View Full Version : Question regarding study methods

27-10-2005, 06:55 PM
Hi guys,

I'm fairly new to the game and have read that studying the games of the masters is possibly one of the best ways to improve.

My question is this, what is the best way to study these games?

Is it best to pick a side, so to speak, and then attempt to anticipate what move would be made next after conducting your own analysis of the position?

I realise there are many different ways to improve at chess, including solving tactical puzzles etc. I have made a habbit of attempting to solve a few puzzles each night but unfortunately im right in the middle of uni exams. :wall:

I am interested to hear if many people on the board have improved their games by studying masters, and how they go about studying the games.

Thanks in advance,


Frank Walker
27-10-2005, 09:21 PM
With that attitude you will become a great player in no time! :)

Carl Gorka
27-10-2005, 10:15 PM
Studying annotated master games is a good way to learn from the insights of the very best players. I went through tournament books and games collections and improved my knowledge of the game dramatically. I just absorbed the ideas, rather than trying to second guess the masters themselves. A good exercise is to get a book of games (tournament or player) and then download the blank scores of the games from the internet. Then try to analyse the games yourself to some extent and compare your ideas with those of the master. It is hard work but very profitable. And you may even find something that the master didn't find ;)

29-10-2005, 12:59 PM
Thanks for the replies guys.

I've managed to get a copy of Alekhine's games, and although i think they will mostly go over my head, ill try the method you suggested fireeater.

I just had one other question too.

When playing through games, approximately how many moves into the game should you play before you start to calculate your own variations?

I realise this is a difficult question to answer, its just that as a fairly new person to the game, its difficult for me to calculate how a master might open a game with the french defence (for example). Becuase from everything i've read people new to the game shouldn't really bother trying to memorise complex opening variations.

The difficulty in this comes from not knowing the intricacies of what different openings seek to achieve. Ie. 'blah' opening seeks to put pressure on this pawn and open up lines for a kingside attack etc.

The only solution i can think of is to get an openings book, play the games until they deviate from the 'book' opening, and then start analysing them.

I apologise for all the questions, i'm just trying to make my study as efficient as possible, so that i'm giving my game a chance to improve with the time i have available.

Thanks again,


Carl Gorka
29-10-2005, 08:15 PM
Don't worry too much about the opening 10 moves of a game. Saying that, if something looks unusual then feel free to examine it. As an example that you should have in your book on Alekhine's games, when looking at the famous game Reti-Alekhine Baden Baden 1925, you might want to ask yourself why Alekhine played 9..Na6 instead of 9..dxc4.

To be honest, what really matters is that you're trying to extend yourself. If you only learn one thing from each game of chess you play and study, then you'll still make a lot of progress. Without even realising it you'll be having more ideas in your own games than before. For greater accuracy in your play, you should try solving tactical exercises....1000's of them :eek:

02-11-2005, 10:29 PM
Thanks again for the advice fireeater, i've been busy with exams so hadn't checked the board until today.

I'll have a go at analysing that Reti-Alekhine game on the weekend. Ill post the results if anyone's interested in seeing a first attempt at analysis, feedback's always appreciated.



I'd sell my soul for an airconditioner right now. :evil:

Carl Gorka
03-11-2005, 08:52 PM
Thanks again for the advice fireeater, i've been busy with exams so hadn't checked the board until today.

I'll have a go at analysing that Reti-Alekhine game on the weekend. Ill post the results if anyone's interested in seeing a first attempt at analysis, feedback's always appreciated.



I'd sell my soul for an airconditioner right now. :evil:

Even if no one else is bothered, I'll have a look at your analysis. I love that game anyway :D

05-11-2005, 12:53 PM
Ok, here’s my analysis of the game mentioned above. I''d decided to leave reading Alekhine's own comments on the game until now, so it didn't impact on my own analysis. Now im going to see how far off i was. :owned:

My apologies if it’s a bit tedious to read, I’ve tried to be fairly thorough as this is my first real attempt. In doing so it ended up more like an essay. :D

Thanks in advance to anyone who takes the time to read it and share their thoughts on it.

Anyway, here goes nothing.

Reti-Alekhine Baden-Baden 1925

1.g3 e5

2. Nf3

I don’t have many opening resources at the moment (the purchase of a good opening book is high on the agenda), but from what I was able to find out, this is the Benko Opening: Reversed Alekhine variation. After playing through the first few moves I think it reminds me a lot of the Pirc for black, and to be honest I feel that it suits black better as it seems a bit passive for the person that’s meant to have the advantage via the first move.

