Pattern Recognition?


Keep reading everyone talk about pattern recog. on tactics.  I've done a few hundred, most on another site, and have gone from 1170 to 1400 doing tactics.  But they all seem different.  I have seen no pattern recognition that I know of.  Just what is pattern recog.?  Is it like a back row checkmate pattern?  At what point or rating will I begin to see pattern recog.?   


Chess is filled with played scheme that a chess grand master had memorize them. They're is something like 50,000 play scheme that exist today.


It's like learning 3 languages at the same time. If you can memorize them, anyone can become a chess grand master....


Interesting question. Here's what I think, 9with exap,ples from Tal's excellent book. Tal's winning chess comnbinations.

1)You learn a mating pattern:











2) Look for opportunity to create the pattern











This mating patterns is nice!


Check out IM Danny Rensch's video series on pattern recognition.  He starts with 2 basic videos, moves on to 2 "beyond basics" and then 5 Mating pattern videos.  Killer videos with absolutely essential information on the building blocks of chess.  Chess Mentor also has umpteen tactics courses covering the same material and equally highly recommended.  


I don't think that anyone who is competent at chess would deny the importance of learning openings and end games. But, nowadays, the emphasis is on doing middle game tactics because, with computers, you can do dozens, thousands even...quickly and effectively.

And, time spent, this will most efficiently get you up to a certain level...where, then, you will want to start putting in some serious efforts on openings and endings as well.

We start out by thinking our way through everything. that a fork candidate move that I see? Maybe over there a pin? A skewer? If I do this, then he may do this or that. Then I will...etc.

With a lot of practice at tactics, you get to the point where (just like touch typing or playing a piano) you can automatically see these things at a glance. Then you start seeing more complex, multi-move combinations.

As has been said...history doesn't repeat, but it does rhyme. In chess, you may not see the exact same pattern again. But you do start seeing things that are similar.

You don't want to memorize all the exact nuances because the next time there might be somethiong slightly different and you could screw it up. But, you'll be in the ballpark and can then look at the particular situation and either see the answer or be close enough that you can think and resolve the issue. Or, maybe it won't fly and you have to back off and do something else.

The problem is, it takes a lot of time to get good at this. Intelligent people start to feel stupid. The progress is slower than we would like. I know; I have the same feelings. But, touch typing and piano playing also take a lot of work, too.

Just keep on truckin'. That's what I do.


Thanks BadDog and E4Nf3.  Seems the tactics problems mostly go for mates.


Well, I have written another thread about the tactics trainer.

In some ways, I like it; in other ways, I don't.

 A few don'ts:

They plant a lot of cheese. In a real game, it is rare that you have simultaneously the option of taking a Q or going for mate. And, if you just get the Q...the buzzer sounds and you get strapped in the dunking chair.

The rated time is going to be tough on you if you aren't a speed chess player. Don't get me wrong. Sometimes I get the right answer in 19 seconds when the alloted time is 59 seconds. However, often the reverse is true...Buzzzz...into the dunking chair.

And, the puzzles tend toward a full house. Lots and lots of pieces on the board, very often. This means it takes more time to scan the possibilities...and you are on a very tight schedule. Take too long at weighing all the candidate possibilities know what!!!

And, you can play at a low level and get complex five move master combos. Yet you play at a higher level and often the puzzles are much easier.

Overall, though, I take it for what it is. It's like a boxer training on a speed bag. Helps get you moving, faster and better. Overall, I'd give it a B...meaning quite good, although not perfect.


A simple analogy would be multiplication tables:

If I know the 12-times tables really well => then when I'm asked to multiply

412 x 12 in my head, it is increasingly likely that 

a) I will be able to break it down to (400 x 12) + (12 x12) and 

b) I will be both "fast" and "accurate"

Realize that human errors tend to occur during analysis/crunching and not during instant recall. 

These puzzles, mates or basic tactics train your brain's light-bulb to go up in an actual game and allows you to both capitalize towards getting an advantage (exploiting your opponent's tactical error) or (more importantly)  recognize danger/unsafe move selections you might be thinking of.

A practical side-effect of pattern recognition is for strong players to play "high quality" chess at blitz time controls because they are "recalling" chunked patterns to make moves as opposed to rolling up their sleeves to calculate things out. 

Another side-effect is how titled players can play huge simuls where they barely spend seconds on each board to come up with a high-quality move.

