Learning from your mistakes is the whole point of analyzing your own games is it not? By learning from your mistakes you are able to improve but my question is once I know I played a inaccurate or bad move what can I do about it? Maybe give examples to help me understand?

  • 1
    I wrote a reply but I deleted it because there's lot of good better responses at Related questions
    – sharcashmo
    Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 14:28
  • Many of the suggestions others have said are great. When going over my own games, when I find a move that I missed or blunder, I try and understand my own thinking at the time and why I fail to see the better move.
    – user10046
    Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 15:10

3 Answers 3

  1. Identify an error - you've done that.
  2. Identify a better move - have you done that?
  3. Find a memorable difference between 1 & 2.

Step 3 most often involves finding some sort of principle that the better move adheres to. "Exchange when ahead in material" for example. But this is an over simplification. There are different types of errors and they require different responses.

Some errors occur because we are tired or didn't have a good breakfast before the game. Others because we didn't see some tactic and only practicing tactics or chess problems will make significant inroads there.

Sometimes you make an error in the opening. When that happens; find example games where the correct move occurred. Play few a couple of them, find one you like, then memorise it. The whole thing. It's easier than you think and it really helps with opening study.

Strategic errors do seem to require reducing to principles. "I thought exchanging bishop for knight was ok but later I wasn't able to fight my opponents control on the light squares." This situation is difficult. Was the error the exchange or was it the way you played afterwards? Only studying strategy will allow you to judge. Once you make a judgement, trust in it, come up with a way to express why the move is better, some sort of principle that it exemplifies "bishops are stronger than knights if the center is open." And then see how you do.


Well, for a start, you can see what not to play in a given position. Instead, you have to figure out what was the best move and what was the idea behind that move (or perhaps there are several good moves with different motives).

It's not different from any other aspect of life - once you do something wrong, you should remember why it was wrong when you find yourself in a similar situation, so you don't do it again.

But analyzing your game is not just about pinpointing your mistakes - there are often many possible good moves you can play in some position, so try to find them all and try to understand what impact would they have on the game if you played them. While you analyze, after each move you can ask questions like:

  • Was this move good?
  • What advantages/weaknesses this move produced?
  • Perhaps you didn't do a mistake, but was there a better move?
  • Or is there some move that is objectively a bit better than what you played, but it doesn't suit your playstyle?
  • Or the other way around, perhaps you played a best move and gotten yourself into a problem later on, while instead you could play a move that is a bit worse but it better fits in with your style and you would feel more comfortable with it?
  • Was the idea behind the move justified, or you managed to pull off your plan only because your opponent made a mistake?
  • Was there any other correct move you could play and what would be advantages of it?

These are just some examples to give you the idea what to think of during analysis. Of course, use some chess engine to help you evaluate the position. Like I said, it's not just about finding mistakes, it's also about finding some other possible solutions and ideas, and also about exposing yourself to some position that could have occured.

The more you are exposed to different positions and you learn what are good and bad moves/motives in it, the better player you will be. Once you learn a lot of possible motives, a lot of good and bad sides of some position, you can apply that knowledge in some other similar situations that will occur in your future games, because those motives and good/bad sides are often shared between similar positions. Also, many patterns are shared even between completely different positions.

The main point is, and that includes learning from mistakes, knowing that you played a bad move and knowing which move would be correct, but it also includes all the other mentioned aspects of understanding the position, analyzing games will ultimately lead to using less time to find more in your future matches.

Now i did a bit of a blunder here and wrote all this text before checking what answers are already available on this site. I will analyze my mistake and perhaps next time I won't write what has already been written somewhere, but in the meantime I hope you can find at least some useful information in this answer. For some other ideas for analysis, try to find some existing questions like this one: How do I analyze my game after playing?.

  1. Journal your thoughts
  2. What patterns did you miss
  3. Invent mental triggers to not miss them again

My only potential contribution beyond what @dsclose said is to maybe expound on his 'step 3'. Also, since I'm < 1300 USCF, take my thoughts with a grain of salt! :P

  1. Journal your thoughts

    • What patterns did you notice?
    • What moves were you considering?
    • Were you looking really deep in a few areas? Were you looking at all the board?
    • Did you stop calculating the moment you didn't keep forced tempo?
    • Were you having time pressure that changed your thinking?
    • Did you simply feel like you need to be aggressive more?
    • Were you afraid of looking dumb in front of your friends?
    • Did you calculate a move, and then forget (two calculated moves later) that by moving your piece, you left a weakness that undermined your calculated goal?
    • Anything/Everything you were actually thinking!!
  2. What patterns did you miss

    • I currently believe pattern recognition is %80 of chess. So this post follows that opinion and focuses on pattern recognition the most
    • Look for "pre-patterns." Abstract or concrete patterns that you think correlate to your mistake
    • These are patterns that you can use as triggers later on. That way your pattern recognition catches future similarities before your mistakes actually repeat
    • Make up names for the abstract/concrete patterns if you want
    • Use a computer to explore a million lines sometimes
    • made up examples:
    • Did you miss that a piece defending two at once?
    • Did you not take seriously the million ways your king was open to check?
    • Where there "lineups" (pieces in the same line -- even if interposed by other pieces). Maybe that's a more abstract pattern than "pin" that you need to memorize.
    • Was there a knight at one end of the board that suddenly was causing forks on the other end? I made up a name called "hop scotch" for that pattern. I tend to be particularly weak in seeing how powerful a knight is, so I prioritize more time looking at 3-4 knight moves first to see if I need to take the knight more seriously. Again, it all depends on what patterns you feel like you are blind to
    • Maybe you suffer from pawn blindness more. Look for pawn patterns. For example: "pawn tension" has three possible outcomes: 1) capture 2) do nothing 3) pawns passing each other. Maybe in your calculations, you forgot that he can simply push his pawn pass yours and not recapture. Maybe that lead to your downfall. In that case, focus on learning very specific pawn patterns and how to react from them.
  3. Invent triggers.

    • Don't stop once you know "the answer"
    • Don't stop once you know "the generalized answer"
    • You must actually change your thinking.
    • Be creative
    • They will be specific triggers to whatever you personally need to learn
    • Ideas:
      • memorize a checklist that you recite before each game. This checklist will be the top, current problems you're working on
      • Make yourself do breathing exercises 10 minutes in (if that's a theme of when you make mistakes most often)
      • Do more chess puzzles (repetition creates stronger pathways "triggers" in your brain)
      • eat more vegetables and do yoga (if your problem is foggy thinking in general)
      • Prioritize patterns. For example, I may have 'felt' like a king was at risk of being exposed, but I ignored it and considered other things (to my regret). So my 'trigger' is this: when I think a king might be exposed, stop everything else no matter how good they seem.

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