There is no doubt that strong tactical abilities are essential in order to improve in chess. If you watch the games of club players, however, it soon becomes obvious that many chess players lack tactical skills, calculate poorly, lose control and ultimately lose their games.
Therefore, the key question for average club players is the following: How can you spot hidden tactics in your games and how can you train your tactical abilities in general?
How To Find Hidden Winning Chess Tactics?
Finding hidden tactics in a real chess game is challenging. The reason for this is that it is difficult to train yourself to detect hidden tactical resources. Many chess players would argue that this can be simply achieved by solving a lot of chess puzzles. However, there is one fundamental difference between solving chess puzzles and over-the-board play. If you solve a chess puzzle, you know that there is a solution to the position in advance. This is why many chess players directly watch out for tactical sequences, sacrifices and attacking moves.
During a real chess game, however, there is nobody who comes to your chess board and tells you that there is a tactical shot in the position at hand. In fact, most chess games aren’t decided by tactics both players foresaw, but by chess tactics that one player completely missed. This player simply didn’t realize that there might exist some winning chess tactics in the position.
So, how can you realize that there is something tactical in a position? The good news is that help is at hand! In this video preview, GM Davorin Kuljasevic presents a method to spot such hidden tactics in the games you play. In order to not miss any winning chess tactics, GM Kuljasevic searches for tactical triggers in any position. Tactical triggers are certain features in a position which alert your tactical brain to pay special attention to chess tactics. These triggers can be undefended pieces, far advanced passed pawns, passive piece placement, or a weak king position. It should be noted that tactics can be defined as short term opportunities, as IM Yasser Seirwan mentions in his winning chess tactics course on Chessable. These short term opportunities will guide you through your long term strategy.
For now, let’s take a look at how GM Davorin Kuljasevic navigates through the tactical waters and provides you with his grandmaster-thoughts on all the different tactical triggers and combinational motifs in the different test positions:
Abu Dhabi 2016: Ter Sahakyan, Samvel (2613) – Aryan, Chopra (2485)
It is Black to move in the position below. White is a pawn up, but there is a tactical trigger which favors Black – the passed pawn on e2. However, it is still not easy to find a good tactical combination here. White’s back rank seems to be well-defended. The Black player finds the right solution in this position.
Chicago 2010: Adams, Michael (2697) – Akobian, Varuzhan (2599)
Sometimes, the tactical trigger is not obvious at all. Some combinations require some combinational vision. Good tactical players are good at visualizing tactical ideas far in advance. In the position below, it is White to move.
Michael Adams, playing White, has a perfect build-up in the following position. His pieces are centralized and have a lot of tactical potential. Black does not have any active play.
But how can we realize that there might be a tactic in this position? What are the tactical triggers? There are no undefended pieces in Black’s position and Black’s king on g8 looks rather safe. At first glance, there is not really anything to indicate that White has a tactical shot in this position.
However, when you have such a strong build-up and your opponent is playing passively, this in itself gives you a sign that it might be time to deliver a tactical blow.
Here, Adams spots a decisive combination.
The Road to Tactical Mastery – GM Davorin Kuljasevic
Remember: Improving your tactical skills will lead you to spot many winning chess tactics in your games and finally to overall chess improvement. Using the concept of tactical triggers helps you to detect many hidden tactics that your opponents will easily overlook. For many more great games with plenty of tactical complications, you can check out the whole video by GM Kuljasevic. You’ll also find the solution to the chess puzzle on the right.
Want to gain confidence in your overall tactical ability? Learn from GM Davorin Kuljasevic in his full course “Tactical Mastery.” Click here to get instant access to the rest of this course with 35% off.