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  1. Standard member wormwood
    If Theres Hell Below
    16 Jul '06 13:01
    I've been going through master games lately, and I was wondering if people had different ways to go about it? - at first, I went through the games without a board, but that proved much too awkward with my feeble visualisation skills. then I started using a board, but it's still way too much effort deciphering the notation, energy which could be better used on focusing on the inner workings of that particular game. you decipher a line onto the board, but forget another, and when you try comparing some aspects of the two, you'll have to decipher the first one again, but then you're not sure about the second one anymore... you're just doing the same thing again and again, using short term memory, and getting frustrated and exhausted with all the repetition.

    then I started thinking, maybe I could actually do something to help the visualisation? so, I started doing some visualisation exercises. with time, that'll probably do the trick. but then I got and idea of combining master games & visualisation exercises: first I teach myself the game move by move on a board, and only after that start studying it. that way, I can focus completely on the annotation, and still visualize the board with practically no effort. it's also helping with the variations, even if you don't learn them by rote. it's just easier when you have the 'backbone' of the game in visual memory, so the variations have a solid visual context.

    memorizing the game fully seems to be surprisingly easy, taking up 3-10 minutes depending on the game. not much, if you're going to take 30-60 minutes to study the actual game. I wonder how many games you can store this way, but it's probably quite a lot. -as you can as well easily memorize hundreds of song-lyrics pretty much perfectly. of course lyrics have repetition and melody, but chess has a lot of re-occurring structures as well.

    I also like the fact that I'm storing the game visually and even procedurally, rather than as little snippets of 2-5 move lines in short term memory which I'll forget within seconds. if you like, you can further strengthen the memory by reading the moves aloud as you go, combining visual, procedural and auditory memory. - and as an added bonus for memorization, I can play the games in my head as a visualisation exercise, if I feel like it.

    "what are you daydreaming of?"
    "- oh, colle vs delvaux, grand-terneuzen 1929..."


    so, what do you think? how do you do it?
  2. 16 Jul '06 14:08
    I agree with you in the fact that chess has a lot of repetition, specialy in the opening stage, so from there if you are familiar with the opening, then any change will make you remember the game.

    In my case I had no trouble with notation, sometimes made a mistake but not to the point that I got confused, I always use a board, unless it is from a book that shows all positions after certain moves, but lately I am recuring to my chessmaster database, in wich you can see the game passing as you forward it, and this way you dont have to spend time reading the notation, it leaves your brain solely to the analisys, and I like it this way.
  3. 16 Jul '06 15:19
    I never really understood how someone was suppose to study a masters games to get better.
  4. 16 Jul '06 15:34
    Originally posted by meyekal
    I never really understood how someone was suppose to study a masters games to get better.
    With a book: cover the moves and progress move by move every time thinking about what you would play.Then compare with what was actually played and,if the master played different,try to figure out why he made that move and what was wrong with yours.It will show you how a master makes up and executes his plans.It will also show you how to handle certain positions.Annotated games are obviously best for this.

    With a database: exactly the same but you don't have to cover the moves

    It's the best way to improve cause it teaches you everything all at once,openings,tactics,middlegame strategy,endgames,the lot
  5. 16 Jul '06 16:49
    I agree that going through top level games is a great way to study but I often find it hard to understand what the more subtle moves are about. I like a book with good plain language text explanantions for this - anototated and explained. I recommend Irving Chernev "Logical Chess Every Move Explained" even though it's quite old it has been updated and covers the basics very well. More recently is John Nunns "Understanding Chess Move by Move" and also Winning Chess Strategies by Yasser Seirawan.
  6. 16 Jul '06 17:25 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Mahout
    I agree that going through top level games is a great way to study but I often find it hard to understand what the more subtle moves are about. I like a book with good plain language text explanantions for this - anototated and explained. I recommend Irving Chernev "Logical Chess Every Move Explained" even though it's quite old it has been updated and covers ...[text shortened]... ns "Understanding Chess Move by Move" and also Winning Chess Strategies by Yasser Seirawan.
    That is indeed difficult.With our limited knowledge of the game it's even impossible at times.Hence why annotated games are better.But not to worry if you don't understand every single move.if you keep doing this you'll improve and in time you'll also come to understandthe more subtle moves.
    That's what I've been told anyway,can't back it with personal experience as I'm still at the level of not understanding the games' subtleties.