[2.Bg2] another possibility as it makes an early grab for the central light squares, but black will be able to put pressure on the bishop immediately by:
[2.Bg2 d5 3.Bxd5 Qxd5 4.Nc3]. White can’t stop d5 without hurting himself in the process. Given this, Nf3 is probably better on the basis that it still attacks the centre and doesn’t risk losing the fianchetto bishop too early on.


I like this simple move because it is consistent with Black’s intentions throughout the whole game, to hassle White and stunt his development as much as possible.

3. Nd4 d5

Black limits the mobility of the f1/g2 bishop. I think this will remain a problem for white.

4. d3

White challenges Black’s light square control.



Material is equal and white has two pieces out to Blacks one. White’s queen has made an early appearance.


6. Bg2 Bb4+

Once again harassing white and temporarily stopping all his castling plans.

7. Bd2 Bxd2+

[7…Be7] Black could have held off on the exchange for a little while and placed his bishop on what is regarded as a good square. However I believe that 7…Bxd2+ is an attempt by Alekhine to cramp Whites game. This is because white must recapture with Queen or Knight unless he wants to lose his castling rights.

8.Nxd2 0-0

Black’s king is much safer however his queenside is underdeveloped, but this may have something to do with Alekhine saving his Queen bishop for the removal of White’s King bishop. White has a couple of problems, weak pawns on b2 and f2, the latter of which is a larger potential problem. Not only this, White’s knights are not particularly useful where they are stationed, and his Queen threatens only h7, which is adequately defended anyway. Black presently has three pieces that can mount a kingside attack (queen, bishop and knight), while White can currently go either way (king or queenside), perhaps even through the centre.

9.c4 Na6

I think Alekhine didn’t capture on c4 because there is no way he would have managed to keep the pawn due to White’s superior control of that square. From what I’ve read about Alekhine’s tactical ability, it would be reasonable to assume that he saw the fork that would present itself on b4 on the next move. I also think it was reasonable for him to assume that Reti wouldn’t capture the knight with his light squared bishop as in:

[10.cxd5 Nb4 11.Qc4 Nxd5 12.Bxd5 Nxd5]

Because the loss of the fianchetto bishop would weaken the kingside drastically.

10.cxd5 Nb4


As far as I can tell this is the best and only move worth considering in this situation as the Queen supports d5 and controls c2, where Alekhine has a brutal fork on the King and Rook should the Queen not be able to capture.


Recaptures the pawn and begins to move the other knight to the kingside.

12. N2b3 c6

Liberates the Queen from her role as a defender.

13. 0-0 Re8

Alekhine starts to pressure the e2 pawn

14.Rfd1 Bg4 15.Rd2 Qc8

Black sets up the kingside attack.


White goes for the queenside.


Removing White’s bishop is a necessary attacking step.

17.Bf3 Bg4 18.Bg2 Bh3 19.Bf3 Bg4


As far as I know [20.Bg2] would have constituted a draw, so I thought this would be a good time to analyse both sides in order to work out why Reti didn’t go for the ½ point.

To me, White is spending a lot of time dealing with Black’s threats. White is committed to a queenside attack, but is not in the position to support his King should it be attacked quickly. White’s c5 knight would be better on d6 supported by the Queen on c5. Both of White’s rooks appear to be on defensive duty, however the a rook may come in useful during the queenside assault. White’s bishop is the main defensive piece on the kingside, and its loss may spell the end for White.

Black on the other hand has clear lines for attack on the kingside with the Bishop and Queen, and once the bishops are exchanged off the g4 square will be a great outpost for a knight. Even Black’s queenside is several moves off being decisively attacked, as both the a and b pawns will need to be pushed. Material is also even at this stage.

Given all of the above I wondered why Reti wasn’t satisfied with the half point, so I went and did a little reading on the net. I was hoping to find some information on the tournament standings while this game was in progress but didn’t have any luck (perhaps someone else on the board knows something about this). Perhaps Reti had to win to remain on the leaderboard?

What I did find is that one website actually claimed Reti had an advantage, something which I didn’t see. So I put the question to Fritz, and let him churn over 19…Bg4 for about 45 minutes. It concluded that White’s next move of 20.Bh1 gave him a minute advantage += 0.26, while any other line gave equal or worse chances.

20…h5 21.b4 a6 22.Rc1 h4 23.a4

Reti turns up the heat on the queenside.

23…hxg3 24.hxg3 Qc7 25.b5

Reti begins the attack.

26.axb5 Re3

I think this move probably deserves an exclamation mark as it knocks the wind out of Reti’s queenside attack by diverting his d4 knight to more defensive positions. In the process Reti loses a fairly important attacking piece as he has not yet fully broken through on the queenside.


