Next topic to discuss here is the element of calculation:
Calculation rule 1:
When you calculate or look for candidate moves, you need to set yourself a goal for your calculation. This goal must be realistic according to the logic of the position. For example, if you are much ahead in development, or have more pieces near opponent’s king, the goal should be “checkmating”. On the other hand, if you are worse, the goal could be finding a way to equalize.
If the position is equal and the game is slow and positional, the calculation could help you in achieving strategic goals, namely, it helps to find a proper way or a move order.
If you have a bad position, it could often be extremely useful to sacrifice material and complicate the position at any cost. If your opponent has a risk-free positional pressure and you sacrifice an exchange, or a pawn even though it could be dubious objectively, it could get him out of his comfort zone and give you additional chances.
Calculation rule 2:
When you have understood what you should be looking for, start from the variation that seems to be the most logical one. If it doesn’t work, switch to a more weird-looking move, but don’t start from calculating them.
Calculation rule 3:
If you have found an obvious way how to achieve the goal you’ve set. Let’s assume you think you are worse and you see a clear way of equalizing. Don’t stop there, try to look for more. The main rule of strong players is: if you see a good move, try to find a better one!
However, you should also consider how much time you have.
Calculation rule 4:
If you are down on time, and you don’t find a way to achieve the goal you’ve set, you have to lower your objective. For example, if you wanted to win on the spot with a tactical shot, but don’t see the way, you can go for a clear advantage.
Calculation rule 5:
The most important thing: calculation is vital, and you need to work out the lines in every game, but don’t do it when it’s unnecessary!
A lot of amateurs, when they have a choice between simple continuation, that leads to an endgame with an extra piece, or some unclear position chose the latter option.
Why? They want to win faster.
However, the objective of the game of chess is to win, not to do it fast. If you can simplify and win without allowing counterplay, just do it.
Hopefully, my advice will help you to improve calculation skills as well as boost your practical results. The skill of calculating is crucial for everyone in every single game.
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