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Once I was pretty beast at Tactics Trainer compared to my other chess.com ratings. (It kinda balanced out to the 1200 level.) Then I participated in a bunch of state and local tournaments with G/45, G/60, and G/90 clock setups. Used to the past-paced rhythm of Tactics Trainer, I was pretty bad, let me tell you. Then I got used to the slow, easygoing clocks and now I'm sucking at Tactics Trainer.
Then I discovered chesstempo.com. (Not advertising, just comparing it to chess.com's Tactics Trainer.) ChessTempo is similar to chess.com's Tactics Trainer, but the problems don't have a timer that used to rush me. Used to the clocks I am pretty good at these tactics, but now looking back to chess.com I think, "Why does that timer rush me so much?"
This is why I move to remove the timer of chess.com's Tactics Trainer. Since using ChessTempo I've been experiencing the easygoing feeling at the state tournaments doing their tactics problems, and by removing chess.com's timer, it would be similar to ChessTempo. Plus, right now, the Tactics Trainer is similar to ChessTempo's Blitz tactics program since it has a timer. Comment on this if you agree.
This probably isn't a new forum thread, but since it's here I'll just say I agree that how the timer is implemented should be modified.
1) The "average time" should only be calculated based on people who passed the problem. If they failed, their time should not be a part of the average. This may already be the case, but if it's not, it should be.
2) High times relative to the average should lower the amount of rating gained from a successful pass to a minimum of zero rating gain. High time alone, however, should not result in rating loss. Actively penalizing rating based on time puts too much of a premium on speed (measured in seconds) which in serious chess is generally not as important as actually choosing the best move.
I'm a regular trainer user (3 a day): 10 hours of training time, 650 problems attempted, and I have a pass rate of an even %60. But my rating hovers between 1150 and 1250 because when I start getting into harder problems I start getting nailed on time. I would like to train against harder problems, but I refuse to make myself rush, because I never force myself to rush when I play an actual chess game.
People who pass quickly should be rewarded more than people who pass slowly. But people who pass shouldn't be penalized for high times.
I also use the tactics trainer on Chess Tempo and find it to be more in line with my actual rating than the one on Chess.com.
I feel that Chess Tempo's tactics trainer offers an advantage in 3 ways 1) You don't suffer high penalties when you get a problem wrong 2) You can can detail day by day exactly how much time you have put in training and 3) it gives you an option for a better answer if you have still gotten a correct answer. Isn't learning the point?
It is also important to note that C. Tempo's timer counts upward like a stopwatch not backward like Chess.Com's.
I hope in the future C.Com gives more timer options and eliminates high penalties or couples it with the timer options.
Personally I don't have any issues with tactics trainer. Sure enough, it's tough to get better at it, but one must not forget the word "trainer" in the title. IMO one should forget about the timer and the ratings. Just practice and in due time, the time spent doing those puzzles will reflect in your play.
It's no secret why you see titled players with tactics trainer ratings of 2600 and higher. And they don't seem mind the timer at all.
The tactics trainer at http://chess.emrald.net is much better than anything on any chess site. I ignore the ratings and the timer, I'm more interested in the problems themselves. Also they give you a selection of the strengths of the problems they throw at you. Always best to use problems that are stronger than your own rating in order to learn new positions and ideas.
We're talking two seperate and equally important skills here: pattern recognition and calculation. Both are essential to your growth as a chess player. Chess.com's approach is about pattern recognition but by turning off the timer you can go into calculation mode. There are obviously other approaches, but remember that the TT is only one of many ways to improve your chess here. For some reason the Chess Mentor seems to have a reputation for being more about strategy, but there are plenty of tactical courses should you want to take a less frenzied approach to figuring out tactics. Given chess.com's emphasis on pattern recognition, I wouldn't expect the TT timer to go away any time soon.
In my older age, I've found I can solve even the harder problems as long as I don't get rushed by a timer. I'm just not as fast as I used to be, and I don't like time-based problems. I like to sit there and let the position sink in as though I were playing a classical time control game. Just the other day, I solved a 6-move puzzle that was rated as hard. I spent a couple minutes on each move, and solved the puzzle without making a mistake. Had it been timed, I would have failed.
I think if you are purely training pattern recognition, then TT or CTS is good, with the emphasis on recognizing a pattern quickly. This is good too if your goal is to be a top blitz player.
But nothing emulates slow play like ... slow play. That's where Chess Tempo shows its training strength. And the rating system there is much better than CTS or TT.
I agree that in TT, solving a problem slowly and still losing rating points is a bit of a whack in the head. The other issue is that if you miss a problem, independent of time, you lose full points. If you solve a problem, you only gain full points if you're quick. So for me, at least, I'd better get something like 3 out of 5 correct just to hold my own, as I'm also one of those older people who can't quite move the mouse quickly enough (among other issues!).
All that said, I use TT daily because it is a very useful tool. But it is not the only tool I use.
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