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How to Improve at Chess – Part 8

We nearly always learn more from our failures and mistakes than we learn from our successes.

That’s why today’s tip goes hand in glove with our previous tip (#7).

Write down the moves to your games, then review those games. And do it as soon as possible after you play them. I don’t mean that you should review them minutes after the game ends (although doing so with your opponent, often referred to as the game’s “post mortem”, is always an instructive, and frequently eye-opening, experience), but don’t wait for weeks to elapse before reviewing a game either. The next day is usually a good occasion to review a game; it’s recent enough for you to remember what your thoughts were during the game, while distant enough to allow you to see the game with “fresh eyes”.

8. Go over your games after you play them, especially your losses

Sure, it’s great to review our wins and recall them with a smile; there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. But, painful though they are, our losses are almost always more instructive than our victories. Review your losses and try to spot what went wrong. Makes notes about what you were thinking during the game, as well as notes on the better moves you discover later. Check back over your notes periodically to see if any patterns are developing. Perhaps you’re playing the opening and middlegame pretty well but tend to lose in the endgame. Maybe you think you’re doing OK in most of your games when a sudden tactical “bolt from the blue” by your opponent ends them. These patterns will guide you in your chess studies — they will tell you the areas of the game on which you should concentrate.

8. Go over your games after you play them, especially your losses

Double-checking your games later and analyzing your “during the game” thought processes while they’re still fresh in your mind will help you to avoid the same pitfalls over and over, plus these reviews will act as signposts to guide your chess studies and path to improvement.

Our next tip will continue to expand on this overall idea.

ChessCentral carries plenty of instructional materials for novice chessplayers, including books such as Learn Chess: A Complete Course.

Have fun! — Steve

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One Response

  1. […] – Part 10 Posted on April 22, 2010 by chesscentral We’ve previously discussed the importance of reviewing your own games to your overall process of chess improvement. I’ll here repeat the idea that reviewing your […]

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