Is watching super-GM games bad?


Watch top events w/ commentary. The Tata Steel Challengers and Masters Sections and the Women's World Chess Championships are on now. (like not right now, but later today they will be)

bong711 wrote:

Chess enthusiasts watch Super GM games because they idolize them. Who would watch former WC Karpov? Or former WCC Challenger Gelfand and Short?  Players can learn more from Karpov, Gelfand and Short than today's Top 10 players. They don't watch former Chess Stars.

Karpov is an easy pick, being a former World Champ; but Short and Gelfand are always gonna be perceived according to what they did wrong - or at the very least, less right - in comparison to Kasparov and Anand. Even I, a periodically depressed individual prone to Schopenhauerian pessimism, am naturally attracted to winners if they don't have highly punchable Viking faces.

Also, Nicator65, since I don't have any exact info, I can only surmise that I put all my mental eggs in one basket and got way too demoralised, instead of searching for possibilities elsewhere on the board.


@Talekhine93: Watching the top GMs' games isn't bad, but if learning is the topic then replaying games based on themes –and suited to your own personality in the game– is better. One of the reasons is that there can be a "mental dialogue" between your educated guess and what actually follows in the game, which in turn refines your understanding of such situations. Aim for solid depth and expand from there rather than covering it all but superficially.


Between Live analysis of Present Super GM games and Analysis of Instructive GM games in books, the latter is more educational for chess improvement. Many live commentators just read from Engine analysis only.


Not waving, but drowning. 

Slav2Luv wrote:

Not waving, but drowning. 


NoahmanX wrote:

Watching super-grandmaster games in highly beneficial. Because of human psychology, we are imitators, in the sense that we tend to imitate the people we listen to or are exposed to. This is part of the reason how babies learn to speak, and how people pick up accents in language.

It is well known however that there is a lot more than just the way we speak that people sort of "pick up". Even mentalities and attitude is heavily influenced by the environment. This is why a lot of "successful" people try to only surround themselves with positive things. Take bodybuilders for example, a lot of bodybuilders like Phil Heath, Yates, have pictures of other famous bodybuilders around them when they are working out in order to remind them to stay sharp, or work harder. Even just listening to champions in other sports can help improve not just your chess but your lifestyle. Good influences are important, especially to the younger generations. 

Everyone was once young and dumb, we all need some sort of person or thing to look up to. This is where the archetype of the hero by Carl Jung comes from. The purpose of the hero is to give us something to aim at and aspire to be, but at the same time remind us of ones current state. 

Sure this is all fine and dandy but what does this have to do with super-grandmaster chess games you might ask? Well, we remember pretty much everything we see, hear or learn. Maybe not consciously we can recall all of it, but it is still there. While this might not be obvious, an example one might be able to relate to is: if you were in the shower and out of nowhere you remembered a dream you had months ago despite completely forgetting you had one, and thus the brain or the unconscious must have had it stored somewhere. Carl Jung has a reasonable explanation for this in his book Man and His Symbols. The way he describes memories is like a dark stage with only one light. In order to illuminate another part of the stage you must leave what is lit in the dark. what Jung means is that, in other to remember this bit of memories you have to forget some other memories. 

So, just seeing super-grandmaster games is good for you. This is because you will unconsciously imitate players you are exposed to, and remember the games just not consciously. However, it is much better to consciously remember the ideas and games you have seen that way recollection is easier. 

The players one is exposed to first is going to greatly influence your playing styles. A personal example, I was first exposed to Paul Morphy which influence my style by making me more tactical then positional. I think the reason for my natural tactical ability has to be correlated to the fact the that I had studied every game by Paul Morphy when I first learned the game. Likewise, I was exposed to Magnus Carlsen early on as well, I believe I gained my natural endgame intuition from my expose to Master Carlsen's endgame technique. Another example, I know a player who studied Petrosian as their first player and their playing style has been greatly influenced  by him because they tend to play like Petrosian.

Just from studying all of Steinitz's games for a month my tactics went up by 100 points, and a similar thing happened when I studied Lasker. Studying Capablanca somehow made me more aware of piece harmony even if I was not consciously looking for it. This is why I am studying all of the world champions in order. I keep learning new things from them and imitating them. Currently I am studying  Petrosian, and in my club, players have pointed out to me that my ability to see an exchange sacrifice has become much better. Exchange sacrifices was something Petrosian was most notorious for, so I wonder if there is a correlation.

Hope this helps you.  

After reading this post i will start watching elite GM games once in a while, thank you.

WeakLava wrote:

I like watching the top players, but i don't understand what they are doing.  If you don't understand something, you're not going to learn from it.  If you're just starting to learn math, you wouldn't start with Algebra would  you?  I like playing over the old master, and players like Andersen, Morphy, and even before them. The tactics are easier to spot, and its easier to follow, and understand game plans.

I completely agree with you !

It is much more useful for a chess beginner to study Morphy or Anderssen games than Kasparov's or Carlsen's...

Modern chess is much more complex and tedious...


I watch from time to time on agadmators chess channel.


"This book aims to teach the basics of chess ... In this book, every game and game extract is from after 1900 (indeed, only two are earlier than 1950). … there is no reason why players should not be exposed to contemporary chess thought from the beginning. …" - GM John Nunn (2010)