Saturday, February 13, 2010

Memorizing Chess Games

Memorizing chess games is suggested by some chess coaches (see for example "Cool Training Tip, Number Eighteen") as a method for improving the chess muscle. The Guru has decided to give the method a try.

Which games would you suggest?

Morphy vs The Duke will be my warm-up game. Short and Sweet! Some 17 moves of mostly fireworks.

Fellow Chess blogger, James Stripes, recently posted some interesting quotes on memorizing chess games.

GM Rashid Ziyatdinov states the following, according to James, in his book GM-RAM:

"If you know just one of the important classical games, you will be able to become a 1400 level player, know 10 games and you will be 2200 level, know 100 and you will be 2500."


  1. Hmmm, I am not sure at our level (at least, for sure not at my level!) memorization of games is the best way to go or the best use of our little available time...

    this said, I am looking forward to hearing your comments if you get into this!

  2. I think I already have changed my mind. Originally I thought memorizing games were even more silly than memorizing openings. After my mini study (one game) I have come to the conclusion that it can be very good.

    The idea is that I have to try harder to understand what is going on in the game to really have a chance to memorize the moves.

    Furthermore, memorizing a game like Morphy vs The Duke took much-much less time than expected. I played through the game once from an annotated collection ("First Book on Morphy") and it stuck to my brain almost immediately.

    It will be interesting to see if the old brain can recall the moves in, say, one weeks time.

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  4. Interesting statement from Ziyatdinov. Since i can remember and recall one game for sure i must be a 1400 player atleast.

    But i think if we are just going to learn to remember the relatively "easy" games, say 10, the statement does not hold. Because i think i can learn to remember 10 games such as the example i've given you but i doubt i'd be a 2200 player. It's definitely worth a try though.

  5. It is indeed worth a try! I think it makes me try harder to really understand what is going on in the games.

    As a professional statistician, I could not resist the temptation to use GM-RAM’s statement to create a model for predicting the number of games needed to reach any given level. Just a handful of games and I will be on my way to my long term goal of an OTB rating >1750 before I turn half a century old!

  6. I've become really interested in this as well, after trying to just study master games en mass and getting kind of burned out. One resource that looks promising is

    They have selected games of 20 moves or less by some of the greats like Morphy, Alekhine and Fischer. I believe they are annotated as well. Anyway I'd love to hear if you've given this method a try what your further thoughts on it are.

  7. Todd, I have only tried to memorize a few games and I think I like it a lot. I think the memorization attempts helps me to be more focused and I got the impression that I saw the ideas in the games more clearly.

    I will definitely try to memorize 3-5 games.

  8. Memory Feats of Chess Masters

  9. How many games did you learn? Did it help?

    1. Three maybe! It is hard tell since I did a lot of stuff at the time.

  10. I try this "common method for chess improvement" at this moment too. The reason is not that much that i think i would benefit from memorising "methods" used by a master but i "guess" that it might help at calculation.

    When we calculate we need to memorise small sequences of moves and evaluate the position at the end of such lines. The "skill" to memorise games is "related" to the calculation skill.

    I was always doing some "visialisation" training from time to time. Looking for a method to do that at my ipod i found this book for my kindle-app:

    So i was playing Mastergames blindfolded and i thought : now its easy to memorise this games too, which is true!

    So my method is: Play the game blindfolded ( easy with CVT: or the book ), watch some videos about the game or read comments about the game and then memorise the moves which is, at this stage, "easy".