Assess Your Chess
|Article 9288 in rec.games.chess.misc:
Subject: Re: Best Quick Study??
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Kenneth Sloan)
Date: 22 Jun 1996 15:00:58 -0500
Organization: Dept of CIS, Univ. of Al at Birmingham
Annotate your last 20 tournament games.
In a book by Dan Heisman called The Improving Annotator he attributes his success to self-study of this sort. If Kenneth's advice seems not enough to go on, here are some things to look for.
I think you must look at your games as a whole bunch. It's no use playing over your best games and looking to see what else needs to be improved, you have to look more at your losses. I know some players who will screw up a score sheet when they lose to a weaker player, when what they should do is go over it move by move, however painful. Soltis' classification of errors is given below.
You actually can get a lot of informal, qualitative evidence about your play from your opponent in a "post mortem" after a game. Don't ever use these to brag, or show how much more you saw - the idea is to learn, not play another game!
Even better is if you can persuade your local 'expert' to have a look at a couple of games that you really didn't understand - perhaps games where you were sure you were better at some stage but lost.
Many folk these days have a
Chess-playing programmes can help particularly with looking for tactical shots that you (or your opponent) missed, and checking your ideas and suggesting alternatives. They can miss some good ideas which are just outside their "horizon", so do push them a move or two along a line if you still think it looks good.
For strategical ideas, database programmes with opening/position searches can help you find games with similar positions, to see what plans are commonly followed in positions like yours.
The free ChessBase demo is able to do both, and I use it for these purposes after every game.
In Exeter we often use our own games as the basis for discussion in our coaching sessions - we aren't experts but a second or third opinion can be very illuminating.
I hope you get the idea.
Taking stock of your openingsDraw up a table of your games, showing firstly, the outcome of the opening (e.g. +/- or =), and secondly, the outcome of the game (1-0, 1/2 etc.).
_ Opening Game Result All _ +- = -+ 1-0 1/2 0-1 Ruy Lopez 3 4 2 2 4 2 8 Petroff 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 Open Sicilian 2 5 3 5 3 2 10 Closed Sicilian 0 2 0 0 1 1 2 French 0 1 1 0 0 2 2 Pirc/Modern 2 1 0 3 0 0 3 Alekhin 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 TOTAL 8 14 5 9 11 7 27
- Ruy Lopez not too successful - maybe try something sharper?
- Play well in open Sicilians but must learn more theory
- Don't understand French - must find decent line
type my position: improved a lot improved a bit remained about the same got a bit worse got much worse total Positional Open 1 2 5 2 2 12 _ Semi-Open 4 7 17 4 1 33 _ Closed 0 4 9 3 3 18 Tactical Attack on King 5 9 7 6 6 33 _ Defence of King 1 3 5 4 2 15 _ Wild tactics 3 4 2 3 1 13 Middle-game without Queens _ 0 2 7 1 0 10 Late middle-game _ 1 4 9 7 3 24
N.B. one game may feature as more than one type as it progresses
- Semi-Open positions and tactical positions in general seem to suit me: when there's an attack on the King or a melee I can often outplay my opponent.
- However, in simpler positions and positions without Queens I seem more likely to lose the plot; this is also true of closed positions.
- I must study the strategy of the closed positions I get into more thoroughly, and during play must not get complacent in apparently simple positions.
_ Estimated theoretical result Actual game result _ 1-0 1/2 0-1 1-0 1/2 0-1 All King and Pawn 1 1 0 1 1 0 2 Rook 3 1 1 3 2 0 5 Rook and minor piece 2 2 2 1 2 3 6 Knights only 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 Bishops only 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 Bishops and Knights 1 2 3 1 1 4 6 Queen 0 1 0 0 0 1 1
Conclusions:The basic King and Rook endings seem handled well, but endings with minor pieces (with or without Rooks) look suspect. Moreover, half the Bishop/Knight endings were probably lost before I had a chance to play - I must see these situations coming earlier.
