One of the most important skills of any successful chess player is to perform well in tactical calculations and to improve Chess Tactics.
Nowadays, however, many chess players exclusively focus on openings, remember long, forcing lines and rely on computer evaluations.
As soon as a complex position arises on the chessboard, these players have to stick to their own resources. They lack tactical skills, calculate poorly and slowly and finally lose their games.
Shortly afterward, they scan through their games at light speed without actually comprehending what they are looking at and notice that they were +2.27 in a given position, meaning that it could have only been bad luck that they couldn’t convert their winning position.
If they do this over and over again, the end result can be summarised in one word – stagnation!
It’s important to understand that improvement in Chess Tactics is achieved through hard, meaningful work. The vast majority of amateur games is decided through tactics.
You can play a strong positional game, but most of the time to finish off the game it requires a tactical blow which will convert your advantage into something more concrete. Tactical skills and the ability to find the right combinations help to convert advantages into more concrete gains.
In essence, we can put our thoughts into a simple formula: Improving your tactical skills will help you to improve your overall chess results!
Subsequently, we have to find an answer to the following question: Which possibilities do we have to improve Chess Tactics?
There’s plenty of debate on the best way to get better in this area. The following article is devoted to 5 of the best ways to improve Chess Tactics. Here’s the list (in no particular order).
Solve Chess Tactics every day
There’s a remarkable quote by Grandmaster Adrian Mikhalchishin: “Just as a pianist practices finger-exercises every day, so every day, a chess-player should train his tactical vision.”
To illustrate this point, we can compare chess with other forms of sport. While a basketball player has to spend plenty of his training time running and improving his ball skills, a chess player also has to work on his most important tool which enables him to achieve great results – his brain.
A soccer player who has not been working on his condition for weeks is simply unable to perform well in a match of over 90 minutes playtime.
If you’re regularly playing tournaments and want to improve your results, your brain needs to stay in sharp shape. Therefore, it’s highly recommendable that chess players of any level train tactics on a daily basis.
It’s not enough to just play daily. It’s important to understand why certain patterns emerge, and how you could take your skills beyond the basics. Adding on to these skillsets and mastering your chess tactics radar could pay dividends for your future.
You’ll not only discover many new tactical ideas which will have a great practical use for your future games but also see tactics better and faster.
One training method which can be very motivating, for example, is to meet with chess friends at your level and compete in tactic tests against each other. Doing this, you’ll also have a lot of fun solving puzzles together.
Don’t abuse chess engines
Peter Leko once said that “in our modern computer era, it’s always a delight […] to stimulate our brains.” This means that you’ll learn more and increase your understanding of Chess Tactics by doing the work yourself. The use of chess engines is a complicated topic.
However, it becomes more and more obvious that many amateur chess players don’t think by themselves about a given chess position first, but immediately start to look at the machine’s evaluation. These habits turn out to be fatal as they keep you away from training your tactical skills.
It’s essential to understand that you can’t rely on the help of any chess engine in your own games. Instead, an effective way to improve Chess Tactics is to first analyze a position yourself and only then use a chess engine to compare your thoughts with the engine’s lines.
Use Chess Tactics Trainer Websites and Apps
Thanks to the latest technological progress, tactical training tools are easy and efficient to use. Hence, they should become part of a daily routine for players of all skill levels.
As many chess training websites offer Tactics Trainer apps to use all the services on your phone, you’re not tied to a computer anymore.
You can solve tactics puzzles everywhere – when traveling in the bus, sitting in the tube on your way to work or lying at the beach on vacation.
To discover the numerous advantages tactics training Websites or apps offer and which ones are most helpful, you can take a closer look at this highly informative article.
Improve pattern recognition and calculation abilities
While doing tactics training, one needs to distinguish between pattern recognition and chess calculation skills. On the one hand, the concept of pattern recognition is of great importance. There are familiar tactical themes like pins, forks and double attacks which recur over and over.
Being able to spot these tactical motifs quickly is an essential factor to compete with strong chess players. The more tactics you solve, the more patterns you are familiar with and the faster you’ll recognize them in different positions.
On the other hand, it’s essential to focus on your calculation abilities in order to sharpen your tactical eye. Improving your calculation methods (e.g. look for forced moves like checks or captures first) helps you to systemize your calculation. Finally, this enables you to check different lines more efficiently.
Use chess tactics books and DVD series
Last but not least, chess books and chess video series are useful tools to improve your Chess Tactics for several reasons. First of all, they provide you with a huge amount of well-chosen tactical puzzles and exercises which you can use as your training material.
Secondly, different strong chess masters provide you with great insights into their approach to Chess Tactics. Thirdly, it’s a good idea to focus on tactical motifs which occur in the openings you regularly play. Many books and DVD series combine openings with tactics and provide you with many tactical ideas which are typical for certain openings.
Improve Chess Tactics – Conclusion
All in all, we could only present 5 ways to improve Chess Tactics in our list. However, your opinions and thoughts on that topic are surely always welcome. Feel free to leave a comment and tell us how do you try to improve in Chess Tactics.
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