What Chess Skills are in your Bag? Part II

Mar 10, 2009, 3:03 PM |

We have talked briefly about the "draw" skill.  It is certainly one of those skills that most GM/IM/SM possess.

The next skill we will talk about is the skill of "tactics."  This is an easy skill to talk about since it is the one that gets most male chess players interested in the game.

First let's discuss the bad side of tactics. Chess is not all grenades and fireworks, but some people just can't get away from the noise makers.  Players who play just for tactics tend to be impatient players.  They will make mistakes trying to create sensationalism in closed positions.

I confess to learning chess this way. I grew up in chess looking for sacrifices and for ways to give my queen away for exciting positions.

The good side of the tactical tool is that it can save you often.  I read somewhere that the amateur player can make it to the master level just on tactics alone.

Tactics go hand in hand with opening preparation.  However, you can play one without the other, but not with the optimum success rate.  Tactics will help you recover from bad openings and also help you punish your opponent when they make mistakes in the opening.

Tactics are also prevalent in the end game.  When things seem to calm down and you have just pawns and maybe a minor piece, tactics can still occur.

Every player should make tactics training a part of their regular preparation.  The tactics trainer here on chess.com as well as trainers on other website are a must for the serious player.  One trick for finding tactics in a position is by looking for unusual responses to your opponents moves.

For those players who prefer the old fashioned books, I recommend two.  One is called 300 Essential Positions by Lev Alburt. I believe this book is now in its 2nd edition.  The other book for advance players is the Anthology of Chess Combinations.  I know several International Masters who train with this book on a regular basis.

Tactical training might be the magic bullet of chess for the lazy player.  Tactics will probably get you past most of your neighborhood players, school peers and local club players. However, tactics alone will not make you a national competitor.

There have been more books written on tactical play than any other subject within chess.  Minatures, swindles, traps and pitfalls all have been well talked about.  Tactics are the glue of chess.

In Part III we will talk about "tactics'" little brother.   Take a look a the tactics trainer here and see if you can advance your rating about 1800.