Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tactics - Too Much of a Good Thing?

I have gone back to spending quite a bit of time working on tactics.  I have been using Chess Tempo for this. 

For those who don't know, ChessTempo is a free tactics (and endgames!) website. 

But the question remains...can tactics puzzles be overused?

A couple of years ago I read this excellent post on Dan Heisman's website.  Written by IM David Pruess, the point is made that you will only be able to get so much and nothing more from studying tactics in any given day. 

Essentially the gist of the story is that once you've spent more than perhaps 10-15 minutes on tactics you will not learn anything else that day and additional time is simply wasted effort.

It's an interesting thought, and one that I've been trying to follow.

Does anyone have any different advice that has been given to them by a strong player?


  1. Haven't heard anything different, but it makes intuitive sense to me. It becomes easy to chow down on tactics problems like blitz games. Truly productive study requires hard work and it's difficult to put a high rep. count into something which feels like hard work.

  2. I appreciate that this isn't exactly Pruess' point - he's talking about absorbing patterns - but I feel my point is relevant too.

  3. I think that your point and Pruess's are essentially the same. You can't absorb patterns when you're trying to do too many at once.

    The point you make about blitz it also valid. Blitz is a great tool, but not a substitute for actual study. I've gotten together with people to study before and had it devolve into nothing more than a marathon blitz session. Fun? Yes. Productive? No.

    No pain, no gain.

  4. Any chance that we could see "Fear and Loathing in The Scheveningen" at some point? I'd love to see a gonzo take on chess blogging.

  5. Ha, that would be awesome! As soon as I can get somone to let me play a mainline Scheveningen I will post just that!

    So far since I took the Sicilian back up I have played two games. The first was White against Leo Ma. He took a very poisened pawn and was steamrolled.

    The second was against Alena Huang. The game started 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. Bb5? and after I played 3...a6 I was already equal. I went on to win that game in style as well.