How to examine your chess thoughts and correct them

In this article I want to introduce a training method for improving your chess thinking. To do this properly it is important that you do this rather shortly after you have played the game. That way you have the best recollection of the thoughts and feelings you had during the game, be it general, in reaction to your opponents moves or not.

Below I give you an example of how I conducted this experiment once myself. In the first column I have written down white’s move (in this case my opponent), in the second column I have written down Black’s (my own) moves, in the third column I have described all the thoughts and feelings I had before or in reaction to a specific move (these descriptions are in the same rows as the move that they involve) and in the fourth column I have written down what I felt was right or wrong about these thoughts and feelings from a perspective of objectivity and practicality.

It made me realize that I quite often tell myself stories (narratives) and try and fool myself into believing unjust realities, especially when playing lower rated opponents. Try it yourself, look for your thoughts, correct them in as far as they are emotionally colored, be honest and see where your weaknesses lie!

If you are willing to share any thoughts or experiences on the matter just leave your comments.

Cheers,

Waldemar

External club match Baarn I – Amersfoort 3

Baarn, 28 april 2006

White: Flohr

Black: Moes

Thoughts & Feelings

Correction

1

d2-d4

Hmm, what opening shall I play? Something
that I don’t know to keep myself sharp and creative

Ng8-f6

Indian!

2

Bc1-g5

He must be an expert on the Tromp.

Probably he has some experience with the
Tromp

e7-e6

According to Rowson the best method, also
the White player is possibly less used to this

But what are my own experiences with this
move?
Reasonable.

3

e2-e3

Hm, pity. After e4 I would have gained
the bishop pair with h7-h6 and would have reached an unbalanced position.
Now
he is playing my pet system.

So I should know what is the best
counterplay?!
Not…

Bf8-e7

I have seen something with c5 and Pf6-d5.
I prefer to play without d5.

Constructed knowledge, but not bad. Possibly
an immediate c5? Note: an exchange on e7 may lead to less
tension in the position.

4

Bf1-d3

very solid

b7-b6

On we go

5

Nb1-d2

covers e4

Bc8-b7

I felt afraid of Bd3-b5+ and checked that

I corrected that and the fear had no
basis.

6

Ng1-f3

Of course no e4

That move is not bad by the way

d7-d6

I would like some more flexibility and
not play c5, not now anyway. I can do it later and have my knight on d7.

Whoever says ‘A’ does not need to say ‘B’:
Planning in pencil, playing in pen. Bravo!

7

Qd1-e2

Ha, he wants to exchange bishops with Ba6,
but that loses time. Furthermore I can always play Qc8 and then aftera n
exchange my Queen will come to b7.
So this Qe2 looks a bit
amateuristic.

Narrative! It may indeed lose time, but it could be time well invested
because the fianchetto bishop could become strong and would be exchanged.
Also as a consequence a complex of weak white squares could arise in Black’s
camp. Besides, Qc8 also costs time and it remains to be seen if the Queen is better
on b7 than on d8. For instance, Pf6-d5 would no longer be possible. When
playing lower rated opponents I have the tendency to make up stories and
believe in them so I can feel stronger, when in actual fact my stories are
not realistic. Besides, who knows if this guy is not playing the game of his
live! If it reckons with e3-e4 then …a6 deserves consideration and funnily
enough that was my very first thought.

Nb8-d7

On Ba6 I answer Qc8(!)

See previous comment, I was still
involved in my “story”

8

c2-c3

You see, he is not playing Ba6

Maybe rejecting the move, but not the
idea!

Nf6-d5

I don’t want to castle and give him an
obvious target. I want to remain flexible and this moves belongs to my
original plan.

If after …0-0 White would castle
queenside, I too would have an obvious target. It remains to be seen how
quick and dangerous a White attack would be. Experience teaches us that an
attack against 0-0-0 is often easier. You want to remain flexible, but now
Dc8 is no longer possible and the idea with Ba6 gains in strength!
In
a higher sense the Queen is overworked.

9

Bg5xe7

Qd8xe7

10

Bd3-a6

Hm, he hasn’t castled yet and now I can
lure his Queen to the edge of the board.

The fact that White has not castled yet
does not mean that I can somehow deliver a good punch. Besides, White can
castle on the next move if he wants to. Also there is a certain amount of Quality
(Kasparov) to White’s position: the white squares on Black’s queenside are
weakened and the white queen is actually quite irritating!

Bc8xa6

11

Qe2xa6

0-0

12

e3-e4

Hm, he still doesn’t castle!

But there is also no objective line in
which Black can do something tangible with this fact. It may feel
otherwise, but it isn’t (Buddhism in chess, seeing things as they are!).

Nd5-f4

Now after 0-0 I can play e5

13

g2-g3

He is weakening himself? I like the look
of this!

Yes, but it is only a slight weakening.
Also White is looking to exchange more pieces and release even more tension.

Nf4-h3

This stops him from castling!

Yes, but the knight is forced to retreat
after White’s next move, which I had calculated. So, this preventing him from
castling is not really happening!

14

Qa6-f1

Now his Queen blocks his castling. When
will he ever castle?

Yes, but that is only temporary and what
had Black achieved in the meantime?
He is constantly reacting to
attacks by White!

