how to properly analyze a game


Can someone give me some insight on how to properly analyze my games? Maybe turn me on to an effective article or provide some solid advice. Thank you!


Don't remember the guys name, but an IM once said that doing your own analysis is one of the best things you can do to improve.  But its also one of, if not the most over thought things someone players do.  

Keep it simple.  

Get a pen and paper, set up a board, and pieces.  Write down your ideas, how you felt, plans, thoughts, etc. for each move.  

You're new to this, so it doesnt need to be perfect.  Its going to be a work in progress.

I took one of your games and added some comments as an idea of what i am talking about.  





there is one link that gets puts up on analysis so maybe someone will paste it

sometimes i will take notes during a live game (30 min)

things like does my position feel solid; am i worried about something; noting times where you take a long time to move; noticing critical moments, etc

afterwards (i usually wait a day; i play 3 30 min games one day and spend another day to analyze) i try to mimic what chernev does in logical chess move by move: start at move 1. and go over as much as you can; use your notes you took during game and use those to help with analysis

if i am feeling really diligent i will finish the whole game without engine assistance; trying to notice position strength, tactics, missed opportunities (even for opponent,)

then after this scroll through the game looking at the engine shift in case there is a tactic that comes about; and/or a bad blunder and really look at it until the point sinks in

if you can get a better player, coach, or even lobby (glhf) to go over things with you this is icing on the cake

analyzing my games really helped me; even or especially as a lower rated player- even as a floundering fish i can learn something really helpful every game

catdogorb... I am not the original poster but just thought I would say this was a most useful post, thanks

Clenzen wrote:

Can someone give me some insight on how to properly analyze my games? Maybe turn me on to an effective article or provide some solid advice. Thank you!


There is a book by Dan Heisman called The Improving Annotator.  It shows how he improved over time in analyzing his games.  


I think a trick for analysis is to try and find the critical position and analyse just that position as thoroughly as possible, at least when you are a beginner. There will be too much information to wrap your head around if you analyse every position in a game.


You will most likely pick a position that wasnt critical and most of your analysis will be poor. However, as you get better you will not only become more accurate in your analysis but a better judge of the positions you get as well.


Also play "guess the move" with a chess set and a good annotated master game. Use a notebook to annotate the game yourself so that you can check the annotations you wrote with those of the master, kind of like taking an exam.


I also personally keep a log of the master games I have analysed and when I analysed them. I also have them organized by player in my notebook. This way I can go back, analyse a game again after an appropriate amount of time and compare not only with the masters analysis but my old analysis as well. My plan is to do this until a game is memorised and then remove it from the log and store the notes for that game for possible future reference.


This might be too much for most people but I have plenty of time on my hands.


I'm only a average club level player but self analyzing my games afterwards seems to have helped me. Go through each move you made with some paper and pencil and write down why you made each move, your thought process at the time, etc... If you are in a club or something asking the club expert to go over your games with you is invaluable. Finally I recommend using an engine to analyze but only after you have done it yourself.


thank you everyone!!


A beginner using an engine is dangerous. It is much better for the beginner to try to find their mistakes on their own first, and only check it with an engine afterwards. Simply relying on the engine to tell you where you made your mistakes will not help you improve. The key thing a beginner should look for is the losing mistake (from either player). After that, look for where the game left the book lines and note who left first (and what other moves could have been played instead).


The process for analyzing games is not difficult, and you will continue to improve at both the analysis and your game by following it consistently.


Phase 1:  Record your moves and your thoughts from the game (if this was an online game, simply record your thoughts as the moves are already recorded).  At each move, jot down what you remember worry about, what you were planning, what tactics you saw (or thought you saw).  Do not worry about analyzing moves at this phase.


Phase 2:  Either use MCO, game database, or opening book to identify where the game left a book line.  Note who left it (you or your opponent) and what moves had been played by masters in the position before.  If you left book first, create a variation (in the notes) recording the move you should have played instead (if there are several options, you can record a few variations that you may want to look into later, but do not do more than 2-3).


Phase 3:  Identify tactics you missed.  As you are replaying the game, look for tactics that were available for either you or your opponent that were not played.  Note that this is not tactics you thought were available, but tactics that were actually available and would have won the game for either player.  You do not have to be 100% correct here - the idea is for you to look for these both during the game and during your analysis.  You will get better as you do it.  As part of this phase, try to identify the losing move.  If you lost, what move did you make that cost you the game (it will be the last critical mistake)?  If your opponent lost, what move did he make that cost him the game?  If it was a draw, were either of you in a winning position at some point during the game?  If so, what move blundered the win?  Identify it at identify potential alternative moves that should have been played.


