Tag Archives: Chess analysis

Tuesday’s Game Analysis

Tom

On Tuesday I played chess with a friend called Tom. I’m very lucky to have someone who plays at the same level as me and our games are close. Usually our games end at around the 30 move mark, this Tuesdays the game was longer and moved into an end game. After the game I asked Tom if he would analyse it from his point of view and I would analyse it from mine. Here are his comments followed by my analysis (I did the analysis before his comments).

“I focused on 2 moves that felt wrong during the game (skipping the opening, I need to do more research in how to respond to the scotch). Move 13 …Nh5 I noted with a ? during the game – as this lost a pawn straight away. Better was Nd7, looking to sink the knight in c5 next move. The next move that I was uncertain about during the game was 18 …f5. I couldn’t find anything better here, but the next move 19 …fxe was probably wrong f4 would have been more forceful (I think I was trying to get material back!).”

 

Calculation

calculation
I have heard the comment ‘don’t make moves, make plans’ and I’m not sure I do this well enough. Typically I look at a position, choose a ‘likely’ plan of attack and move vaguely into position with some quick supportive calculation – a blitzy approach. What I’d like to do is to keep thinking concretely till I am happy with my plan. (I have done this to some extent in the Analysis section of the blog but I want to push this further – the correspondence chess is also helping me be more concrete). This means calculating better and visualising the result better. I’ll focus on the calculating since the visualisation aspect of this has been posted about already in ‘Blindfold Chess’ and ‘Full Board Nirvana’.

In an article on chess.com a GM called Gregory Serper suggests that you can improve your calculation by looking at high level games and he offers the game below and this advice: “You only know that there is an extremely complicated combination there, but nothing else . Give yourself 30-40 minutes and try to find the combo and calculate it as far as you can. Then write down all your findings and compare to the moves played in the game.” he continues and suggest that you “just re-play the game and try to guess it move-by-move” and offers this game after black’s 17th move. The game is appended at the foot of this post, the critical position that GM Serper suggests you calculate from is here. I would, in Luddite fashion, suggest setting this up on a board and writing down your thoughts.

But before I do the exercise above I wanted to look at my own game from Sunday (see my previous post) and work out what I should have calculated on my 27th move when the computer engine graph shows me blundering away my advantage. The position before my 27th move was this.

The GM Serper suggested game in full:

Analysing My Own Games

Van_Leyden_Painting_The_Chess_Players_675

It is grim not improving so I have been seeking input from others. I posted a topic on chess.com titled ‘Help, I cant improve. Any tips?’ and I have in a short time received 15 responses which I am grateful for. The most popular suggestion so far is that I should analyse my own games. I do do this to some extent and I have shown this process on this blog but perhaps my analysis is not as deep as it should be.

I played in my Friday tournament and in my Sunday tournament this weekend – both are 1hr games with 30s increments. After both games I took the opportunity to sit down with my opponents and analyse the games. This was very helpful – it was also something I have rarely done. They were both much more skilled than me and their input was great, they were also able to go through the games by memory which I can’t do. It was especially interesting to hear them talk about what they thought I was trying to achieve and what they were worried about. They illustrated things I missed which would have been strong. It was also useful to hear about what they were considering.

What stood out for me was that they calculated each position more deeply.

My ‘Round Three’ Game

So having lost the game in my last ‘life drawing’ post I thought it would be good to analyse it.

Playing Against Humans

 

chess players 2

Nothing could be more Ludditish, in my opinion, than playing a game of chess with a human being. It is a quiet, soulful experience that exercises the mind and emotions and requires deep, not glib, thought.

I have been playing chess on Tuesday evenings at a small nearby club where two or three grown ups appear while a teacher teaches a group of kids including my son. The games aren’t timed and I haven’t been recording the moves but a friend there records his moves and after the game we go through it with the teacher, an International Master, who amazes us with what he can see so quickly. This post game analysis is very useful and it is something I intend to do more.

Once a month I also play in a mini Swiss tournament of seven rounds at another club 30 minutes away. Each game has a fixed time control of 15 minutes a side and games are not recorded. The tournament has a mix of players ranging from 6yr old children to an 80 plus year old man who is very good and I would estimate the fields strength to range from 700 to 2000. I have never run out of time but I have come close and I find that the fifteen minute time limit allows some deeper thought but not as much as I would like. Also my time planning isn’t good; I sometimes rush when I shouldn’t and then spend my time trying to get out of a messy situation. Again my allocation of concentration is something I will work on.

Yesterday I went to a new club that has opened up nearby. I went there because, according to its website, it has an ongoing tournament where players play one game a week for the duration of a school term. Yesterday, however, was the week before the tournament started so there were fewer people; there was the organiser, me and another adult, my son and about six other kids. The tournament’s time control of 1hr was specifically set up to bridge the gap between the 15 minute games that are ubiquitous for children and the 2hr + games of serious, usually adult, players. I played two great games against the organiser (lost both) and a couple of recorded games against an improving player. I plan to go back next week and join their tournament.

I hope to play more people, close to my level or higher, more often and under longer time controls. The fact that I am playing a human means that I treat the games with great respect. This in turn helps me concentrate and play a better game that I remember more clearly. The rewards of losing or winning are higher too and blunders, tactical errors, poor positional play and bad strategy all become more obvious under the emotional prism that is live play and become more memorable.

It is my contention that you can learn as much from a close game with a human as you can with 100 internet games – especially if you go through it afterwards.

