Guess the GM Move Exercise

Jun 9, 2014, 1:04 PM |

This is my first attempt at doing a "guess the move" exercise.  I chose to capture results in Excel instead of using some of the free software that's available for a couple of reasons:

1) None of the software really scored things the way I wanted to do it.

2) I wanted to simulate over the board play instead of making moves on a computer screen.  I seem to blunder more OTB and my theory is that my eyes can easily take in and process a 6 inch board on a screen, but on a 21 inch chess board, I actually have to move my eyes around to take in the whole thing and I miss information.  Eliminating blunders is one of the things I hope to accomplish by repeating this excercise (as well as to learn how GM's play their games).

The Process:

Here is the process I went through for the game.


  1. I had my laptop with the blank Excel spreadsheet, a tablet running "SCID on the go", a chess clock, and a chess board all spread around my kitchen table. 
  2. Using SCID, I selected an Alekhine game that uses an opening I would actually play in tournament play (at least the first few moves).  This game was loaded on a screen with the moves hidden.
  3. I set my chess clock for 45 minutes for each side (the opponent's time doesn't really matter, but I had to set it for something).
  1. I played through the moves until Alekhine played something I wouldn’t have played.  In this example, it was 3. .. c5, so I started with move 4.
  2. I played the next move for white and hit the “opponent”s clock to start mine.
  3. I played through the rest of the game, trying to use the same thought process I would in a rated OTB game doing the following for each move:
  • After selecting a move, I enter the move in the “My Choice” column of the spreadsheet.
  • Hit my clock
  • Advance to the next move in the game on my tablet to see what Alekhine played.
  • Write his move in the GM column and make that move on the board
  • Advance on the tablet to see white’s move and make that move on the board.
  • Hit the “opponent” clock to start mine moving again and repeat.


  1. After the game, I started up SCID and loaded the game on my laptop, started a computer engine analyzing, and stepped back through it populating the other columns:
  • Score – the score the computer gave the line for my move after about 30 seconds of thinking.
  • Rank – what choice was my move for the computer – eg. Did I choose the 2nd, 3rd etc best move?
  • GM Score – the score the computer gave the line for Alekhine’s move after about 30 seconds of thinking.
  • GM Rank – what choice was his move for the computer.
  • Computer – the computer’s best line
  • Computer Score – the score of the line for the computer’s best move.
  • GM/ Computer Delta – the difference of the score between the GM’s move and the “best” move.
  • Computer delta – the difference of the score between my move and the “best” move.
  1. I then tallied results and calculated a score.  A perfect score on the Rank would be the number of moves (29 in my example – I scored over 100!).   A perfect score on the total Delta would be 0.
  2. I put in highlighting to flag questionable moves (I chose a delta > 0.3) and bad moves (delta > 0.5) and counted my bad moves.

My goal will be to improve my metrics over time.


Here is the game Info I used:


Game:  Gruenfeld - Alekhine - 1922       

Date:     6/9/2013             

Play as: Black     

Computer Engine:           Stockfish             

Time Control:     G/45     



[Event """"]

[Site """"]

[Date ""1922.??.??""]

[Round ""?""]

[White ""Gruenfeld, Ernst""]

[Black ""Alekhine, Alexander""]

[Result ""0-1""]

[ECO ""D40""]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.c4 c5 4.e3 d5 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bd3 Be7 7.O-O O-O 8.b3 cxd4 9.exd4 b6 10.Bb2 Ba6 11.Re1 dxc4 12.bxc4 Rc8 13.Qa4 Nb4 14.Bf1 Qe8 15.Qb3 Nc6 16.Nb5 Na5 17.Qa4 Bxb5 18.cxb5 Nd5 19.Rac1 Rxc1 20.Rxc1 a6 21.Ne5 Bd6 22.Nc6 axb5 23.Bxb5 Qa8 24.Nxa5 bxa5 25.Qc4 Bf4 26.Rd1 Rc8 27.Qb3 h5 28.a4 h4 29.h3 Bg5 30.Be2 Qc6 31.Bf3 Qc2 32.Qb5 Bf4 33.Qd7 Nf6 34.Qb5 Rb8 0-1


Start Moves:      1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. c4 c5 4. e6



And here are my results

  • Moves: 31          
  • Bad Moves:         9              29%
  • Average Rank: 4.38
  • Total Delta from Computer: 16.17 (in other words, I gave away a Queen, Rook and pawn during the game!)
  • Alekhine Average Rank: 1.8
  • Alekhine Total Delta: 1.26 (I have a ways to go! Embarassed)


The table wouldn't really post well here, so here is a link to the PDF:


What did I learn from this?

I made myself a couple of mental notes on as I was playing...

1)      After I saw Alekhine’s move on move 33, I realized that I hadn’t even looked at the chosen move (I don’t know if I would have chose it if I had or not).  So I made myself the note to be sure to look at every threat I have.

2)      Then on the next move, I got totally involved with evaluating options around attacking the King and decided that Ne4 looked good.  I did not apply the advice I noted for myself on the previous move and never even looked at the winning move.  Some of us have to learn things the hard way!

Like I said earlier, there is software that does this to some extent, but I like the idea of capturing a summary score and comparing both that and the GM’s score to the computer to see how my performance stacks up (or not). 


It takes a good hour and a half to do the exercise and the evaluation, but I found it interesting and am looking forward to doing this periodically to see how I am faring.  I may use some software like ChessHero to do this kind of exercise when I don’t have time to manually score the my results, but I thought I would share this in case anyone finds it useful.