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  1. 30 May '10 04:28
    Over the past few months I've spent a good amount of time practicing tactics on ChessTempo.com. I've put in 44 hours of practice and attempted over 2,000 problems. My tactics rating is 1740, which I'm proud of because I've improved at solving tactical problems without question.

    The hangup is that solving problems and winning at chess are two different skills; and despite their overlap, I doubt that tactical training alone can take me much further. I'd like to learn how I can better create the types of positions I see in all those great chess problems!

    So what can I do to learn to create more and better tactical shots?

    A final note: Compared to my over-the-board opponents, my knowledge of openings seems to be relatively equal -- and sometimes greater -- so improvement in that aspect is probably not the answer to my dilemma. Thanks for reading and all responses are appreciated!
  2. Standard member Thabtos
    I am become Death
    30 May '10 04:58 / 1 edit
    I'd say, get something like CT Art or the Encyclopedia of Chess middlegames and start committing a lot of tactics to memory.

    There is a big difference between calculating a forced variation that's presented to you as such and being able to set up a favorable one for yourself OTB.
  3. 30 May '10 06:27
    Take control of the centre, post your pieces actively, open lines to the open king and voila! "Combinations are as natural as a baby's smile" (Reuben Fine)
  4. 30 May '10 06:47
    Originally posted by geo86012
    Take control of the centre, post your pieces actively, open lines to the open king and voila! "Combinations are as natural as a baby's smile" (Reuben Fine)
    I know the basic tenets; unfortunately, some of my opponents know them even better.
  5. 30 May '10 07:27
    just go nuts
  6. Standard member orion25
    Art is hard
    30 May '10 07:58 / 1 edit
    Ignore every threat you can, use the tempo you win to place your pieces more actively - move the knights to the 5th rank, give your bishops the best diagonals, prepare your rooks to enter the opponents position etc.. And sack pawns, its no shame to loose a good game, its better than to draw a boring game...

    Also, refrain from simplifying the position, if you can trade of pieces, don't. Keep the pieces in prise and instead attack other pieces - complicate the position.
  7. 30 May '10 08:56
    From my limited experience, it has seemed to me that combinations arose after one side had
    obtained an advantage. Whether that be an advantage in material, space or time (developement).
    The advantage can also be in the form of a weakness in your opponent's position such as a
    loose piece, a poorly defended king or a backwards pawn to name a few.

    This position is from Reinfeld's 1001 combinations book - white to play



    Notice white has the edge in space and developement. 1.Qe4 threatens mate and attacks
    the bishop on e7.

    This also is from Reinfeld's book - white to play



    Here white has the positional advantage again. More space and two pieces on the 6th rank.
    1.Bxc6 and whether black takes the bishop or moves his rook out of the way white
    responds 2.Nd5 threatening 3.Nxe7# to which black must give up material to
    avoid the mate.

    You'll notice when solving tactical puzzles that the side with the winning combination will
    often have a positional edge as in these two examples.

    You stated you solve problems at ChessTempo. Next time you're doing tacics there stop and look
    at the position and ask yourself if this position came up in a game would you see the tactic.
    Or better yet would you know to look for a tactic in that position? Usually there is something
    about the position that will tell you there is a tactic available. Most of the time it's a
    loose piece or an exposed king.

    From ChessTempo - white to play



    The loose bishop at e5 is screaming that there is a tactic to be had. First you may notice that
    1.Bxh7+ Kxh7 2.Qh5+ wins a pawn. A common tactic. But 1.Qe4 threatens mate at h7
    and the loose bishop. Not 1.Qh5 because black can stop the attack with1...f5.

    So this partly answers your question. First, if you build up a positional advantage you may
    find combinations available. Second, there may be tactics in your games that you're missing
    because you don't know when to look for them.

    This last position comes from Tarrasch's Game of Chess - white to play



    There's no tactic here just a general idea in trying to create a tactical chance. Tarrasch
    suggests 1.Qb3. Putting queens, bishops and rooks on the same line or diagonal as the
    enemy king can often be favorable. So even though there are three pawns between the queen and
    king the queen can still be an influence. A possible but not forced continuation could be:



    And white wins a pawn since the d pawn is pinned. Not forced but good things can happen when
    your pieces are lined up with the opponent's king.

