I love that site for tactics training, try to do it regularly. I enjoy how it forces you to move very quickly if you want the points, forcing you to train yourself to recognize the patterns instantly.
I've always thought there was a diminishing return on tactics training for more than a few minutes each day, but maybe not completely worthless. A common advice is that you should study until you've memorized three new tactical patterns that you didn't know before. An adult brain (assuming you are an adult) is not supposed to be wired to handle much more than that daily.
But let's say I've already done my 15 minutes or so and my three new patterns, but I don't have time to play a full game. I can study endgames (okay, I should do that, but I've been avoiding it) or go over some master games, but it's always tempting to just go for the tactics trainer.
Depending on your level of play, chess is indeed 99% tactics. Probably for anyone rated under 1800 USCF, 99 out of 100 games hinge on a tactic... the odd 1 out of 100 will contain no gross tactical blunder by one side. Yeah, that sounds about right.
Like uh oh said though, there are other areas worth focusing on, i.e. without any strategy you position will never be good enough to facilitate a winning tactic. Without endgames you can't convert a superior position, etc.
I like chesstempo.com better than the emerald one. I prefer untimed tactics, so just like a real game I have to make sure it works to the very end before I play the first move. I guess blitz tactics are ok if you want to see a lot of new patterns. Untimed works your visualization, that is holding a future position and looking from that new point for the best move. Many times this is trying to find the best defensive move for your opponent after you find the main tactical idea.
I've read GM's like Susan Polgar who say that below a USCF rating of 1900 your main focus should be tactics. I've known strong players (and been beaten by them) who say you should learn the end game first. I beleve that a large majority of games below expert level are decided by tactics. I also believe that lower rated players will benefit from study of the end game.
Endgames are like the best kept secret weapon vs class players.
Ok it's no secret, but it's as if 99% of class players find it too boring to bother looking into it. There was this 2150 rated 11 year old from TX I saw at a tourney once, all the kid did was trade down into an endgame about as quickly as he could, sometimes ignoring finer points, even if it resulted in an equal endgame... and dismantle the guy from there.
It wasn't working so well for him as I watched him play a master... he eventually lost, but it obviously got him as far as 2150...
You have to have tactics. You could play a better positional squeeze than Petrosian himself but if you hang a piece to a tactic then it doesn't really matter any more. You're screwed no matter how good your plan was.
How do you think Tal was so great? That guy could just tactically get his way out of almost anything.
I've been ignoring endgames because I felt like they could be figured out on the fly just by thinking things through.
In my first OTB tournament last weekend, I dropped a clear 0.5 points by botching an endgame, and another 0.5-1 point in a game where I had an opportunity to simplify to an extra-pawn endgame but wasn't sure of myself and chose to keep on with an unclear attack instead.
So yeah, maybe I do need to study endgames a little... or a lot...
You could play a better positional squeeze than Petrosian himself but if you hang a piece to a tactic then it doesn't really matter any more.
If you're playing that well positionally, you WON'T "hang a piece to a tactic." Your opponent will have no sound crushing tactics because you've eliminated the opportunities. Good tactics will beat position if the position was flawed. Good position will beat tactics if the tactics are flawed. The idea of positional play is to attack from strength. Accumulate advantages, THEN launch the tactics.
Shhhhh, this is my cunning plan to escape from the bowels of class C into the promised land that is class B !! It won't work if you go telling everyone
Studying basic endings IS tactics, although strategy does play a role as well. Just as learning elementary tactics enables you to find more complicated tactics over the board, so learning basic endings enables you to play more complicated endings because you know what can happen with simplification.
You can't learn endings on the fly. Some of these things have changed evaluations over the centuries, and GMs still make fundamental errors in the ending.
There is a famous Rubenstein Rook ending where he is even in material, but passively placed and his opponent seems to have any winning chances with an easy draw in hand. Suddenly Rubenstein abandons his defense of a pawn to move his Rook to an aggressive position. In the process he lost a second pawn, but his Rook was then able to control the game and he won. Tartakower remarked that had the game been played 300 years earlier, Rubenstein would surely have been burned as a witch.
These are the sort of things you just can't figure out on your own over the board.
Tactics is 99% of the game and should be 99% of your emphasis in study and practice - until you no longer lose to simple tactics. Once you can get through games without giving away material or letting your King be overrun with an easy shot, then you can proceed to learn more strategy and position play.
There's a famous saying, "Chess is 99 percent tactics". That may be an exaggeration, but no matter how deep your strategic understanding is, it can never replace accuracy in calculating tactical positions. - Susan Polagar - Chess Tactics For Champions
Treat yourself this Holiday season to a www.chesstempo.com membership. It's dirt cheap, and absolutely the best tactics trainer on the internet. The interface looks fantastic, as well.
