Originally posted by cmsMaster
Part 1: TACTICS
I hope this thread will be used effectively by all sub 1600 players on here looking to improve and push towards the 1600, 1800, and 2000+ marks. I offer my advice based on my own experience only. I recommend that any sub 1400 players first refer to RahimK's 1400 thread, 1600, and Dragon Fire's 2000 thread. My hope is that all improving players will comm is ever couple of days. The more often you play and practice the sooner you'll see results.
Wasn't this a surprise? Who would have thought that the first key to chess improvement is tactics? They only make up 90% of chess.
This is actually the easiest, most enjoyable, and most effective way to improvement. Tactics are essential for every chess player, and most games no matter what level are decided by tactics. I recommend that at least 10 tactical problems be done every night. It should take somewhere between 10 to 20 minutes, unless you are using something like chess tactics server, which chooses quantity over quality (so to speak..). People's opinions on this topic differ greatly. Some argue that more tactics are the key, while others argue that harder more challenging problems are the key. IMO, if you're doing tactics you're improving - no matter what kind of tactics they are.
Blitz games are also a good way to study tactics. I hear many people suggest that only long time control games should be played, and there's definitely plenty of support for this argument. But if you have the ability to play a couple of blitz games a night, and not throw off your timing in longer time control games this can be a nice way to practice live tactics. However, I recommend that book, website, or programs instead be used to practice tactics. I'd spend approximately a half hour to an hour on tactics every night to see rapid improvement.
Suggestions for tactical practice:
Chess Tactics For Champions by Judit Polgar
Laszlo Polgar's 5,334 Tactical Problems
Or really just about any other book compiled of tactical problems, it's hard to go wrong here really.
http://chess.emrald.net/ - fast paced tactics, the quantity method
The longer thinking time style
CT ART 3.0 - I wouldn't recommend anything else.
All of these are excellent ways to study tactics. Whatever suits your style is the one to choose IMO.