A Tale of Two Graphs

A Tale of Two Graphs

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"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,..." - Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

“Chess is rarely a game of ideal moves. Almost always, a player faces a series of difficult consequences whichever move he makes.” – David Shenk

Excuse me while I remove a few cobwebs and tidy up the place. It's been a while since I've posted anything but this was something that I had in the back of my mind for few years and decided I should go ahead and write it and put it out here.

It's always a struggle to know what to study in chess. Openings? Tactics? Endgames? Master Games? Yes to all of them but with limited time for study, targeting some areas may be more beneficial than others. I haven't played as many games as I probably should have and certainly haven't studied as much as I need to, but I try to run all my games though some sort of analysis, to pinpoint specific areas to look at.

Recently I've been running all my games here through a depth 26 Analysis here on site, whereas previously, I was running everything through a local engine. One of the features I like is the graph that will show how the game ebbed and flowed at a glance, without looking at the concrete analysis. I like to jump to the move just before a sudden change in the graph evaluation and see if I can determine the best play from that location.

I've noticed a few things about the overall graph flows.

  • For the most part, I'm not having a lot of issues out of the opening and normally can get to 10-12 moves without any major problems. This isn't always the case, and there certainly is room for improvement.
  • The graphs tend to following three patterns:
    • Even or close to even out of the openings, a slow increase in the evaluation for one side, and some inaccuracies or mistakes that end up increasing that evaluation until a winning game is reached, followed by resignation or checkmate.
    • Similar to the first, but there is one major mistake or blunder that switches the evaluation to the other side, followed by that side winning.
    • The most common, what I like to call the roller coaster. This has many peaks and valleys, some going from a large advantage to essentially none, and some swapping advantages back and forth, with multiple ups and downs. These games are a toss-up with some wins, some losses and some draws.

Slow and Gradual

This type of game, seems to be the least common type of game, but has some useful things to guide study. When I'm on the side with the disadvantage, I'm not finding good continuations and missing tactical ideas for my opponents, along with just making poor moves choices positionally.

When I have the advantage, I'm also not finding the best moves, again missing tactical and positional ideas.

Roller Coaster

This type of game seems to be the most common. One side or the other gets advantage and gives it away, the other side does the same, rinse and repeat. I'm still missing tactical and positional ideas, multiple times in many cases.

These are the most frustrating games and I need to come up with a good way to minimize the number of transitions. The quote about the winner being the one to make the next to last mistake, is certainly a truism.


I need to continue working on tactics and do it more consistently, with a mixture of working with time and working on accuracy. I also need to find some good books/resources to work on positional and middlegame ideas/themes to try and guide me in finding better plans.

I'll have to look at some of the books I have now that I can use to begin some work on that latter weakness. If anyone has some suggestions on resources, please post them below. I have too many books that I still need to work through but if there is a really good resource, I'll have to put it on my list and maybe pick it up.