Best Games v. Own Games

I’ve been thinking about a couple of older posts here, Tim’s Is Age Relevant to Chess Improvement? and my somewhat responsive Chess Master at Any Age? A Reply to Tim Hanke. The part that interests me is the idea in Rolf Wetzell’s book Chess Master…at Any Age to mainly study one’s ‘own games,’ though he includes playing through master games ‘guess the move’ style. I suppose that in a way that makes them one’s ‘own.’

Many a chess author has recommended that the chess improver obtain a volume of the ‘best games’ of the great players, like Botvinnik’s, Alekhine’s or Kasparov’s and play through them. While this method can hardly hurt your game, these days I wonder if it is the best way to spend the majority of one’s limited study time. It seems to me is that ‘best games’ books, as beautiful as they are, have certain flaws. First, they generally (with the exception of Fischer’s My 60 Memorable Games) contain only wins by the player; there’s not a draw in sight. Second, they universally exclude games where the opponent blundered or played weakly. After all, they’re Best! Third they often (though not always) are annotated to show the Great One in a great light; errors of the winner are not always pointed out.

I am emphatically not here to tell you that you shouldn’t spend time with these classic books, games and authors. I am just wondering what the proper percentage of effort should be for it, versus tearing apart your own tournament games. And I wonder if it might be best to obtain a grandmaster tournament book and study ALL of the games, decisive and drawn, great and blunderful.

Not ‘guessing the move’ but thinking hard, as if the game meant something, and playing with positions, exploring alternatives. That method is undoubtedly the most important aspect, rather than which games you are using.

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