Some Observations About the Puzzles

I've noticed that the puzzles, at least at my level (around 1700) always involve some sort of tactic that end in winning a piece or two or in checkmate. Certainly, this is the way they were intended.

Thus, it seems that the scope of these puzzles is rather narrow. It's easy for me to throw out options that would simply improve my position (like, for example, castling), winning a pawn, or avoid losing a piece or being checkmated. These are, of course, important parts of learning the game too, and I am confronted with that sort of situation in real play far more often than the positions that come up in the puzzles.

Do such positions appear in higher-rated puzzles? Or is there a reason that the focus is simply on tactical play rather than defensive/positional play? I know that a victory in a puzzle is supposed to provide you with a substantial advantage... but should it always be that way? It seems that in at least 90% of real game positions, the best move isn't likely to win a piece or more.

in my level, around 2000, the exercises are about tactic too.

I would like to see the second best also, a move which is not decisive but improving the position

Puzzles are ment to improve your calculation skills, most of the games that are decided at anybodies level below grandmaster are likely because of some type of blunder, if you have good tactics you wont make those blunders, tactics are not really for positional play, for that study master games or something along those lines.

But how did master learn positional play, before they had masters that tought?

they studied the game, and found patterns, and then chess slowly evoved

people have been playing chess for a loooooong time

@ProfessorBooty said (#1):
> puzzles, at least at my level (around 1700) always involve some sort of tactic

This actually is what they are for: puzzles are training your ability to recognise tactical opportunities when they emerge.

You are right about usually mate or winning decisive material advantage being involved. This only serves to make the correct continuation stand out from the others. The puzzles objective is rather to make you (better) recognise the tactical elements (forks, pins, skewers, discovered attacks, ...) when they appear and put them together so that you arrive at the solution.

Recognising these elements (and, by that, raising your tactical prowess) will help you in more than one way: first, positional planning involves tactical elements. You may be able to carry out a positional plan which wouldn't work "normally" but because of some tactics it will still work. You have to be able to find that out or you would shy away from the whole (perfectly viable) plan.

Second - and even more important - is the harsh reality of the game: games between people like you (and me as well, for that matter) are usually not decided by some superior positional planning, but by who first blunders on something vital. So, practicing your tactical awareness to avoid your own blunders or exploit the ones of your opponent helps your game immediately - much more so than acquiring positional abilities which we would not be able to profit from anyway because we lack the technique to convert these advantages even if we get them.


@ProfessorBooty At my level, mid to high 2300s, they are also tactical puzzles. That is because that is what they actually are. They are undeclared, typed, tactical puzzles. Mate in two, Mate in 5, Black to play and win... But you are left guessing the theme. This is useful in that it makes you explore a wider solution space, but is limited as true training. For real training I use chess tempo. Much wider selection of themes, you can play them type declared, or from an undeclared puzzle pool, and a better approach to what counts as success. Their puzzles are harder, and their rating scheme tougher. Expect to rate 300 to 400 points lower there.