow 5 pages between each game of a tournament book he wanted to anyalyze. Botvinik when asked for advice would ask a player if they analyzed their own games. If the player answered no, Botvinik would simply walk away without replying to the player at all. Bobby Fischer took 400 of Spaskki’s games every place he went in preparation for his 1972 world title match. You should be analyzing Grandmaster games in the openings you play all the time.  It should be a regular part of your development.  The greatest benefit to analyzing your own games is that you know what one of the players was thinking. I made a committment to myself that I would analyze every tournament game I played. When you are new, you should record and analyze every game you play.  Don’t think so, where do you think all the classic, simul, coffehouse, odds, and off hand games came from.  The great players have always recorded more than their tournament games.  Once you begin to analyze your games, I guarantee you will meet yourself for the very 1st time. Knowing you will analyze every game you play improves your play instantly because finding the correct continuation at home instead of at the board isn’t acceptable! You want to increase you courage at the board, you want to increase your determination for, “at the board excellence”, recording and analyzing every game you play is a great start! This is how I go about analyzing a chess game.  You may develop your own method.  Try mine and see what you think!?  There are no diagrams because analysis is done with a chess board. At the end I will tell you how to use your computer!

Step 1) Watch the entire game 1st. You are doing this to get a feel of the game, refresh your memory, and to make sure your score sheet is accurate.

McClellen vs Callaham Rhein Main Air Base, Germany 1985

1.e2-e4 d7-d6 2.d2-d4 g8-f6 3.b1–c3 g7-g6 4.g1–f3 f8-g7 5.f1–e2 0–0 6.0–0 c7-c6 7.h2-h3 e7-e5 8.d4xe5 d6xe5 9.c1–e3 b8-d7 10.d1–d2 f8-e8 11.a1–d1 d8-c7 12.a2-a4 d7-f8 13.e3-c5 f6-d7 14.c5-d6 c7-b6 15.e2-c4 f8-e6 16.c4xe6 e8xe6 17.f1–e1 b6xb2 18.d1–b1 e6xd6 19.b1xb2 d6xd2 20.f3xd2 d7-f8 21.d2-f3 f8-e6 22.e1–d1 e6-d4 23.b2-b1 b7-b6 24.f3xd4 e5xd4 25.c3-e2 c8-b7 26.e2xd4 c6-c5 27.d4-b5 b7xe4 28.d1–d7 e4xc2 29.b1–e1 c2xa4 30.d7xa7 a8xa7 31.b5xa7 b6-b5 32.e1–e8+ g7-f8 33.e8-a8 c5-c4 34.a7-c6 g8-g7 35.c6-d4 f8-c5 36.d4xb5 a4xb5 37.a8-a5 c5-d4 38.a5xb5 d4-f6 39.b5-c5 c4-c3 40.g1–f1 g6-g5 41.f1–e2 g7-g6 42.e2-d3 h7-h6 43.g2-g4 f6-g7 44.c5-c6+ g7-f6 45.f2-f3 g6-g7 46.c6xc3 f6xc3 47.d3xc3 g7-g6 48.c3-d4 f7-f5 49.d4-e5 f5xg4 50.h3xg4 h6-h5 51.g4xh5+ g6xh5 52.e5-f5 ½–½

Step 2) Now on this trip through the game circle the moves that you think are suspect for white and for black. If there was a move that you thought was really good or bad circle those. The turning points in the game, circle those. At what you think were difficult or theory breaking moves for you or your opponent circle those. I’ve analyzed this game several times and have found improvements each time. To be brief, the moves to circle here are: 6…c7-c6, 7… e7-e5, 11. a1-d1, 12…d7-f8, 16 c4-e6, 17…b6-b2, 21…d7-f8, 25. …c8-b7, 28. d1-d7, 33..c5-c4, 36.d4-b5, 37…c5-d4, 46.c6-c3.

Here we are at the main line of the Classical Pirc. From here Black can play about 7 different alternatives. I’d read all I could find on the Pirc at the time, The Pirc for the Tournament Player, RHM Press, Batsford chess openings, Modern chess openings, and even Horowitz’s Chess openings theory and practice. I chose c7-c6 because it fit well with my style at the time. I also knew my opponent played classical lines exclusively to avoid tactical skirmishes. My plan was to secure good space and then start trouble.

7… e7-e5! this is the correct notation for this move. Studying is one thing but playing is another. A true Pirc player is going to know that any attempt to punish this with exchanges, fails!! Don’t get me wrong, white has a slight plus here but it can’t even be called an initiative. It is one way to test your opponent. Their response it may be an indication of their background, ability or mood! See for yourself.

