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Are the Daily Puzzles Too Easy? Are they wrong?

  • #1

    Dear friends


    “Are the Daily Puzzles Too Easy” (Part 1)  http://www.chess.com/forum/view/general/are-the-daly-puzzles-too-easy had its thousandth viewing on or about 11/11/11, so maybe it’s time for an update.


    The story so far

    - Everybody seems to agree that the puzzles are easiest on Sunday and get harder through the week, with the toughest ones coming on Saturday.

    - Presumably Chess.com do it this way so that players of all standards get a two or three puzzles a week that are about right for their level.

    - So, just because a particular puzzle is too easy (or too hard) for you, does not make it too easy (or too hard) for everyone.

    - Why not take a look at the Tactics Trainer rankings here http://www.chess.com/tactics/players.html where you can see where your own puzzling ability fits in with the rest of the Chess.com membership? This should give you an idea of which days of the week you could expect to find the puzzle more or less suited your capabilities.

    -  If you have a ranking of 2000+ then you should probably not bother with the Sunday / Monday / Tuesday puzzles. Why not go on Tactics Trainer instead, where you are guaranteed to get puzzles that are geared to your level of ability?

    - But please don’t clog up the puzzle forums with pointless comments. Let people make up their own minds about whether a puzzle is easy or difficult or wrong, without your “help”.


    Why does this matter?

    - Because there are people (like me) who like to look through the comments posted on the puzzles (especially those puzzles we haven’t properly understood) to seek clarification from players who have understood them. So it’s annoying and time-consuming to have to go through lots of inane comments in order to find the few posts with thoughtful analysis from those who are prepared to share their superior insights with others.

    - Yes, I know I don’t have the right to tell other people what to do and what not to do. - But I do have the right to give my own point of view.


    Fair warning.

    If you are the kind of person that objects to being given advice or guidance then read no further, because I’m going to suggest some Do’s and Don’t’s for those who like to comment on the daily puzzles. If you are allergic to talk of good manners and etiquette, look away now!

    If you are still reading please note that these are my feelings only and I wouldn’t expect everybody to agree.


    Please don’t post saying the puzzle is too easy or too hard.

    - If you found the puzzle easy or hard that is not necessarily of great interest to the rest of us. In fact I’ll go further: we couldn’t care less!

    - If you are a relatively good player and you found an easy puzzle easy, then that should be no surprise to anybody. If it’s a surprise to you then perhaps you’re not as smart as you think you are.

    - Same if you are a relatively weak player and you found a difficult puzzle difficult.

    - If you expected to find a puzzle easy, found it easy, then felt the need to share that with everybody else, you are showing off and everybody can see that you are showing off. This is not an attractive character trait.

    - I’m sorry to say that there are often comments from people who say that they found the puzzle too easy who then go on to demonstrate, from their further comments, that they have not understood the puzzle at all. This makes them look very foolish.

    - Then there are those who claim to have found a puzzle easy whose rating suggests that they ought to have found it extremely difficult. Obviously they are having a really great day!

    - The only comments with regard to the relative difficulty of a puzzle that maybe (just maybe) might be worth making are if you found a puzzle either easier or harder than you would expect for that day of the week. E.g. “I normally find the Wednesday Puzzle is a good challenge for me but this was far easier than usual, I feel.”


    Please don’t post saying the puzzle is wrong unless you are completely sure.

    - If you think the puzzle is wrong it is almost certainly you that is wrong. In the year or so that I have been doing the puzzles, there hasn’t been one occasion when the puzzle has turned out to be wrong. I seem to remember one occasion when several good players thought that there was an alternative solution and several other good players disagreed. We’ll call that one inconclusive. On every other occasion the puzzle has turned out to be 100% correct.

    - I assume the puzzle setters (who are surely good players themselves) run the puzzles through powerful chess engines to make sure they are right. So sorry, but if the puzzle says mate in 5 and you think you’ve seen a mate in two, think again.


    Please look through the comments so far before posting.

    - You will be amazed how often your suggestion/comment will have been made already, then refuted, then made by someone else, then refuted, and so on.

