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  1. Forum
  2. Game analysis
  3. Help me improve at tactics

Ok, i've been doing tactics here for over six months and apparantly I've done over 5000 of them. That count is wrong because it's not tracking now many tactics I've completed but how many attempts - in the first few months I often retried them over and over - either because I got them wrong or because I wanted to see what happened if I took a different path. My score seems to bounce around between 1750 and 1900.

I was wondering if there were any tips anyone could offer to help me improve. I've watched a few videos of people like gingergm and john bartholemew doing tactics on youtube but they just sort of rattle through them quickly and describe them as easy so I don't learn anything. A few questions:

1) How long do you spend on any given tactic in that difficulty range?

2) What can I do to improve? I've started playing games because really tactics are a means to an end, and I assumed (still do, really) that tactics are the heart of a game of chess. I'm starting to look at openings and later will spend time on end games but most of the game seems to be positional play which is what tactics is all about.

Actually I don't want to ask too many questions so that's enough for now.

In my opinion you should do many simple tactic problems motif by motif. More complex tactics are based on simpler tactics.

Here's a list of basic motifs:

Advanced Pawn
Attraction
Avoiding Perpetual
Avoiding Stalemate
Blocking
Capturing Defender
Clearance
Coercion
Counting
Defensive Move
Desperado
Discovered Attack
Distraction
Double Check
Exposed King
Fork/Double Attack
Hanging Piece
Interference
Mate - Anastasia's
Mate - Arabian
Mate - Back Rank
Mate - Balestra
Mate - Blackburne's
Mate - Boden's
Mate - Damiano's Bishop
Mate - Damiano's
Mate - Double Bishop
Mate - Dovetail
Mate - Dovetail - Bishop
Mate - Escalator
Mate - Epaulette
Mate - Greco's
Mate - Hook
Mate - Kill Box
Mate - Lawnmower
Mate - Lolli's
Mate - Morphy's
Mate - Opera
Mate - Pawn
Mate - Pillsbury's
Mate - Railroad
Mate - Smother
Mate - Suffocation
Mate - Swallow's Tail
Mate - Triangle
Mate - Vukovic
Mate Threat
Overloading
Pin
Quiet Move
Sacrifice
Simplification
Skewer
Trapped Piece
Unpinning
Unsound Sacrifice
Weak Back Rank
X-Ray Attack
Zugzwang
Zwischenzug

Do as many as you can rated 0 - 1400 each. The patterns should really burn into your mind. They have to become second nature. From my experience I can say that Pin, Fork, Double Attack and Skewer are very important. Don't expect to be done in a couple months. Don't overdo it or else you'll start to hate chess.

When your basics are good, you'll understand what's going on in harder tactic problems.

Also another very important thing:
Don't rush the problem. If it takes you > 30 min to solve, it's OK. Quality over quantity. You'll get faster over time. In the end you won't even visualize the single moves but see the end position.

Use checks, captures and threats

@nonicknamesleft I can't choose the level of difficulty of puzzles, nor the motifs.

I will admit sometimes I rush puzzles, or get cocky and take the "obvious" solution (which is more likely to be the wrong one the higher the rating).

There are a few where, when I do analysis, the winning next move is rated +3.9 and the one I chose was +3.8. I've tried playing each line forward a bit but there's often no obvious reason why the chosen one was better. This doesn't happen that often though.

practice on chesstempo

@nonicknamesleft Ugh - I hate that site, but i'll give it a go. I mean, i just tried and it seems to randomly switch between what I'm guessing is a new, unfinished beta site and an older one. Things pop-up; there are timers on the puzzle pages (who needs that?), it's not clear what I'm doing.. It feels like i'm trapped on some never-to-be-finished beta website. "Copyright (C) Chess Tempo 2007-2016" - yeah, that just about says it all.

@Doofenshmirtz go through all of lichess.org/practice
then study compositions selected by FM @thijscom
lichess.org/study/iDSPaPWA
lichess.org/study/ByFy31hm
lichess.org/study/RdtICntn

@Doofenshmirtz the site is not beatiful but it's the best tactics site with a membership. You can compose motif sets with spaced repitition and practice until it's second nature.

@gbtami Thanks! I got as far as "piece checkmates 2" and got slightly frustrated that it took me like 80 moves to finish the 1st 20 move checkmate. I need to think about how to solve it generally, i think.

This thread. This. 6 Months. 5000 puzzles. Holy Crap.