Monday, August 08, 2005

Game Analysis at Caissa's Confabulations

Quandoman (over at Caissa's Confabulations) has generously provided extensive commentary on one of my games (link here). It is a win I was pretty happy with against a player rated about 200 points higher than me, but not surprisingly Quandoman has found a lot of room for improvement in both my and my opponent's play. It is useful because it gives me a sense for how I should be doing post-mortem on my games. I usually do a really quick and dirty post-mortem, lazily skimming through the game to find my mistake, but not really thinking through why it was a mistake and what I should have done instead. Also, note I used the singular "mistake" rather than plural: I only do it for my losses and typically just try to find what I take to be the one move in which I blew the game. In other words, I do very superficial post-mortem. This is better than nothing, I am sure, but I believe I need to start taking the post-game show more seriously. I am printing out Quandoman's analysis now to work through it, and will put meta-comments on his site at the link above later tonight...


Blogger Jim said...

I see. . .so you've gone over to the enemy? [grin]

Just kidding. . .Quando seems like a nice enough guy and after I read his refutation to DG I understand his point. . .although I still disagree with him on many major points - but not enough to care about starting a flame war - heck, that's why I beat people up in karate and kendo classes - so I don't have to do it with words on the internet! [Very Big Grin]

Congratulations on the win! Good job.

8/08/2005 02:13:00 PM  
Blogger Qaundoman said...

Just remember, folks, I'm no expert (or even A-player).

8/08/2005 06:21:00 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

Qaundo -

Well, just remember that DG is our homeboy. [grin]

Mess with him and you'll have a bunch of Knights tilting at you. . .[bigger grin - just kidding].

Anyway, an expert is just former drip, so no worries!

8/08/2005 10:24:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Jim: I hope if I am ever cornered in a back alley, I can count on you to come to my rescue.

8/09/2005 10:11:00 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

Devil Knight -

No problem - even for a Dukie! Of course, I'll expect the obligatory "Carolina Rules the Pools and Rocks the Docks" shouted thrice daily thereafter. . .[grin]

8/09/2005 03:26:00 PM  
Blogger Don Q. said...

Think I'll just take the ass kicking then

8/09/2005 04:49:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Hee hee. Now we know what it takes to bring Don out of the woodwork :P

8/09/2005 05:52:00 PM  
Blogger Nezha said...

Blue Devil:

I read the analysis of the game. Some of them are helpful, and though I have reservation on some of them, I will not voice them here. Rather, if I maybe allowed to say so - I recommend you take the annotations with a grain of salt. Think for yourself if the analysis is good, then decide if it is. This goes not only for his analysis, but for any analysis of any games. Only in this way will you not develop a too rigid and dogmatic approach to chess. Ive fallen for the same trap once. Not do this, not do that.. blah3x.. Fortunately I saw met Nezhmetdinov and was liberated from the tyranny such rules.

Just my two cents.

8/10/2005 06:08:00 AM  
Blogger Qaundoman said...

Nezha, then please voice your reservations on my post. The whole point of it was so we could learn; if you have reservations, then please share with all.

8/10/2005 06:20:00 AM  
Blogger Qaundoman said...

Nezha, I read a bit more closely your above comment and feel compelled to add my two cents. My two cents concerns the following:

You said: " I recommend you take the annotations with a grain of salt. Think for yourself if the analysis is good, then decide if it is. This goes not only for his analysis, but for any analysis of any games."

Now, forgetting about my analysis (which indeed should be taken as a grain of salt), and focusing on your claim that such an attitude should govern one's approach to any game (with annotations). First, it is a triviality that one should think for themselves. Obviously one needs to think for themselves,nobody else can do my thinking for me when I'm looking at an annotated game. So, you must mean something else by this. I think you mean something like the following: Just because some GM says X,Y,Z about the game, doesn't mean you should think it is X,Y,Z. Now, I think this is correct when you are a master or stronger, but are you suggesting that a 1000 rated player take what, say, Alekhine says with a grain of salt. Maybe I'm missing your point, but you seem to be implying that a 1000 rated player's opinion is just as good as the opinion of one of the greatest chess geniuses to ever live. The reason I read the analysis of a guy like Alekhine is precisely because his opinion is far superior to mine--to take his opinion with a grain of salt is to imply that my opinion has equal weight. Nonsense. I know practically nothing, he knows practically everything--even taking Alekhine's wrong advice will, I'm sure, still get someone to master level.

Initially, noviates in any field advance must faster when they don't think they know as much as the teachers, or in this case, the Grandmasters.

So again, what reason does a guy like me have to take Kasparov's opinion with a grain of salt? I'm a crappy club player, he's the strongest chess player in the world--should I listen to my own opinion, or his? Whose do you think is the more expansive, the more informative, the more accurate, the more creative, and so forth? When I read a Kasparov book and he tells me that I "should castle soon, and preferably on the kingside" and "not bring my queen out too early" this is not up for debate--I'm a club player not a super-GM! When we get stronger, we come to realize that such principles are just that--principles that have their exceptions. But you don't tell 1000 rated players all the exceptions, they'll just get more confused. So, it's uncler to me what this 'grain of salt' notion is driving at. For a novice, thinking for themselves is just the humility to accept what the Grandmasters say. No 1000 rated player is in a position to disagree with a GM, that's like a third grader telling a PhD professor that his notions are mistaken. Like I said, it's both unclear to me and I may have missed your point. So, feel free to comment on my blog if you wish and clear up my confusions.

