Study Plan For Intermediate Players: Tactics!

Study Plan For Intermediate Players: Tactics!

Sep 15, 2011, 12:00 AM |
18 | Help

Target Skill Range: Intermediate (Rated 1400-1799)

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


  1. Memorize every fundamental tactical pattern of chess.
  2. Do tactics, tactics, and more tactics.
  3. Develop "tactical discipline" in your games.
  4. Solidify your tactics with practical review.
  5. Complete these tactics-themed lesson.
  6. Take the quiz!

Solving tactics every day, and pushing your own "limits," is extremely important. Solve the tasks in this study plan and take your tactical vision and calculation skills to the next level! 

1. Memorize every fundamental tactical pattern of chess.

Taking the first assignment from the Study Plan for Beginners even further, revisit the article below, but this time take your work much further: Memorize, without a doubt, every tactical pattern and theme listed in the article:

This task is not simply review! To truly move forward to the harder tasks with confidence, you must ensure that no tactic remains outside of your immediate recognition, with no more than a few seconds needed to identify which tactical theme is being executed in a given puzzle.

    2. Do tactics, tactics, and more tactics.

    As an intermediate or "beginning tournament player," you are at the level where tactics, by themselves, are going to account for for 80-85% of your results, with very few battles being decided because of opening preparation or long-term strategical plans. 

    Essentially, your ability to recognize and execute tactics—while striving to prevent your opponent from doing the same—is the most important factor in your chess growth right now. It's time to work harder!

    In this task you will double (from our recommendation in the Beginner Plan) your tactical training, doing 30 minutes to 1 hour (20-30 tactical puzzles) every day, or 3-5 hours (150-210 tactics) a week. Go for it!

    3. Develop "tactical discipline" in your games.

    Every chess game, regardless of level, is ultimately decided by a tactic of some kind. Start playing your games with a "new eye" for all the possible tactics, and then apply the following steps during the "post-game analysis" of your own chess matches for at least 100 game reviews:

    • First, using your new knowledge of defense and prophylactic thinking from our Strategy Study Plan, as well as your "re-affirmed" knowledge of all the tactical patterns in chess from Task #1, play your 100 games with a sharp eye for tactical threats on both sides of the board;
    • After each game, write down what tactic ultimately decided the game;
    • Establish what could have been done (by you or your opponent) to prevent this tactic.

    Get started with your new discipline for recognizing tactics from your own practice!


    4. Solidify your tactics with practical review.

    Before moving onto your final, very difficult task of working through our Mentor Courses, take some time to solidify your tactics by reading a few articles and watching some videos.

    Read these Articles:

    Watch these Videos:

      5. Complete these tactics-themed lesson.

      Your final, and perhaps most difficult task, will be to work your way through ten of our many "tactically themed" lessons. Each course is appropriate for the intermediate level chess player, and has been hand-picked to support your improvement. Each one will help you build a solid foundation of tactical strength and vision.

      Again, shoot for a score of at least 70% in each course. Good luck!

      Do Silman's course below, but skip lessons 10, 17, 19, 27, 28, 31, 33, 52, 55, 57, 58, 60, 61, 69 and 77.

      Do the "Step Up in Tactics" course below, but skip lessons 3, 17, 47, 50, 52 and 51.

      Step Up In Tactics by IM Marc Leski, FM Thomas Wolski, NM Mike Arne

      Do Tangborn's course below, but only up to lesson 20.

      Combinations of Mikhail Tal by IM Eric Tangborn

      Do Tangborn's course below, but only up to lesson 18.

      Combinations of Alexander Alekhine by IM Eric Tangborn


      Test your new skills.

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

      Question 1: What tactic is executed at the climax of the exchange sacrifice example from the Definitions and Examples article?

      Question 2: What does IM Pruess suggest the "three girls watching this video" should do in his Unusual Wizardry video lecture?

      Question 3: What brilliant move does Tal play against Mikhail Botvinnik in lesson 21 of IM Tangborn's lesson?

      Question 4: What move does GM Shankland say is "quite comical" at around the 11:30 minute mark of his Using Computers video lecture?

      Question 5: In lesson 16 of his "Intermediate Tactics" lesson, to what square does IM Silman suggest White "attract" Black's king to in order to pin the Knight on f6?


      Answers: 1. "the fork/double attack"; 2. "bring their boyfriends over"; 3. Nd7+; 4. Nxb7 by white; 5.  g7.

      More from News
      2018 Chess Tournaments Results

      2018 Chess Tournaments Results

      Chess Tournaments Calendar

      Chess Tournaments Calendar