Of course, you can't "chunk" everything ... even GMs slam their brakes at some critical positions and roll up their sleeves to do diligent analysis/calculation.


You are not going to recognize complex patterns right away, it is the simple ones you see first - and you probably already do, you just don't think about it (and that's the point, you don't have to think about the patterns you know).  For instance:







As Black, you surely notice White is threatening to push d4-d5 and fork your Rook and Knight.  Well, that's a pattern.  You recognized it.

You build on what you learn.  After back rank mates, you figure out "artificial back ranks" where the escape square is covered. 

There is never going to be some grand panorama that appears over the board when a pattern exists.  You learn them the same way you learn your mother's face as a baby - repetition and recognition.


Yes, I guess so.  I guess there are patterns I can't see yet - so I must keep playing the tactics.  Estragon, do all at your level think in terms of imbalances, like Mr. Silman teaches?   


What Silman calls 'imbalances' is actually positional evaluation - ie. what are broadly speaking the stengths and weaknesses on both sides.

Every experienced player has at least an intuitive grasp of these imbalances, though he may not formulate them the same way Silman does.


Something I just noticed is that my game is off at present. Yeah, we all have ups and downs. But...

I had been doing a lot of tactical training...some here but mostly at that other site. Lately, I have been playing more and have skipped the tactical training. When I went back, an hour ago, to tactical training...I found that my edge is dulled.

I couldn't see stuff that I could before. And, yes, even though the puzzles are different...doing a lot of them helped to keep the "edge".

I see the error of my ways and promise myself that I'm gonna get back to one hour per day of just tactical puzzles.

It seems to me: Use it or lose it.


Here's another thought about seeing things...

I've been studying and training and playing so much on the 2 dimensional computer screen that I developed a good board vision there. But, when I recently played on a real 3 dimensional board vision is diminished.

I just bought a new Staunton chess set (as seen in my current avatar) and I'm gonna...whenever practical...lay out the moves on a real board while I'm working with the computer monitor board.

I remember someone else mentioning this problem and solution awhile back. It is a really odd feeling when you look at a real chess board and have an eerie sense that something in you is lacking.

Again, I think: Use it or lose it.


I agree Norseman.  Sometime I seem dull on them.  So I too practice on the other site, then come back here and do better. I'm 100 pts higher on the other site than here.  And yes, am starting to see some patterns, then I'll say, "ha! that was easy!"  So am also doing 30 min to an hour a day of them. 

    Something very interesting happened a few days ago.  First thing in the morning I tried many here, and my rating fell 200 pts.  Later in the day, I drank a cup of coffee and tried again, and got the 200 pts. back fairly quickly.  Guess caffeine really is a stimulant for the brain.  Think I'll drink a cup right before my games at the OTB tourny in 2 weeks. 

   Wouldn't it be nice to have a chess set made out of your Cryolite?!!  Cool  Couldn't play under water though, as you couldn't see the pieces.  Wink


The only way to acquire '' pattern-recogniton '' is to play the damn game ! (chess).

Books will not help you. Coaches will not help you. Videoes only help you tiny little bit...

Play the game & '' look at the board !! '' Smile


  I've gone from 900 to about 1400 by reading books - in 5 months.  Drinking a wee bit of the hard stuff are we? 

DavyWilliams wrote:

  I've gone from 900 to about 1400 by reading books - in 5 months.  Drinking a wee bit of the hard stuff are we? 

Pattern-recognition not the SOLE way to advance in chess Davey_Boy. Obviously all chess study going to advance you somewhat but well-done !

Also you are recorded as only being member here from Apr2012 ? Showing rise from 1118 to 1304 in that time-period ? GlickoRD indicating player of potential 1590 or so ??


  Oh, I see now you're a troll - by pattern recognition.  And KNOW you've been nipping at that Scottish whisky.  I signed up under a different name in March and got creamed, my rating being around 900.  Closed it out, started a new life here and have got my rating up by reading books and doing tactics. 

   The name is spelled Davy, no 'e'.  Have another drink on the house, but try some good Kentucky bourbon instead.    

   Anyone know what GlickoRD is?


Davey_Boy was a '' Joke '' ! however my comments re: pattern-recognition were intended serious !! :)

In Scotland or Ireland everyone named Davy (or Danny) get's this addendum. 

If you are called '' Hugh '' you become '' Shuggy ''. But that is another story...