How to Improve at Tactics | Chess Middlegames

Get better at spotting and correctly solving tactics is key to chess mastery!

Tactics are dynamic opportunities which occur during the game, and they can lead to a better or even winning position!

Chess consists of strategy and tactics. Here is a video on creating strategic plans in the middlegame:

Tactics or combinations almost always require calculation to complete successfully. I didn’t go into too much detail in this video, but here is a video specifically on how to improve your chess calculation:

The best way to improve your tactical skills is to practice. There is no way around this part. Solve as many tactical problems as possible. This will make you sharper, better at calculation and better at spotting tactical opportunities during a real game.

Since there is a huge difference between looking at a chess book which says: “White to play and win.”, and sitting over the board where you have no idea there is a possibility for a tactic, I have written down several elements which might signify a presence of a combination:

– an unsafe or exposed king
– a harmonious constellation of your pieces around the opponent’s king
– your opponent’s undeveloped pieces or pieces on the opposite side of the board, away from the king
– a weak back rank and a king with no escape square
– open diagonals towards the opponent’s king
– pinned pieces
– a strong minor piece in your opponent’s position – most often a knight which can provide tremendous attacking support
– passed pawns on the 6th or 7th rank
– pieces fulfilling multiple roles – overworked pieces
– when you have a double check available
– when you have a move which makes two threats

To play a tactic successfully you have to spot it, but you also have to evaluate the end position of a tactic – what is it that you are getting in return for your sacrifice or attack? You have to evaluate the final position correctly. This can be achieved by practicing. Always do it without moving the pieces, like in a real game.

Common problems people have are forgetting that the piece they are counting on in their head was sacrificed already, or wasting too much time, or forgetting about one of the answers your opponent has. All of these problems could lead to losing positions, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t go for it if you see a tactical move! Practice will reduce the number of your mistakes. Play confidently and ferociously! If you think a sacrifice exists, play it! It’s good to be certain, of course, but more often than not it will be worth the risk. Good luck sacrificing those queens!

If you would like to support the channel and my quest to chess improvement, you can donate here:

Any support is greatly appreciated! Thank you!

#chess

148 Comments

  1. I have found this piece of intellect to be very well written and presented, with one flaw… any of those Whom are studying this material will find that moves that are being discussed will be much more easily portrayed if arrows were added. I happen to be living with the effects of a mini-stroke… but even without this issue, arrows would be such a powerful clarity booster to several explanations, especially with the deeper topics.Honestly, I want more!!! Thanks so much!!Rex

  2. Thanks a lot. I’m improving mi chess and this kind of structured videos are very useful to me 👏🏻👏🏻

  3. First comment woohoo! Also love these videos! Keep up the awesome work!

  4. Clear, well organized instruction, as is your custom. I encourage all my chess friends to watch your videos because of your consistent quality. Brilliant! So glad I stumbled upon your channel. I look forward to your future work.

  5. I do 50-100 tactics per day 💪, it's really helpful specially at intermediate level as the game at this level is mostly decided by tactics. TBH I still miss lot a tactics like I do today in my game against a NM it was like -10(Black) for me and I've like 10 sec. I see the tactics but one move later and he was able to prevent that and then I just horrendously blunder my queen 😅

  6. This was the best video till date. Very fun and thematic

  7. I love you stjefan 😀😀😀👍👌nr1 the best youtube chess channel

  8. Make a video on full reti variations. Your video is really a boost . Its really a pathway

  9. I love your videos, they're really instructive and simple to follow thanks to your clarity of exposition. The content is great so far (I'm glad I still have so many videos of yours to watch) but I would suggest you purchase better equipment for the videos, the audio quality wasn't the best today and the lighting could be improved. While I don't actually care about this stuff (I'm much more focused on the quality of the content) other people do, so this might help your channel to grow. Thank you for your work, I'll stay tuned for more chess 🙂