My First ICCF Webserver Success

chess my first game

I simultaneously started 6 games in my first ICCF webserver tournament. The tournament was the previously mentioned ‘Australian Bicycle B12’ match and the games progressed at different paces. With each game I chose moves first without reference to any material and then I sought to check whether my thoughts were accurate by reviewing book opening, watching videos about the relevant openings and studying old games in online databases. I never used a computer to analyse future moves and never intend to. Some games followed historical games for many moves and others moved out of known games fairly early on. Sometimes this was driven by opponents and at other times this was my choice.

The critical position in the game I would finish first is shown at the top of this post and I hope you can see it. It follows the moves:

A Method For Correspondence Chess?

chess method

I am copying a post I saw online which gives advice on how to tackle correspondence games. The quote is from jmpaul320 on Chess.com and I have made minor edits to reduce its length. I found it to be a very useful post:


 

Correspondence chess is a different flavor of chess than traditional OTB chess. To play it correctly, one must adopt a different approach.

Basic differences of CC:

  1. Time – you have lots of it. Standard time control for rated server events on ICCF (international correspondence chess federation) is 10 moves in 50 days. (some events are 40 depending on if they are worldwide or region specific).

  2. Known theory – you have access to all of it during a game. Master games, openings, endgame table bases.

  3. Blunders – they rarely happen, unless your opponent is not playing CC correctly.

I will now share my personal method for playing CC. To do so you will need the following:

  1. Chessbase – or some other access to a database of millions of master games. 365Chess.com is a good site. Chess.com has a very good game explorer for premium members as well. If you have the money, get chessbase and the “mega (6 million+) game database”… its worth it.

  2. Books – Modern Chess openings, Nunn’s Chess openings. Also – other literature published on openings that you regularly use. Endgame books are also helpful. Full table bases of a number of endagmes are available online for free download – more on this later.

  3. Access to your opponents games – you are going to want to create a database of every available game your opponent has played.

  4. TIME – and lots of it. Games regularly last anywhere from 6 months to 3 years on ICCF.

Before I go into detail of my method for playing CC, let me just put this out there – 98-99% of people on chess.com do not play CC correctly. Most players either move too fast, or have way too many games going on to spend the correct amount of time analyzing. I have seen players rated 1650, 1750, and even 1850 drop pieces, blunder away pawns, and even move into checkmate. I played this way up until recently. Most of the games I lost were because of blunders, or mistakes I made because of a failure to take the time analyze correctly. When I changed the way I played and started taking more time, the quality of my games vastly improved. I am not saying the way I play CC is the best one, but I have seen good results over the last few months and have learned quite a bit in the process.

I’d like to pass my ideas along to anyone else who plays CC, or even has an interest in CC. Its a fun way to play chess, and an opportunity to improve.

Step One – Research your opponent

Simply put – you are going to want to have every single game your opponent has ever played.

You are going to want to know what types of openings/defenses/gambits your opponent regularly plays, as well as how they play. Do they play openings that favor positional games or tactical games? Do they like fancy gambits or offbeat lines? Look at the games they won – did they win because of a blunder or did they grind out a 75 move win from a slight advantage? Look at the games they lost as well. This is where chessbase comes in handy. You can download all your opponents games from iccf or chess.com and make a customized database just of that players games. Using the “prepare against white” or “prepare against black” options you can explore all of their games simultaneously like in game explorer on chess.com

If you are playing on iccf, cross-reference your opponent on chess.com etc to see if you can find more games.

It might sound weird, but check your opponents facebook, twitter etc. I did this for one iccf opponent and was pleasantly surprised when I found a blog that published all of his tournament and correspondence games. They were all available in pgn to download.

Step Two – Research the opening

After you have selected an opening as white, or a response/defense as black (based on your step one research). You are going to want to research the opening now as it unfolds too. I mostly rely on master games. What types of positions arise from the line or sideline you are considering? Are they ones that you are familiar with? Are they ones that your opponent has played before? Now is the time to study openings!!

Step Three – Take. Your. TIME.

Take your time when analyzing. This goes for any stage of the game, but doubly so for critical positions. Set up a chessboard to help you visualize. Take notes on your ideas. Try to come up with two or three candidate moves and analyze each. Look up master games with similar positions. Take breaks while it is still your move and come back later or even another day to look at the position again.

Take your time, and strive for perfection. You can and should always assume your opponent is doing the same.

How much time is enough? If its a forced reply – a few minutes. If its a critical position – hours… I regularly spend 2-3 hours on my games on iccf. Sometimes more. If your opponent makes a move that you did not consider and analyze that is not a downright mistake or inaccuracy – you are not spending enough time analyzing.

Step Four – The Endgame

Chess endgames have been studied extensively. Many endgame tables are available online for free (up to 6 men I believe) and can be downloaded and used in chess software that supports it. Thousands of endgame positions have been calculated as a win, loss, or draw working backwards sometimes hundreds of moves from checkmate. This is all known theory and is usually acceptable to use for correspondence play – just make sure and check the rules if you are playing on chess.com, iccf, to make sure its acceptable to use these table bases. EDIT – END GAME TABLES ARE NOT TO BE USED ON CHESS.COM

Most OTB chess endgame principals apply to correspondence… I won’t list them all as this is not a blog on the endgame

Never go into a King & pawn endgame unless you have a clear win calculated.

Never trade off material into an endgame that will favor your opponent. Keep your pieces on the board and fight!

Etc.

Step Five – Post game analysis

You should always analyze your completed games. With an engine if possible.

Hopefully this will be helpful for those interested in correspondence chess.