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Probably a stupid question about chess puzzles

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GuyClapperton
OK, hi all, I'm one of those annoying people who enjoyed The Queen's Gambit, joined chess.com and after 43 years or more not playing I'm hooked (and about as good as a slow 13 year old but never mind). I'm using the puzzles section on here to try to sharpen some of my skills but I'm a little bewildered. I'd assumed the puzzles were designed so you can get to checkmate but they don't all seem to be - some lead to a capture instead. So my question is: what am I actually supposed to be looking for in a chess puzzle? Thanks!
Alramech
GuyClapperton wrote:
OK, hi all, I'm one of those annoying people who enjoyed The Queen's Gambit, joined chess.com and after 43 years or more not playing I'm hooked (and about as good as a slow 13 year old but never mind). I'm using the puzzles section on here to try to sharpen some of my skills but I'm a little bewildered. I'd assumed the puzzles were designed so you can get to checkmate but they don't all seem to be - some lead to a capture instead. So my question is: what am I actually supposed to be looking for in a chess puzzle? Thanks!

The "point" of a puzzle is generally one of the following:

  • Checkmate (or checkmating attack)
  • Winning decisive material (e.g. winning a bishop, knight, rook, or queen) - this could be done via capture and/or through pawn promotion

Some more rare puzzles may do one of the following:

  • Finding the only sequence which secures a draw (the rest of the moves lose)
  • Defending a tricky attack

Remember that winning a bishop, knight, rook, or queen in these puzzles is decisive.  You may not have delivered checkmate in the puzzle, but now you have secured a winning position.

Hope this helps! happy.png

GuyClapperton

That helps a very great deal. Thank you!

RussBell

browse...

https://www.chess.com/blog/RussBell

laurengoodkindchess

Hi! My name is Lauren Goodkind and I’m a respected  chess coach and chess YouTuber based in California: 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCP5SPSG_sWSYPjqJYMNwL_Q

 

It depends what the puzzle is.  If the chess puzzle is a checkmate puzzle, then look for a checkmate! 

If there's no objective, then find a winning move to win material.  Depending on the puzzle, you have to think one, two, or more moves ahead.  

  I hope that this helps.  

IMKeto

How to solve chess tactics.

Chess Tactics are probably the most important part of the game you can work on. 

Chess Tactics are broken down into different “motifs” with the most common ones being:

  1. Forks (Double-attacks)

A fork, or double-attack, occurs when your move makes 2 or more threats at the same time. A fork or double-attack is a powerful tactical idea because it’s hard (or sometimes impossible) for your opponent to defend against multiple threats at the same time.

  1. Pins

The power of a pin lies in the fact that the pinned piece essentially can’t move since doing so would expose another, more valuable, target. The point is that you can often find a way to take advantage of the immobilized (pinned) piece.

  1. Removing the Defender

When a piece or important square is defended, then that piece or square can become vulnerable once you remove its defender. This is usually done by a trade, threat or sacrifice that removes the defending piece.

  1. Discovered Attacks

A discovered attack occurs when you move a piece away that reveals a strong threat from a piece that was behind it. The power of this idea lies in the fact that you can also use the moving piece to make a strong threat of its own.

  1. Tempo-moves

A tempo move is a move that gains time by making a threat that forces your opponent to defend passively. This kind of move is particularly useful if you can use the tempo to achieve a tactical (or even strategic) advantage.

 

How do you find tactics?

Whenever you are doing tactics, you will notice that the side with the tactical shot will generally always have one or more of the following advantages:

  1. Advantage in space.
  2. Advantage in material.
  3. Advantage in piece activity.
  4. Weaknesses in the opponent’s position. Such as weakened pawn structure (Isolated pawn, backward pawn, weak square(s)).

 

 

How do you calculate tactics?

Look for Forcing Moves:

Checks

Captures

Threats

You look for these 3 things in the order given. 

Checks are the most forcing, as the King is being threatened.

Captures are next, as you are threatening to win material.

Threats are last, since they are the least forcing of the three.

Forcing Moves are easier to calculate out, as they are forced lines of continuation.

 

Start by looking for any Checks you may have.  Calculate them out as far as you can. 

Then calculate out any Captures you may have.  Calculate them out as far as you can.

Then calculate out any Threats you may have.  Calculate them out as far as you can.

Once you have found the Forcing Move you think is correct.  Play it!  Right or wrong, go with what you think is the correct move.

After each tactic, whether you got it right or wrong.  Make sure you understand the tactical motif, and why you had the correct, or incorrect answer.

AntiMustard

To a beginner I'd recommend doing puzzles by a theme. E.g. forks, pins, discovered attacks, etc. Chess.com puzzles are not well sorted (as far as I understand the sorting of puzzles into themes is done by crowdsourcing, chess.com users who solve puzzles assign themes to them and that's not very reliable), but there are some tactics lessons on this site that are pretty good at teaching various tactical motives. I'd start with those.

