Alexander Kotov (1913-1981) was a strong GM (twice a candidate for the title) and celebrated chess author with his most famous book being “Think Like A Grandmaster”. In this book, Kotov gives advice on how to think in chess, when and what to analyse, how to reduce blunders and so on.
Also in “Think Like A Grandmaster”, Kotov gives his training method, one that is credited with greatly increasing his playing strength. It is based around analysis of positions.
- First find a position to analyse, ideally one that is analysed in detail in a book (of course, close the book when finding the position, you do not want to be influenced!) This could be any position, from an opening, complicated or quiet middlegame position or an endgame.
- Think about the position for a set amount of time, perhaps 20/30/60 minutes, without moving the pieces. Write down your thoughts in variations with as much analysis as possible.
- At the end of a variation, write down your evaluation of a position. This could be in words (“White is winning”, “White has a winning endgame due to his protected passed pawn”), computer evaluation (“+3”) or symbol “+-“.
- When the time is up, compare your notes to those in the book. This will show any differences between your perception of a position and those of the author (presumably a strong player).
Analysis can also be checked with a computer for accuracy, although this might not give you the understanding that a book might in some positions.
This training method will enhance your understanding of positions, your knowledge and, greatly, your skill at analysing.
If you would like a position to analyse right now, here’s one from Kasparov – Kramnik, Dos Hermanas, 1996. It is Black’s move.
“Like Dvoretsky, I think that (all other things being equal), the analytical method of studying chess must give you a colossal advantage over the chess pragmatist, and that there can be no certainty in chess without analysis.” – Garry Kasparov
“Analysis is a glittering opportunity for training: it is just here that capacity for work, perseverence and stamina are cultivated, and these qualities are, in truth, as necessary to a chess player as a marathon runner.” – Lev Polugaevsky
“It is not possible to become a great player without having learned how to analyse deeply and accurately.” – Mark Dvoretsky
“Chess mastery essentially consists of analyzing chess positions accurately.” – Mikhail Botvinnik