    Anyway take this advice with a grain of salt. I'm only just learning this game and I'm far from
    good. But these are just a few things I've picked up along the way that I thought might help.

    Oh and just to beat greenpawn34 to the punch, when looking for tactics in your games remember
    to "check all checks"!
  8. 30 May '10 11:44
    Originally posted by Maxacre42
    just go nuts
    1. f4!

    Wait for your opponent to resign.

    It is the best combination!
  9. 30 May '10 13:03
    Originally posted by Tigerhouse
    ...
    So what can I do to learn to create more and better tactical shots?

    A final note: Compared to my over-the-board opponents, my knowledge of openings seems to be relatively equal -- and sometimes greater -- so improvement in that aspect is probably not the answer to my dilemma. Thanks for reading and all responses are appreciated!
    This is a really good question. I don't know of a lot of books that cover this (maybe someone else does), so I'm left with my own opinions on this matter, which some of the other players may want to correct. At least three points:

    1) Even at the GM level, people don't always notice tactics when they are available. Solving puzzles is only part of the issue; in puzzles, you are told a tactic exists. In real life, you don't know for sure. There are books that sort of cover this issue, though (I don't know them by title), but what they say is that you start looking for tactics when there are elements like pins, overloaded defenders, etc. in the position. In my own games, I tend to start looking for tactics when I have a significant positional advantage, but can't find a way to win (or conversely, when defending), which brings us to the next point.

    2) Some GM once said "Tactics flow from good positions". In other words, to get lots of tactical shots, you need superior positional play. In particular, you need your pieces on good squares, and your opponents pieces on bad squares. Tactics seem to just arise regulalrly in these positions.

    3) Positional play which emphasizes piece activity (getting pieces on good squares and creating open lines for them, even at the cost of material) creates more tactics. This is what is meant (IMO) when people talk about "dynamic play". A good example of this can be found in Shirov's "Fire on the Board" although he doesn't talk about it specifically. There's probably some books which cover this more directly.

    So, the direct answer to your question is that you need to improve your positional play to get more tactical opportunities.
  10. 30 May '10 14:32
    Originally posted by Erekose
    So, the direct answer to your question is that you need to improve your positional play to get more tactical opportunities.
    Nice post. I'd add...

    If a "positional advantage" doesn't eventually contribute to an advantageous tactical operation then why is it an advantage at all?! In the end, the real definition of a positional advantage is whether it can be converted via tactical means or not.

    For example, as is often said, a "weak" pawn is only weak if it can be attacked. Controlling an open file is only worth what you can use the file for. And the bishop pair is relative to how much effect they can actually be put to. etc.

    So, in this respect, assessing a positional advantage is much more specific than considering a list of textbook features. Instead, you need to build real positional advantages in the context of the given game. And then these will genuinely result in tactical operations.

    Of course, this is easier said than done, and is a skill that needs a lot of work. I'd imagine that studying e.g. Alekhine/Kasparov's games would be useful in this respect, while paying attention to what positional advantages they strive for.

    e.g. in Kasparov's video series, he often highlights the factors which contribute to a winning attack such as a superior number of pieces in that area of the board, or how a certain pawn plays a significant attacking role. At the same time, the opponent's control of a file and knight outpost may be no more than illusions of positional advantages.

    Identifying real positional advantages is the key to generating real tactical possibilities.
  11. 30 May '10 17:01 / 2 edits
    Good Thread.

    Someone stated the main difference between solving problems and
    actually playing is no one taps you on the shoulder and says 'Mate in three."

    So before you work out the combination. First You MUST SEE the combination.

    This comes with study and experiance.
    Of the two I'd say playing as often as you can when first starting out.

    All too often these magic moments can pass by and the chance is gone.

    And it is often. CHESS publish two pages of combo's to solve every month.
    Usually at least a 3rd of these were actually missed OTB.

    Don't shudder at the mystery of so called positional play
    and feel the need to rush out and buy a book.

    If you place your pieces on active squares and think about moves
    (especially middle game pawn moves) that may limit your pieces or
    enhance the movement of your opponents pieces, then you will be
    playing good positional chess even without realising it.

    The note;"This is posionally bad." often follows a clumsy pawn move.
    So give every pawn move in the middle game extra thought.
    (and then move a piece instead.)