I use Tactics Trainer at chess.com also, like it, but find it lacking in certain areas.
Chesstempo has two rated speeds, standard and blitz. It's important to do standard rated tactics first, because the goal is to get the problems right and improve your calculation, not to do them fast.
I just started the endgame tactics trainer at chesstempo, and it's amazing. It feels like I'm in a real endgame situation with just a few pieces/pawns.
I now spend more time doing tactics training than anything else to improve my game. It took a solid year for other chess.com members to beat that idea into my skull.
As a second year player, my tactics stats reflect that of a beginning chess player new to tactics, I hope. My percentage correct for standard rating is low, but that was before I knew to strive for accuracy, not speed. Now I take my time and strive for 100% accuracy. Here's how chesstempo reports stats.
Rating: 1425.5 (RD: 37.29) (Best Active Rating: 1425 Worst Active Rating: 829)Active Rank: 5222/7701 (Better than: 32.19% Best Active: 2018 Worst Active: 5816)Problems Done: 1123 (Correct: 849 Failed: 274)Percentage correct: 75.60%Average recent per problem time spent 158 secondsFIDE Estimated Rating based on standard tactics: 1637
Rating: 1206.5 (RD: 101.68) (Best Active Rating: 1206 Worst Active Rating: 1190)Active Rank: Not Active/842 (Best Active: 802 Worst Active: 804)Problems Done: 36 (Correct: 31 Failed: 5)Percentage correct: 86.11%Average recent per problem time spent 26 secondsNeed to do 114 more problems to get a blitz tactics FIDE estimate.
Rating: 1454.7 (RD: 137.37)Active Rank: Not Active/506Problems Done: 35 (Correct: 27 Failed: 8)Percentage correct: 77.14%
"It took a solid year for other chess.com members to beat that idea into my skull. "
I keep an online diary blog about my chess experiences, and since I fancy myself a bit of a decent writer, I someday might turn it into something more for the public to see. I think it'd be really useful for adult amateur intermediates who struggle to improve.
The most basic theme I keep coming back to is this: I (we) am not smart enough to ignore the advice of the collected wisdom of better players! I don't get to take shortcuts.
When I stopped ignoring them telling me to take my time on each move, my internet rating went up about 200 points.
When I stopped ignoring them telling me to study tactics regularly, I went up another 200 points.
I've recently decided to stop ignoring them telling me to study endgames. We'll see how that goes :)
Why do us noobs think we know better?
creative play, is tomorrows tactical trainer....
a good game is 99% creative play...the one tactic you have, can win you the game.
Evident is why you take a stronger player on, with a line, that is creative....
the winning tactic, is the one, that lead to mate, in the fewest moves.
creative play, always result in an upset.
a creative player, can win anyone!
a tactical player can loose.
That's what's weird about me - I don't do tactics puzzles at all. I can't remember the last time I did a tactics puzzle either. I think I was able to learn tactics by watching master games of aggressive openings like the Pirc and Alekhine.
But when I look at all the pawn sacrifices in the Grunfeld I'm always confused.
Maybe Teichmann was trying to say that 1 mistake is usually enough to cost you the entire game (or 1 tactical blow is enough to win).
How many chess games have you seen whereby both players don't make ANY blunders or inaccuracies? Maybe only at the top level now, but not for the old masters back then and definitely not for us noobs...
Getting in the habit of systematically looking at every check and capture is probably the most important single thing you can do to improve your chess strength
That's a good tip! One that I need to be reminded of from time to time.
Definitely the most important thing. I've blown 2 superior positions in OTB tournament play in 3 weeks this way. I'm trying to become more systematic about my checking for blunders/drawbacks
Hammerschlag, it sounds like we're of a roughly similar level so, FWIW, here are two examples of a similar tactic, based on strategy, that happened in my games. The first is an OTB game where I missed it, the second a live chess game from earlier today where I saw it (perhaps an old dog can learn new tricks!). The point is that I had a strategy and my ability to implement it properly it was a function of whether I could see tactics that would help me.
Game 1: Missed the tactic
In this game I was playing a line of the KID where I wanted to play b5 and expand on the queenside. White playing Qc2 would have allowed me to do so immediately ... but I missed it. Note that I blundered the game away a few moves later but that's not the point here
Game 2: Found the tactic
In this game I was playing the Pirc but had the same idea as with Game1: play b5 and expand the queenside. The knight on c3 is overloaded so I took advantage of it