Thoughts on Training Calculation

Thoughts on Training Calculation

Jan 18, 2017, 6:13 PM |

For me, calculation is one of the most satisfying aspects in chess. There is no better feeling than calculating lines correctly, executing sound sacrifices or winning an endgame in a precise manner. Calculation is also the department for me, where things get really, really ugly. However, to get the experience of beauty, I guess a price has to be paid. To reach the enjoyable side of calculation - its fruits - it is of course important to try to get good at it. In this post I will share a method of doing so.


Before I continue, I want to say that my calculation training is curiously hugely inspired by one post by Laurent: Calculation training ... Russian style! I have to say that I have virtually no experience of formal, academic training in chess and for that reason, when I started chess more seriously, I kind of got obsessed with the idea of calculating into uncertainty - torturing oneself. Anyway, I truly believe that this kind of torture (once in a while, I am not too masochistic) once in a while will do good things for the chess players thought process. Here are a couple of thoughts, why:


1) In the your normal "White to Win" puzzle, it could be that your mind is calibrated in searching for pretty motives and concrete punches, but in practical chess, it could not be the case. So ... One has to also accustomise oneself to survive the ugly part of chess - the mental torture. The concept of mental toughness, which has been under discussion in our group a couple of times, is also connected to this - I believe training of mental toughness can be also done with these kind of enigmatic puzzles.

2) I think difficult puzzles are good for consolidating the easier tactical motives in the chess players unconsciousness. Take this as an example: There is a chess player who really, really wants to solve a difficult puzzle. The puzzle consists of motives which can be seen as "easier puzzles". Now he might sometimes have trouble with easier puzzles too. How can he solve the difficult puzzle then? To reach the goal, the player has to mentally overcome the problem he has with the easier puzzles. In a way, the player is in a forced situation "to be good with easier motives". And by this process, I think tactical core skills get also reinforced.


Anyway I will share with you guys a puzzle, rated 2020 std on chesstempo, which I had a really hard time with. As in Laurent's post, it is advisable (unless you are a master) to have at least 10 minutes. Now this puzzle has a solution, but I think the practical value of solving it comes by seeing all the lines as precisely as possible.

White to win!

(the diagram is static because it would be against the purpose of this exercise to have one so called mainline)



I have discussed the same topic in a post in my newly found blog on HERE - if anyone is interested in my own thought process in solving the puzzle.


Anyway, good luck! Feel free to post lines in the comments!