Analyzing and studying chess master games can be the most rewarding way to study chess. Everyone knows to learn from their mistakes but it would be even better to learn from others' mistakes! Don't waste time through trial and error yourself, learn from trial and error of others!
To start, there are many ways to study master games, each with a different purpose. In addition, there are numerous ways and resources to find these games, which I have laid out in this post.
Without further ado, let's get into where you can find the master games.
First of all, find games that are annotated, as this will give you much more instruction and guide. Analyzing master games without the annotations will make your life difficult and you are guaranteed to miss some of the ideas and patterns played in the game.
ChessBase has millions of games stored. With an endless supply of master games, you could easily use just ChessBase and find great games to analyze.
When in ChessBase, click on the Mega Database and go to the tab "Annotator". By using this method, you are guaranteed to find annotated games. Just make sure they are in English! A couple of annotators I like are Victor Mikhalevski and Dorian Rogozenco.
Informant is another excellent resource for finding well-annotated master games. In addition to the games themselves, Informant includes articles by high-level GM's that are also of value. Chess Informant may also help guide you through your study of the games. Exercises are also added to the end of each issue.
Engines are optional if the analysis is good; otherwise, you wouldn't need an engine. Nevertheless, a chess engine can help you check your own moves (discussed below) but also the players' moves. Engines are also good at adding extra ideas you may have not seen.
Equipped with the resources above, you are more than ready to begin the analysis of the games. There are multiple ways to study master games.
When studying master games (either passively or actively) take note of ideas and patterns that are happening. This will be very easy if the annotations are well done.
For example, if the game goes into an opening you play, study the patterns, ideas, and variations that go with it. Actively look at what the masters are doing and how they are playing the opening. Know why they played a certain move.
Furthermore, actively look for patterns implemented by both players. These could be strategical ideas implemented due to a certain pawn structure or piece placement. It could be a certain tactical pattern. Analyze each player's goal and determine why it was their goal.
Finding these ideas and reasons can be difficult, which is why you need to find well-annotated games.
Studying passively is actually quite easy. Just go through the game move by move and analyze all of the information there. Read all of the annotations and sub-variations. But still, try to look for patterns and ideas examined above.
Remember to not fly through the game. The longer you take, the more value you will get.
This is the same as studying passively except you add your own moves and thoughts into the game. When out of opening theory, start analyzing without the annotations. Take time to analyze the position for yourself and make a move that you would play if the game were yours.
Once you have found a move you believe in, check it with what the masters played, the annotations, and maybe the engine as well. Doing this will give you an excellent feel for the position and game. Also, patterns will be memorized and your intuition will grow stronger.
Repeat this process of checking your moves with the masters as many times as you like.
I have listed several master games below courtesy of Victor Mikhalevski and Dorian Rogozenco.
Master games can be extremely beneficial to anyone's chess so start studying!
I am offering chess lessons to anyone who is interested (and below my skill level of course!).
Have suggestions for other blogs? Post in comments and share!