GuyClapperton

This is all terrific. Thanks everyone.

nklristic

In the simplest of terms, you are looking for the best move.

Sometimes it is a checkmate, but in many cases it is something other than that. My advice is to always count the material first. Because perhaps you will have a chance to capture a queen but that might be a bad move because it leaves you with less material. In general the solution should leave you ahead in 99.9% of the time (except when you need to find some perpetual check to draw the game because there is nothing better to do than that).

Jenium

Like in a real game, you have to seach for a weakness in your opponent's position. In a puzzle you have the advantage that you know there is something there...

PsychoPanda13

Hello Guy happy.png welcome! Just like you, I watched the Queen's Gambit last year on Netflix with my wife and we both decided to try and learn chess! I am 33 and never even really knew how the pieces moved up until this point. 

As others have said, it depends on the puzzle (you can do puzzles from different categories or different strategic themes) - but most puzzles want you to find a move that in some way gives you a solid advantage (captures an enemy piece) or wins the game with checkmate. But lately I have being doing lots of puzzles that relate to defence (because my defence tactics suck)... so again, it depends on the puzzle.
Be sure to do lots of simple puzzles for beginners over and over! This is the best way of making improvement

Abhi_Mary_1997
IMKeto wrote:

How to solve chess tactics.

Chess Tactics are probably the most important part of the game you can work on. 

Chess Tactics are broken down into different “motifs” with the most common ones being:

  1. Forks (Double-attacks)

A fork, or double-attack, occurs when your move makes 2 or more threats at the same time. A fork or double-attack is a powerful tactical idea because it’s hard (or sometimes impossible) for your opponent to defend against multiple threats at the same time.

  1. Pins

The power of a pin lies in the fact that the pinned piece essentially can’t move since doing so would expose another, more valuable, target. The point is that you can often find a way to take advantage of the immobilized (pinned) piece.

  1. Removing the Defender

When a piece or important square is defended, then that piece or square can become vulnerable once you remove its defender. This is usually done by a trade, threat or sacrifice that removes the defending piece.

  1. Discovered Attacks

A discovered attack occurs when you move a piece away that reveals a strong threat from a piece that was behind it. The power of this idea lies in the fact that you can also use the moving piece to make a strong threat of its own.

  1. Tempo-moves

A tempo move is a move that gains time by making a threat that forces your opponent to defend passively. This kind of move is particularly useful if you can use the tempo to achieve a tactical (or even strategic) advantage.

 

How do you find tactics?

Whenever you are doing tactics, you will notice that the side with the tactical shot will generally always have one or more of the following advantages:

  1. Advantage in space.
  2. Advantage in material.
  3. Advantage in piece activity.
  4. Weaknesses in the opponent’s position. Such as weakened pawn structure (Isolated pawn, backward pawn, weak square(s)).

 

 

How do you calculate tactics?

Look for Forcing Moves:

Checks

Captures

Threats

You look for these 3 things in the order given. 

Checks are the most forcing, as the King is being threatened.

Captures are next, as you are threatening to win material.

Threats are last, since they are the least forcing of the three.

Forcing Moves are easier to calculate out, as they are forced lines of continuation.

 

Start by looking for any Checks you may have.  Calculate them out as far as you can. 

Then calculate out any Captures you may have.  Calculate them out as far as you can.

Then calculate out any Threats you may have.  Calculate them out as far as you can.

Once you have found the Forcing Move you think is correct.  Play it!  Right or wrong, go with what you think is the correct move.

After each tactic, whether you got it right or wrong.  Make sure you understand the tactical motif, and why you had the correct, or incorrect answer.

He almost explained everything which you should apply!

eric0022
GuyClapperton wrote:
OK, hi all, I'm one of those annoying people who enjoyed The Queen's Gambit, joined chess.com and after 43 years or more not playing I'm hooked (and about as good as a slow 13 year old but never mind). I'm using the puzzles section on here to try to sharpen some of my skills but I'm a little bewildered. I'd assumed the puzzles were designed so you can get to checkmate but they don't all seem to be - some lead to a capture instead. So my question is: what am I actually supposed to be looking for in a chess puzzle? Thanks!

 

Generally, a tactic allows us to exploit an immediate weakness (usually to win a piece or a few pawns, or in some cases to save oneself from losing position). As such, we would be considered "winning" after the series of tactics because the tactics trainer assumes the competency of the puzzle attempters to convert the winning position into a full point.

 

There are lots of paths to convert a position thereafter, so it would probably be wise for a puzzle to just end after an advantage is secured rather than playing all the way to checkmate. Imagine the time taken to complete a puzzle if each puzzle is expected to end in checkmate or a draw.