8. d4-e5 d6-e5 9.f3xe5 f6xe4 10.c3xe4 g7xe5 11.c1–g5 d8-c7 12.d1–d2 c8-f5 13.e4-f6+ e5xf6 14.g5xf6 b8-d7 15.f6-d4 d7-b6 16.e2-f3 a8-d8; 9.d1xd8 f8xd8 10.c1–g5 b8-d7 11.f1–d1 d8-e8 12.g5-e3 b7-b5=

11. a1-d1?! Once you’ve really studied an opening that allows you to clear the back rank most of the time, you have to know which rook to move! Realizing your opponent is out of their opening book is a great confidence booster during a game. A couple moves from now, having left that rook on a1 would have not allowed c7-b6.

12….d7-f8?? A big mistake that allows the white pieces to take up residence. I under estimated e3-c5 and c5-d6.

16. c4-e6?? big mistake. White gains a lasting advantage after, 16.c3-e2 c6-c5 17.d2-e3 a7-a6 18.f1–e1 e6-d4 19.e2xd4 c5xd4 20.e3-a3 g7-f8 21.d6xf8 d7xf8 22.c2-c3 b6-c7 23.c4-d5±

17…b6-b2!? Here I thought I would win a piece by getting white to take the rook on d6 with his queen in the combination. When he didn’t, I got that feeling we all get when we think we’ve just blown the game. The truth is after this combo I’m actually in the best position I’ve had all game. My opponent and I are feeling the same way and the position is level. LOL!

20…d7-f8? It’s getting late in the game, I didn’t know anything about stamina at the time. I really needed to give this position a good looking over since it was the 1st free move I was getting after a forced, and surprise continuation. I Was getting tired and didn’t know it. I’ll admit I also needed an attitude adjustment! 21…d7-c5! holds like a rock. It’s an out post that cannot be allowed to stand, and I have the 2 bishops and a pawn for the exchange! I should have been thrilled. 20…d7-c5 21.e1–d1 c8-e6 22.d2-b3 c5xb3 23.c2xb3 g7-f6 24.g1–h2 a8-c8=

21. d2-f3? Gary Kasparov said it best that the person who make the last mistake loses. I’ve learned that mistakes come in pairs. One apiece or two in a row, they come in pairs. Analysis has taught me to expect and avoid the second error and leave that for my opponent. Mistakes shock both of us and we must both remain calm afterwards to keep from making more errors!! 21.a4-a5! f8-e6 22.d2-c4 e6-c5 never getting to the d4 square any way! 23.c4-d6 g7-f6 24.g1–h2 f6-e7 25.d6xc8 a8xc8 26.e1–d1 and the 2 bishops are gone.

25…c8-b7? I called myself being fancy. I should have made the pawn chain. I wanted the e pawn so bad. At this point in the game, I was still mis judging who was winning. Today I would maintain that 4 against 2 majority and not let it get knocked down to 3 against 2. 25…c6-c5 26.a4-a5! b6xa5 (26…a8-b8 27.a5xb6 a7xb6 28.e2-f4 b6-b5 29.f4-d3 c5-c4 30.d3-b4 c8-d7=) 27.b1–a1 d4-d3 28.c2xd3 g7xa1 29.d1xa1 a5-a4 30.a1xa4 a7-a5 31.e2-c3 g8-g7 32.f2-f3 c8-d7=

28 d1-d7?? We all love to brag about how we had the game won. Analysis reveals the back and forth nature of the struggle. 28.d1–d2 e4-c6 29.d2-e2 g7-f6 30.b1–d1 g8-g7 31.d1–d6 a8-e8 32.e2xe8 c6xe8 33.b5xa7 e8xa4 34.d6xb6 a4xc2 35.b6-c6 Look familiar!? The trouble with endgames is you have to be able to see farther and father away!

35…c5-c4?? This was one of my early analysis positions. It’s one that stands out in my mind because of this error. Calculating this win was well within my ability and I missed it. I was tired but more than anything else I committed the rookie not calculating which pawn I should push and acted like the result would be the same. I don’t think I’ve ever been meaner to myself than I was when I analyzed this game! Analysis will make you take vows that you will never break. [33…b5-b4!! 34.a8-c8 g8-g7 35.a7-c6 b4-b3 36.c6-a5 f8-d6 37.a5-c4 a4-b5 38.c4-b2 g7-f6 39.g2-g3 b5-d7 40.c8-h8 h7-h5 41.h8-a8 d6-e5 42.b2-d3 e5-d4 43.a8-b8 c5-c4 44.d3-e1 d7xh3 45.e1–f3 d4-c3 46.b8-b6+ h3-e6 47.b6-b7 e6-d5 48.b7-b6+ f6-e7 49.f3-g5 c3-e5 50.b6-b5 b3-b2 51.g1–h2 e5-g7 52.b5xd5 b2-b1 and wins if they hadn’t already resigned!