    edit: Btw,chernev's book is indeed excellent
  7. 16 Jul '06 18:02
    The possibilities of chess are so infinite (almost) that memorizing a particular game isn't going to do much good, unless you're doing it for enjoyment, which is fine. I believe the guess the next move strategy, that someone mentioned, is the best. Keep score of the percentage you are "guessing" correct and try to better yourself. Choose the winning side and use a card to cover up the next move. Ignore the analysis for now. Just go through the game. After you've finished and scored yourself, then check the analysis to improve your understanding of "mysterious" moves. Start right from the opening, even though the player is not really thinking much in this phase. The percentages will even out. Why do i think this is the best way to study master games? Because it makes you sweat mentally, pushing to better your percentage each time. I've done memorization too, but only for enjoyment--like Morphy games and Anderssen. Aside from getting the moves in the correct order, this is not really hard--hence not helpful to improvement. The later analysis helps, but involving yourself into the game is the best. Other than have a master right there beside you, this is the best way IMHO. Incidentally, CJS Purdy, one of the late, great teachers of the game (Australian I believe) was of the same opinion.
  8. 16 Jul '06 18:23
    Since we are on the subject of studying master games, I have to take advantage of this opportunity to tell you guys about a terrific book, one which I have yet to see a reference to on this site. It's titled, "Chess Master vs. Chess Amateur" by Max Euwe and Walter Meiden. The moves are very fully annotated, but unlike most studies of master games, I find this one particularly illuminating because the amateur in these games plays moves which you and I might play -- reasonable moves, but inferior moves, nonetheless -- and the master clearly spells out why they are inferior, and what the better move would be, and why. The book also has a terrific introduction, covering such areas as certain chess terms, elements of chess, learning chess from studying games, etc. All in all a first-rate book. (Does have descriptive notation, however.) 1963.
  9. Standard member wormwood
    If Theres Hell Below
    16 Jul '06 20:07 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by buddy2
    The possibilities of chess are so infinite (almost) that memorizing a particular game isn't going to do much good, unless you're doing it for enjoyment, which is fine. I believe the guess the next move strategy, that someone mentioned, is the best.
    I do that the first time through a game, albeit not with terrible intensity. on subsequent iterations, I try to deepen from that, figuring out why things happened the way they did. but my main idea is to 'train my intuition', to get a feel for how things should go. the other idea is to build visualisation skills. and yes, for enjoyment too of course.

    btw, I saw somewhere mentioned that there was a whole bunch of people like shirov emerging from the former soviet regime in the 90's, looking mostly at the ceiling or walls while they play. does anyone have more info about that? about their philosophy behind the visualisation training (I'm not terribly interested in general guesses about it, like "probably to get an edge" ), and also about their specific methods?
  10. 16 Jul '06 20:24 / 1 edit
    There's an apocryphal story about someone turning up at a Grandmasters house and wanting to play chess but he couldn't find a board (because he did everything in his head). Anyway there are three practical visualisation exercises I've heard of and done a little bit - but I find them hard (I'm begining to think that it's the things I find hard that I should be doing more of).

    Anyway here are the exercises:

    1. Pick a square, say f3, then with out looking at a board answer: - what colour is it?
    2. Name all the squares on the: d1 a4 diagonal...and so on with other diagonals.
    3. Read the notation for a game a few moves in then set the board up in this position, theoretically, with practice, you should be able to master playing through a whole game this way.

    EDIT: I also suspect that useing the analyze board means we are not using as much visualisation power as we do without it and so not "exerciseing" this faculty as much. I keep meaning to study without the analyze board first, so as to exercise my visualisation, then use the board to double check. Just a thought.
  11. Standard member wormwood
    If Theres Hell Below
    16 Jul '06 21:23
    Originally posted by Mahout
    1. Pick a square, say f3, then with out looking at a board answer: - what colour is it?
    2. Name all the squares on the: d1 a4 diagonal...and so on with other diagonals.
    3. Read the notation for a game a few moves in then set the board up in this position, theoretically, with practice, you should be able to master playing through a whole game this way.
    if that's the kind of visualisation exercise you like, CVT might be for you:
    http://www.janmatthies.info/chess/cvt/cvt.htm
  12. 16 Jul '06 21:45
    Originally posted by wormwood
    if that's the kind of visualisation exercise you like, CVT might be for you:
    http://www.janmatthies.info/chess/cvt/cvt.htm
    Thanks...that's a good recommendation
  13. 16 Jul '06 21:50
    Originally posted by basso
    Since we are on the subject of studying master games, I have to take advantage of this opportunity to tell you guys about a terrific book, one which I have yet to see a reference to on this site. It's titled, "Chess Master vs. Chess Amateur" by Max Euwe and Walter Meiden. The moves are very fully annotated, but unlike most studies of master games, I find thi ...[text shortened]... games, etc. All in all a first-rate book. (Does have descriptive notation, however.) 1963.
    Apparently there's a similar, more recent book by Jeremy Silman called "the Amateur's Mind." I haven't read either but both sound useful.
  14. 16 Jul '06 21:57
    Originally posted by jgvaccaro
    Apparently there's a similar, more recent book by Jeremy Silman called "the Amateur's Mind." I haven't read either but both sound useful.
    Not too recent, but I have it, it's pretty good for strategy.
  15. 17 Jul '06 00:18
    aside from the covering of the moves method(my favorite, although there are lots of minor variations on what you do.) there is also playing through them quickly hoping you will subliminally pick up something(not reccomending it.) or just playing through them slowly. one variation in silmans book on the covering up of moves: he reccomended to get better at visualisation and calculation that you write down every thing you could figure out about the position, including analysys of the possible paths the games could take from that position. he reccomended games from attacking tactical players like alekhine i recall. alekhines my best games dover edition(both volumes bound as one.) is great for this method.