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  1. 15 Apr '07 12:07
    Is tactics puzzles merely chess entertainent? What value does it have in developing one's capabilities? Is it best for beginners? Is there evidence that players at a certain level improve by spending time on puzzles? One reason I'm wondering is that in games opportunities don't pop up like the puzzles - the whole thinking process up to the position is missing - so the mental situation is artificial and does not represent what you find in a game. Two more reasons:
    1) In a puzzle you know there is a win in some form just a few moves away - in real life you don't have this luxury, and also
    2) the first move is often a bit of a giveaway because most times it is a surprising one - for entertainment purposes.
    Would be interested in views.
  2. 15 Apr '07 12:32
    Originally posted by erling
    Is tactics puzzles merely chess entertainent? What value does it have in developing one's capabilities? Is it best for beginners? Is there evidence that players at a certain level improve by spending time on puzzles?
    no, huge, yes, yes
  3. 15 Apr '07 12:41
    Thanks Would you care to explain a bit more?
  4. Standard member wormwood
    If Theres Hell Below
    15 Apr '07 13:16
    Originally posted by erling
    Thanks Would you care to explain a bit more?
    solving tactics is not about winning the game of 'solving a problem'. it's about developing the ability to see the board. our brain doesn't possess that kind of a visual processing system naturally, so there needs to be some synaptic reorganization in order to develop one. which happens very slow of course. it's done by repetition, doing the search for tactics + calculation so many times that it literally reprograms a part of your brain to process a 8x8 grid with pieces. that's 4 dimensions, 2 spatial ones, 1 for the different type of pieces, and 1 for time. time means 'depth'. that's an unnatural input to process for us, so we're not born with it.

    when you start playing chess, the positions are just a crazy jumble of pieces, and you can't see the relevant aspects of the position, no matter how hard you focus or try. you just don't see. but as you train, you slowly develop the necessary visual processing system, which will process positions hundreds of times faster than 'thinking it out'. just like cpu vs gpu, if you're familiar with graphics processing.

    that's why you do tactics, why it takes a lot of elbow grease, and why it works so extremely well. it has nothing to do with whether tactics occur on every move in real games or not. that's also why it has to be hard. just half-assedly skimming through problems won't force your brain to change. it needs to be exhausting and preferably daily training.

    but it works.
  5. Standard member ivan2908
    SelfProclaimedTitler
    15 Apr '07 20:36
    You are pretty smart wormwood, very nice explanation.

    It makes my brain hungry for some new mental software
  6. 15 Apr '07 20:47 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by wormwood
    solving tactics is not about winning the game of 'solving a problem'. it's about developing the ability to see the board. our brain doesn't possess that kind of a visual processing system naturally, so there needs to be some synaptic reorganization in order to develop one. which happens very slow of course. it's done by repetition, doing the s nge. it needs to be exhausting and preferably daily training.

    but it works.
    That's a good explanation as to why doing tactics puzzles work and probably it's recommended by so many people involved in chess improvement. It's true that with some puzzles you can just "try saccing the queen...try saccing the rook etc. and that approach is unlikely to work in a real game. I guess there is a difference's in the quality of puzzle and I like the ones from real games.

    You could take any position you're playing and imagine it was presented in a book of puzzles where the objective was to achieve a slightly more favorable position...and keep looking until you find something.

    PS Just went to my games and took my own advice (for once) and found a sweet tactic...might post it when the games finished!
  7. Standard member wittywonka
    Chocolate Expert
    15 Apr '07 21:12 / 1 edit
    Well it also depends on what kind of puzzles you are talking about. You are right, "mate in x" puzzles aren't as necessarily helpful as "white/black to move" puzzles in which a win might occur or just positional/matetial advantage might occur. For example, such a puzzle might show how you could fork a knight and bishop with a pawn in x moves. Also, "mate in one" puzzles probably aren't as difficult/suited for intermediate/advanced players, but they might be good for beginners. It all depends.