Why is it hard for me to find tactics?

For example, I want to take their queen, but I don't know how can I get to specific back steps, unless I play normally (it would take time).

  • 2
    In what context exactly? From your example it seems like you imagine taking the opponent’s queen in a normal game, being surprised that you can’t figure out a sequence that leads to that. Clearly, taking your opponent’s queen is impossible unless your opponent blunders so neither retrograde analysis nor any other kind of analysis will give you a way to do it.
    – 11684
    Nov 4, 2019 at 14:01

3 Answers 3


Do you mean the the retrograde analysis as a part of problem chess? In this case, I think the main thing in retrograde analysis is to ask the right questions. What kind of pieces should arise in the past? Where should the pawns come from? Also, experience with chess itself is very helpful..

Here is simple classic.

[FEN "4k3/8/8/7K/8/8/8/8 w - - 0 1"]

Stipulation: White and Black retract a move and then helpmate in 1 move

It is obvious White needs material to mate (what piece and where) and it is remarkable to see the black king on its initial position e8, so castling could have been possible in the last position. (experience). But where is the black rook?! It seems helpful for the kings to come nearer (experience).

All this together gives the solution. Retract these moves: 1. Kg6xRh5 Rh8xQh5, and the helpmate happens: 1...0-0 2. Qh5-h7#.

[Title "Retrograde Analysis"]
[FEN "4k2r/8/6K1/7Q/8/8/8/8 b - - 0 1"]

1... O-O Qh7

I hope this helps.


I think this is not about Retrograde Analysis in the sense of the Sherlock Holmes style puzzle of tracing the history of the game. Instead it’s about figuring out how to reach some tactical objective which may occur in the future position.

I don’t think there is any magic answer to this. If one plays well positionally, then tactical opportunities will emerge, like flowers in a meadow. But how can one realise them? Partly I think that the questioner’s starting point is exactly right: to set goals. If one doesn’t have goals then maybe one will not see the opportunities. But got to be open to everything. Maybe winning queen is impossible but winning a minor piece is enough. One win is enough in any position.

Then seeing the path is a combination of logic and imagination. In a recent position, I was sure there was no way forward for me. But then suddenly I realised that if I used a lone knight pawn in an unfamiliar way - as a blocker for bishop escaping from the corner - then everything became possible. What a beautiful game this is!

Enjoy your games, and the process of learning

  • The replies mention Retrograde Analysis, and I guess it is a valid sense of the term, e.g. youtube.com/watch?v=v34NqCbAA1c
    – Laska
    Nov 5, 2019 at 18:03
  • There's a similar sense of retrograde analysis in tablebases, which work backwards from checkmate positions
    – Laska
    Nov 5, 2019 at 18:24

Wrong objective.

Lack of practice on good problems should trapping the queen ever be possible at all.
There is no way to just plan moves to win their queen from the beginning of the game.

Anyway your objective is to mate the king. You should figure out how to do that not try to capture their queen.

And that is rarely achievable until you have obtained advantages in material or position to allow that final assault. Going all out for mate from the gitgo will normally result in a loss against good players although it might work on beginners who cannot defend well.

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