Playing through Master Games

Nov 2, 2008, 8:45 PM |

In addition to analyzing your own games, playing through master games is one of the best things you can do to improve as a chess player. There are many great annotated game collections that have the purpose of teaching the reader.

  • Logical Chess Move by Move by Chernev
  • Understanding Chess Move by Move by Nunn
  • Strategic Chess: Mastering the Closed Game by Mednis
  • Winning Chess Explained by Zenon Franco
  • Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever Played by Chernev
  • 50 Essential Chess Lessons by Giddins
  • Chess: The Art of Logical Thinking by McDonald
  • The Art of Planning In Chess by McDonald

Here is some advice given by different authors about playing through master games:

Yusupov & Dvoretsky:


Methods for playing through games:


  1. After playing through the opening you can play at 'guessing'.
  2. When you see a diagram or a lengthy comment you can delve into the position and then check your conclusions with the commentary.
  3. You have played through a game and some feature made an impression on you. Make a positional sketch on this topic. Draw a diagram on a separate piece of paper, and describe briefly why the position seemed interesting to you, what was curious about it. Leave space for future additions and refinements. Add new examples to this sheet when they closely resemble  those already there.

Jeremy Silman:


Get a collection of games by a player.


  1. Play through the opening
  2. Cover up the moves and figure out what is going on. Go through all the imbalances and the whole thinking technique. Figure out the proper plan and all candidate moves. Write it all down!
  3. Analyze each candidate move in detail in your head. Write down all of your analysis. Choose your move.
  4. Look at the move that was played, check out the response, and start process again.

David Bronstein:


  1. Play through the whole game without hesitating more than a couple seconds at each move. If you have the urge to pause longer - don’t'! Just make a mark in pencil and continue to play the game to the end. Then put it aside, and take a break. Try your best to recall from memory the game you have just seen. Try to establish the reasons why certain decisions were made.
  2. Play through the game again, somewhat slower this time, and mark in pencil everything that you did not see the first time.
  3. Finally go straight to those pencil marks and give your imaginative and creative energy free reign. Write your findings down so you can look at them at a later date.