Anthea Carson wrote an interesting HubPage article entitled “Chess: How to Spot Tactics”, which I really enjoyed. I posted a link to this article on reddit.com, and it got a 100% up vote score, with no down votes (which is very rare).
The article is available online here, and I will try to summarize the high points.
In the article, Anthea lays out the thinking process she uses to find tactics in her game, and uses a specific example, which is the position above.
“Lee Simmons of Colorado’s Rocky Mountain Chess has a method of calculation that he teaches called “The Compulsion Scale.” Using the Compulsion Scale I found the right move in this position during a real game.
Finding a tactic in a real game is actually a lot harder than finding one in a tactics puzzle. In a puzzle you know it’s there, so you know to look for it.
In a real game you don’t know it’s there. But if you use the Compulsion Scale you will find it.”
She then goes into details about the types of moves that she looks for. These include:
- Threats of Checkmate
- Heavy Material Threats (Queens, Rooks)
- Light Material Threats (Bishops, Knights, Pawns)
- Threats to Improve your position
I am a big fan of using mental checklists, and most importantly looking for tactics on every move.
Anthea’s idea about Tactics Problems being a lot easier than finding them in a real game are spot on. If you can treat each move in a game as if it is a tactics problem this can help as well, as long as you realize there isn’t always going to be a tactic there.