Tactics Trainer Help Center

Tactics Trainer Help Center Please read these FAQs to learn more about how the Tactics Trainer works and how you can get the most out of it.

What is the Tactics Trainer for?

"Chess is 99% tactics." - Richard Teichmann

Tactics are a fundamental part of chess. No matter how well you know your openings or plan your strategies, if you can't recognize tactics you are going to make mistakes in your games. Tactics have been called "the watchdogs of strategy" because they are the glue that hold positions together.

Getting good at tactics is a matter of practice. Most tactics are combinations of a few key types (double-attacks, pins, overworked defenders, etc) and if you can learn to recognize those patterns you will find tactics more easily in your games.

The Tactics Trainer will help you go through tactical position after tactical position so you can burn those themes and positions into your brain where they will jump out next time you see them in your own games!

How do I use the Tactics Trainer interface?

When you begin training you will be presented with a position. You will be playing the side on the bottom (unless you have changed this in your preferences) and you will see a label such as "WHITE to move". Two seconds later you will see a piece move, which is your "opponent's" move (made by the computer interface). Your timer will then start and you are challenged to find all of the correct moves.

You move your pieces either by dragging and dropping them, or by clicking on the piece and then clicking on the destination square. You will then see a response move until the problem is solved or you make a mistake.

When a problem is over you can choose to see a more detailed problem page that shows the ratings adjustments and allows you to make a comment on a problem. You can choose to ALWAYS skip that page, NEVER skip that page, or only skip it when you get the correct answer.

How does the time and ratings work?

The Chess.com Tactics Trainer uses the same Glicko rating style used in our Online Chess and Chess Mentor. Essentially you are playing a quick game against the problem! If you make all the correct moves you can achieve up to a full point for a win, and if you fail then you get a partial score based on how many correct moves you made. This "move score" is then adjusted based on how long you took to solve (or fail) the problem compared to the average solving time. Those scores are put into the Glicko formulas and then both your rating and the problem's rating are adjusted.

The chart below shows how your "move score" is adjusted based on your solving time.

How ratings are calculated in Tactics Trainer.

How do I end my training session?

To end your training session click the "My last problem" checkbox. That will send you to the post-problem details page where you can safely close the window. This is important because if you start the next tactic you will fail it if you close your browser after it loads.

Why did the tactic end where it did? I don't get it...

We try our best to make sure that the stopping point is clear. Often times it will be checkmate or a decisive material advantage. Problems can also end with a pending overwhelming attack or massive positional advantage. Occassionally problems will end with stalemate or return to material equality (if the position warrants it). If you are unsure of the results, you can plug the position into your favorite chess computer or explore it with the analysis board that is available after the problem is over.

How are the next tactics chosen for me when I am training?

The next tactic for you is chosen randomly from within a pool of tactics that are within a rating band close to your current rating. As you move up or down in rating your available pool of tactics changes.

Where do all of these tactics come from?

Tactics are present in ALL chess games. It is just a matter of finding them. To do that we use a bunch of really powerful computers to analyze games played on Chess.com (and other sources) to find games with blunders in them and then use a sophisticated algorithm to parse the results, making sure there is only one clear winning line. We then manually inspect each problem and select the ending position that makes the most sense. Then we upload them all and let people play on them! Those that have a very high fail rate are again reviewed. We also want members to report "problematic" problems :)

How do I get rid of the timer bar - it's bothering me!?

You can get rid of the timing bar by going to your Tactics Trainer settings page. However, the problems will still be timed and the timing will still affect your rating.

Why am I limited to 3 tactics per day?

If you are limited to 3 tactics per day then you have a Basic Member account on Chess.com which is FREE. Premium Members have access to unlimited tactics! Click here for more information...

How can I submit some tactical problems to be included?

Most of our problems come from games we have analyzed (as explained above). However, we would love to see your submissions which we will include if they meet our standards! All submissions must be in a .pgn file(s) within a .zip file and emailed to: tacticsub@chess.com.

If you have any questions about Tactics Trainer, please contact our Member Support team!