    - If you think the puzzle is wrong and you feel the need to show everyone how clever you are by pointing this out, you will look a bit foolish if it turns out that you are wrong. You will look even more foolish if you are wrong and your error has already been explained twenty times in previous posts.


    Be humble. Be polite. It costs nothing.

    - After you have looked through the posts so far, and you have run your “solution” through a chess engine (if you have one), and you still feel you want to share your insight with everybody else, why not do so in a humble way? For example “Can anybody suggest why my solution is not correct…?” rather than “This puzzle is dumb, there’s a simple mate in 2.” It makes no difference to me, but probably you’ll make yourself look less of an idiot.

    - If you have suggested that a puzzle is wrong and someone demonstrates to your satisfaction that in fact it is you that are wrong, then it’s just good manners (I suggest) to post thanking that person and apologising to the puzzlemakers for doubting them. If you don’t like to apologise when you’re wrong then perhaps you shouldn’t tell other people they are wrong when they’re not.


    Never say: “This is not a puzzle.”

    - Another favourite. E.g. “This is not a puzzle, it’s just a simple mate in two.”

    - A simple mate in two may be challenging to a lesser player. No doubt some chess.com members are youngsters who haven’t been playing the game long. Let them have their fun too.

    - And sometimes these very straightforward puzzles have a certain elegance, regardless of your standard.


    Never say: The puzzle is not realistic.

    - It doesn’t have to be. It’s a puzzle, not a chess match.

    - A chessboard is not a realistic representation of a modern battlefield, but chess is still a great game.

    - People can make up their own minds as to whether a puzzle is realistic or not and as to whether that disqualifies it as a puzzle.

    - If you only enjoy puzzles that are somehow “realistic”, then use Tactics Trainer where (I understand) all of the puzzles are taken from real games.

    - To conclude, most of us don’t care that you don’t find a particular puzzle realistic. Get over it!


    Think carefully before you say “There is a better solution that takes more moves.”

    - If the puzzle title says “Mate in Five” then you have to find a mate in five or you haven’t found the solution.

    - If you have found a mate in six, well done you, but you haven’t solved the puzzle.

    - If you have found a really elegant mate in six and you want to share it with everybody else, that’s fine but at least make sure that twenty other people haven’t already posted your solution beforehand.


    I could go on but that would leave no room for other people to have their say. If you feel strongly about any of the above or other issues around the daily puzzle please go ahead and say so here. (This is probably a better place to do it than on page 15 of the Daily Puzzle forums. Nobody reads that far!)


    If you feel you can do better than the chess.com puzzle setters then send in some of your puzzles; I understand that they are looking for people to help set puzzles.


    Lastly, a big THANK YOU to the people who set the puzzles and to those who make constructive and intelligent comments on the daily puzzle forums and help people like me to understand a little bit more about this great game and (you never know!) perhaps to become slightly better players.


    I look forward to reading what you all have to say.



  • #2

    I agree with pretty much all of it, but I still think you're probably wasting your effort.  It takes a pretty special kind of pig-headedness to waltz in there with a 1000 rating and say "easy" or "wrong" to a five-move mate with two sacrifices (today's puzzle), but those people aren't going to change just because you ask them nicely.  That's not to say I don't find it irritating.  A puzzle is not easy just because it's possible to go "most obvious check -- right" "most obvious check -- wrong" "next most obvious check -- wrong" "third most obvious check -- right" and so on to the end inside of 30 seconds or so.  If you didn't solve it before you tried the first move, you didn't solve it. And don't get me started on the "this puzzle is so stupid, it's mate in 2!" (except you're trying to move a pinned piece, or capture your way out of a double check, or ...) brigade.  You're just never going to get rid of them with sweet reason -- their very posts indicate that they don't have any to begin with.

  • #3

    RenataCFC - Not completely wasting my effort because at least it made me feel better. As for sweet reason, there wasn't much of that in evidence in the first draft! But I saved it and edited it later when I felt a bit calmer. Strange how irritating it can be. It really shouldn't matter!


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