N where i was in TT = 22
who what happened _ my position got worse normal result opponent's position got worse me 3 6 2 opponent 4 2 2 both 2 5 4
Conclusions:I play OK in time-trouble and the % of games where I get in TT is not too bad. But I am not getting any benefit from my opponent's time trouble - am I trying to rush them into making mistakes, instead of paying attention to the position?
statistics like these can be enhanced by consideration of grades, if you have enough games. In BCF terms, you should turn in an extra 10% of avalable points for every 10 points your grade exceeds the average of your opposition. So, scoring 4/5 against 120-grade opposition is no more than a par performance for a player of grade 150. Equally, if you are outgraded by an average of 30 points a game, but make a 40% score, this is a very good performance, as you could have fairly expected only 20%.
For ELO, I think a superiority of 400 points should yield a harvest of an extra 25% of points viz. 75%.
mistakes there wouldn't be any decisive games at all. What mistakes do you make? Vladimir Zak described "typical mistakes by young players":
- Hasty moves, and, inconsequence, blunders
- Learning openings without understanding the ideas
- Reliance on general principles, without a concrete plan
- Underestimating the opponent's combinative chances
- Disparity between aggressive and defensive ability
- Miscalculating variations and combinations
- Inadequate knowledge of basic endgames
- Implementing the wrong strategic plan
- The problem of the clock in practical play
- Tactical errors
- allowing mate
- removal of defender
- double attack in defence
- faulty tactics
- weakening castled King's position
- overlooking checks
- overestimating checks
- overlooking back rank threats
- ditto, long diagonals
- Mishandling Pieces
- offside piece
- unccordinated pieces
- faulty exchanges
- queen exchange
- temporary invasion
- castling into it
- wrong Rook
- faulty assumptions
- missing bottom line
- faulty sequence
- overlooking quiet moves
- missing desperado
- stopping analysis one move short
- Positional errors
- bad Bishops
- creating holes
- backward Pawns
- opening lines
- King's-side advance
- permitting Pawn advances
- Strategic errors
- neglect of centre
- wrong side
- unjustified attack
- failed restraint
- reduce tension
- poor timing
- giving winning plan
- trying for too much
- changing fortunes
- letting down
- believing opponent
- peer pressure
- Practical mistakes
- long moves on a big board
- pretty moves
- getting fancy
- Lasker's law
- missed opportunities
- bad moves in bad positions
- desperation and surrender
- negative sacrifice
- Plus Points
- Control of the centre
- Pawn on fourth rank vs. Pawn on third
- Mobile pawn wing
- Strong outpost station
- Superior development
- Greater space
- Half-open file
- Control of useful open file
- Rook(s) on the seventh rank
- Passed Pawn
- Outside Passed Pawn
- Protected Passed Pawn
- Advanced Pawn
- Qualitative Pawn majority
- Advanced chain
- Advanced salient
- Better King position
- Offside Pawn majority
- Minus Points
- Weak Pawns
- Backward Pawn
- Doubled pawn
- Isolated Pawn
- Hanging Pawns
- Hanging phalanx
- Crippled majority wing
- Weak Squares
- "Weak square complex"
- Compromised King's-side
- King held in the centre
- Cramped position
- Bad Bishop
- Weak Pawns
This whole scheme is impossible to remember and obviously formulaic. The value of the book is really to introduce you to the ideas and how to exploit each sort of advantage.
A more practical way of doing the same thing is to compare pairs of pieces: compare my King and my opponent's King, then my Queen and my opponent's Queen, etc., thereby assessing who stands better.
Another nice suggestion (which I associate with Chernev) is to add up the legal moves available to the pieces on each side. You can also add up the territory you control: the squares behind your Pawns.
Another sequence to go through:
to know what plan to follow, look carefully
To Tactics: before anything else, see if the game can be decided right now! Know King position: mostly in terms of safety, but also near centre for endgame What Weaknesses: weak pawns and weak squares (variety as above) Plan to Piece position: centralised or offside, bad Bishop etc. Follow, Forcing moves: tempo, initiative, possibility of breakthrough Look Lines: files, diagonals, ranks; control, or can you open one? Carefully Centre and spaceNow, I can remember that a whole lot better than all the point count stuff!