Most chess literature offer sets of moves based on themes, but do not offer a method of accessing your performance in composing sets of moves relative to the flow of the game itself.

What would be the best way to segment sets of moves, and then assess the effectiveness of their composition relative to the board's state?

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    I'm finding this question difficult to understand. 'Composition' in the chess world means a chess position designed to be a puzzle, usually requiring a clever solution to be found.
    – PeskyGnat
    Commented May 2, 2012 at 13:07
  • +1 @PeskyGnat: By composition, I mean the composition of sets of moves, not of the board. In the question, 'the board's state' refers to the use of 'composition' at you point out. Please feel free to edit the question if you believe you understand it's intent, and believe you would be able to make that intent more clear. Thanks for the feedback, and if have more questions, just let me know!
    – blunders
    Commented May 2, 2012 at 13:13
  • Are you asking about how to assess your position? Commented May 2, 2012 at 13:21
  • @Soufiane Hassou: No. I am asking after a game is over, how to cluster sets of moves, and then access how those sets where serially executed (set composition) relative to the board's state (board composition). Assessing position would be part of the process, but not the goal of the assessment. The goal is to analysis how sets of moves are performing as sets relative to other sets.
    – blunders
    Commented May 2, 2012 at 13:30
  • @blunders provide us with some examples of the themes that you are trying to break a game down into. If you mean pins, skewers, forks, I'm not sure that I see the value of breaking it down that far. Do you mean strategic themes like mating nets, minor attacks, creating isolated pawns, attacking the pawn chain, etc.?
    – dmah
    Commented May 2, 2012 at 14:35

1 Answer 1


I would try breaking your games down by sub-goals and examine the moves leading up to achieving that sub-goal which gives you an easy metric on how well the set of moves performed. Of course, the harder part is to assess your sub-goals. Did you have the right overall plan? Did your sub-goals improve your position? I'm not sure if breaking your evaluation down to the "set of moves" level will ultimately be useful.

For instance, you can set a sub-goal of controlling the c-file so the set of moves that contribute to doubling the rooks on the c-file evaluate as "good". However, if your opponent is invested in an attack on the king-side, your sub-goal might be faulty.

Take a look at some middlegame books, games collections, and/or tournament books. Try something like IM Jeremy Silman's "How To Reassess Your Chess" and/or GM Bronstein's annotations of the Zurich 1953 tournament.

The former will give you some ways to approach thinking about your position and formulating goals while the latter will delve into the thought process behind the moves of real games of grandmasters.

  • +1 Thanks. I see the key to the analysis to as the "sub-goals", though believe looking at the relationships between chains of moves would be more likely to produce results than an attempt to infer meaning on them, or for that matter there intent; besides in a real game, you would not have access to this information. Binoj Antony's question is an even more simpliy version of this question, that being "When does middle-game end and end-game begin?"
    – blunders
    Commented May 2, 2012 at 17:07
  • I don't think I see the difference between "relationships" and "meaning" between the chains of moves. Presumably, you are making chains of moves because you have a plan to which they contribute (i.e., a sub-goal). Formulating the relationship between sub-goals and the overall plan is something that you do in the game. As to Binoj's question, there isn't a clear transition. Additionally, how does knowing which phase of the game that you are in help you in evaluating the current position?
    – dmah
    Commented May 2, 2012 at 17:14
  • The opening, middle, and end in theory would be major segments of the game. Opening clearly have themes, and once those themes have covered 80% of the themes played 80% of the time, the opening is over in my opinion. As for the end game, once 80% of the goals are covered by 80% of the moves, I would venture to say the game was in the end game. The middle-game would logically be any game play that was not covered by the opening or end game moves. Again, not an expert, though do believe there is an answer. That said, I do not have a way to segment the chains of moves, hence the question.
    – blunders
    Commented May 2, 2012 at 17:22
  • IMHO, the way that you should be segmenting the chains of moves is by sub-goal if you want to look at that granular of a level. You cannot remove the reasoning as to why you are making the move and still gain anything from the analysis. Or can you give a concrete example of a segment of moves that you can divorce from its intent?
    – dmah
    Commented May 2, 2012 at 17:39
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    Okay, stupid question, have you read any books on the middlegame? Or any games collections by grandmasters? Those are attempts at documenting their intent and why they are making certain sets of moves. Many of the best teaching IMs or GMs will break down the reasoning behind moves from real games.
    – dmah
    Commented May 2, 2012 at 19:50

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