How To Analyze Your Chess Games Explained in 9 Detailed Steps 

Beginners, Chess Improvement, Intermediate
Analyze your chess games

Human psychology, preparation, and handling gameplay under pressure play major roles in chess, just like any other sport. To succeed in these areas, you must be able to comprehend and enhance your games by analyzing them. One of the advantages of analyzing your games is that you can spot typical mistakes and figure out how to solve them.

For chess players looking to take their chess game to the next level, increase their ratings and improve their chess ability, they must understand the concept of analysis and know how to analyze their chess games. 

Game analysis is one major barrier separating elite chess players from beginners and amateurs. Elite chess players understand the importance of chess analysis and its massive improvement to a chess player’s overall gameplay. As such, they spend a reasonable amount of time analyzing their games, and the result is that they get better and better at chess. This is a major factor that separates strong players from weak ones.

Analysis is an important aspect of any chess game; it is a step that cannot be overlooked if one is to win a chess game. In this article, we will go through 9 detailed steps on how to analyze your chess games.

Why Should You Analyze Your Chess Games?

Before we delve into the nitty-gritty of chess analysis and how to analyze your chess games, it is important to understand why analysis is so important. 

Reasons include:

To increase your chess understanding

The game of chess is learned and improved upon gradually. No one became a grandmaster in one day. Instead, developing an understanding of the game takes years of practice and hard work. When you analyze your chess games, you’ll find ways to improve your opening lines and become more familiar with the concepts surrounding them. In addition, you become more conscious of the usual errors you make in your games. All these, when learned, will go a long way in ensuring a chess player takes their game to the next level.

To improve your time management

There is a saying that time is priceless. But, unfortunately, the time that has been lost can never be returned, and as such, one must make efficient use of the time available. By analyzing your games, you become quicker and sharper at reacting to your opponent’s actions. This skill will also save you time in the early stages of the game because you’ve already done a lot of analysis.

The analysis will also win many games and prevent unnecessary time trouble in your games, as through analysis, you will understand how to treat certain positions. As a result, you will not have to spend too much time calculating these positions while playing your games.

To build confidence

Confidence is one trait every chess player should possess. A chess player who is not confident will be easily flustered and get nervous, making them play inaccurately and ultimately lose the game. The more self-assured you are in chess, the stronger you will be when playing. Analyzing your chess games will give you the confidence you need to perform better in chess games. This is because, through analysis, you can point out your mistakes and know the correct way to treat a certain position. 

Now that we have established why you should understand the concept of analysis and apply it to your games, it is time to learn how to analyze your chess games.

How To Analyze Your Chess Games: A Step-by-Step Method

Every chess game ends with one of the three possible results: a win, loss or draw. In spite of any of these results attained when you play, it is necessary you analyze your chess games especially your losses to know what went wrong during the course of the game. Doing this will greatly improve your chess ability. 

The chess legend Garry Kasparov once said: “By strictly observing Botvinnik’s rule regarding the thorough analysis of one’s games, with the years I have come to realize that this provides the foundation for the continuous development of chess mastery.”

Going by the words of Kasparov, analysis is the foundation needed to develop mastery of the game of chess.

Here are 9 ways to analyze your chess games:

  • Write down your thoughts during the game
  • Replay the game on your chessboard and consider other alternatives
  • Use a chess engine
  • Pay special attention to key moments in the game
  • Look for a higher-rated player or chess coach to analyze the game for you
  • Visit a chess database
  • Write down mistakes from your games
  •  Note the corrections to mistakes you made
  • Draw your conclusion

Write down your thoughts during the game:

Analyze your chess games
Writing down your thoughts.

After you’ve finished a game, write out your thought process for each move you made. This will allow you to review it thoroughly and correct any errors.

For example, writing down thoughts like, “I should have started an attack on his king since he took so long to castle,” or “I shouldn’t have exchanged my active bishop for his knight that wasn’t doing anything.”

Writing down your thoughts during games is a perfect way to improve your chess analysis. This will ensure that you review the wrong moves you made, correct them, and ensure they don’t repeat themselves in your subsequent games.

Replay the Game on Your Chessboard and Consider Other Alternatives

This is the moment to pull out your chessboard and go over the game again, analyzing those possibilities you considered but didn’t have the opportunity to play.

This allows you to quickly assess how you would have fared if you had chosen the opposite option. This is a time to identify the critical points of the position where you felt you went astray and try to find a better continuation.

If you won the game, identify the points where you could have played better. When you do this regularly, you will notice your chess ability starts to improve, as one of the advantages of analysis is that you pinpoint your mistakes and avoid them in subsequent games.

Use a chess engine:

Analyze your chess games
A chess engine can come in. Image:

After some self-reflection, it’s time to seek the computer’s advice. Humans tend to misjudge or miscalculate tactical positions, necessitating the use of an engine that can provide objective analysis.

Chess engines are chess-playing and analyzing computer systems. Because of the engines’ accuracy and precision in determining positions, several Chess engines are currently superior to the top human players. Stockfish, Houdini, Komodo, Fire, and Shredder are examples of these chess engines.

Because many of these engines are free, you may download and install the program to access educational computer analyses. Chess engines assist in properly evaluating positions and determining the best moves.

So, allow the computer to help you analyze your chess games after you are done analyzing yourself. Computers have made a lot of things easy, including chess! Now a chess application on your android phone is capable of beating the world chess champion. It will help if you input the games into the engines to see what tactics you missed and at what point the evaluation of the game changed.

Pay Special Attention to Key Moments in the Game

After using a chess engine to analyze your games, it is important to note the key moments in the game and learn from the engine suggestions.

