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What's wrong with me and tactics ?

  • #21

    I really don't feel that tactics trainer helps me at all in my chess games. I often don't even notice the best move in these situations. I just end up doing all the tactics really quickly and not paying attention, just trying every forcing move. Sometimes, I try to do it more slowly, and that works fine for the rating on tactics trainer, but in practical chess my tactics aren't going anywhere.

    Are there any books that can help one's tactical ability? Please don't suggest puzzle books because I have a bunch and that hasn't done much. I'm playing in a tournament soon and there will be a chess store there so I might be able to find the book there if it's well-known. I have trouble finding the things that are outside the box. In retrospect, it's always so easy to say, "I should have gone there because it allows me to win a piece without having to deal with the pin" but in the game I don't see the moves. I have a good example I can post of one I missed.

  • #22
    yeres30 wrote:
    NewArdweaden wrote:
    yeres30 wrote:

    I think what you need to improve on is you DEFENSE.

    How can you defend without knowledge of tactics?

    Of course one can not defend without knowledge of tactics. 

    Except that when anyone talks about tactics it's all about Offense - winning material

    Not Defense - avoid losing material.

    A perfect example is this game of yours after 15.Qc3 (see didagram left)

    Black played 15...Nb7 and after 16.Qc6+ Ke7 lost the N to 17.Qxb7.

    Defense oriented would have seen the fork (Tactics) and played 15...c5 instead of 15....Nb7

    How many examples are there in Tactics Trainer that illustrates Tactics to avoid losing material?  Most, if not all examples in Tactics Trainer is all about winning material - not avoid losing material.

    If you are familiar with attacking pattern for gaining material, you can foresee such intentions of your opponent. You can sometimes see the threat only if you know its pattern. So my opponent should be familiar with simple fork threat and understand, that his pieces can't move to certain squares, and would deal with it properly. Though I must admit, there are very few purely 'defensive' tactics in any TT. 

  • #23

    Thanks scottrf, now that I follow what you said, my rating is getting up back. It's been 3 days and I only failed one puzzle.

  • #24

    Thanks yeres30.  Those are fantastic examples.  I simply had no idea what white might do in either case.

    I often face similar situations in games.  My tactics are okay, at least for my low rating, so it's not unusual that I find myself up in material, or in a better position, during some stage of a given game.  And then my opponent advances a pawn threateningly -- and I'm baffled.  I have no idea how to play good defense.

    I knew there were major holes in my understanding of chess, obviously.  I thought maybe I needed to study the endgame or something...

    ...of course, I do need to study that.  But it turns out I'm such a chess newb, I don't even know what I don't know.

    Tacticop's experience here is illustrative.  A comment from scottrf has really helped him (to take your time on tactics).

    That's the kind of thing I'm experiencing with yeres30's comment.  Defense -- I didn't even have much of a concept of defense until just now.

    It sort of highlights the limitations of the chess books I have (only about two or three, so far).  They offer generic advice -- good advice, but not tailored to my shortcomings.

    That's why it's great to be able to benefit from comments by better players.  Which is, in my case, at least by rating, 63% of the users of this site.

  • #25

    You needed books to get 1034 standard rating? 

  • #26


    I need all the help I can get.  I'm not as cool as you are I guess.


  • #27

    It wasn't an insult zacarunius, it's just that all you need at our level of play is tactics and endgames training, playing games. People are saying to look at gm annotated games too, but I never did it. I think it's better to master tactics first, and it asks way less theory than books

  • #28


    Understood -- thanks.  I like your take on what novice/weaker players should concentrate on.  Guess I wasn't so far off in thinking endgame study might help.  At any rate, I appreciate your perspective - it's helpful to me.

    @yeres30, -- another great example.

    It seems to me even weaker players (like myself) know on some level that they should reassess a position after each enemy move, (unless the enemy move was forced, in which case it may be fully calculated in advance).

    I'm not talking about misdiagnosing a position.  Of course weaker players do that all the time too.  I'm talking about not reexamining the position at all in light of the latest enemy move.

    I take it, stronger players also fail to do this at times.

    The question is, why?  I think the answer is probably pretty simple: lack of discipline.

    So, for some of us at least, simply forcing ourselves to reexamine a position with every enemy move could improve our game.

    At any rate, that's helpful advice -- thank you.


  • #29


    I read something in a book about the "opposition," an exercise with just the two kings on the board where the object was to get my king from a square in one corner to the diagonal corner, or to stop an opponent from doing the same.  That concept helped me in a couple of endgames I had.

    I don't think I would have just picked that up by playing.

    So that lead me to the conclusion that there are some powerful concepts which I lacked.  I've attempted to learn some of those concepts by reading.  Otherwise I feel like a chicken with my head cut off, playing chess games aimlessly, and flailing.

    Reading yeres30's comments, is not that different from reading an insightful passage in a book.  So I don't see the distinction, necessarily, between the two.

    Just some thoughts... 


  • #30

    Yeah but I think that we memorize better the things that we catch and learn by ourself.

    Nice signature by the way ;)

  • #31

    So, you've never read anything about chess? ...except for the comments on this thread?   I don't understand.

  • #32

    Only what were the tactics.

  • #33


    I appreciate what you are saying -- I see you even derived your member id from "tactic," so I know you mean it.

    That said, I still think there are concepts that would help, and playing lots of games against other crappy players isn't a fullproof way to learn them -- games at the ~1000 level could be called "blunder chess" -- whoever capitalizes on the other player's blunders, or at least the mistakes, wins.

    Playing against strong players isn't necessarily better, because they aren't always at their best when playing me, since all they have to do is capitalize on my frequent mistakes.

    But I'll keep on playing and working on tactics, and maybe someday I'll achieve "mediocre chess player" status (right now I'm not even mediocre; more like awful -- but you have to start somewhere after all.).



  • #34

    @tacticop: "all you need at our level of play is tactics and endgames training, playing games."

    Maybe that's true for most people, I don't know, but it doesn't seem to work that way for me.  I've played quite a few games on here.  My tactics rating has gone up, and up -- whatever that even means -- yet my standard rating won't budge.

    Not that I care what my rating is, per se.  But it reflects something real: I suck at chess.

    So I'll go back to reading a chess book or two, see if that doesn't help.

    Disclaimer: as always, ymmv; I'm just a chess newb; etc., etc.


  • #35

    Dang, sorry to have put you into mistake. For me, it worked. And my tactics rating is still going up since my last game, althought I didn't play since and don't train tactics apart from tactics trainer.


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