"1. Take a look at the board with fresh eyes, setting aside, for the moment, my plans, expectations, and concerns about the position that I had on my last move. Ask myself the following questions:
(a) Are any of my pieces undefended or hanging?
(b) On my opponent's next move, can he create a strong pin or exploit an existing one?
(c) Can he fork any of my pieces (pay attention to pawn and N forks as they are easiest to miss).
(d) Does he have any discoveries or double attacks?
(e) Does he have any potential checks and if so, how do I meet them?
2. Having run down that list, what does his last move then threaten?
3. Turning to what I can do on my move, run through the list a-e to determine if I can win material on my move, setup a combination, or strong initiative. Now ask myself, whose threat is stronger? If his is stronger, then find the move that best meets or parries his threat. The ideal move, if I must defend, should also setup a threat of my own or create some other complication.
4. Either way, write down the candidate move(s) and, going through each move once and once only, make it on the analysis board. Pay attention to the resulting new position, and whether attacking, counter-attacking, or defending, keep the the following in mind:
(a) What is his most likely response to my threat, sacrifice, capture, check, or defensive move?
(b) Has my move left a previously defended piece exposed to capture or exposed my K to a check I can't meet?
(c) Has it dangerously weakened my position?
(d) Does he have any surprise resources?
5. If several moves are involved in a sequence, work through each move on the analysis board repeating each of the steps in (4). Work through variations once and once only. Use a tree to keep it organized and terminate each variation with a short, concise and honest evaluation.
6. If no forcing sequences, threats or combinations exist, look for quiet moves aimed at improving my position and or weakening/cramping my opponents. Candidate moves should do one or more of the following:
(a) Increase my hold on the center.
(b) Increase the pressure on whichever sector of the board I am attacking.
(c) Create or increase the pressure on a weakness in my opponents position.
(d) Open lines for my pieces.
(e) Increase the mobility/activity of my less active pieces.
(f) Restrict the mobility of my opponents pieces.
(g) Create strong squares that my pieces can exert pressure from and from where they cannot be easily chased away.
(i) Create (protected) outposts in my opponents camp.
(j) Improve my pawn skeleton with the idea of creating the conditions of the previous goals and/or the (future) creation of a passed pawn.
(k) Keep in my mind that middle games can suddenly become endgames. Were this to happen now, would it be decisive? If it would, and in my favour, work toward exchanging toward the endgame. If it wouldn't, avoid those types of exchanges and either try to improve my endgame prospects or bet the farm on the middle game.
(l) Where an exchange of pieces is offered or possible, ask myself who benefits from the exchange? Which piece is more active? Does either piece play a key role in either attack or defence? If its a N, does it have valuable outposts it can occupy? If a B, is it the "good" or the "bad" B.
II. Play regularly to stay sharp, but not to excess which will only lead to sloppiness. Avoid playing too much blitz.
III. Analyze and annotate RHP games after they're over with the written notes made during the game at hand. Compare your analyzed variations and evaluations with the actual moves made in the game. What did you overlook and why? Were your evaluations accurate? After you've done the initial analysis the old-fashioned way, run the game through an engine to see what you missed and to get an objective comparison of evaluations that you can compare to your own.
IV. After you've completed your analysis, play through at least one Master level game that followed the same line (however far it was followed) as was played in your game. Choose a game where the colour you played either one or drew. Play through it as though you were that player, covering the moves your player made and deciding for yourself what you'd move before seeing what was played. Try to figure why the move played was stronger than the one you'd chosen. If time permits, play through another game in the same line where your colour lost. This time just try to determine why the losing player lost.
V. Analyze the opening phase of your blitz games and the opening phase only. There is no point in spending an hour going over a game you played in 5 minutes. There is a point, however, in following it up until it departed book and determining if the non-book move was bad, why it was bad, or if it was sound enough but just not fashionable. Look a little further into the line with an opening book or database to expand your knowledge of that variation. If time permits, quickly play through (in 5 minutes or so per game) a few Master level games that were played in this line.
This time you're not attempting to find the best moves, or why, but merely to get a feeling for the flow of the game. What kinds of tactics were used? Pawn structures? Which wing of the board did each side concentrate on? How did they occupy or control the center? What kinds of flank pawn moves were made? Did they castle same side or opposite side? Were pawn storms used or mainly piece play? Was a minority attack employed? A mating attack? What was the general plan from each perspective and can you spot any thematic moves or sequences aimed at realizing that plan? Doing this will increase your understanding of the opening and help you avoid situations where you're stuck wondering what to do, or simply chose plans and moves that are at odds with the focus of the opening.
VI. Be graceful under fire. Remember its just a game, you are not a Kasparov, a Tal, or a Capablanca. Its not whether you win or lose that matters, but what you put into the game and what lessons you can take away from it.
VII. Expand your knowledge of the crucial elements of the game tactics, endings, strategy, openings - by drawing on the great chess literary works. And remember that chess is a game that is played with all elements as a whole, and not in isolation, and therefore complete, well annotated games must not be neglected if one is to understand the interplay of the elements.