There is no need to make learning how to calculate in chess challenging. You can calculate variations and find the best squares for your pieces quickly.
Organization is the key when you learn how to calculate in chess. Systems are beneficial in many areas of our lives, and chess is no exception.
When you have a system for chess calculation, you will feel more confident because no matter what position you find yourself in, you can calculate different variations with ease.
Thought process and calculation are two vital elements in chess improvement. GM Damian Lemos produced an excellent 3-hour Intuition Navigates Chaos Turbo course covering both subjects. Here is an exclusive video preview:
How to Calculate in Chess: 3 Things to Consider
Now that you know how to evaluate the most critical factors of a position quickly, it is time to learn how to calculate the variations arising in your game and implement your strategy.
Three important elements of your efficient calculation system are:
- Forcing moves – always start by looking for forcing moves as your candidate moves, no matter how silly they appear.
- Use straight-line calculation when you can play forcing moves.
- Use evaluation and intuition to assess the end position when you cannot calculate any lines leading to a clear advantage.
Let’s take a look at how to calculate in chess using these three factors.
Forcing Moves Are Powerful Candidate Moves
Checks, captures, and threats are all forcing moves because they force your opponent to react in some way. When you select forcing moves as your candidate moves, the variations arising will likely lead to straight-line calculation.
When you place your opponent in check, calculating his responses is usually not very difficult. They can block the check, capture the piece attacking the king, or move the king out of check.
Straight Line Calculation Is Extremely Important
When learning how to calculate in chess start with straight-line calculation. These variations are the easiest because your opponent usually only has one or two moves available.
Always begin your calculations with the most clear-cut lines. For example, if you capture a piece first consider the lines where your opponent recaptures before the lines where he creates a counter-threat.
Remember, capturing is not compulsory in chess, so your opponent might not recapture immediately.
Instead of recapturing immediately, they might threaten one of your more valuable pieces than the piece you captured or threaten a checkmate.
Take a look at this amazing example of straight-line calculation in a position where White has a knight and a queen under attack! The correct piece to move in this position is the knight.
When Your Calculations End in Unclear Positions
There are times when your candidate moves lead to unclear positions. You might calculate you have four checks, but then your opponent’s king finds safety.
When you find yourself in such a situation, evaluate the final positions from the calculated lines. If one of them results in winning material, the choice is easy.
If none of the lines leads to winning material, choose the line that gives you the most piece activity.
In some cases, this might mean not playing any of the moves you calculated but simply bringing one of your least active pieces into play or stopping your opponent from activating a piece.
Knowing how to calculate in chess when the resulting position is unclear is an essential skill in chess.
Here is an example of a sacrifice where there is no straight-line variation. The position below occurred after 18…Rb8.
White responded with 19.Nf5! There are many variations to calculate after this move that does not end in checkmate.
Take a look at how the game unfolded after this move.
Smith, B. – Bath, J., 2012.08.04, 1-0, Cleveland Open Round 2
You can begin your journey to playing such amazing moves today with help from GM Damian Lemos’ INC Thought Process and Calculation course.
Final Thoughts on How to Calculate in Chess
As you learn how to calculate in chess, you will discover that there are no forcing moves in some positions. Then you must turn your attention to calculating how best to activate your pieces.
Learning how to calculate in chess is not only for open games or games with many tactics. Positional chess requires lots of calculations, too, and usually involves improving your pieces or stopping your opponent’s plans.
All too often, it is easy to overlook our opponent’s plans, but nothing is stopping you from calculating the best moves for them. By doing this, you will often find good moves for yourself.
The close connection between the thought process and calculation is demonstrated in the latest iChess exclusive Intuition Naviagets Chaos Turbo course.
GM Damian Lemos will lead you through several highly-instructive games and teach you how to calculate in chess and the thought process that makes calculation dead easy.
After completing this course, you will place your pieces on more active squares and naturally control the game. Get instant access, save 50%, and gain grandmaster insights into chess today with GM Lemos’ INC Turbo – Thought Process and Calculation course.