How to Analyze Your Chess Game Using Lucas Chess
Why Would You Study Your Own Chess Games?
Analyzing your own chess games can be very difficult, especially if you don’t have a step by step process. Yet it is one of the most important aspect of game improvement. In fact, the only thing I believe is more important is to actually play the game. If you’re serious about improving your chess skills effectively, there is really no way around it.
The reason why going over the moves of a chess game is so important is that some mistakes go undetected by both sides during play. If each player never goes over his/her moves, neither one will ever benefit from the mistake. The next time a similar situation arrives during a chess match, the same mistake will be made.
Another reason why studying your chess games is that it helps you memorize common chess patterns. A simple example of this is the common rook and king vs king checkmate. I saw a friend of mine who had to settle for a draw because he honestly didn’t know how to play this particular pattern. I showed him how to checkmate the king with king and rook, and he was surprised at how easy it was.
Patterns in chess are an integral part of the game, and some of these are so common players don’t even realize they’re playing by memory. Pattern recognition can be improved by habitually going over your games. Having a modus operandi makes it much easier to establish this habit. When you have a clear-cut process of doing something, it becomes easier. The easier something is, the more apt the habit will become engrained in your chess training regimen.
First, let's take a poll!
How good a chess player are you?
- Pictures for This Tutorial on Google Drive
Here are the pictures for this tutorial to help you follow along. Why they're also on this page, for some reason they aren't as clear. Therefore I strongly recommend you look off of the pictures I've stored here.
What You Need for This Tutorial
To follow this tutorial, you need a program called Lucas Chess. It is free software that allows users to create and open (.pgn) files quite easily. It also allows users to add comments and variations effortlessly.
The version I’ll be using is the latest release to date, which is V11.16. If you want to, you can download that specific version, but I recommend getting the latest release since the chess engines that are included with Lucas Chess are also fairly recent versions.
The last thing you’ll need is a chess game, preferably one of yours. If you have a game of yours in pgn or pks format, you only have to open it in lucas chess and you’re ready for the tutorial. You do this by clicking tools>pgn viewer>Read pgn(Image 2-1).
Then, find the file you want to open, select the game, and hit the Edit button (Image 2-2) If you have the moves written on a paper score sheet, manually enter the moves by opening the program, clicking the tools button, and clicking “create your own game” (Image 2-3). This allows you to put in the moves manually by clicking the from and to square.
Make sure the window is maximized, because if not, some of the options on the right may be lopped off. If you don’t see the comments and variations section, right click the first move and they will display. When all is ready to go, lucas chess should look like the Image 2-4.
The game I’ll be analyzing…
- ProjectResolute vs. EVANSLT | Analysis - Chess.com
Here is the game I’ll be analyzing. If you want to, you can follow along with this game. However, I strongly recommend using one of your own chess matches.
Step 1: Basic Commenting & Analysis
The first step in chess game analysis is to do the basic commenting. This is where you comment about a move you or your opponent has made. If you think there’s a better move than the one in the game write the move down in the comment section. If you’re not sure if a move is good or bad, make a note about this, and save often, so you don’t lose your work.
It’s very important not to use a chess engine in this step. Try to figure difficult positions out yourself. If you’re not sure which move is better, make a comment. (image 3-1) Later, when the computer analyzes the game, you can easily see which moves you weren’t sure about.
If you want to study a more complicated position by moving the pieces around, you can easily do so by clicking the blue append button under the word “variants”(image 3-2). A secondary window will open with the position without the move signified by the arrow. This is because you are essentially adding an alternative to this move. It is unlimited as to how many variations and sub-variations can be added to a certain move, however, in order to add the variation to the game click the “accept” button, not the cancel button. (image 3-3)
After you’ve accepted the variation, you can now see the notations for it under the variants section. Double-click the variation to see the variant window again and edit it. (Image 3-4) When you’re done with the basic analysis the screen will look like this… (Image 3-5)
Note the speech bubbles. This signifies there’s either a comment or variation added to the move. If they have double speech bubbles, it means that there’s both a comment and a variation added. I recommend going through each of the moves that have a variation and add some kind of comment in the comment section. A simple “variant added” will suffice. The reason for this will be made clear in step 3.
Now we are ready for step 2, the fun part because we get to use chess engine. Before we begin the next save the file!