I think something had to be done, but [27.fxe3] is worse as it leads to mate on the back rank with:

[27.fxe3 Qxg3+ 28.Bg2 Nxe3 29.Kh1 Qxg2#]

27…cxb5 28.Qxb5 Nc3 29.Qxb7 Qxb7 30.Nxb7

Reti trades Queens to lessen the threat.


Black starts to constrict White’s King.

31.Kh2 Ne4

Eying off the f2 square.

32.Rc4 Nxf2 33.Bg2 Be6

I think Alekhine did this to give the knights more room to move.

34.Rcc2 Ng4+ 35.Kh3 Ne5+

Great discovered check and attack on the white knight.

36.Kh2 Rxf3

[36…Nxf3+ 37.Bxf3 Rxf3 38.Rxe2 seems inferior]

37.Rxe2 Ng4+ 38.Kh3 Ne3+ 39.Kh2 Nxc2 40.Bxf3 Nd4

White Resigns 0-1

I figure that Alekhine probably knew he would come out of a series of exchanges better than Reti at about move 33-34. From about move 37 any variation I could think of would still give the win to Alekhine, such as:

[37.Bxf3 Nxf3+ 38.Kg2 Nxd2]

Which to me seems a little better considering if Reti played on he would have moved his rook on the next move anyway.

Anyway, that’s my analysis of the game, personally I found this an enjoyable game to analyse because both sides had good attacking opportunities. However victory belonged to the person who was able to build their attack quicker. There was also a good mix of tactics, and an endgame that I think was decided by superior use of minor pieces.

Any comments or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Carl Gorka
06-11-2005, 04:38 PM
Thanks for the book, Trav :lol:

I will look at it over the next couple of days and post a reply midweek :)

06-11-2005, 07:15 PM
A method recommended by Cecil Purdy, and several other writers since, for studying games is to cover the moves of one player and try to decide what you would do move by move uncovering them as you go to see what was actually played (plus any annotations). Whenever I tried that I found it fairly hard going and time consuming which is one reason why I'm not a master. But in theory it's a great way to study games and makes you think.


Carl Gorka
06-11-2005, 07:36 PM
There are a number of interesting articles on the Chesscafe site.
Try this one


07-11-2005, 08:00 PM
Thanks for the suggestions guys and also the link to the article fireeater. I'm working through it as we speak.

Carl Gorka
16-11-2005, 08:37 PM
Sorry for the delay in reply Trav. I've little excuse. Here are some thoughts.

1. Opening study is not that important. If you want to buy a book, you'd be better off investing in another games collection or a tactics book. The opening is a hypermodern where one side allows the other to occupy the centre, and then attacks that centre.

2. After move 8, you say that White as weaknesses on f2 and b2 but this isn't really true. Weak pawns are isolated, doubled or backward. His knights are a bit static as you pointed out. From this point, both sides need to find a direction for their development.

3. I think the main reason for 9..Na6 was to develop a piece ( as you said White can't dislodge the knight from d5) but more importantly, 9..dxc4 would have made White's light squard bishop more powerful.

4. The repetiton around move 20 is interesting. White has a powerful initiative on the queen side, his knights are threatening, and if Black advances any of his queen side pawns, White's bishop will have more scope. I don't think Black has total compnsation in his king side actions as his pieces are a bit further away. It was Reti who declined the draw, but I think it was because he felt he was in the better position. Alekhine did not have a reputation for draw offers.

5. The question therefore has to be asked if Reti is better here (move 22) what went wrong in the next 6 moves leading up to 28..Re3? Or perhaps, 28..Re3 is not as good as it turned out but Reti misplayed the position from there? These moves are the crux of the game and these are the moves that the most detail should be spent on. After Reti's response of 29.Nf3 Black had a great position and, as you pointed out, all the tactics worked for Black from then on.

I hope these few pointers help, and perhaps lead you to some more study of this game. :)

21-11-2005, 06:17 PM
Hi fireeater,

thanks again for taking the time to look over the analysis, and also for the feedback.

I think i'll work through a few of Alekhine's other games and then come back to this one and see how my analyisis changes.



Carl Gorka
21-11-2005, 07:38 PM
Hi fireeater,

thanks again for taking the time to look over the analysis, and also for the feedback.

I think i'll work through a few of Alekhine's other games and then come back to this one and see how my analyisis changes.



No worries. You should just look at some games and analysis before attempting another go at your own analysis. In this way, you will learn things from the annotator, and enjoy some great games without the pressure of trying to get to the truth about them by yourself. Have loook at 3 to 5 games, and then have another go at analysis.