To stay on the top in any sport, requires constant practice and upgradation. And self analysis is one of the most important tools in doing so.
Nothing is as important as thoroughly knowing your own game and its strengths and weaknesses. Chess is no exception to this rule either.
Analysing your own games can build your play and confidence in a way that no other method can. All top players, young grandmasters have used this method to improve their game.
However, many don’t know the correct way of doing such an analysis.
Should one use the engine?
Or should one always consult the coach?
Is there a specific process to follow?
Let’s dive deeper into all of that and see how it’s done and why doing so is important.
How to analyse your games the right way?
To play a game perfectly doesn’t mean that you play all the right moves accurately. It means you play simple moves and avoid mistakes and blunders. Analysing your games focuses on the latter part of the above statement.
When you go through your game move by move, you can minutely address the flaws and actively construct solutions to overcome them in future matches. To do so, let’s look at the various steps to do the analysis correctly –
1. The first few hours after any game are vital. Your thoughts, feelings and the variations you saw are still fresh and clear in your mind. Writing them down and annotating games is the best way to preserve them.
GM Viswanathan Anand has attested to this fact in his book “Mind Master”. These thoughts give you a crucial insight in various aspects of your play – how you managed time, how deeply you calculated, how you handled tough positions, how was your psyche when things didn’t go your way etc. These writings then further help you in improving the areas that you found were loopholes in your game.
2. When you have enough time, preferably after the tournament is over, run through the game move by move. Think thoroughly on crucial junctions where you thought you missed something or could’ve played differently. Try to find tactical combinations, alternative plans and other possibilities.
This helps in building your inventory for future use. This exercise also makes you think differently in the same position, promoting multi-faceted analysis. Many top GMs have improved their game significantly in their initial days by doing deep analysis of their past games.
In a recent interview, the youngest GM from India D. Gukesh has also affirmed this, confirming that he engages in a lot of post-tournament game analysis.
3. Use a trusted engine only after you’ve analysed the game on your own. Easy access to chess engines makes players lazy sometimes. Instead of putting in their own effort and calculating every variation by themselves, they use engines to fasten the process. Though it might save some time, but in the long run, this isn’t beneficial.
That’s because when an engine analyses something for you, you understand it only on the surface level. However when you do it by yourself, you delve deeper into the ifs and buts, thereby developing your thought process.
4. Highlight the key takeaways from the game — from both won and lost games.
For e.g. – Understand which patterns or positions you need to work on more. Or find out which move or variation isn’t working for you in a particular opening. Or try to analyze why a certain endgame structure was in your favour.
Such highlights stick in our mind and boost our confidence when such positions arise in future games.
5. If you are working with a coach, show him/her your analysis and ask for additional advice. Sometimes an insight that a coach gives is something neither nor the engine saw. It is very valuable and must not be skipped.
Coaches can also suggest specific books or exercises to overcome a particular problem that you both identified in your game.
And you know where to find a coach, don’t you? 🙂
Why is analysing your games important?
Sometimes knowing how to do a particular thing is not enough. We need to know the rationale behind it, in order to strengthen our belief in it.
Similarly, knowing how to analyse your games will work better if you know why you are doing it in the first place. Following are the reasons why it is so important –
1. It helps build the quality of introspection. Analysis guides us in understanding our general weaknesses and strengths. This prompts us to work upon areas that need improvement and further develop the already strong areas.
2. You can identify and target specific mistakes that are repeatedly happening in your game one way or the other. You can realise why they are happening and actively come up with solutions to avoid them the next time.
3. Figure out which openings are suitable for your playing style by understanding your thoughts while playing it. This way you can know whether it is working in your favour or you need to change it. You can also come up with novelties in your opening preparation while analysing games.
4. You can decipher certain middle game and endgame patterns which you are mishandling or are tough to deal with. Based on this, you can practice on similar positions during your preparation time and get better at them.
5. You can save lots of time in future games if similar positions come on board. This is because your previous analysis has helped you in knowing how to deal with them. This will lead to you cruising through such positions.
Analysing your games is an indispensable part of improving in chess. No matter how many puzzles you solve, how many games you play or how many classics you learn – nothing can substitute the knowledge you gain from such analyses.
If your aim is to become a top chess player, you must inculcate this habit in your daily practice from the beginning. Over the years, you will see how it benefits your overall game in an immense way.