Tactics Time was starting in 2003 when I was editor of the Colorado Chess Informant, which is the quarterly magazine for the Colorado State Chess Association.

It started as a column of 9 tactics puzzles with positions featured from real players and real games from Colorado, and I while I am no longer the editor, I still write this column for the magazine today!

In May 2009 I started learning about blogging, and publishing content on the web.  I didn’t really have much focus on what I wanted to say, and like a lot of people my blogging died out when I got busy with other things.  But I learned a lot of cool things.

In May 2011, I started tacticstime.com, bringing my Tactics Time column to the Internet.


My main goal is to help adult class players who are stuck at a certain rating break through to the next level.

I have found most chess blogs to be fairly unhelpful.  They are either:

  • Just egocentric based projects, focused on the authors games, regardless if the game is even interesting or useful.
  • So poorly designed that you get a headache just looking at them
  • Very long winded, so it is hard to find the gems (low signal to noise ratio)
  • Possibly very well done, but on subjects that I don’t care about (chess history, professional chess, chess compositions)

So I decided to create a website about the things I care about:

  • Helping YOU improve YOUR chess rating
  • Helping YOU win more games

Some people just play for fun, and that is great.  They pull out a chess set once a year, don’t know what en passant is, and have no clue what an Elo Rating is. 

Personally I care about winning, and I care about my rating, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that.

On my blog and especially in my newsletters, I wanted to share the best things I have learned about

  • chess
  • success
  • improvement
  • achievement

At the same time, I like to also have fun, so you will see some silly things here related to chess, and I do enjoy chess stories, so it is not 100% dedicated to crushing your opponent :-)

But back on the topic of chess improvement…

The most important thing I have learned about chess is this:

There is a difference between chess knowledge and chess ability.

Chess Knowledge includes things that you might know about chess – for example how to checkmate with 3 knights versus a bare king.

Chess Ability is your ability to win games and gain rating points.

Tactics Time focuses on building your Chess Ability, and has a complete disregard for increasing your Chess Knowledge if it doesn’t help your Chess Ability.

You will not find information on

  • Important Opening Theoretical Novelties
  • Topical variations that Grandmasters are playing
  • Ideas on the importance of planning
  • What your middlegame strategy should be
  • Pawn Structures
  • Endgame studies 

It is not that this information is useless, it just doesn’t give you the most “bang for your buck”.

If you have 40+ hours per week to devote to chess, by all means, study these topics.

If you enjoy these topics, and want to study them, I say go for it.

Checkmating with 3 knights against a bare king is interesting in my opinion.  It just has no real practical value, and will likely never come up ever in one of your games.

But, if you are a busy adult player, with limited amounts of time and energy you can’t afford to waste time on these subjects if you want to win more games, and raise your rating.

If you are a busy adult player, I think that the best thing you can do is to study tactics

That’s it.

And not even difficult tactics.  I think that mastering 1-3 move tactics, and working on your thinking process can help you make massive improvement.

People have a lot of misconceptions about chess.  People think that you have to be “smart” to play chess.  Whenever a movie wants to show how smart someone is, they show them playing or studying chess.

Because of this wide spread idea, people think “Wow, this must be a difficult game!”

Then this misconception is backed up with “facts” like there being more chess positions, than atoms in the universe.  Which may be true, most of these chess positions would be completely absurd, and impractical.

I have looked at, studied, and analyzed thousands of class player games at this point. 

Most of them are being won and lost by very primitive means

I am talking about blunders that are like cheap toilet paper – only 1 ply.

This was actually quite shocking to me. 

I realized most people only try to publish and show off their “brilliancies”, and throw the score sheets of their terrible games riddled with blunders in the trash.

I don’t blame these people for being embarrassed by their loses, but I think that this tendency has created the illusion that other players are better than they are. 

Looking at only the best games of class players is like looking at an airbrushed, photo shopped eharmony.com profile pic, which was taken 15 years and 30 pounds ago!  It isn’t accurate!

I wanted to look at real games – warts and all – and see what is really going on in the games of class players, and develop a system for adults (like me!) who want to improve.

I am a big fan of “K.I.S.S” – Keep It Simple Stupid :-)

So that is why I created Tactics Time – to help remove a lot of the clutter in the chess world, and create my own small space focused on what I think is the most important aspect of chess in the universe


If you are interested in this, the first step is to sign up for my free chess tactics e-mail newsletter.

The newsletter is free, and comes out every other day.

Each newsletter contains a chess tactic taken from a real class player game.

Each problem is original, and contains a verbal explanation about the answer.  Each answer is checked with a computer, and I have lots of readers who give me feedback whenever they find a mistake, which are quickly corrected to benefit future readers.

My newsletter is like the Lazy Man’s Guide to Chess Improvement :-).

I know that my newsletter has helped me with my own rating, and has helped me win more games, and I know that it can help you as well, based on the feedback I have received.

If for some reason you don’t like my chess newsletter, you can always unsubscribe with no hassle, and just one click.  Each newsletter contains an unsubscribe link at the end, and I will never spam you.

About the Author

My name is Tim Brennan, and I am currently living in Colorado Springs, CO.

I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA, and went to North Hills High School.

I graduated with a BS in Computer Science from Allegheny College, which was founded in 1815, and is one of the oldest schools in the country.  I took night classes in my spare time for years, and graduated from the University of Colorado at Denver in 2007 with an MS in Computer Science.

I started playing chess after I graduated from Allegheny, and had more time on my hands.  This was during the Kasparov Deep Blue matches, which really intrigued me.  I was in Philadelphia for the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) conference where the first match was held.

I had known how the pieces move, since I was a kid, but never took it seriously until I was an adult and out of school.

I struggled as a low rated D player until I learned the power of studying tactics.  After I learned this secret, I shot through the ranks, practically skipping the C class all together, all the way up to the 1800s.  You can see my rating history here.

I am not a chess superstar by any means, but I have won multiple tournaments sections, including ones at large tournaments, and have won hundred of dollars in prize money this year.  I’ve learned what it takes to get better at chess, and feel that it is not just limited to child prodigies, or people who started playing seriously at a young age.

Additionally I have a real interest in self improvement.  I love listening to audio books on the topics of success, business, psychology, personal development, self improvement, and prosperity. 

Tactics Time combines my love of chess, computers, and self-improvement, and I hope that you enjoy it also!

Thanks for visiting! 

If you haven’t signed up for my newsletter yet, be sure to!  I think that you will like it!  Just enter your e-mail address in the form below :)

Your comments and feedback via e-mail is very welcomed! My e-mail address is Tim (AT) TacticsTime (DOT) COM.


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