Regarding some of the newsletter problems being “too easy”. One reader (who has been rated over 2000 USCF) writes:
I just wanted to make a comment about the “too easy” sentiment of some players. Please don’t think that it’s just their egos talking. Until about a month ago or so I would normally get the Tactics Time tactic within ten seconds, it taking 30 seconds for some. (And there were one or two exceptional ones that I wouldn’t have been able to get for a long time.) I’m pleased that you began mixing it up a little the last month or so, and now a few are taking longer. But I just wanted to add my feedback that, for tournament players, most of them do seem pretty easy; it’s not necessarily that everyone is just assuming they’d get them.It might be that the reason simple tactics are missed in tournament games isn’t that the player couldn’t get them if he tried. I know that, personally, I miss a lot just because it’s more fun to look for tactics for myself and I often get sucker-punched because I’m just too focused on my own prospects to bother with my opponent’s. And of course you’re splitting up your mental energy to accomplish different tasks, and in the game no one tells you “okay, there’s a tactic here; now solve it” so you may be using up your time trying to figure out pawn exchanges to reach a favorable endgame when you should be solving that mate in two.
Hey thanks for the feedback!
Yeah it is a tough balance.
I would say my “target audience” would probably be an adult player who has been stuck at the 1200-1600 level for years and years.
The main reason that they are stuck at this level (in my opinion) is because they are not very good at recognizing basic tactical patterns, and are not diligently looking for tactics on each and every move.
Looking at your rating history, you have been over 2000, which says to me that at some point in your chess career you probably made a serious study of chess tactics, and have a good thinking process when it comes to move selection.
So I would expect most of the problems to be pretty easy for you. You are not really my “target audience”, although I certainly appreciate you reading my newsletters!
I agree too – it is an artificial environment, where I am saying “Hey look here for a chess tactic!”
I have some people at the opposite extreme – asking me why some variation doesn’t work – when the answer is sometimes that it is an illegal move, or a pawn can block the check, or other relatively simple, “obvious”, move. These are the people who will probably benefit the most from my newsletter. And I never mind answering these types of questions. We all have to start somewhere.
I think that once you have “pattern recognition” down, then the next step is just being able to calculate deeper and deeper. I am focusing more on problems that develop the pattern recognition skill, more than the calculating skills.
If you are missing the patterns of things like back rank mates, loose pieces, or knight forks on c6, then there is no way you can get harder problems that combine ideas like this.
But, that being said, I am trying to throw in a few harder problems here and there. I had another guy, who was rated about 2200 also telling me they were too easy lol. I really would need about 5 different newsletters to really satisfy everyone
- One for people who barely know how the pieces move
- one for people missing mates in one
- one for people on two move combos
- then 3-4 move combos
Really one of the main problems with chess is that there is not the kind of structured learning that other subjects like mathematics have.
In math, there is no way a textbook or newsletter would try to appeal to people who need to learn basic addition, with people who are looking to work on their advanced differential equations!
I think that there is a major problem though with “good” players missing BASIC tactics in their games, and I would LOVE to help people solve this problem in their games.
For example this position comes from a rated USCF Game/90 I played in November 2011 in Colorado Springs. My opponent is rated over 1600, and just played d5?? as black in this position.
I immediately played Qe5+ forking the King and the Rook on h8, winning a piece.
Now this “problem” is so easy, that I cannot include it in my chess tactics e-mail newsletter.
But this is exactly the sort of move that class players are making in their games!
- My opponent was not in time trouble.
- The position was not overly complicated.
- We had played many times against each other before.
- There was no stress like prize money on the line, etc.
So, my main objective in my newsletter is trying to get class players to eliminate these sorts of moves from their games. I think if I can do this, each player under 1800 can easily gain 100 rating points with no extra effort.
I am not trying to “trick” anyone with the chess problems.
I am not trying to make the study of chess tactics seem like some overly complicated subject, when it really isn’t.
I am mostly trying to get people in the habit of looking for tactics on each of their moves, and if their opponent has any tactics as a response to their move.
I am also trying to patch any holes that class players have in their tactical pattern mental database.
A lot of players play a game, make a simple tactical mistake, then just say “oh darn”, and think that they won’t do it again.
But they do it again and again.
The main problem is in their thinking process.
I am hoping with lots of examples of “simple” tactics being missed over and over, people will see that this is how games are being won or lost at the Under 1800 range.
It is the Elusive Obvious, that is front of everyone, but no one ever talks about!
And my goal is to fix that
Thanks again for the email!