Study Plan For Advanced Players: Tactics!
Target Skill Range: Advanced (Rated 1800-1999)
- Identify and address your tactical weaknesses.
- Complete a perfect ten.
- Complete the legendary 30-minute drill.
- Develop your visualization skills.
- Complete these tactics-themed lessons.
You are getting pretty good at this whole "chess" thing, but when it comes down to it, tactics are still deciding most of your games. Complete these exercises to push your tactics to the next level and be the one winning in the tactical trenches.
At the Advanced level, you should be familiar with all of the most common tactical patterns. You now need to identify and address patterns that you consistently miss in your games. Review your performance at https://www.chess.com/stats/tactics/YOURUSERNAME. Devote additional practice to patterns with below a 60% success rate.
To practice, go to https://www.chess.com/tactics and select “Custom (Unrated)” for the training mode. Select all themes you are working on. Select a tactical range between your current tactics rating and 200 points higher. IM Danny Rensch shows you how in this video.
At the advanced level, it remains imperative to practice tactics every day. Games are still decided more often than not by tactical errors; however, errors are less often missed one-movers. Instead, they are often miscalculations and inaccuracies two or three moves deep in key lines. Thus, accuracy is becoming more important.
Improve your accuracy by striving to complete a perfect ten once a week. The ten refers to your latest ten puzzles in tactics trainer. Your performance over the last ten puzzles appears in the right sidebar in tactics trainer with a green check for all puzzles solved correctly and a red X for all puzzles missed.
It will not be easy to solve all ten puzzles correctly so set aside plenty of time to attempt to complete them in one sitting. If multiple sittings are necessary, that's ok. For this exercise, ignore the timer. The point is to improve your accuracy—not your speed.
To convert Rensch's 15-minute drill to a 30-minute drill, simply attempt ten problems instead of five. This drill, devised by renowned coach IM Mark Dvoretsky not only pushes your calculation abilities to the limit, it also recreates the tension and pressure of solving these problems in a tournament situation.
You can do this drill individually, but it is recommended to work with a training partner. This adds accountability, and you are both encouraged to push each other and attempt to find excellent problems suitable for each other's level.
Full board visualization is vital to strong tactics. In this exercise, set up an empty board and place a knight on a1 and a queen on d5. Your mission (Should you choose to accept it!) is to move the knight to every square that the queen does not control without ever moving to a square that the queen attacks.
Time yourself completing the exercise and try to improve your time. Your time should improve rapidly at first. Continue to challenge yourself until you feel you cannot significantly improve your time further.
This drill is improves your visualization of knight movements, ranks and files, and diagonals.
Your final task is to work your way through our many "tactically themed" lessons. These courses allow you to challenge yourself to match tactical wits with some of the great tacticians to have played the game. Good luck!
Try to achieve a score of at least 70% in each course.