Blogs

Calculation in Chess Games

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Dear Chess Friends!

What is the most important skill for a chess player? I’m sure most of you will answer that Calculation is. Of course, in order to become a strong club player you also need to learn the openings and to understand the positions you usually get: plans, ideas, enemy threats and typical maneuvers. But if you struggle with calculation, you won’t be able to achieve any success. That’s why, it’s more important to improve your ability to calculate and only then work on other aspects of a chess game.

Calculation also includes the ability to visualize the position and evaluate it after. How can you evaluate the position if don’t clearly see where each piece stays? I’ve already shared an exercise how to train an ability to picture the position in your mind. But you can also improve it by doing tons of puzzles. However, remember to calculate the line in your mind and make the moves only after you believe you did it properly and covered all deviations.

Your ability to calculate may help you even if the position is almost lost. Imagine you played the opening badly, got a worse position and decided to continue with a wrong plan. Your opponent is much better, but if only the position opens and becomes sharper, you get a chance to equalize or even outplay if you are able to find and properly calculate combinations.

Please, look at this position. White played 20.Raf1 with the idea to capture on f5 with the rook and then threaten the f7-pawn. There will be no defense for black. However, black played 21…Nh8 and miscalculated that they lose the f7 pawn anyway.

Calculation is a complicated process and before calculating a line you should understand what to be looking for and how to find candidate moves. During the process of a line calculation, you should define where to stop the analysis and what to take into account to be able to evaluate the final position properly.

This is what I demonstrated on my webinar 93How to Improve Your Calculation Skills?”

There are 3 important things you should know about Calculation:

Typical Mistakes in Calculation

Exercises that you need to perform to improve your ability to calculate

How to implement this ability (in other words “when to start calculating”). This what you may learn by analyzing combinations in GMs’ games!