36. d4-b5?? Not time to throw themselves on the sword yet. At least try to fight it for a few more moves. [36.d4-e2 c5-b4 37.g1–f1 g7-f6 38.a8-a7 c4-c3 39.a7-c7 f6-e6–+ The knight must take now or let black chase the rook from the c file. Neat stuff.

37…c5-d4?? Angry with myself is an understatement. This isn’t even hard enough to be a puzzle for anyone over 1000!!  37…c4-c3 38.a5xb5 c5-a3 39.b5-b7 c3-c2 40.b7-c7 c2-c1+ –+

46. c6-c3?? The final throw away of the game by either side. White wins by forcing the bishop to protect the pawn from another diagonal.[46.d3-e4 g7-g6 47.c6-d6 g6-g7 48.e4-f5 f6-e7 49.d6-c6 e7-b4 50.f5-e4 b4-a5 51.e4-d3 f7-f6 52.c6-a6 a5-b4 53.a6-a4 b4-d6 54.d3xc3 d6-e5+ and the king will walk around and take everything.

This may look long but we only questioned 14 out of a possible 104 half moves. Now that you have finished your analysis and have written down all the possble continuations, here is how you make your analysis stick. Set the board up one more time and begin to rewrite the game. As you rewrite the game, put the proper punctuation for each move you looked at. Stop and look at the position and ask yourself if you understand the position and the punctuation you are giving.

1.e2-e4 d7-d6 2.d2-d4 g8-f6 3.b1–c3 g7-g6 4.g1–f3 f8-g7 5.f1–e2 0–0 6.0–0 c7-c6 7.h2-h3 e7-e5! 8.d4xe5 d6xe5 9.c1–e3 b8-d7 10.d1–d2 f8-e8 11.a1–d1N d8-c7 12.a2-a4 d7-f8?? 13.e3-c5 f6-d7 14.c5-d6 c7-b6 15.e2-c4 f8-e6 16.c4xe6? e8xe6 17.f1–e1 b6xb2!? 18.d1–b1 e6xd6 19.b1xb2! d6xd2 20.f3xd2 d7-f8? 21.d2-f3? f8-e6 22.e1–d1 e6-d4 23.b2-b1 b7-b6 24.f3xd4 e5xd4 25.c3-e2 c8-b7? 26.e2xd4 c6-c5 27.d4-b5 b7xe4 28.d1–d7?? e4xc2 29.b1–e1 c2xa4 30.d7xa7 a8xa7 31.b5xa7 b6-b5 32.e1–e8+ g7-f8 33.e8-a8 c5-c4?? 34.a7-c6 g8-g7 35.c6-d4 f8-c5 36.d4xb5? a4xb5 37.a8-a5 c5-d4?? 38.a5xb5 d4-f6 39.b5-c5 c4-c3 40.g1–f1 g6-g5 41.f1–e2 g7-g6 42.e2-d3 h7-h6 43.g2-g4 f6-g7 44.c5-c6+ g7-f6 45.f2-f3 g6-g7 46.c6xc3?? f6xc3 47.d3xc3 g7-g6 48.c3-d4 f7-f5 49.d4-e5 f5xg4 50.h3xg4 h6-h5 51.g4xh5+ g6xh5 52.e5-f5 ½–½

Finally it is time to load the game on to your computer. Set it up for infinite analysis and have it show 12 possible lines of play. Give each even slighlty non obvious move at least 20-30 seconds to see what your engine thinks. When you get to the moves you checked, see what the computer thinks and check your analysis. Once you have corrected all of the analysis with your computer, print it out and repeat the verification exercise.  Never ever allow your computer to go over a game before you do.  The computer is the tool, not the boss.  If you let the computer go 1st, Botvinik would just walk away from you!!!!!!

Now, go play chess with anyone or anything and notice how differently you are looking at the board.

If this has been helpful to you please leave a positive comment! If this has blown your mind, please leave a coment and a donation.

Always wishing the best for chess,

Mike Callaham/President

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