Phase 4:  Run a blunder check using an engine.  Chessbase is perhaps the best tool for this (as it will check your variations, provide additional variations, and reference master games you can look up), but you can also do this using Stockfish in Arena or using's Analysis.  If you are using a tool like's analysis (which provides a graph), you can easily identify the losing move by looking for a drastic change in the graph (e.g. if it was even and suddenly one side is up massively, a blunder was made; or, if someone was winning, and suddenly is is back even, a blunder was made).  Also go back and check the tactical variations you analyzed in phase 3.


Phase 5:  Take the output of the previous 4 phases and meet with a stronger player (preferably someone of at least Master strength - a stronger class player is not all that useful here).  They will help you identify strategic themes you may have missed and weed out some of the engine's convuluted output.


Phase 6:  Write 1-2 lessons learned from the game.  What key takeaways should you have?  Did you manage your time poorly?  Did you miss simple pawn forks?  Were you not paying attention to your opponent's threats?  These are your improvement action items.  A the beginner level, there may be a dozen things you did wrong.  That is to be expected, but only focus on 1-2 things to improve on.  For example, if time management (either moving way too fast or way too slow) was one of your problems, create an action item to address it in your following games.  If you are consistently missing common tactical themes, create an action item to practice that theme.


re: phase 6 and jotting down some general lessons or goals in improvement is most helpful

the analysis process in and of itself benefits in both long and short term but having a "summary" after each analyses gives me an immediate plan to implement the very next game

catdogorb wrote:

Yeah, that's a more thorough approach.

For blitiz games, honestly, I only do the opening book thing and tactic check. Not much else unless a single position was interesting to me for one reason or another.

I'll add that when a 2200 human disagrees with the 3500 engine... listen to the human.

Or at least, don't disregard what they have to say. There's some logic or pattern they're using to make their statement that is likely applicable to many positions, and an engine will never tell you such things.

I only use blitz games for entertainment and opening practice.  So, for those you can just see where you left book and be done with it.  It isn't worth the rest of the analysis when the scramble and resulting blunders are the consequence of low time on the clock.


What is really interesting is when a 2200 human disagrees with a 2450+ human wink.png  (Seriously, had that happen when I asked a CM and an IM about a piece sac I played in a game - I won the game, but I was trying to see if the sac was actually sound.  The CM said I was "completely lost".  The IM said I was the only one who could play for a win after my opponent accepted the sac.)


As a corollary to what @catdogorb said, you must learn to take the engine recommendations with a grain of salt in positions where there are no immediate tactics.  For example, in closed positions, the engine is notorious for making "silly" moves and completely misevaluating the position.  Lines in the King's Indian Defense and Closed French, for instance, often get into situations where one side can sac a piece (or even 2), and the engine doesn't realize it is a winning attack until much later.  A human master will recognize the tactical motifs at play much sooner (based in previous experience).  It is important to go over your games with a stronger human player, even after you've done the engine analysis.


catdogorb wrote:

Must have been an interesting piece sac.

Sometimes it's also hard to tell whether they mean it's good in the sense that an engine would approve, or it's good in a practical sense in that no human will play perfectly in the resulting position, but it's easier for your side to make moves.

A little off topic, but I found it interesting (as did the IM). The position was closed, where I had a protected passed pawn on the 7th rank and his queen was preventing it from promoting. I "hung" my knight where only his queen could take it. If he took, I could promote with check. If he didn't, I could greatly improve the position of my knight. The CM thought I was dead lost because I was giving up my knight (leaving me with only a bad bishop). The IM saw that after I promote, things will start to open up and my extra queen and bishop would dominate his queen and 2 knights.

catdogorb wrote:

Post the position if you'd like. I think it would be interesting

Black to move.  I played Ne3.

(Note:  my memory was a bit fuzzy - I did not quite have a passed pawn, his queen was preventing me from creating one)


You analyze the game by asking why

Clenzen hat geschrieben:

Can someone give me some insight on how to properly analyze my games? Maybe turn me on to an effective article or provide some solid advice. Thank you!

Wrong website sir.

BronsteinPawn wrote:
Clenzen hat geschrieben:

Can someone give me some insight on how to properly analyze my games? Maybe turn me on to an effective article or provide some solid advice. Thank you!

Wrong website sir.

100% correct. There are 50% trolls and 49% noobs. 

Good luck in getting advice from the rest 1%.🤔