Learning from the games of others
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Learning from the games of others

Illingworth
GM Illingworth
Oct 6, 2018, 3:49 AM |
4

I've noticed that when I analyse a chess game, I tend to have a lot of questions about different moves that could have been played. 

So, I have a 'brief check' of what the engine gives, play out some natural-looking 20 move variation to draw some conclusion...and then I notice a possible improvement or at least alternative that seems quite natural from a human point of view. And before you know it...my analysis of the game is 10 pages long

I do believe in this method as a way of improving your game, although that's not my main motivation - my interest is more that, if something is not entirely clear to me, it's likely that it will also be a question for my students - or, in the case of blogging, my audience.

The key is that you don't take the engine's assessment for granted, but constantly try ideas and ask questions. You may well practice this by asking a question about our game in the comments below - my analysis of the opening and middlegame phase is by no means exhaustive. If you are a club player, you will probably prefer to do this with your coach/trainer, or if you don't have money for lessons, a training partner/group. 

In the past, there were also forums where you could post your game, ask questions, and a strong player just might give you feedback and explanations that you wouldn't get from an engine. 

The context of the above is that I just analysed the game Mamedyarov-Ding, Batumi Olympiad 2018, on the suggestion of my former trainer GM Ian Rogers. However, my 9 pages of analysis might be too much for most readers to digest, so I've singled out a couple of the key lessons as puzzles.

The first puzzle is quite difficult, as Ding didn't play the best move in the game. Can you do better?

The next puzzle is a bit easier in comparison, at least if you've studied your basic endgames!
Exercise: Black to play. Is the above position a win for White, or a draw? If it's a draw - what should Black play?
(SPOILER coming up)
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Solution: The tablebase indicates three drawing moves, but the most accurate is 1...Ra6!, offering the maximum checking distance against White's king. After 2.f6 Ra7 3.Re7 Ra8!, Black stops White's king from reaching the 8th rank (a prerequisite for reaching the winning 'Lucena position') and White is unable to make progress. If the White rook leaves the 7th rank, Black gives an annoying ...Ra7 check, and moving the king allows Black's king to get to g8/f8 for the Philidor position. Put into moves: 4.Re1 Ra7 5.Kf8 Kg6 draw, or 4.Ke6 Kg8 5.Rg7 Kf8, draw. 
I hope you learned something from these puzzles! To access the full 9-page analysis of the game (and many other patron-only posts), go to my website https://www.patreon.com/ChessLearning and pledge $1 or more for the month. One of my dreams is to be able to make a living writing chess content that's instructive, engaging, entertaining and helps chess players around the world to achieve their chess dreams. 
I hope to announce some exciting chess plans in the near future, so stay tuned!
 

PS Feel free to check out my friend RoaringPawn's blog post, posted just before mine.