Analyzing your chess games is the best way to improve your play. How should that be done though? Most of us enter games and analyze with Chessbase. We start up a chess engine, click through the moves and watch the evaluator swing up and down. We wait to see if the engine validates our play or if it suggests some improvements. A few variations are entered, usually from what the engine suggests, we save the game and call the analysis complete. This process takes anywhere from five to thirty minutes. But have we really learned anything? There is a better way.
3-steps to analyze with Chessbase
In this article I will show you how to analyze with Chessbase and it begins with three simple steps:
- Review your game using Chessbase without the use of a chess engine. This is the first but most important step. Play over your moves and look for variations that you or your opponent might have missed. Focus on critical points in the game where you were unsure of what to play. Explore alternative ideas you considered during the game and don’t worry about accuracy. The goal is to capture what you were thinking over the board. Use annotations, text commentary and informant symbols to memorialize your thought process. The more you document, the easier it will be to find flaws in your thinking.
Annotating my games is a way to measure my improvement, particularly when I look back on a game I played years before. It’s sometimes shocking when I see how confused I was in an opening that is now second-nature to me.
- Use a chess engine to review your work. After you’ve entered your own variations, its now time to check your work. Turn on your favorite chess engine and play over the game. See what you missed over the board and in your post-game analysis. For the purposes of illustration, I exported a recent game I played on Gameknot below.
My commentary and analysis are in green.
Engine analysis is shown in red.
I compared the engine’s analysis with my own to see what I missed. Interestingly enough, the engine agreed with most of my improvements. However, it clearly saw deeper and more accurately on the sub-variations. This is to be expected. Once you have finished your comparison analysis, you are ready for the last step.
benthebishop (1710) – Paul H. (1897) [D32]
207th GK tournament
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c5 4.e3 Nc6 5.Nf3 Nf6 6.cxd5 exd5 7.Bb5 Bd7?! [The c-pawn tension has to be resolved or there will be trouble.]
8.0–0 a6 9.Ba4 cxd4 10.exd4 Be7 11.Bg5 Be6?! [A suspicious move that I didn’t like making. Moving the same piece twice in the opening is rarely advisable.]
[11…0–0 12.Bxf6 Bxf6 13.Nxd5 Bg4 14.Nxf6+ Qxf6 15.Bxc6 bxc6 16.h3 Bxf3 17.Qxf3 Qxf3 18.gxf3 Rfb8=]
Stockfish 14: 11…0–0 12.Bxf6 Bxf6 13.Nxd5 Bg4 14.Bxc6 bxc6 15.Nxf6+ Qxf6 16.Rc1 Rad8 17.Rc3 Bxf3 18.Qxf3 Qxf3 19.Rxf3 Rxd4 20.Ra3 Rd2 21.b3 Ra8 22.Re1 g6 23.g3 Rb2 24.Re4 a5 25.Rf4 Ra7 26.Raa4 Rb1+ 27.Kg2 c5 28.h4 Rb2 29.Rf3 Rb1 30.g40.37/35
[12.Bxc6+ bxc6 13.Qa4 Qb6 14.Ne5 Rc8]