You also claim that having a 'grain of salt' attitude will prevent dogmatism and rigidity in one's approach to chess. But it seems to me that the 'grain of salt' attitude is just as suceptible to dogmatism and rigidity, if one fails to defer to the opinions of those who are greater than oneself. I think the trap is to assume that all opinions are equal--they clearly are not. Mine are nothing compared to a master. I studied martial arts for many years, and had I initially taken what my masters had said with a grain of salt, I'd have gotten nowhere. The same holds for chess.

8/10/2005 07:04:00 AM  
Blogger Jim said...


I think perhaps you may have missed this part of Nez's statement: Think for yourself if the analysis is good, then decide if it is.

Seems prima facie that Nez is saying that if one determines the analysis is good, then accept it - elsewise, don't. I don't know of any chess player who would reject Alekhine's analysis. . .and knowing Nez I don't think he would devalue an Alekhine analysis to someone of, say, my level! [grin]

Mutatis mutandis, vis a vis this point, I actually think you and Nez probably agree with each other.

8/10/2005 03:53:00 PM  
Blogger DreadPirateJosh said...

I think nezha made the point of saying, "not only for his analysis, but for..." because he didn't want to come off as personally aggresive to you. Which backfired because it caused you to write two pages about how one should take a GM's analysis over a 1300 players analysis...
After you deleted DGs last comment on your blog I'm hesitant to say even this about you for fear of blogger retribution but...
I am a horrible player but even I thought some of your advice came off as dogmatic. And, just to be funny, it almost sounded like you wanted to write: 1. e4 e5!!
(because you comment: "This is an excellent move..." you gotta admit, thats pretty darn funny... e5!!)
(specific examples of dogmatic-ness: Nc6 is fine, no paragraph comment is really necessary, (maybe a sentence or two about personal opening preference), and in a lot of circumstances a pin does not need to be broken right away).
Fire at will.

8/10/2005 04:30:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Quandoman, you will be a successful professional philosopher as it seems your writings invite controversy.

Jim, "mutatis mutandis"?! I haven't heard that since philosophy grad school!

8/10/2005 05:42:00 PM  
Blogger Nezha said...

Analysis with a grain of salt

Taking something with a grain of salt for me doesnt mean you discard it out of hand. Like in a "Hah! that isnt true, just because I say it is" sort of way. Not like that, but it is also NOT blindly following what others have told you. Why? because, I dont know how other people learns stuff but for me, I learn more by questioning things rather than passively saying "yeah, yeah! nay, nay!" to something.

Seirawan once said that "My System" influenced him like no other, not because of the knowledge it imparted, but because it made him think about chess. This the point. When you start questioning things, you start verying its correctness. This is the scientific method right? First a hyphothesis, then comes verification. Then comes knowledge.

Take our "topic" here - the analysis of games. YES, I meant suspending belief first when you read annotations. You need to verify then believe.

BUT - When you verify something, it doesnt mean compare a GM's analysis to your own. Why would someone do that? It is illogical. The logical thing to do, and what I thought was clear - is to compare the analysis of different GM's and see a different perspective of the situation. A perspective of someone equally as strong as the original annotator, i.e. The way Capablanca sees a position compared to how an Alekhine would do it. Maybe you think Alekhine's version is better, maybe Capablanca's. But the differing ideas would give you a clearer indication of the true state of things. If Kasparov says do this, then of course it is up for debate. But not with you, preferably with kramnik. Or do all GM's exhibit the same opinion? Are all this talk about chess "styles" about nothing?

I think, a little independent research and reflection is way better than taking something as unbreakable truths, just because someone told you so. If you dont believe me, then I have this nice little investment scheme that will earn us oodles of money. Just give me your credit card number, and I will do the rest.. trust me..

> But you don't tell 1000 rated players all the exceptions, they'll just get more confused

Is this necessarily the case? Why do teachers assume this mentality? Maybe for kids, but for a fully grown adult? They are 1000 players, not total retards. I think a little more respect for the intelligence of other players is in order. I mean, is chess harder than advanced calculus? or learning a new language? I know a couple of people who eat differential equations for lunch. I certainly wont presume to tell them that they will just get confused if I try to teach them chess concepts. (Not that they want to learn chess, unfortunately)

I used to think this habit of shielding somebody from the truth - is practiced only by politicians and overprotective parents. It is prevalent in the chess world too it seems.

btw: I didnt want to voice my reservations in appreciation of what you did for BlueDevil because I know how hard it is to annotate a game. In relation of this, the only way I will criticise something, is if I have an alternative remedy ready, and since I dont, criticizing needlessly just doesnt feel right.

8/11/2005 12:09:00 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

Devil Knight,

Wel, considering I was talking to a philosphical geek gaggle, I thought it might be appreciated. . .or not.[grin]

8/11/2005 11:32:00 AM  

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