In addition, you should memorize the associated principles, for example, “In rook and pawn endgames, the rooks should be placed behind the pawn on an open file,” or “in closed positions, bishops tend to perform better than knights.” Another principle might be “in a certain endgame structure, an isolated pawn will prove to be a weakness and in certain positions might be a force to be reckoned with.”

Attention to these principles and memorizing them will ensure you make the right decisions when key moments like those mentioned above occur in your subsequent games.

While using chess engines is an excellent way to analyze your chess games, it is also important to pay attention and memorize the principles suggested in the engine analysis.

Look for a Higher-rated Player or Chess Coach to Analyze the Game for you

Although chess engines are the most accurate method of analysis, one issue with using engines is that you may not understand some of the proposed moves, which is why you should meet a stronger player or a chess coach to help you analyze your games. This is because they will be able to explain the engine-recommended moves and provide you with crucial advice for your future games.

Since chess coaches and higher-rated players have more experience in the game, understand the principles better, and are stronger players, they will be able to provide the guidance needed to analyze your games effectively.

Showing your game to a higher-rated player or chess coach to know their opinions is a very effective way to analyze your chess games, as they would be capable of explaining strategic ideas in ways the computer cannot. 

Visit a Chess Database

Analyze your chess games
Chess DataBase. Image:

A chess database consists of multiple chess games organized for players to review and learn from. Chess databases are usually divided into categories. For example, there are databases with chess games featuring openings for black, like the Scandinavian or Sicilian opening.

Databases can also be prepared to focus on games by a particular player, for example,  a chess database on Fabiano Caruana. A chess database can be read in any chess interface or program. The most popular database is ChessBase in Fritz.

Chess databases are important for players who want to improve, and it is well known that analyzing chess games is key to improvement. For example, for a chess player preparing to play a game where they will be using the white pieces, it is important to analyze openings for white. There are numerous online chess databases to choose from; some are free, and others require a certain fee to access.

One distinct advantage of a chess database is that it provides an organized register of different chess games that have been played. This is a stepping stone to improve your openings and overall gameplay as the moves have been thoroughly analyzed. 

Chess databases are a fundamental part of teaching chess classes. In addition, many chess masters have chess databases on different topics and lessons relating to the game of chess. 

For example, a chess database can be used to teach the usage of pawn structure to gain an advantage in the endgame. They also teach tactical motifs and concepts of strategy.

An excellent method that shows how to analyze your chess games is to use a chess database to see former games of higher-rated players and Grandmasters for the particular opening variation you played in a game to get a hold of typical ideas and plans for that variation.

Write Down Mistakes from Your Games 

An important tip after using chess engines and pointers from chess coaches and higher-rated players on how to analyze your chess games is to write down the mistakes you made in your previous games. You should also describe the nature of your mistakes, for example, a piece you blundered or how you did not castle early. 

However, keep in mind that writing down mistakes when analyzing your games is not only limited to games you lost. You should also look for mistakes from games you won and write them down.

Note the Corrections to Mistakes you Made

After writing down your mistakes, the next thing to do is find the correct moves. If you’re using a chess engine, it will easily identify the mistakes you made and suggest the correct move. Chess coaches and higher-rated players will also help you point out the mistakes. After discovering the correction to your errors, the next step is to devote them to your memory. This ensures that you do not make the same mistake in subsequent games.

Draw Your Conclusion

Finally, draw up your conclusions. What did you think about your decisions? What were your major imprecisions? Do you think you played the opening well? This is best done in a notebook for easy referral. Study and keep what you have learned in your memory so that you can easily apply them in the next game.

Follow this instructive guide, and you are on the right road to a massive chess improvement!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the chess 50 move rule? 

The 50-move rule in chess states that a player can claim a draw if no capture has been made and no pawn has been moved in the last fifty moves (for this purpose, a “move” consists of a player completing a turn followed by the opponent completing a turn). This rule aims to prevent a player with no chance of winning from stubbornly continuing to play indefinitely or seeking to win by tiring the opponent.

What is the longest chess game ever played? 

The longest tournament chess game ever played was between Ivan Nikolić and Goran Arsović, which was played in Belgrade in 1989. The game lasted 269 moves and took 20 and 15 minutes to complete. It ended in a draw. 

The longest game played in a world championship is the 6th game of the 2021 World Chess Championship between Magnus Carlsen and Ian Nepomniachtchi, which Carlsen won in 136 moves by resignation. The game lasted for 8 hours, 15 minutes, and 40 seconds.

Is chess hard to learn?

Chess is not hard to learn. It is a relatively easy game to learn. You only need to know some basic rules like how the pieces move, how to checkmate, castle, and a few other special rules. Both children and adults can also learn chess. However, chess mastery is extremely difficult. Becoming a player takes years of practice, dedication, and hard work. It is even harder to become a grandmaster, but it is not impossible. With dedication and commitment, it is achievable.

What is the fastest way to checkmate? 

The fastest way to checkmate in chess is the 2-move checkmate, also called the fool’s mate. It is a checkmate trap that can be employed by the player using the black pieces. However, It requires the player with the white pieces to play a specific set of inaccurate pawn moves. While this checkmate trap might not work against strong chess players, it is a very handy trap to know, and you will beat a lot of chess beginners with it.

What is the best chess opening? 

There is no known chess opening that can one hundred percent guarantee victory. However, both white and black can use many excellent chess openings. In addition, some openings can be utilized depending on a player’s style of play. For example, aggressive players who like to attack may go for the king’s gambit, while players who prefer positional chess might opt for the Caro Kann. Ultimately it depends on the strength of the player employing a certain opening and the accuracy of play to win a game.

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