Stockfish 14: 12.Bxc6+ bxc6 13.Ne5 h6 14.Bh4 Rc8 15.Qe2 0–0 16.Qxa6 Ne4 17.Bxe7 Qxe7 18.Rfc1 Rfe8 19.Nxc6 Qd6 20.Nxe4 dxe4 21.Qb5 Bd7 22.d5 Rb8 23.Qc5 Qxc5 24.Rxc5 Rxb2 25.a4 e3 26.f3 Bc8 27.Rb5 Rd2 28.Re1 Ba6 29.Rb8 Rxb8 30.Nxb8 Bc4 31.Rxe3 Bxd5 32.Ra3 Rd1+ 33.Kf2 Rd2+ 34.Kg3 Bc4 35.a5 Bf1 36.a6 Rxg2+ 37.Kf4 Bxa6 38.Rxa6 Rxh2 39.Kg30.94/43
12…Rc8 13.Ne5 0–0 14.Qd3 Nb4
[14…Nxe5 15.dxe5 d4 16.exf6 dxc3 17.Qxd8 Bxd8 18.fxg7 Kxg7–+]
Stockfish 14: 14…Nxe5 15.dxe5 d4 16.Ne2 Ng4 17.Bf4 Rc5 18.Rfd1 Nxe5 19.Qxd4 Nc4 20.Qe4 Qc8 21.b4 Rh5 22.Nd4 b5 23.Nxe6 Qxe6 24.Qf3 g6 25.Bb3 Bxb4 26.Rac1 Rf5 27.g3 Re8 28.Bxc4 bxc4 29.Rd4 Rc5 30.Bd6 Rb5 31.Bxb4 Rxb4 32.Qc3 Ra4 33.Rxc4 Rxa2 34.Rc6 Qd5-0.47/33
15.Qg3 Qb6 16.Bh6 Nh5 17.Qe3 gxh6 18.Qxh6 Ng7 19.Nd7 Qxd4 20.Nxf8 Rxf8 21.a3 Nc6 22.Bc2 Bf5 23.Rad1
[23.Bxf5 Nxf5 24.Qh3 Ng7 25.Rad1 Qb6=]
Stockfish 14: 23.Bxf5 Nxf5 24.Qh3 Ng7 25.Rad1 Qb6 26.Nxd5 Qxb2 27.Nxe7+ Nxe7 28.Rb1 Qf6 29.Rxb7 Ne6 30.Rb6 Rd8 31.Rxa6 Ng6 32.a4 Qe5 33.Qf3 Rd4 34.a5 Kg7 35.Ra8 Nef4 36.a6 Rd3 37.Qb7 Ra3 38.a7 Ra5 39.Kh1 Ra1-0.23/33]
[24.Qxf6 Bxf6 25.Nxd5 Bxb2 26.Bxf5 Nxf5 27.Rd3]
Stockfish 14: 24.Qxf6 Bxf6 25.Bxf5 Nxf5 26.Rxd5 Nfe7 27.Rd2 Nd4 28.b4 Kg7 29.Rfd1 Nec6 30.Rd3 Re8 31.Rg3+ Kf8 32.Kf1 Bg7 33.Rh3 h6 34.Rhd3 Kg8 35.g3 Kh7 36.Nd5 h5 37.Nb6 Kg6 38.Na4 Re7 39.Nc3 Be5 40.Re1 Kf5 41.f4 Bf6 42.Rxe7 Bxe7 43.Rd1 Ke6 44.Re1+ Kd6-0.32/35]
24…d4 25.Nd5 Qd6 26.Nxe7+ Qxe7 27.Rde1 Qd6 [Somewhat imprecise. The queen should be connected with the bishop, so, Qd7 looks better.]
[Stockfish 14: 27…Qd7 28.Bd3 Rd8 29.f4 h5 30.Rf2 Bxd3 31.Qxd3 Qf5 32.Rf3 Rd5 33.b4 Qxd3 34.Rxd3 Ne6 35.g3 Kf8 36.Kf2 Ke7 37.Kf3 Rf5 38.Ke4 Rb5 39.Kf3 Rd5 40.g4 hxg4+ 41.Kxg4 Kf6 42.h4 Rd8 43.h5 Rg8+ 44.Kf3-5.27/28]
28.Bxf5 Nxf5 29.Qg5+ Qg6 30.f4 Rd8 31.Rc1 Qxg5 32.fxg5 Nfe7 33.Rf2 Ng6 34.g3 Nge5 35.Rf5 d3 36.h3 Nd4 37.Rxe5 Nf3+ 38.Kf2 Nxe5 39.Ke3 b5
[39…Nc4+ 40.Rxc4 d2–+]
40.Rd1 Nc4+ 41.Ke4 Nxb2 42.Rd2 Re8+ 43.Kf3 Nc4 44.Ra2 d2 [White resigns.]
3. Write a brief conclusion. This is not the usual text commentary you wrote during your analysis. Instead, your conclusion is based on the work you just invested at should be placed at the very end of the game. Your writing serves as a mental bookmark in that it helps absorb the themes and ideas you just learned into memory. Here are some examples of conclusions I have written at the end of an analyzed game – it can just be a sentence or two:
“This was the final game of the match. I still need work in looking at my opponent’s moves, which includes tactics as well as endgame management. It’s time to take on a lesser opponent and work towards the 10 point goal. d5 is a critical square I must protect in the Accelerated Dragon.”
“Trading off seemed unwise to me. I wanted to keep pieces on the board to help convert the extra pawn advantage. Looking at it now, I think liquidation makes the most sense. Sometimes the simplest solution is the best”
The finished product…
When you analyze with Chessbase, first review the game without an engine. After you’ve put all your ideas to digital paper, then – and only then – should you start the engine. Compare notes and make sure to do a brief writeup on some areas you need to improve on.