Don’t Practice This! (What’s wrong with composed chess problems?)

In this video I explain why chess problems are best left out of calculating trainings.

In order to learn/understand the very important differences between Chess Problems, Chess Studies and Chess Puzzles, please watch this:

35 Comments

  1. Good chess puzzles only have 1 solution. If everything wins, it's not puzzling, ergo, it's not a puzzle.

  2. One calculation weakness that many people have is difficulty in seeing the opponent's best defence. This is one thing mate-in-2 problems can help with, as often there is a convincing looking move that has a sneaky refutation. In summary, these problems can help teach disciplined analysis. For that reason I think there is value in doing them occasionally when past the lower levels.

  3. I love your thumb nails mate. I have noticed over time your tech skills have really improved. They look very professional as is the whole channel and presentation.

  4. Mate in two problems have helped me a lot for calculating variants as well as for visualization

  5. Finally someone talked about this. That solving studies is harmful for club players. Most coaches tell the otherwise. However I think endgame studies are useful irrespective of level. Which focuses on promotion or trapped piece or checkmate with limited material.

  6. Uff Jesse Kraai ist gonna be angry 😬😬

  7. I have always hated chess puzzles (since the mid-1970s when I started taking chess seriously). Thanks for the clarification of exactly why I can't stand these things.

  8. This is like computer move that seems insane but after that move made,we understand ,"Ah,this move is genius! There is no good move for opponent! But human never can find this move." I think this is why sometimes we should not fully trust evaluation by engine.

  9. Could clarify this since I've read that chess problems are actually helpful because of their unintuitive-ness. Instead of subconsciously guessing the correct solution as you would in a tactics puzzle (if you see one with Alekhine's gun it has to be sac-sac-mate), chess problems force you to calculate all possible variations, even the unintuitive ones, for you and your opponent. In this manner you train beginners to look for all possible moves (doable in mate-in-2s) and close gaps in their calculation, where they would otherwise just guess the solution based on positional factors (the Alekhine's gun example).

  10. Haha calling out Yusupov's series where he throws in the mate in 2 chapters throughout.

  11. I've had positions over the board many times where (it turned out) only one move defends. That one move wasn't a check. It wasn't a capture. It wasn't a forcing move. It was a non-forcing move. For me, finding that move would have required pure calculation (your 40 minutes) and not pattern recognition. If I am correct in this, what kind of positions should we study to learn how to find non-forcing moves that win or defend? Seems to me that only Chess Problems allow us to practice the skill of finding non-forcing winning or drawing moves, and by extension, Problems teach pure calculating ability. Puzzles teach a calculation shortcut – pattern recognition. If you want to learn to calculate accurately in any position, not just positions where a forcing move or tactical pattern is evident, what is a better way to train to do so than a Problem? Or is it that while pure calculation/visualization skill is served by Problems, it is better to develop calculation skill through pattern recognition when you are just starting to improve?

  12. Nc7, Kd6, Qh6#?
    nevermind, this is a mate in 3 with Pf6 and Qxf6

  13. Capablanca urged chess students to study chess puzzles taken from actual GM games rather than those composed for the sake of beauty .

  14. Hey coach is Crazyhouse good for calculation? If yes would you make a video on it?
    The amount of calculating and tactics in a crazyhouse game is enormous.

  15. Thanks for the video.
    But i must say that, although i don't disagree with your words, there remains much to say about it and the overall "feel" of the video is not agreeable to me. So i will try to add my own points.

    In the long run everything can be useful and harmful. In this case the problems are not in the chess problems, they are in the way people view and use them.

    Note: My following simile will be exaggerated, so take it lightly.
    I feel that your argument is a little like saying to a federated rookie chessplayer to not "waste" much time in studying endgames because openings are more effective.

    I remember another of those type of arguments that was popular in clubs when i was young. They forbade (officially…) any type of speed chess because it would create wrong habits and intuitions in the "real" longer games.

    Any training has advantages and disadvantages, and is even harmful in some way or another. It is part of doing anything. Only kids believe that there is a "magic" shortcut that has no invested time and effort associated with it.

    To me awareness, feeling (correct practice, … ) are some of the main points in focusing when training efficiently.

  16. Hey coach! Listened to you on the podcast, was great to see you back. You mentioned not wanting to do speed runs, and I agree. There are enough of those. But maybe you could post playing in arenas or even Titled Tuesday? Always great hearing your thoughts and it might bring people in without being clickbait. Cheers!

  17. Very interesting. If someone had asked me what I thought had been the most helpful training I had done I would have probably said doing composed mating problems. Especially these very artificial mate in 2s. I thought I was isolating the visualization muscle since sometimes I find tactical/mating patterns do some of the visualization work for me (for example, most people can identify a smothered mate pattern without straining to visualize every piece on the chess board).

    Do you have anything to add about why you think these problems don’t train visualization/calculation as you said in the video? Or do you just think that, for example, studying pawn endgames is a more practical way to isolate and train that visualization muscle? I’ve heard you mention you worked on them a lot. I respect your opinion very much so thanks for sharing this advise with your community I will probably phase this out if you think it’s harmful.

  18. I agree. I don't like chess problems because they are so artificial and unnatural.
    But as training I think they would be beneficial for calculation skills, no?

  19. Kraai is gonna hate to here Andras say this. ChessDojo in shambles.

  20. What do you think of Kostya's Endgame Studies 101 Chessable course? There are quite a few players that were on the Perpetual Chess Podcast claim their calculation/creativity improved by solving studies. Especially for stuff like sacrifice on an empty square (like you mentioned yourself in video's), deflection, attraction and interference.

  21. Hi Andras, just had one quick question. Are the mate problems in the Lazslo Polgar 5334 Problems book worth doing, or do they fall into the same category as the problems discussed in the video? I know ChessDojo's Training Program makes them a big point of emphasis, but I really struggled with them when I tried to solve them

  22. Hey Coach, can you put a video solving lichess tactics like the mate in 4 video you posted? I am stuck around the 2400 range and am mostly getting wrong due to missing opponents "key" defense (by key I mean whatever move I didn't consider). I am confident with my whatever I calculated but am always afraid I missed a move and its really affecting my games.

  23. Yusupov states they are a perfect way to hone pure calculation ability, because they are short, but have many variations

  24. I'm 2100 in puzzles (which is a meaningless rating) and didn't see it the first solution.

  25. I share the same feeling about those problems. But some trainers would argue that they have a good value in the form of short depth visualization exercises.

  26. Great video, Coach! I even sometimes question the utility of tactics puzzles. I get that they help with calculation, but they are so artificial – when playing a game you don't know that there's a forcing move in a certain position. My other question about trying to improve calculation/visualization with puzzles: is there a better way to improve? I keep trying to find something that helps you improve your ability to visualize/calculate more deeply. Is puzzle solving the only way?

  27. This is very debated and argued, and there are many people who have had substantial improvement via solving composed chess problems, there are many articles regarding the same.

  28. Hey andras, what is your opinion of polgar 5334 massive puzzle book? They also contains a lot of composed puzzles. Are they harmful ? What would you suggest?

  29. All the problems at lichess come from actual games.

  30. Thank you for the great stuff, Andras!!!

  31. I've been working through the Polgar Middlegames book for quite a long time now! Hopefully that is very much the opposite of the kinds of problems you're describing here – every position comes from a game, most of which are very forcing and concrete ideas built around a theme 🙂

  32. There are many composed problems with real competitive OTB value – Reti'st famous problem comes to mind. These ones can be worked into a training program, based on the students level. Good video!

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