Originally posted by !~TONY~!
Take a break from all the tactics and such if you feel like it's not helping or you're getting burned out. How much do you study other parts of the game? If you're taking very long thinks, maybe it's because you haven't studied enough openings and the typical positions that arise from them. For instance, I play the Sicilian Dragon nearly exclusively against levels 1-3, and a decent amount of 4, nearly instantly, since I've seen them enough.
for a while I'm playing the english as white and the french as black exclusively, to narrow down and learn them, I'll take your advice and spend some more time on studying those.
but my problem seems with my thinking "schedule". I really would like to know how a strong player thinks. But I mean, in detail. what I try to do is, when it's my move, 1)look at the "range" of all opponent's pieces, even if they are blocked by something (this almost means looking at every possible move, very briefly), and try to find if there are any threats. 2) look at all possible checks and captures. 3) look at my opponent's weaknesses, hanging pawns, weak pawns, unprotected piece etc. 4) look at the range of my all pieces (and pawns). 5) select candidate moves, and try to analyze them.
I fail somewhat at step 2 and miserably at 5, since I make a lot of blunders. and I know this seems not convincing, but I believe my visualization skills are quite good, I can "see" long variations etc, but I just miss a 1-mover. I just push my h pawn to h3 and the g2 pawn hangs, etc. and most of the time cannot follow this regime anyway, that "subtle" check gets missed somehow. I'm not even bothering to mention how I react with time trouble.
anyway, about CT-Art, it's almost torture. I study them by difficulty level, and am currently somewhere around problem 750, that means difficulty 40.
what I began when I came to 30 difficulty problems is, I open CT-Art, get the problem to a pgn, then open the pgn in a 3D board in Chessmaster, and try to calculate all the way (including side variations). then, get back to CT-Art and make the move. if it's correct, fine, I go on. if not, I try to find the correct solution in 2D. if I still fail to do it, then I just make moves until CT-Art shows me the correct one. Then, if I still fail to understand why my move was wrong, I plug the pgn into Fritz.
I probably spend 20 mins for the 40-level problems. this should be around for 15 mins for 30-level.
I'm starting to get pretty frustrated as the 40 difficulty seems a little over my head, I fail to find (let's say) 30-40 % of the correct move(s) that's another phase of chess I'm stuck at.
solving 30 difficulty questions instantly seems impossible for me. how much does it take for you to solve an average 40, if you haven't seen it before?
By the way, I appreciate this, not many strong players bother to share their experience, thanks.
edit: wow this post has become long, sorry I just had to let it out