What is spaced repetition?

How can I apply it to studying and improving my chess?

Is it just for tactics or can I also use it for openings and endgames?

What experience do people have with it and with what results?


Gwern Branwen's page on spaced repetition has more than you ever wanted to know about the subject.

I have used it to memorize opening lines, tactical and strategic problems, and theoretical endgame positions. My personal experience was that after over a decade at 1800 USCF I quickly improved to 2000 USCF (and have stayed there). I do not know how much of this was due to spaced repetition or whether it would work as well for anyone else. I have written about my experience.


Spaced repetition is a learning technique that repeats content after increasing time spans according to learning success, i.e. faster for stuff you haven't grasped yet, longer if you do well.

In chess this is either used to learn a certain set of (easy) tactical exercises basically by heart ("woodpecker method" according to Axel Smith, Michael de la Maza, …), which is supposed to improve your tactical pattern recognition.

Or it is used to learn your opening repertoire by heart. For example by using the software Chess Position Trainer.

In my experience both are probably beneficial, but I cannot offer more than anecdotal evidence. Also you should complement it with exercises that tax more than your memory.


The tactics training websote http://ChessTempo.com uses the spaced repetition algorithm developed by the company SuperMemo to organize a review routine for tactical problems. I wrote an introduction to this kind of tactics training at http://www.apronus.com/chess/trainingtactics.htm

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