Knowing different tactical and mating motifs makes calculating variations through recognizing (these) patterns much simpler and they gradually become second nature.
First, attempt this puzzle before scrolling down:
Did you manage to solve it? If not, no matter!
The above problem took a GM just 2 seconds to solve after looking at it, and yet it took fritz 5 several minutes to deduce a forced win.
The reason being is that this puzzle has 4 tactical components to it, or 4 attacking patterns, which, once mastered, make the problem much easier and quicker to solve by a human.
1) The basic knight fork - In the puzzle above, this fork was particularly forcing, in that it forced White to capture the knight on g3 and prevent NxQ.
2) The Taimanov Knight Check - This is a common theme for opening up the h-file:
3) The Rook Decoy Sacrifice - Enabling Black to bring their Queen into action with gain of tempo:
4) Mating with the Queen on h2 / h1
Simply knowing these four tactical building blocks, and calculating as to whether it was possible in that unique situation, led to the quick and brilliant 8-move combination above!
I hope you enjoyed that!