How To Annotate Your Own Games?

While everyone prefers to learn from the mistakes of others, this is not very realistic when it comes to chess – Annotate Your Games!

A chessplayer’s strength is measured by his or her successes in tournaments. Sport has a single criterion – the result. Should we disagree with it, or bring in some other criteria, the very essence of sport is nullified. Comments such as this guy is more talented,but :

  • blundered in a time trouble
  • lost a won position
  • incredible error
  • accidentally, etc. 

are for the fans (and media ). No “incredible” events occur. If something happened it was possible! It is necessary to try and understand the cause of what happened. You must analyze your own games in greater detail to identify the types of mistakes you made and to find out in which situations you need to improve your decision making process.

From childhood one must get used to analyzing and annotating every game played. Analysis of games, conceptualization of their content, explanation, assessments, motivations behind moves played, threats and what caused them create a powerful incentive for a chessplayer’s growth! Analysis is necessary for rapid chess games as well.

I consider that rapid chess gives even more information about the merits and drawbacks of a chess player. When there is more time to think, these drawbacks can be concealed by longer thinking, whereas in rapid chess and in blitz games all the pros and cons reveal themselves more vividly. A. S. Nikitin, Garry Kasparov’s coach, wrote that the future world champion even annotated his blitz games. Timing is of great help in identifying weaknesses of a chessplayer. It assists in understanding and explaining the chess player’s drawbacks and their causes, and is particularly demonstrative as it rates the time required to make this or that decision.

After each tournament it is necessary to report on all games played by a player in the Chessbase special Database.


Spend 10-15 minutes after each game writing brief notes, including thoughts, variations and assessments that were going through his mind during the play, and compare these with the results of subsequent calm analysis.


The five critical goals that you are trying to accomplish in your deep analyze are: Checking your Opening preparation. The opening part should end with a brief theoretical reference pointing out the best variations for continuing the struggle and with an “exemplary” game of this variation played by grandmasters.


Discovering the turning points and assessing your decisions making at those points. Particular attention should be drawn to the phase when the game passes from the opening to the middlegame, and it is worthwhile showing the extent to which the middlegame events correlate with opening structure logic.


Finding and classifying your own mistakes and other problems (Tactical, strategic, while attacking, defending etc, psychological problems etc); Develop your analyzing skills by uncovering new ideas and better moves, which could have happened if they were played.


The comments of each game should be finalized with an assessment of one’s own play and conclusions (reasons for win or loss, including non-chess factors; what to do in order to avoid these).

Showing your game to the coach for reviewing your analyses.


Such work on the annotations should last for 4-5 hours. At a higher level, it is useful to annotate other players games, though it is more complicated due to a difficulty of understanding motives behind moves without observing the playing process directly.


Contributed by : A.Vaysman  Honored coach of Ukraine



8 Responses

  1. I always analyze my games. The weakest part of my game is the middlegame. I often come out of the opening with at least equality, and often a slight plus, and many times fail to find a plan and go wrong in the middlegame.

  2. Hi Robin,
    You have to work on books where Greatest chess players of past as : Tarrasch, Capablanca explain in their games – typical plans and ideas… You will be much more familiar with the Classical plans and typical way of playing different positions.

    Of course the Books I recommend must have the original commentary .

  3. When i start to analyze during my games, i can analyze until 3 or 4 moves deep, but then i cant keep track of the pieces and their position in analysis.. i lose track of them, this has affected my game a lot., and i’m beggining to think that i should know blindfold chess to analyze variations correctly (since chess is literally played blindfold even though you have a board in front, you have to analyze blindfoldly. I met many Chess Masters in this regard but their suggestion to solve problems etc has hardly improved my analysis and game.

  4. And I just wanted to add that after game, in My home analysis, I can analyze correctly as i can move pieces and visualize the complete board..which i’m unable to do so in a tournament game because of the above mentioned reason..

  5. If only more people would hear this.

  6. thanks ,,, for giving us guidence But i wanted to ask u that can we analayze our games with u online we ill get more help and our game will be improved

  7. thanks alot for these tips they are most useful , i found that i am a bit weak in positional play ,so would you recommend me a book or a gm player who plays postionally quiet often so that i could learn from him?
    also i am good in tactics and very very aggressive 😀

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