3 Tips for Analyzing Your Chess Games More Effectively

3 Tips for Analyzing Your Chess Games More Effectively

NM BlakeyBChess

We all know that analyzing our games and learning from our losses is a crucial part of becoming a better chess player.

It's also an area many of us struggle with. Since I founded ChessPathways.com with the aim of helping more players become Masters (hopefully in a fraction of the time it took me!), I've received several questions from our members about analyzing one's own games and learning from mistakes.

Without further ado, here are 3 tips for analyzing your chess games more effectively!


1. Start Without an Engine

This is especially important after a loss. It's so temping to immediately consult the all-knowing engine to show you your mistakes, but you'll learn a lot more if you can identify them yourself. Trust me - I've tried it both ways!

Go through your game and identify moments where you think you went wrong. Did you make a tactical blunder? (If you're a beginner or rated less than 1200, this will be the reason for the majority of your losses - look for the moment where you lost material and see if you can figure out why!) If you could do these moments over again, what would you play instead?

Only then should you check with an engine, to confirm or deny your findings.

2. Ignore the Small Stuff

I'll refer back to the Pareto Principle - 80% of the results comes from 20% of the effort. Focus diligently on the mistakes you're making that really affect the result of the game, but don't worry if the engine says a move is +0.6 instead of +0.3 - unless you can explain with human words why the computer move is better. If the engine isn't top-notch, this small deviation is probably within its margin of error anyways!

I've worked with a lot of players who unfortunately get bogged down with minutiae instead of seeing the bigger picture when analyzing their games. It can be hard to focus on the main culprits of your losses, when the computer is flashing that "inaccuracy" symbol at you every other move. Ignore it and identify the big problems. Yet another reason to analyze without a computer the first time around!

3. Ask "Why"

When you do identify a mistake, ask yourself why it happened.

No, not "21. Be5 was bad because I missed a fork." That's the chess reason why the move was bad. You've established that the move was bad - so why did you play it?

Did you forget to ask the all-important question "What will my opponent do if I make this move" before playing the blunder? Did you ask that question, but simply didn't see your opponent's response? Did you see the fork, but thought you had calculated a line that was favorable for you anyways which turned out not to work? Did you play the move quickly, or did you spend a long time on it?

Be honest with yourself and identify the MENTAL reason (not the "chess" reason) for your mistakes. Then think about how you can avoid making similar mistakes in the future. This might be the single most important technique for eliminating your weaknesses in chess.


I hope you enjoyed this article! Please make sure to visit ChessPathways.com and join our community - I'll send you a free "Move by Move Guide to Chess Thinking" when you do.