Nh3-g5

15

Nf3xg5

Qe7xg5

16

f2-f4

Now he is even more vulnerable in the
middle. I will switch to the queenside and when he castles I attack with
c7-c5, You see, it is all going to work out!

That may be so, but there are two sides
to each medal: White is winning Space. It remains to be seen if Black
can find a point of attack in this relatively closed position. By the way,
funny to realize that White has made five forcing moves in a row!

Qg5-g6

Hm, pity, Qa5 is not possible because of
Qc4! And the threat of Nb3.
And if I play b5 then Qc6 is disturbing.

Instead of b5 I can play Rac8! And after
Nb3 the Queen can always go to h5.
MISSED IDEA. Strange that I was thinking so long and was lead by my
disappointment rather than coming up with a constructive solution or
acceptance of the situation. A direct consequence of storytelling. For the
rest the position remains balanced after the text move also.

17

Qf1-e2

I thought Qf3 was better.

But it isn’t.

c7-c5

I want my fair share of the center. I
also need my rooks to do something.

Good.

18

0-0

Nd7-f6

The knight has more Scope here. It
may go to g4, supported by h7-h5 and then maybe to f5 (via h6).

Good! SMALL PLAN. Fritz thinks
that exchanging on d4 and then Nf6 is more accurate.

19

Ra1-e1

Hm, if the c-file opens up this rook may
have to return to c1?!

Possible, but maybe it is not only the
c-file that is of importance. Also: the position is still balanced after
white’s move.

c5xd4

20

c5xd4

h7-h5?

Now I can execute my small plan.

Timing is wrong. I’m not taking into
consideration my opponents plans and the possible added value of the rook on
e1 in these plans. Better: Rac8. First play with my pieces. NO FALSIFICATION
OF MY OWN PLAN!

21

Kg1-h1

Huh, isn’t Kg2 better?

What kind of storytelling is this?!
And why, I might ask is king g2 better!? You may say: hm, to me Kg2 feels
better even though I don’t know exactly why, maybe because it protects g3. By
the way, White could have gained the advantage with f4-f5.

Ra8-c8

I thought long about the differences
between this move and first d6-d5.

A more practical approach was perhaps
called for?

22

Re1-c1

d6-d5

If e4-e5 then I have square f5 and after
exd5 I have square d5

23

e4xd5

Huh, e4-e5 seemed better.

But then Ng4 is good.

e6xd5!?

Suddenly I started thinking a long time
again because recapturing started to LOOK attractive. I get support on e4 and
also the open e-file.

Even though the text move might be good
objectively, it cost me a lot of time and flexibility to make the switch and
let go of my original plan. Also the type of position will be different than
with the isolated pawn. Borderline? Temptation/unpractical.

24

Nd2-f3

Now I can pin.

Qg6-g4

25

Nf3-g1

Passive

Rf8-e8

Calculating this cost me some energy and
time.

The position is more difficult to handle
than with the isolated pawn! An immediate effect of my previous decision.

26

Qe2-g2

Nf6-e4

Beauty idealism. h4 offered more chances.

27

Qg2-f3

I don’t want to exchange queens. Mine is
more active. And I don’t like that he is talking to me and is offering me a
draw for the fourth time…

In principle correct. Especially
in timetrouble. I didn’t have time to judge the exchange of
queens followed by Nf2-d3.

Qg4-f5

28

Qf3-d1?

Quickly, I have to move.

I want to move.

g7-g6?

Profylactic move.

I miss the decisive Rxc1 Qxc1 en Rc8. MISSED
IDEA
(Queen protects c8).
balance your safety and agressiveness!

29

Kh1-g2

Qf5-f6

30

Ng1-f3

Kg8-g7

Hm, another 10 moves in 2 minutes, that’s
to dangerous. I will now offer a draw myself.

Seems wise.

½

½

4 Comments

  1. mario September 28, 2008

    Very interesting actually…this is very important.

    well I ask my self some questions:

    1. which pieces are menaced?
    2. which are the pieces which are not defended after this?
    3. which are his plans?
    4. which could be my plan?

    Do you have some other to advise me? ;) bye

  2. Waldemar September 28, 2008

    Hi Mario,

    Thanks for the comment!

    These are all useful questions to ask yourself.
    You could start with putting the first question more general:

    “What is my opponent threatening?”

    That way you cover more possibilities than just pieces that are undefended.

    Cheers!

    Walemar

  3. Marco August 15, 2014

    Hi Walemar,
    I often find myself stuck with a plan that was working at one stage of the game and after a few moves of my opponent (that nullify my plan), I keep on behaving without newly calculating but go with old info….
    I am correcting but it keeps coming back

    Talk soon

  4. Author
    Waldemar August 18, 2014

    Hi Marco,

    Yes, I know what you mean.
    That is why flexibility (of mind and strategy) in chess is very important.

    Do you have an example game or position where this happened?

    Some remarks from the top of my head:
    1. having a plan does not mean you will win the game, especially not if you don’t have an objective advantage in the position
    2. it is of course perfectly possible that your opponent will neutralize your plan if he/she plays well.
    3. There are many different plans, they come in different shapes and forms: small, large, technical, practical etc. A chess technical plan normally involves the following elements: object of the attack/defense, method of attack/defense: the “what” and “how”.

    Cheers and good luck correcting!

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