As I’m done solving easy puzzles (1000–1500), I decided to try some 1700 puzzles, but I’m finding it very hard to solve them as there are no obvious checks, captures and threats. Also, most of the times, the solution are about 5–7 moves. So, I figured that maybe a complete different approach is needed to solve these problems.

r1b2r1k/p1p3pp/2pp1q2/8/N1Q2n2/1P1N4/P1P2PPP/3RR2K b - - 0 1

For example for this one, I don’t even know where to begin. I solved easier problems by finding all the checks, captures and threats, and the solution used to come within few seconds, but now things are not that easy. So is there a systematic approach?

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    Personally I look at how often a square is attacked and how often it is defended to find candidate moves, and use checks/captures/threats as order of calculation when checking the moves. In this exercise the squares that immediately stand out are f2, indirectly eyed by queen-rook battery and g2, only defended by the king. So I would calculate combinations on them first.
    – B.Swan
    Sep 7, 2020 at 11:11
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    I recommend you watch this video, it helped me a lot: youtu.be/fzGKPxJ5NYI ("How is your Tactical Awareness?" by ChessNetwork)
    – B.Swan
    Sep 7, 2020 at 11:17
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    I would play nxg2. Clearly I am missing something if all the experts say to play nxn Sep 7, 2020 at 23:00
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    If there was a systematic way to chess, nobody would play it
    – David
    Sep 8, 2020 at 15:11

3 Answers 3


for example this one below,don't even know where to begin.Earlier the way I solved problems was finding all the checks,captures and threats and the solution used to come within few seconds but now things are not that easy

"Finding all the checks,captures and threats" looks like a great way to solve the puzzle you've posted. There are no immediate checks but there are some good candidate captures and threats.

[fen "r1b2r1k/p1p3pp/2pp1q2/8/N1Q2n2/1P1N4/P1P2PPP/3RR2K b - - 0 1"]

1... Nxd3 2. Qxd3 Qxf2? 3. Rf1! (1...Be6? 2. Qxf4! Qxf4 3. Nxf4 Rxf4 4. Rxe6)(1...Nxg2 2. Kxg2 Bh3+ 3. Kxh3 Qf3+ 4. Kh4 g5+ 5. Kxg5 Rf5+ 6. Kh6 Qh5++)
  1. Nxd3 is a capture which looks like it might win the f pawn and create back rank mating threats but white looks to be fine after recapturing with the c pawn when the white queen is still threatening the c6 pawn. If white recaptures with the queen then the f pawn is poisoned! It is met by the embarrassing Rf1. So, that doesn't work
  2. The white queen is a little bit short of moves, but the threat Be6 is met by Qxf4 and at the end of the exchanges the bishop on e6 is hanging, so that doesn't work either. Finally -
  3. The capture Nxg2 is a really promising looking sacrifice which is well and truly poisoned. Kxg2 is met by Bh3 and then Qf3+ with mate to follow soon. If white doesn't move the e1 rook then black is just winning a pawn and exchange plus the white king is very exposed. If white does move the e1 rook then Qf3 with the threat of Bh3 is going to be devastating.

So, "checks, captures, threats" does work. You just have to keep the analysis going for more than 2 or 3 moves and find two piece sacrifices as you hunt the king. The fun part of tactics!

  • Thanks @BrianTowers ,its just that I "have" to solve 100 puzzles a day,earlier this process was really easy but now it takes about 5mins to solve a single puzzle so I was wondering if there was an easier way to solve puzzles
    – bretlee
    Sep 7, 2020 at 10:30
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    Practice makes perfect - you will get quicker as you (subconsciously) recognise more and more patterns. But they won't all be easy - if they were you wouldn't be learning.
    – Ian Bush
    Sep 7, 2020 at 11:17
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    As a complement, one reason this problem is higher rated than one might expect is the fase track 1...Nxg2 2.Kxg2 Qf3? 3.Kg1 Bh3 that fails to the nice defense 4.Qe4!
    – Evargalo
    Sep 8, 2020 at 7:30

Your approach won't change, but you see how the depth of the analysis does.

Keep it up; your instinct for the things to examine first improve, eventually.


First, nearly all problems are going to be solved by forcing moves (checks, captures, threats) on the first move. Occasionally, you run across more subtle problems where the first move is a quiet move but those are often zugzwangs and they aren't that common.

Second, It's good to look at the weaknesses in the position especially hanging pieces ie "that knight isn't protected, how could I win it? "

Third, sometimes it helps to change up the move order.

Also, 5-7 move combinations are NOT 1700 rated problems. I've often heard (and I agree) that if you can see two moves ahead you're playing around 1800 level chess.

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