How do Grandmasters actually think during a chess game?
Have you noticed, when a Grandmaster or a top player is commenting on their games during a press conference or in any video lesson, usually they show you tons of variations that could happen in various lines? The variations they show you might not relate to the actual thinking process. Some of those variations are their own preparations while some variations they will simply never show you – because it is their secret weapon which they hope to use in their next games.
Even if you have observed a couple of very interesting variations in the games of top players, still it doesn’t exactly clarify how can you find such moves in your own game within a short amount of time.
Next, you may be wondering about this question. It’s hard to calculate long lines, but what about knowing the strategic and tactical motives but not knowing typical plans in different openings; what if you study them and apply them – shouldn’t this clarify everything for you?
From one perspective, of course, it could definitely help. But from another perspective, there are so many things you need to keep in mind while playing – about centres, about planning, open lines, weak squares, tactical motives, calculating and evaluating positions, etc. But the practical question is: how you can do that within just the one or two minutes you have for one move?