So, I looked at a tactic quiz for my kiddies. I needed whopping five seconds to see that a fork (yes, that was given too!) could be applied on a square that wasn't really protected due to a pin. (I'm a big pin-overlooker, shame on me.)

Now, assume I had actually played that game. This pin surely was existent through numerous moves before, and probably at least one calculation had involved it, so I guess I had seen the move in a fraction of a second.

Thus: I assume that having actually played the game will make finding tactics easier due to "priming". This might be tested by splitting into two groups, one just gets the position, one shall replay the game move for move and "look for tactics". (Details of the methodics must be worked on still.)

In seeking a factual, cited, non-opinion-based answer: Has anyone already tried that? (If yes: Is my offhand theory correct?)

(I expect an even larger priming effect on finding good strategic moves.)

  • I guess the answer is probably "yes" intuitively most of the time; but to be clear, are you looking for a definitive answer akin to an actual scientific study on this, or just anecdotal ones?
    – YiFan
    Commented Nov 9, 2022 at 9:29
  • 1
    @YiFan: I strongly prefer an actual study, since Crystal gives a valid point against my naive assumption (and I thus would upvote the answer if none exists). Commented Nov 9, 2022 at 9:46
  • 1
    Just because we don't know the answer to the question it doesn't automatically make it opinion-based.
    – David
    Commented Nov 10, 2022 at 10:20

3 Answers 3


It depends.

Sometimes you set up tactics during games (Example: Pinning a pawn to threaten a piece, which is now undefended due to the pin), and this of course makes it really easy to spot tactics when your opponent overlooks them.

However, sometimes during games, you are maybe focused on one part of the board and not paying that much attention to the other. This can cause you to overlook tactics on the opposite side. As an onlooker, you will scan the entire board, which makes you more likely to spot the tactic.


I'm a very, very, very amateur player, so advice others have given is probably better for you, but if it's got a list of the moves in the game to get to that point, I think I'd actually place the pieces on the board, and make the moves, to see how things develop to get to that point, and analyze it from both sides.

  • Our brain mostly works on habits everyday whether one is aware of it or not. So one can be good at an activity based on how many repetitions/ frequency he has performed that apart from one's own intelligence.
  • By playing many games it is much easier for the brain to sort the previous pattern from memory and tell you the best move in the position. This can be easily verified by the online game vs offline game. If you have played thousands of chess games online and solved many puzzle rushs and then you play a offline game for the first time, then you won't be finding the best move or forks immediately because those visuals are new to the brain although not the game itself. That is why players are prepared for both the offline and online games depending on what platform they are playing.
  • It depends on other factors such as mood, environmental factors which in turn can affect one's game.

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