BossK's Intro To Analyzing A Move Part 1: Introduction and Weaknesses
Introduction to Analysis
I have decided to start analyzing beginner's games to give them an idea of where they on the right track and where they went wrong. I hope to help beginning and lower level players improve by encouraging them to analyze their own games and supplementing their analysis with my own. One small hurdle is that a lot of players don't know how to analyze their games and moves. I hope this brief beginners tutorial will help.
A Brief Comment on Engine Analysis
There are a lot of ways to analyze a game, but first a comment on engine use during analysis. Never use an engine to determine the "best" move, preferably do not even show the lines it is thinking of. The only thing you should be getting from an engine is evaluation of a position.Use an engine simply to confirm that one blunder. If you are a beginner consider it that, you blundered or missed a tactic when the engines position value swings by more than 2 points in your opponents(As you get better you can make this value smaller and smaller). Once you have seen that you blunder, DO NOT look at the engine lines to see what you missed try to find a better move yourself. You don't have to find the best move, simply find a move that follows your plan and is no longer a substantial blunder. If the engine swung in your favor, try to find the tactic you missed to the best of your ability. Once again, don't look at the engine lines. If you can't find the tactic that is fine, simply note you missed it and after completing analysing the game entirely, you can go back where you missed tactics and see what the engine line was. This in my experience, especially for lower level players, results in the most gain.
The Basic Questions
Now on to actually analysing a move, a lot of people analyze moves very differently. A good way to start is to learn to analyze moves is to answer the questions gitizi asks here:http://www.reddit.com/r/chess/comments/1n3l9u/the_sheer_number_of_games_posted_without_analysis/ccf4uxp . You should work your way towards answering the following 6 questions:
What are my opponent's weakness?
What are my weaknesses?
What does this move threaten my opponent with?
Which of my opponent's threats does this move deal with?
What is the plan behind my move?
What is my opponent's best plan?
These 6 questions should give you the answer to the most important question: What is the best move for me in this position? If your post game analysis comes up with a different answer to this question, then your game move you should note that move and possibly a brief continuation for it. For example,
Now that we've seen the result of answering these questions lets explain what each of these questions mean and how to answer them to the best of our ability.
What are my opponents weaknesses? What are my weaknesses?
This question can be very hard to answer and only gets harder as you improve. Because of how complex this topic is I will cover both questions of one's own weaknesses and one's opponents at the same time, simply because in most causes you can analyze them the same way. This is also probably one of the harder ones to explain. A weakness in chess can be a lot of things: a backwards pawn, loss of the bishop pair, hanging or loosely defended pieces, a poorly defended king, etc. As you get better, you will be able to find more and more subtle weakness, but for a beginner the 2 big ones you should note are undefended pieces and poorly defended kings. Lets take a look at a few positions and try to list each side's weaknesses.
First let's list the weaknesses for white.
1) The knight on d6 is undefended.
2) The bishop on c1 is undefended.
3) The rook on h4 is undefended.
4) Potential backrank weakness(ie, if both bishops were somehow removed without otherwise changing the position Rb1 would be mate)
5) Weak on the light squares.
Now on to blacks weaknesses:
1) The pawn on a4 is undefended.
2) The bishop on a6 is undefended.
3) The king is highly exposed.
4) Blacks pieces are cramped away from the king.
Now what does our analysis recommend in this position for white?
Let's try a slightly more complicated position from one of my own games where I had the black pieces.
Since we are still fairly close to the opening theory the weakness here are not as pronounced as in our first example but nonetheless we can find weaknesses on both sides.
The weaknesses for white include:
1) The queen is away from the action and undefended.
2) The king is sitting alot the half open c file
3) The weakly defended pawn on b2 and knight on c3
4) The immobility of the bishop on b3
5) The weakness on the d1-h5 diagonal.
Black's weaknesses are also less concrete than before:
1) The rook on c5 is awkwardly played if the 5th rank can be closed up and can potentially be kicked around
2) The kingside pawns have been moved forward creating targets for pawn breaks and creating weaknesses on the dark squares.
3) The rook on f8 and queen on d8 are both relatively inactive.
4) The knight on f6 is relatively immobile.
Now that we have looked at our list of weaknesses, we begin to home in on the ones that seem most major. Many beginning players would immediately hone in on white's queen being undefended, black's knight on f6 being inactive and blacks vulnerability to pawn breaks and settled on Ng4 to target the weak queen and rememdy 2 of our weaknesses. This isn't a bad plan but it isn't best as black likes white's queen on f2. It is far from the action and can always be exploited later. Another player might decided that white's weakness on the d1-h5 diagonal and black's vulnerability to pawn breaks were the real issues and settled on Bg4. Once again this is a good move, but our bishop can always come to g4 later. The weakness in this position, surprisingly, is the one I eventually determined to act on and exploit. The weakness I choose correctly to exploit was the weakness of the b2 pawn and the poorly defended knight on c3! In this position, I played 16...Qa5 adding pressure to the c3 square and indirectly the b2 square, freeing up squares for my rook on f8, strengthening my control of the 5th rank, and making potential pawn breaks on the kingside harder for white! The move seems to remedy or reduce the impact of many of my weaknesses and increases white's weaknesses. But that still wasn't best as white can remedy equally as many weaknesses with the simple 17. Bxc4! There is an even stronger move based on weakness on b2 shockingly being the biggest weakness on the board!
I will end our article here for today as this single section is already much longer than I intended the whole article to be. Tomorrow I will take a look at the most common types of threats. Then Friday, part 3 will close our "brief" introduction out with planning and how we put it all together to find the move the best fits the position and our plans!