Intermediate Level: Game analysis: Reading and Writing
A chess position is a problem to be solved.
It's a bad idea to come with solutions because you've seen something similar in similar positions, and even a worse idea to come with solutions based on your own mood. However, this is what the majority of players do. They have seen this movement, this maneuver, this piece and pawn setup, and they want to have it in their own games. If it worked before, why can't it work here? Besides, today I feel like Tal then I'll play like he did... right?
Well, chess isn't about writing on the board, but reading, understanding and replying with precision. If you don't read and understand, then your replies may be affected by your mood, your beliefs, and what not, and may be passive, inaccurate or wrong. Only that these aren't the source but the consequences.
In chess, you always need to keep in mind that the excessive subjectivism disturbs the logical development of the game (V. Smyslov). You don't show up to tell your truth, but to clarify the truth in the position in front of you. Your replies, what you write on the board, mustn't be words alone, but whole sentences, paragraphs and texts. If a move is a word, then and idea of where your pieces belong (a plan) is a sentence, and its evolution in different positions logically chained together, constitute paragraphs and texts. But you aren't alone in a game, then you need to –always– consider your opponent's replies.
The reading process is an evaluation based on material, time, space and piece activity (this one is of the utmost importance), and the replying process is based on logic, precise calculation, erudition and intuition.
The reading process is particularly important in discerning the position's inner logic. For example, it is understood that a person does not have super powers, but if the internal logic of a comic book so establishes it, then the logic used for that comic book can be based on it. In the same sense, the logic for a position is based on the position's inner logic (which is specific to the situation) and not in general principles, values, beliefs or prejudices external to it.
There you can see that any reply that isn't evaluating the available material, the time required to carry on a plan, the space needed for the pieces, and the activity of pieces in the sector (or the board as a whole), is prone to be dead wrong.
Having a good reading of the position is just part of the process necessary to solve a problem. The words and sentences –the moves and plans– also need to be precise when applying the logic (deduced from the relationships between pieces and pawns on both sides) and the timing for tactics (precise calculation). These two are supported by what you know (erudition) and what you feel (intuition); however, these last two are meant to work as support to sound logic and precise calculation.
The following OTB game, played in England by intermediate level players, comes from a requirement for analysis in the forums. I found it pretty interesting, both for the sources of the inaccuracies and mistakes, as for the interesting complications that could have followed if the players would've used logic and precise calculation rather than knowledge and intuition alone.
These complications, and forum's posts, required a second and revised set of annotations to the originals.