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I greatly enjoy Tactics Trainer. It's fun, but the process feels pretty random, with very little repetition of patterns, in order for them to stick in my brain forever. I doubt that I will progress that much in rating by doing 25 puzzles a day, while doing nothing else to improve tactically.
Has anyone here improved significantly in your Tactics Trainer rating, like going from 1200 to 1800 by ONLY doing Tactics Trainer?
About a year ago, someone posted something like this: to improve at tactics, complete one book on tactics puzzles slowly, then go through the book faster, and then a third time even faster, until those patterns become known, burned deep into the brain. Then use Tactics Trainer, but only as a test, to see if and how much your tactics rating improved. Rinse and repeat, i.e., go through a different tactics puzzle book. So, this one member did not use Tactics Trainer to learn tactics, but only to check his progress. What do you think about that?
Now, on to my topic!
Is there a super duper, amazingly effective, graded chess tactics course, covering absolutely every type of tactic, from Attacking Castled King (59%) to Zwischenzug (36%) in one series of books, or one software program?
Growing up a musician, I am accustomed to graded method books, i.e., Mel Bay, Guitar Book 1, Book 2, Book 3, etc.
With these graded music method books, I not only had a highly systematized structure for learning, but I could easily see my progress by simply looking back to book 1, after completing book 2.
Is there a graded course on tactics, in either book or software? I have yet to see tactics books in a long series, from level 1 to level 10, for example.
When I had a Diamond membership, I remember a graded tactics course in Chess Mentor (beginner and intermediate), but I don't remember how comprehensive or deep it went. Has anyone finished every single tactics course in Chess Mentor, and what level (rating wise) did it go to ?
Didn't the Russians have a highly developed/structured series of courses on chess, or maybe even chess schools, covering everything from A to Z, getting students from beginner to master? Where is THAT curriculum? Would I need to learn Russian?
I would recommend two different resources for you.
The first is the "Steps" program by Cor van Wijgerden, the second is the "Build, Boost, Evolve" series by Yusupov.
While neither is specifically a tactics program, they both include tactics in a graded lesson program that cover all aspects of chess.
Convekta's CT-Art (I have version 4.0) is graded in the way you seek. You can do tactics by theme (e.g., forks, pins, etc.) or by difficulty (level 10 of any theme, then level 20, etc.). Some of the tactics are very difficult though. I haven't made it past level 50 yet, and they go up to 90 in steps of 10, but the initial levels are easy, though still worthwhile to get the patterns really ingrained in your memory.
I have the same criticism of tactics trainer as the OP. There are a lot of good puzzles, but they are too random to get the patterns ingraned. That CT-Art program sounds like it might be worth investigating.
I think your approach is good. There are many resources available :
- Cor's Step method isn't comprehensive but very progressive
- the recent 'Understand chess tactics' book (QC)
- Heisman's back to basics Tactics
- Seïrawan's winning chess tactics (not comprehensive but good)
- Elementary chess combinations and CT-Art (ChessOK)
... and the very best overall IMO is ChessTempo with customized SRS sets (subscription required)
This is funny, because I recently discussed this topic with a chess friend of mine, who also happened to be a musician, and he told me exactly what you did about the scales method
Yes. I have been feeling the same way as your chess friend. Ever since age 7, all I have known for learning a skill (playing musical instruments) is going through graded method books. I am surprised that there are not as many graded chess books as there are graded method books for musical instruments. There are hundreds, no, thousands of music method books!
I just did a few tactics using "Chess Tactics for Beginners" by Convekta Software. At first I didn't like it because I had to log out as user and log back on as administrator. A weird glitch. I will mess around with this software a bit more before thinking of getting any other Convekta software.
I did have a premium membership to Chess Tempo, so that I could have custom problem sets. Something to investigate again in the future. Thanks for the ideas.
I think the problem with chess tempo is that the "grade" is based on how well the players solve the problem, not on the pedagogical value of the students struggling with the problem at that level. I know in music, for example, there are plenty of things that I was taught that were a struggle, but which needed to be learned first before moving on to something else. Even if the something else was in many ways simplier. But in the US, anway, there really isn't much in the way of a market for pedagogically sound and tested materials. Everyone wants the book that promises them that they can play like a GM, no one wants the book that promises them that they can make a slight incremental improvement and play like a 1300 instead of a 1200.
"Has anyone here improved significantly in your Tactics Trainer rating, like going from 1200 to 1800 by ONLY doing Tactics Trainer? "
TT is pretty much my only study of tactics.
I think the problem with chess tempo is that the "grade" is based on how well the players solve the problem, not on the pedagogical value of the students struggling with the problem at that level. (snip)
It's true ChessTempo doesn't highlight 'pedagogical problems'. But it has the advantage of evaluating their difficulty in a very objective way, and the sheer # of exercises guarantees that you will be exposed to all common patterns 'by construction'.
Besides, the customization options are really great : you can select a rating range, the tactical motif you want to study and you can even decide which variable will affect the interval between automatic repetitions (for example your solving time).
