Novice Nook on Chess Tactics Part II

In Part 1 of this article, I looked at several useful articles in Chesscafe’s Novice Nook Column, by NM Dan Heisman, that provided useful tips, tricks, and ideas related to the study of chess tactics.

In this article I will present a few more articles from their archive that I would recommend related to the topic of chess tactics.

One quick comment:  While the title “Novice Nook” might imply that the column is for true beginners, who barely know how the pieces move, the column is really geared towards players below the Master level.

Chess Tactics Seeds

Look for the Tactical Chess Seeds in your game, and watch your rating GROW

The Seeds of Tactical Destruction – This article does a great job of answering the question, “How do I know if the position contains a tactic in the first place”.  I have had readers of my chess tactics newsletter ask me this question.  They can find the answer when presented with a “White to Play and Win” problem, but will often miss the same tactic in a real game situation.  This is a common problem.

Dan provides a good list of these “seeds”, which include:

  • Loose (unguarded) pieces
  • Weak back rank
  • Pawns near promotion
  • Overworked pieces

He adds some good rules such as

In tactical positions, one should always consider checks, captures, and threats, usually in that order

and shows a nice example from one of his own games on how to implement this thinking process.

The Most Important Tactic – This is another article on the topic of “Counting”.  Dan writes:

players rated less than 1400 USCF make about as many counting errors as they do for all the other tactics put together!

which makes this a very important concept to understand, and one that is not talked a lot about by chess writers, or mentioned in chess books.

 There are a lot of good tips sprinkled throughout the article such as this one, which I really liked:

Remember, when your opponent takes a piece, you usually have to take a piece back, but it does not always have to be the recapture!

Even if you have read Dan’s other articles on counting, this is a good one to “Sharpen the Saw”.

Each of these articles should be read, reread, and applied to your tactical study!  Check out my Tactics Time program, which provides a large collection of tactics problems for you to solve!

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