In Part 1 and Part 2 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.
The Principle of Tactical Dominance This is a great article that discusses “Positional considerations” (such as weak squares, isolated pawns, etc) versus “Tactical considerations” (such as winning a pawn).
Dan states the rule as follows:
Tactical criteria dominate positional criteria. Therefore, use of positional criteria is almost always useless if there is a tactic that wins material or checkmates; decide tactics first and only apply positional criteria if no tactic exists.
Dan gives several examples where his students (poorly) chose moves based on positional considerations such as “A knight on the rim is dim”, instead of tactical considerations such as “This move loses a pawn”.
Dan also mentions how weaker players will often waste time and energy in games thinking about obscure or unimportant positional considerations, then make a move that loses tactically!
The article mentions how chess players, who have never learned the basics of tactics, such as counting, are studying openings, and learning positional rules, that are basically useless without a good tactical foundation.
I really like this article a lot, and how Dan has a real knack for pointing out the “Elusive Obvious” that many weaker players suffer from.
A Different Approach to Studying Tactics In this article Dan reiterates the idea that “Just because you can solve a tactical problem does not necessarily mean that you will spot this tactic in a game.”
One of his solutions to this problem is to do the same problems over and over until you can solve them quickly, and basically without thinking. The simpler the tactic, the more that you should do it over and over.
I love this quote from the article, and is one of the reasons I made Tactics Time:
Tactics is almost undoubtedly the most productive single area that beginners and intermediates can study to improve their game – the more practice, the better.
Dan also provides a really good mental checklist to go through after each of your opponent’s moves.
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!