How do I develop tactical ability and what procedures help to develop it?

How can I improve my chess?


2 Answers 2


Depending of where you are right now, there are a few steps, you may feel free to skip, if you think you've already good at that.

  1. Get a good beginners' book, that explains basic stuff, pins, forks, discover checks and everything. Work on this book for a week, until you grasp the few general concepts most combinations are based on. Solve all puzzles and answer all questions from that book, those might be "too easy", but it has to be done.

  2. Get some application on your phone, become a member on lichess, maybe some other web sites, that offer chess puzzles for you to solve. Most important are applications, because they are more interactive and have a few crucial features that most web sites don't.

  3. Get solving.

  4. Track your progress.

Things you have to look for in apps/websites that will make your live easier:

  1. Adaptive puzzle level, that tracks your score and does not bore you with simple problems, and at the same time does not start from 2200+ level hardcore stuff.

  2. Various puzzles, including "mate-in-XX", and more broad "find the best move..." type of things. From where I sit, ALL problems have to be of the second kind, where you don't know if you're looking for a mate or just little material, like in the real game.

  3. Preinstalled engine, that allows you to play any puzzle from any move, see what computer response is, learn from it. Sometimes puzzles can be not very obvious and / or have more that one variation you have to think about.

  4. The ability to get a hint, and the ability to continue solving the puzzle once you made a mistake. Apps are a bit better in this aspect, than web sites.

What would I recommend? From the web sites -- lichess, they don't have pre-canned bunch of stale puzzles, they analyse the fresh games and make new puzzles from every blunder or mistake people make -- it's very refreshing, and with their 3+ million game database they'll never run out of puzzles.

iPhone/iPad apps -- don't know, maybe others will chime in.

Android -- I used "Chess Tactic Puzzles" (totally free) and "Chess Tactics Pro" (contains ads) -- these are two different apps from the different authors. Both include built-in engine for the analysis. "lichess" (free) has an app as well.

  • The only issue I have with Lichess' puzzles are that some of them have really weird "solutions" that don't make much sense. Other than that it's a great site. Jun 27, 2018 at 19:28
  • 1
    @TheRealLester please, report these puzzles, most of them are checked automatically, but upon your request the manual review will be done and if there's something wrong with the puzzle, it will be removed or fixed.
    – lenik
    Jun 27, 2018 at 19:36

I would recommend chesstempo.com . This site had the best tactical puzzles I have seen, and I've seen quite a few as a 2200+ player.

  • 4
    Not sure what your definition of "best" is. I would recommend chesstempo because it has the problems tagged with tactical motives ("pin, fork, hanging piece," etc), which can be useful for beginners in recognizing these motives. Other than this I don't see much difference in tactics puzzles on chesstempo or other sites. Jun 28, 2018 at 8:56
  • The puzzles on chess tempo are far closer to what you see in real life master and gm games than other sites, which makes sense since they are almost all pulled from such games. At least that's true for the 1800+ problems I work with. The opponent almost always has counterplay and counter tactics you have to solve while you simultaneously break through with your own tactics. That's what makes it so high level. Jun 28, 2018 at 9:00
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    I agree that puzzles from real games are best. For the record, lichess tactics puzzles are also taken from real games (online games on lichess). Not sure what criteria they use to filter out suitable puzzles (rating, material (im)balance....) though. Jun 28, 2018 at 9:31
  • Lichess puzzles are good, but chess tempo puzzles are the best. Jun 28, 2018 at 9:32

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