Top 7 Chess Calculation Mistakes to Avoid

Top 7 Chess Calculation Mistakes to Avoid

Many club players believe that tactics is the main reason they are stuck at that 1200, 1400, or 1800 level. And they are mostly correct. The ability to solve tactics greatly increases your chances to conquer the next rating bracket.

What could be more powerful than training tactics?

The answer is simple. Working on your calculation skills.

The calculation is a universal weapon you use to see whether that exchange is a good one or whether you should trade Queen’s and go into the pawn endgame. There are no tactics. But there is tons of calculation. If you improve your calculation you’ll improve your chess. It’s as simple as that.

And today we are going to see the top 7 calculation mistakes you should avoid.

Calculation Mistake 1. Calculating the Wrong Lines

It happens to the best of us… How many times did you calculate the line only to learn that it’s clearly not the strongest continuation? It may be “bad” for very reasons you ignored in the first place. But time on the clock is gone and there is no way you can calculate the “good line” anymore. And you make a completely different move, simply because the one you calculated was bad.

And guess what? This is a losing proposition. This move might be a bad one too.

The lesson is simple. Carefully select the lines to calculate. Don’t focus all your energy on 1-2 lines unless you are absolutely certain it is the one.

Calculation Mistake 2. Calculating Not Deeply Enough

Oftentimes, club players quickly see the best move and after calculating 3 moves ahead decide that this is the move to play.

Winning an exchange?

What could possibly be better in a dead equal position?

And the move is quickly played on the board. If they only calculated another move, they would see that after winning that exchange they are losing a piece, and after another couple moves – the game.

The takeaway from all this? Calculate deeper, and make sure not to miss important nuances of the position that could result in losing a piece and the game.

Calculation Mistake 3. Not Evaluating the Final Position Correctly

Calculating the position is only half of the battle. If you can’t correctly evaluate the final position, most likely you won’t be able to find the best move.

After calculating 3-4-5 moves deep you need to stop and evaluate what’s going on on the board. If the final position is better than the initial one, the move could be the one to consider. Next, you’ll calculate other lines [candidate moves] and pick the move leading to the best final position.

Club players often do not evaluate the final position correctly. Even though they calculated 4-5 moves deep with no mistakes they step straight into an uneven exchange or worse… a checkmate.

Calculation Mistake 4. Making a Mistake in the Middle of Your Calculation

This is a big one. You calculate 3 moves deep. Then forget about one of your opponent’s pieces. Then calculate 3 more moves. Everything looks great. You go for it. And bang. After move 3 an unexpected happens. Your opponent plays a different move. It’s all over you are a queen down.

Let’s pause here.

Why did this happen? A slight mistake in the middle of the calculation will have severe consequences. Calculate the same line more than once if time permits. Double-check yourself. Did you miss something?

Calculation Mistake 5. Hoping Your Opponent Won’t Find The Best Move

This is many club player’s favorites. They calculate a line. Everything looks good, but only if on the move 4 your opponent doesn’t play this Ne5 move. They hope for the best. Because if he doesn’t they are a piece up.

Very dangerous game.

It’s much better to assume your opponent will play the best move and be prepared for it.

Calculation Mistake 6. Relying on Intuition Instead of Calculating

Intuition can suggest something when it’s not possible to calculate. Club players use it more freely.

If they don’t feel like calculating a more or less complex-looking line they rely on intuition.

Big mistake!

If you want to have consistent results in chess without sudden losses and rating holes, calculate more instead or relying on intuition.

Calculation Mistake 7. Not Training Your Calculation Skills

This is another big one. Most club players tend to spend their time studying opening, playing blitz on the internet, or playing puzzle rush. Some regularly work on tactics.

Only very few work on calculation. And typically they are rated above 2000.

If you want to improve your game work on your calculation.

And if you want to become one of those stronger players I have great news for you.

FM Viktor Neustroev created a complete Calculation Workshop where he takes you from the basics to very advanced tactics explaining the key ideas, techniques, and patterns throughout the way!

And for a very limited time, the Calculation Workshop is 70% OFF!

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Updated 01.02.2024