Step 2: Let a Chess Engine Analyze Your Game
In this step we will use the computer to do an auto-analysis of your game. This lets you catch some bad moves you may not have seen in the first step. The way we do this is by clicking utilities>analyze (Image 4-1). The Analysis Configuration box will come up. Make sure the following settings are correct…(Image 4-2)
Duration of engine analysis (secs): 5
Number of moves evaluated by engine(MultiPV): 3
Redo any existing prior analyses (if they exist): Unchecked
The last item is very important, since if you have this checked it will erase any variant you’ve added. The rest of the settings by default are ok. Now you can click “Accept” and it will begin checking every move of the game for possible errors.(Image 4-3)
When it’s done, the Result of analysis box will be displayed.(Image 4-4) This gives all kinds of statistics that are quite intriguing to go through, however, it is beyond the scope of this article to explain all this, and actually have nothing to do with studying your chess game. So take a look, and when you’re done, we’ll proceed to Step 3.
You can always look at the graphics later by clicking Utilities>Analysis>Show Graphics.
Step 3: Comparing Your Moves With the Computer’s Analysis
As you’ve probably noticed, when the chess engine analyzes your game, it color codes every move (Image 5-1). In the following list is the meaning of each color…
Red – Flat out blunder.
Yellow – Inaccuracy
Grey – Neutral (not bad, but not the best move)
Blue – Best move according to the computer.
Purple(Rare) – Brilliancy (Basically a move so good even the computer didn’t see it.)
These color codes are what I like best about Lucas Chess. However, if you save the moves to a normal (pgn) file, the color codes vanish upon reopening the file. To save these color codes, and the graphics displayed at the end of analysis, by saving it as pks. You do this going to the Utilities menu, and go to save>PKS Format (image 5-2). The rest is like saving a file normally.
Now we are ready to compare our moves with the computer. Remember the speech bubbles? Now they’re on every move because the chess engine automatically added its analysis to the variants. Some of the moves have double bubbles, these are where you personally commented on a move and added a variant of your own. Remember when I said for every variant added to a move, also add a comment? Now you can differentiate easily which moves you studied personally! (Image 5-3)
To tell the difference between the computer’s variants and yours, note that some are labeled. Mine is Mccain X3 32bit, which mean that the variant was created by Mccain chess engine. Your personal variants aren’t labeled and are usually before the others. To play through any variant, you simply have to double-click it.
I recommend comparing any variation you’ve made with the computer’s analysis. That way you know if you’re thinking correctly about your analysis. If your analysis is different, do your best to figure out why. A good way to do this is to play the position against a computer. Next to the blue append button used to add a variant there is a brown “Append + Engine” button that will let you do this (Image 5-4).
Don’t worry about the engine’s evaluation score (Image 5-3) too much. If two chess moves have a difference of 0.4 point or less, you can safely consider them equal. A whole point is roughly equal to a pawn, so 2/5 of a pawn won’t make much difference, unless you’re not human or just barely (i.e. magnus carlsen).
The last and final thing you want to make this in-depth chess game study of yours complete is to go through all the bad moves you missed in step 1. The inaccuracies will be harder to figure out, so don’t get “lost”. If you spend more then 15-20 minutes trying to figure out why this move is better than that, with no progress to show for it, you’re probably better off leaving it alone or consulting a chess professional.
Whew! You’ve made it to the end of the tutorial. If you’ve followed this tutorial correctly, you’re a better chess player now than you were at the start. If you keep analyzing your chess game consistently, I guarantee you will see an improvement in your game. Here are some advanced tips to aid you.
Avoid over analysis. When using a chess engine, it’s very easy. They can calculate dozens of moves ahead in seconds. You’ll never be able to understand it all…
Use a real chess board. Many masters insist on this. You can even connect a dgt smart board to lucas chess, and add your variants like that.
Save your positions where you’ve blundered for later solving. You can never remember everything the first time around. Repetition is what get those pattern engrained.
Analyze professional games using this method. Studying the pros is very rewarding, especially if they’re annotated.
Have fun. That’s what chess is all about, isn’t it?
My Secret Chess Weapon!
By a master's standards, I'm a complete patzer. Yet, none of my buddies can easily beat me. I give this book the most credit for the level I'm at right now. If I had to choose what my secret chess weapon is, this would be it!