    This advice is aimed at 1600 playerss and under. Do it in stages.
    Eradicate one blunders, no more 'passing the buck' silly pawn moves
    and get tooled up tactically.

    How to create tactical possibilities?

    It takes two to Tango.

    If your opponent is not willing to enter a hand to hand fight and you
    want one then you have to take a risk or two (or three or four).

    If you are getting beat (and you must be good enough to recognise
    and accept this before it's too late).

    Then you MUST mess it up. Sac pawns and pieces for active play.
    Anything to put your opponent out of his stride.
    Very difficult to pull off on here but OTB or in blitz this can work.

    The ability to create tactical possibilities is a must if you are
    going pull games out of the fire and 'cheapo' them.

    The term 'Cheapo' is often misused.
    I see in the 'Mate Under 20 Moves' thread Paul calls his last game a cheapo.

    It ended after 6 moves thus:



    No way was White losing this he just jumped on weak moves
    with no risk involved

    So I thought I'd Google 'Chess + Cheapo.' to find an example.

    OOPS!

    2nd hit is a Chandler Cornered,

    http://www.chessedinburgh.co.uk/chandlerarticle.php?ChandID=242

    And has this OTB game by me as Black.

    I rely on White grabbing my Queen and not 'Checking all Checks'
    This is a Cheapo.

    It caught 3 players.
    My opponent and both team captains, who were watching this game,
    had written '0' after my name on the league team score sheet.

    Three pieces always mate and Check all Checks.

  12. 31 May '10 00:53
    It sounds like high time to get back to basics! I read through all the posts and went through all the positions. Thanks for the advice and pointers, especially KneeCaps, Erekose, Varenka and greenpawn34.
  13. Standard member bill718
    Enigma
    31 May '10 01:43
    Originally posted by Tigerhouse
    Over the past few months I've spent a good amount of time practicing tactics on ChessTempo.com. I've put in 44 hours of practice and attempted over 2,000 problems. My tactics rating is 1740, which I'm proud of because I've improved at solving tactical problems without question.

    The hangup is that solving problems and winning at chess are two different ...[text shortened]... robably not the answer to my dilemma. Thanks for reading and all responses are appreciated!
    You seem to be doing a lot of the right things, all I could suggest at this point is to start anaylizing games at the GM level that use the openings you do, to see how they transition to the middlegame...and be paitent. Rome was not built in a day.
  14. 31 May '10 04:29
    I think that this field of expertise. The ability to create tactical positions is to a large extent simply a matter of how strong the players are.

    For example if you play someone super significantly lower rated by a large amount maybe 500 points.You will be able to pull off all kinds of tactics.Even saccing a queen will seem easy to do.

    When playing a strong player relative to ones own rating it will often feel like you either have no play or no prospects at all or that your opponent has super duper lots of play and prospects which are so dangerous.
  15. 04 Jun '10 18:24
    You say your knowledge of openings is greater than that of your opponents.

    You may also remember hearing earlier that, "tactical opportunities arise from a superior position."

    Well, knowing your openings isn't exactly the same thing as understanding them positionally, but knowing book moves will assure that you DO HAVE a good position, at least as far as you can follow the line. Good book knowledge is like positional skill in the early part of the game gained for free.

    When your opponent deviates from your book knowledge, bells should go off. Take it as a cue: "white to move and win." In shorter time control games, you may only have one or two chances to stop and think. Make THAT move...the one where you have at least some real reason to believe your opponent MAY have made a poor move...one where you stop and think. Your opponent may well have made a good move. His opening knowledge may be better than yours. He may even have discovered novelty right there, in that game, than no grandmaster ever considered before...but frankly, fat chance. You can do a lot worse than to assume a move you haven't seen early in a game is a blunder for SOME reason. Take a little of your time, and look for the reason.

    In longer time control games, assume there's a tactic every move from that point on. If you can't find it, you need to play strategically. Strategy can get pretty advanced, but at lower levels, it can be kept pretty simple without going too far wrong. It can be as simple as (mentioned earlier), "line your pieces up with the opponent's king/queen, and see if you can find a tactic next move around."

    That's not 2400 level thinking, but it's probably far better strategically than whatever you're doing now.