Doing TT will improve your tactics, but you need to study other areas as well. I too, am a musician, (pianist) and went through different levels of different courses, and with the help of a teacher, greatly improved. Another thing is math. After going through progressive books (I am homeschooled BTW), I almost HAD to improve. So my guess is: Get books for your rating, play a lot, and get a coach. I hope to be getting one soon.
Very interesting discussion going on here. I've been playing chess for over 30 years but my real chess education began when I joined chess.com. I'm amazed at all the things I've been learning here about chess, things that I was completely clueless about for most of my life.
The problem is that I've been like a starving man walking into a vast feast with every kind of food possible sitting on a vast table. Where do I start? Where do I go after that? With my very limited time resources I can only spend an hour or two per day on chess. It is difficult to figure out how to use this time wisely.
I am aware that to improve I need to have a well balanced diet of study, one that introduces bits of knowledge about all areas of chess, in an order going from basic to advanced. Learning unevenly (for example, becomming an expert on openings while neglecting tactics, strategy, and endgames) does little to improve performance in actual games.
Unfortunately, most chess books focus narrowly on specific topics. Most of the generalized texts available are written for beginners. As noted in other posts, there seems to be very little available written specifically to help players advance their all their skills evenly and steadily once they are past the beginner level.
I think it would be a big hit if someone could tie these vast resources together and tell chess students "Start with this video. Then take this chess mentor lesson. Then follow this with this video, this course, read some chapters in this book, etc ., and also spend 1/2 hour per day in tactics trainer, and try to play several actual games per day"
Obviously, this is the kind of thing that we would expect to get from professional coaching, but most of us can't afford to hire a professional.
I offer this as a service, with follow-up during 6 months
The answer also very much depends on what you're looking for in chess (how do you honestly want to balance improvement and fun)
I forget how much time I spent on Chess Tempo. As hicetnunc mentioned, it has a lot to offer. With that said, there is something special about the Tactics Trainer interface and the crunch of the captured pieces that makes me want to come back for more. Memberships to both sights is what I had in the past, and something to thionk about after the expense of Christmas!
Rating: 1529.9 (RD: 278.76) (Best Active Rating: 1551 Worst Active Rating: 829)Active Rank: Not Active/12511 (Best Active: 2018 Worst Active: 6045)Problems Done: 2162 (Correct: 1628 Failed: 534)Percentage correct: 75.30%
Rating: 1161 (RD: 44.54) (Best Active Rating: 1368 Worst Active Rating: 1101)Active Rank: 1105/1121 (Better than: 1.43% Best Active: 802 Worst Active: 1132)Problems Done: 665 (Correct: 567 Failed: 98)Percentage correct: 85.26%
Rating: 1454.7 (RD: 359.05)Active Rank: Not Active/807Problems Done: 35 (Correct: 27 Failed: 8)Percentage correct: 77.14%
Rating: 1500 (RD: 350)Active Rank: Not Active/346Problems Done: 0Percentage correct: n/a
A 1000 point improvement in less than one year? How did you do that?!
I like Chessimo a lot. If you own an iPad or an iPhone, the app costs only $9 or so. Between ChessTempo, Tactics Trainer, Chess Mentor and Chessimo, the last is the one that brought me the most visible results (Chess Mentor is a close second).
The method is harsh though. Chessimo relies on a repetition philosophy. There are 4000+ positions for you to solve and you have to go through each of them 6 times (you do the math). I am still on my first steps, but I like their idea that you must know some basic combinations by heart, not calculate them. It is the first time in which I felt a qualitative difference on my hability to see combinations.
The method is harsh though. Chessimo relies on a repetition philosophy. There are 4000+ positions for you to solve and you have to go through each of them 6 times (you do the math). I am still on my first steps, but I like their idea that you must know some basic combinations by hearts, not calculate them. It is the first time in which I felt a qualitative difference on my hability to see combinations.
The problem with this theory is that chess positions almost never duplicate exactly. So if you see something that looks like a combination you have memorized, maybe there's a hidden in-between move that was not there in the memorized position that can sour your sweet dreams.
The point is, however, that you can't play what you don't see. And while chess positions never duplicate exactly, chess ideas do duplicate exactly all the time. Chessimo (a product I use and think well of) does show the same idea in multiple contexts with the express purpose of showing the user what conditions make an idea viable.
Hicetnunc is an excellent teacher, contributing to several of my topics, while offering helpful tips.
I Like Chessimo HD for iPad. But the main tool I use for tactics training is chess.com's Tactics Trainer. This and the option to keep a record of all my games are the main reasons for paying for a premium membership.
So far I have spent 114 hours using Tactics Trainer during 6 or 7 months. I started at 1700 and I'm now a little bit above 2000. For a few days, I passed the 2100 mark.
There is an article with a title similar to "400 points in 400 days" where a guy explains his plan to improve his ELO based solely in tactical training.