Kasparov apparently said:

By strictly observing Botvinnik's rule regarding the thorough analysis of one's own games, with the years I have come to realize that this provides the foundation for the continuous development of chess mastery.

Does anyone know what this rule is precisely that Kasparov refers to and/or in what source Botvinnik stated the rule?

3 Answers 3


I think in Yermolinski's "The Road to Chess Improvement" he says that he decided to follow "the most common advice one can find in the works of Alekhine and Botvinnik , which can be put into simple words - study your games". Of course Yermolinski takes it much further saying that "study your games" means to do a thorough analysis of each of your games even going as far as to write full annotations for them.

The closest I find in Botvinnik quotes is:

I claim that nothing else is so effective in encouraging the growth of chess strength as such independent analysis, both of the games of the great players and your own

This can be found in several quote sites - http://chess-quotes.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/botvinnik.html is one such example.


The following passage is from Botvinnik's foreword to his 100 Selected Games. The text here doesn't single out one's own games as the specific object of analysis, but it leaves no doubt about Botvinnik's belief that improving at analysis in general is crucial to becoming a strong player.

I must mention one other possibility of achieving perfection which I myself have always tried to carry out.

What is the essence of a chess master's art? Fundamentally it consists of the ability to analyse chess positions. True, at the board you must be able to analyse very quickly and without touching the men; but in the last resort, whether you are working out the possible variations or estimating the actual position, chess is the art of analysis.

Home analysis has specific features of its own: you are not restricted by time, and you can move the men freely. Despite this difference between home analysis and practical play, there is much in common between them. It is a well known fact that almost all the outstanding chess-players have been first-class analysts.

The deduction is irresistible: anyone who wishes to become an outstanding chess-player must aim at perfection in the realm of analysis.

Botvinnik goes on to suggest that in, order not to let oneself drift away from being objective in one's analysis, one should also publish it, opening it up to the scrutiny of others.


While I bow abjectly before the likes of Botvinnik and Kasparov, I think those who unquestioningly accept Botvinnik's assertion that the goal is "*perfection in the realm of analysis" and assume that he means both OTB and at home should be informed that several of the world's foremost analysts, C.S. Purdy, Jonathan Penrose, and Bent Larsen, were all prone to time-trouble in OTB play. It should be noted that Purdy and Penrose were both Correspondence Chess champions, which surely influenced their style of OTB analysis.

The simple fact is that time-management and analysis are mutual enemies in OTB. The best one can realistically hope for is speed and economy, which means being able to do a few tricks, including:

  • Memorizing a position in the future at which several viable candidate moves must be considered (a so-called "Stepping-Stone" or "Stop Sign", depending on your preferred author), so that you can return to it instantly instead of having to retrace your steps from the position on the board
  • Visualizing tactics in future positions as easily as you do on the actual board (this is why GM's close their eyes or stare at the ceiling; they are avoiding the distraction of the actual position on the board)
  • Keeping track of which moves you have already considered for each future position, and what you thought of them (I call this "cataloging", but have never seen anyone name the process before)
  • As far as possible, visiting each branch of analysis only once (Kotov's advice, in "Think Like a Grandmaster").

However, in a tournament game, you simply do not have the time required to analyze all positions this way. So you also need to learn when to use in-depth analysis, and when not to bother. There are multiple good references offering guidance on how to do this. I can recommend both "How to Choose a Chess Move", GM Andrew Soltis, Batsford Press, and "Your Best Move", Per Ostman, Everyman Publishing.

Finally, you need to be able to do effective and careful "pruning" of candidate moves, or figuring out which candidates merit further analysis, and which ones are a waste of time. The aforementioned texts also address this.

So, with all due respect, I put it to you that it is in fact detrimental to strive for perfection in OTB analysis. The best player will think fast and efficiently and only when needed, and will use advanced thinking techniques that are not themselves analysis to arrive at the best candidate available in the time he can afford to spend selecting it.

For Correspondence Chess, time limits are designed so that, barring external circumstances, it's almost impossible to spend too much time analyzing a move. The ICCF uses 10 moves / 50 days, and no more than 10 days for any move. Who among us would even be thinking straight after 9 days of analysis?? So, this is effectively unconstrained. CC masters almost never default on time (see the CC Olympiad and World Championship cross-tables, if you need proof).

As for home analysis of a completed game, take all the time you want. Is that your wife calling?

  • This answer would need to justify why it considers Purdy, Penrose or Larsen as greatest analysts rather than, say, Taimanov, Stein, Portisch, Benko, or Gelfand, famous for their analysing skills, and who have suffered much less from time-trouble during their careers.
    – Evargalo
    Sep 24, 2019 at 7:59

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.