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Study Plan for Beginners: Tactics!

  • webmaster
  • | Aug 1, 2011

Target Skill Range: Beginner (Rated 1000-1399)

Tactics, tactics and more tactics! Learn what it takes to win using tactics!


  1. Learn to Recognize Common Tactical Patterns
  2. Identify Tactics in Your Games
  3. Do 20-30 minutes of Tactics Trainer Every Day (or 10-15 Puzzles)
  4. Review the Fundamentals
  5. Complete Tactical Chess Mentor Courses
  6. Take the Quiz!

Like exercise for an athlete, tactics training must be a regular part of a chess player's training. Below you will find steps to improve your tactical vision and calculation skills!

1. Learn to Recognize Common Tactical Patterns

You must be able to see tactics to use them - or defend against them! Therefore, it is critical to get familiar with common tactical motifs.

(Because most tactics are of the fork/double attack, pin, skewer and discovery varieties, it would be wise to master those concepts first.)

2. Identify Tactics in Your Games

Now that you know what tactics look like, it's time to play chess with a new eye for tactics. Your assignment:

  • Continue playing practice games throughout this study plan. Either:

Live Chess » or in your

E-Chess Games »

  • During your games, look for opportunities to use the tactical motifs you learned in Task #1. (Review the article from Task 1 as necessary.)
  • Rather than making equal trades with your opponent, try to use tactics to gain the upper hand.
  • Watch out for your opponent's tactical threats!
  • Every time a tactical pattern you know occurs in a game, name it out loud (well, whisper it to yourself it at least).
  • Aim for at least 50 games, following the advice above on every move; soon enough, seeing tactics will seem very natural.

3. Do 20-30 Minutes of Tactics Trainer Every Day (or 10-15 Puzzles)

In general, we encourage you to work through these plans according to your own schedule. However, tactics are a chess player's way of "staying in shape", and so they should ideally be an everyday thing.

You may even want to do more than 20-30 minutes, but please don't rush the puzzles! It is vital that you take the time to fully understand each puzzle you got wrong. Get started:

Go to Tactics Trainer Now! »

4. Review the Fundamentals of Tactics

Review the fundamental patterns you've learned by seeing them in action!

Read this article by IM Jeremy Silman:

After the Rules, What Should Beginner's Study Next?

Watch these videos:

5. Complete Tactical Chess Mentor Courses

Some of these lessons may seem elementary, but we still recommend that you complete them all (up to lesson #107 in Silman's course). Reviewing "basic" tactical motifs is never a bad idea, and without completing each course from start to finish, some valuable lessons could be lost. Aim for an overall score of at least 80% in each course.

Chess Mentor Course #1 »

Introduction to Tactics -- by IM Jeremy Silman (through lesson 107)

Chess Mentor Course #2 »

Essential Checkmate Patterns -- by FM Thomas Wolski


Test Your New Skills

This final section contains questions a player should know the answer to after completing this study plan.

Question 1: In his article, "After the Rules, What Should a Beginner Player Study Next?", what does IM Silman say is important for a beginner chess player to "note" in his first "complex" example?

Question 2: What tactic is played as an "in-between move" and is often considered a desperado idea?

Question 3: After completing Silman's list of basic tactical themes and mating patterns in his "After the Rules, What Should a Beginner Player Study Next?" article, what does he recommend a beginner chess player do next?

Question 4: What checkmate theme is the climax position of the infamous "Venus Fly Trap" mating net?

Question 5: What tactical idea attacks an enemy piece, or defends one of your own pieces, directly through an enemy pieces gaze?


Answers: 1. "all the possible captures and threats"; 2. Zwischenzug; 3. buy a game collections book of a former great player or World Champion (like Alexander Alekhine); 4. Smothered Mate; 5.  X-Ray Tactic.


  • 3 months ago


    Let me cancel a hard game, why?

  • 3 months ago


    How SilentAssassin? Be4 is checkmate.

  • 6 months ago


    Be4 isn't checkmate

  • 6 months ago


    First position could be solved easier by the 6th move: 6-Be4++

    (very faster)

  • 10 months ago


    cofirazakCS and elonater, you are right, White can mate in 6 but I think my is nice than your mate.

  • 11 months ago


  • 12 months ago


    In the first puzle there's a easiest way to win, Cf6+, Txf6, Dh7+, and the next is check mat

  • 12 months ago


    In arigendler's problem 6.Be4 is mate.

  • 12 months ago


    3rd position 1st move Ne5?? because black plays Ne5

  • 12 months ago


    XXSilent_AssassinXX: it is called legal's checkmate, and taking queen is not the best move there

  • 14 months ago


    arigendler, Nf6+ is mate in 3.

    And Silent_Assassin, Legal's mate won't work when the black knight is on c6, because they'll take the white knight with only a pawn lost. 

  • 15 months ago


    arigendler, Why not 6.Be4# ?

  • 15 months ago


  • 15 months ago


    Wow didn't see that for a while awesome checkmate

  • 16 months ago


    learn the opening!

  • 16 months ago


  • 16 months ago



  • 16 months ago


    ermmm... you lose the exchange??? white has a checkmate here!!!!!

  • 16 months ago


    XX : your solution is wrong. Taking the Queen is not the best move, taking the bishop with the knight loses the exchange which makes it a bad move.

    That's what I thought at first and to be sure I fed it to an engine which agreed with me.

  • 16 months ago


    Can you solve this?

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