Analyze Your Own Games (Yusupov Style)

Analyze Your Own Games (Yusupov Style)

Mar 15, 2015, 2:48 PM |

A few months ago I wrote a blog post entitled, Analyze Your Games. Now I am studying, and blogging about, Training for the Tournament Player (TftTP), by Dvortesky and Yusupov, and what do you think is the title of their book's second chapter? Yep, "Analyze Your Own Games." Why does Yusupov think this is so important?

I consider that analysis of one's own games is the main method by which a chessplayer can improve, and I am convinced that it is impossible for a player to improve without having a critical understanding of his own games. (Yusupov in TftTP, p. 44)

Yusupov recommends focusing on the following when analyzing your games:

  1. Find the turning points--those points where mistakes were made, where the assessment of the position changed, IE, the critical moments. Most importantly, in time, it is hoped this skill will translate into being able to recognize these critical moments during the game. 
  2. Search for the reasons for your mistakes. This will build an objective awareness of one's own weaknesses, which can then be addressed through systematic training. It is not enough to know you drop pieces or you don't castle soon enough. Why do you do these things?
  3. Look for new possibilities. What different plans or ideas existed in the game's positions that you didn't see or didn't understand correctly? It is helpful to get new ideas from friends or trainers who have looked over your game.
  4. Look critically at the results of the opening play and see if you can come up with improvements or novelties.

It is important to keep in mind that, like most books by these authors, the audience is 2000+ level players. So, as a class player, it is important to keep that in perspective. I will likely not be coming up with worthwhile novelties in the opening but I can review my opening play and see where I fell out of my prep. I can think about how I felt about the resulting position and plans and if I feel I understood what was needed coming out of the opening.

The bulk of the chapter (seventeen pages) has Yusupov demonstrating these guidelines in his annotations of two of his own games. And, somewhat recursively, his analysis of his annotations!

Likewise, at the end of the chapter, Dvoretsky does the same, presenting the annotations for one of his own games and then analyzing those annotations, pointing out examples of common problems in self-annotated games. For instance, annotators who won their game often so how it was won through diligent planning and brilliant artistry whereas annotators who lost their game often lost because of chance happenings on the board.

This is an overview of the chapter but with approximately twenty three pages of annotations covering just three games, the chapter is also packed with chess teachings. The most memorable lesson for me was the prophylactic technique demonstrated by Anatoly Karpov in the following game.

If you are looking for an example of chess prophylaxis, look no further than this game, where Karpov makes 8 prophylactic moves in a row while, importantly, moving his own agenda forward. Eventually Yusupov cracks under the pressure of having his plans continually thwarted.

Just how I want my own opponents to feel in my next tournament.