It is well known that tactics play a major role in the chess game. The ability to spot tactical motifs and hidden combinations is a must have for every chess players who wish to obtain notable results.
However, the vast majority of players does not shine because of their talent in spotting tactics; in fact, many are just average in this aspect. The reason for this may well be that it is an element of chess that hasn’t been trained properly or even not at all. There is the thought that tactical vision, or let’s say tactical style, is something innate; you either have it or you don’t.
It is true that some strong players are gifted with the magic vision and they produce magical tactics in their games one time after another. However, those are only a few. Truth is that tactical vision and calculation (they are two different things but pretty much tied one to the other) can be trained and improved to a higher level. It takes time, but if you walk through the path, if you do your homework, your tactics will improve 100%.
In this article, we want to describe a typical training system which you can employ to get better at tactical play. The following tips and advice are to start from scratch; if you feel like you can skip some techniques then use what you think will work best for you.
The games of Tal and Bronstein to start with. Get inspired by going over the most amazing games of these two artists. In his book The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, there is a chapter dedicated to explained combinations, for example.
Seeing a lot of tactical games will open your eyes about the possibilities hidden on the chessboard.
Tactics are based on patterns. For example, a dangerous pin, a weakness on the king’s shelter, an unprotected piece – these are all tactical themes. It is useful to learn them all and it should be a fairly easy thing to do.
Of course, this is the most important task and the most difficult too.
We recommend you dedicate a little time to solving tactical puzzles every day. Aim for quantity and precision, not difficulty. Do this as many times as you can and try to improve it every time.
Tactics often demand good calculation. In order to improve your calculation tool, you need to solve more difficult exercises. Find positions with several branches of variations; there are plenty of books available with top quality exercises.
Once you have taken your work to more advanced stages, then there are small things that you can add to become better and better. One of them, for example, is to work on your visualization. It is easy to miss things during a game when you are calculating long lines.
You can forget a piece was here or there and then blunder something. Happens to the best. However, you can work this aspect of your skills by solving exercises blindfold. If it’s too hard, try playing games blindfold or going through a game without moving pieces; all in your mind.
Then, when you reach a certain point where you feel you can’t see it anymore, put the position you have in your head on a chess board, take a look and go on with the rest of the game without moving the pieces! It is amazing how these techniques can improve your skills.
With this, we finish our article on this important theme of chess competitions. We hope it turns out useful for you and feel free to share with us your comments on any method to improve your tactical play.