Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Retrograde analysis

The approach I advocated in my previous post has proven to be very valuable for assessing pawn moves. For other moves it is not very suitable.

At the moment I'm analysing my lost games by identifying the point where I'm lost.
Then I try to identify what the seperate elements of my demise are.
After that I follow the footsteps of these elements backwards and try to find the moves that are the cause. This way my defeats don't come out of the blue anymore.

It is obvious that this is the right way to analyse a game. Why become obvious matters only obvious after a daunting process of reasoning? After all they must have been obvious all the time!


  1. Backtracking. A commonly suggested method of analysing a game. It's pretty logical when you think about it.

  2. Retrograde analysis sounds interesting! Do you play up to the point and then go backwards? Or do you start at the end of the game?

    I am very curios about this!


  3. Hi,
    GM Igor Smirnov ( , Holder of a master's degree in psychology) has a different few to the "runner up" kids and adult plateauing problem:

    1. Children are in a more comfortable situation. They don’t have to earn money for living, they have less work and responsibility etc. Thus young players can concentrate themselves on chess and get better results.

    However, it is not the main cause. An adult can focus on a chess study as well, and he/she can work even harder.


    2. Children are more flexible. In one of the previous e-mails I wrote you how it is important to be ready for changes. Nevertheless, I’d like to repeat it again, because it is an extremely important aspect.

    Here are the typical mistakes relating to this item:

    * A player doesn’t want to change his opening, which he/she played for some time (months, years) before.
    * A player is not ready to change his playing style.
    * Heshe doesn’t make changes in a training.
    * And so on…

    Such players keep their style of playing and training. Therefore they keep their current results as well. Certainly they will have the same results for many years and will have a very little progress.

    Unfortunately it happens with some adult players, while children are usually ready to try something new.


    3. ....Children trust in what a teacher says. They simply follow the teacher’s recommendations.
    That’s why they achieve good progress! Adults sometimes prefer to focus on their own ideas.

    Uwe Alex

  4. @Temposchlucker:

    Can you offer a comment on Smirnovs coaching or his chess training material?

  5. @Temposchlucker:

    Can you offer some insights on Smirnovs coaching or his chess training course?

  6. Anon,
    It was a comment of Uwe which I deleted by accident. Maybe he is willing to elaborate on this?

  7. Sometimes the point where we went to a losing position is very clearly other times its hard to spot because its so subtle.

    Have fun pinpointing these moments but dont take to long finding them otherwise your try to improve might backfire.

  8. Tommyq,
    Indeed I play from the start to the point where Fritz and I agree I'm lost and then go backwords.
    It feels somewhat unusual to look back.

  9. CT,
    When somebody says something that seems incomprehensible to me, I always take that as a sign that I missed something that is dwelling in my blind spot. So I need to ask you a question:

    What do you mean by "dont take too long finding them otherwise your try to improve might backfire."?
    How can that be?

  10. I mean by that

    a) the point of losing the game isn't clear and to subtle for you to understand why on that point of the game it started to go downhill for you.

    b)Taking to much time to find the mistake makes it that you cannot do some other chess work you had planned so that your study goes on the backburner instead of moving forward.

    c) taking to long to spot the start of losing the game point might make you desperate and eventually pinpoint a spot that isn't the startingpoint where you lost the game.

  11. CT,
    thanks for elaborating. That reveals a few subjects in my blind spot indeed.

  12. Uups, my comment with GN Smirnov did move to a different page, thats the reason i did not see the Question of Anonymous.
    See at Smirnov Page for free material. Many things he says makes quite sense. At this moment i still progress in my chess, so i dont need a trainer now. But i will get one, as soon i plateau. You find trainer here:
    (see : Chap 6.1 about Chess Coaches).
    His material is ok and cheap, you need to work hard on it ( you will not improve if you dont work hard anyway ). I would say, his focus is on activity of the pieces at least at his "GM's secrets". At this moment my fokus is strategy, positional play and still tactics and endgame, so his lessons are "for later".

  13. I never thought of analyzing a game like this before. For what its worth I don't necessarily see that it is obvious.

  14. I really hope you post some of the games with analysis.

    Uwe's comment is great, especially the third point that kids don't have the compulsion to question everything and find counterexamples before absorbing the point and applying it.

    I don't agree with Uwe that you don't need a coach until you hit a plateau--by then you might have bad habits that a coach would stop you from developing in the first place! Plus, we are all at micro-plateau's we don't see when our rating is going up (e.g., I might have an improvement arc despite the fact that I typically wait way too long to castle: something a coach would kick my butt for even if I was still winning games).

  15. Hi tempo..

    this is a reply to an old post of yours.

    I've been hyping 'Simple chess' since 2006!! I remember analyzing a lot of the games in there with bahus.. (how is that guy)

    'My System' presupposes a certain kind of reader. Not all can appreciate what he espouses in there. Basically, its an entire philosophy - Chess as a negative art. Suppression instead of aggression. It permeates the entire book in subtle and not so subtle clues. A very good book in my opinion.

    One of these days, Im a gonna finish it again. just a lot more time in my plate right now.

    Happy checkmating eh..

  16. Agreed with BDK re: the usefulness of coaches. The best function of a coach is to act as a second set of eyes, to show us things that we cannot perceive -- and that's useful at any skill level.
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