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I've been using chesstempo for quite a while solving lots of problems per day. What I noticed is that I don't feel that my tactical skills were improving. My results in tournament games were not improving either.

However chesstempo's estimate of my rating is more or less accurate (around 1950).

So the question is - did such websites help you to improve your tactic skills? if so, how many positions/hours per day were you solving? Did they provide accurate estimation of your rating (comparing to your real-life rating)?

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HTML links, saving people googles since I joined SE… Maybe you could introduce it for those of us who don't use it ? What kind of problems are you solving, wrt your level ? –  Nikana Reklawyks Nov 29 '12 at 17:19
    
Thanks, I added a link to the website My level is around 1900-2000. I solve mainly tactical problems, such as Double attack, X-Ray, Distraction, Mate in X moves. –  Alex Petrov Nov 29 '12 at 17:23
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2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I have not played enough or practiced enough on ChessTempo to really notice a difference in my tactical ability, but I am probably certain that if you spend enough time and I am not sure how long this is (it varies for each person) that your tactical skill will improve over time. I also never paid attention to my rating on ChessTempo as I do not know what my actual rating is.

One thing I am certain of is that ChessTempo and other similar websites or puzzles in books will teach you to stop and think before making a move no matter what or will teach you to look for a tactic — whereas before, I would make the first move I saw without thinking.

In the end, it probably does improve your tactical skills, you just have to be patient and not assume that your tactical skills are not improving by the number of games you win or lose. We often grade ourselves on whether we win or lose and I believe this is a big NO-NO. Especially if we lose, we often assume that we have not improved tactically, strategically, etc.

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Perhaps it isn't the frequency of your usage, but the way of using it. Are you happy with your chesstempo tactics rating? If your rating has been stagnant for a while, find out why: do you have trouble with a certain problem-type? Or give up on problems after a certain time? While the free version of Chesstempo doesn't offer targeted tactics, you can certainly deal with the second problem by just not quitting. Take an hour or more if need be, but make sure that you're completely satisfied with your solution before playing out the moves. This got me from 17-1800 to 2100 on chesstempo, and helped greatly in tournaments. Also, if your playing strength is about 1900-2000, then tactics might not be the only reason for not getting better tournament results.

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