  10. Thanks a lot for all your videos! Waiting for them every day

  11. As always, thanks for your videos. Recent game (19/3/19) with a nice tactical ending. I was Wh.
    [Event "CardiganA v Aberystwyth Town”]
    [Black "J. Van Kemenade” (1762)]
    [Date "19 Mar 2019"]
    [Result "1-0"]
    [Round "?"]
    [Site "?"]
    [White "B. Brewer” (1555)]

    1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 h6 3.c4 d6 4.Nc3 Nbd7 5.e4 e5 6.dxe5 dxe5 7.a3 a5 8.Be2 Be7 9.O-O O-O 10.Qc2 c6 11.Rd1 Qc7 12.Be3 Ng4 13.Bd2 Bc5 14.Be1 Re8 15.Na4 Be7 16.h3 Ngf6 17.b4 axb4 18.axb4 c5 19.Nxc5 Rxa1 20.Rxa1 Nxc5 21.bxc5 Bxc5 22.Ba5 b6 23.Bc3 Bb7 24.Nd2 Nd7 25.Nb3 Be7 26.Rb1 Bg5 27.g3 Qc6 28.Bd3 f5 29.Re1 f4 30.Bb4 Qg6 31.Kg2 Nf6 32.c5 bxc5 33.Bxc5 Bc8 34.Nd2 Bh4 35.Bc4+ Kh8 36.Qd3 Nh5 37.g4 Nf6 38.Nf3 Bg5 39.Bb5 Rg8 40.Nxe5 Qh7 41.Nf7# 1-0
    Edit: My opponent and I both had 5 minutes left at the end of the game. So time pressure was a factor.

  12. Hi, many thanks for your videos, I've learnt a great lot from them and really enjoy watching everyday. I tend to play the Kings Gambit as white and as black I often try similar ideas using the Latvian Gambit. Would it be possible to make a video about the Latvian please? I can find little about it online. Many thanks 🙂

  13. Sir everything is great in your videos NO faults at all
    My perfect coach
    Just one request please upload more n more videos daily

  14. Thanks for helpful Videos… waiting for endgame strategy series

  15. Another quality lecture . Thank you . I try to solve at least ten tactical puzzles on Lichess every day , therefore I am familiar with the tactics in your lecture. I watched for re-enforcement and reminding purposes , and it was worth it. Again , thank you, and much respect for your time and effort.

  16. Recently discovered your channel. Your content is great and very easy to keep up with. Will you make videos on the semi slav for black?

  17. Fantastic, very instructive. Thanks a lot!

  18. This channel is amazing. Thanks for all of the great content.

  19. WHAT AN AWESOME CHESS CHANNEL. THUMBS UP TO YOU BOSS.

  20. Excellent video, as they usually are. Quick question, at 6:00 why can't white play Qf5? Takes a pawn and allows for queen exchange (althought idk if you'd want that if you're down a piece)

  21. Thank you for this video. Very informative. I need to check out your “strategic planning” video. Keep up the good work!

  22. Watching this is like having Arnold Schwarzeneggar give me awesome an chess lesson.

  23. There is a rare tactic called windmill, it's very beautiful to see and how it work. It,s a combination in which there is only 2 moves available for the king and other side can check the king rapidly gain material until he gets all of the pieces that are defending by first inserting a check and grabbing a material with an another check . And continuing the process repeatedly until all the material which could be gained. This can be only worked if the king can move 2 squares and a piece in the attacking side Is aligned with another piece on files or diagnols. For example black king on g8 , white knight is on f7 aligned with the white bishop on a2 g8 diagnol.

  24. There is a game called the Mexican immortal which the great emmanuel lasker lost by the tactic of windmill. You can check out the game in agadmator's chess channel . The title of the video is lasker against the windmill. That's a excellent game to show the example of windmill tactic.

  25. Mark my words, this channel will have an exponential growth throughout this year. Quality content…. keep it up man!!!

  26. really enjoy your vids. could you do one taking a look at the clarendon court defense (1. d4 c5 2. d5 f5!?), has caught my interest recently

  27. Bronstein had a mate in one, Qd8# instead of Rc6+, although the mate he was going for is prettier i guess…

  28. 11:50 the first tactic that came to my mind was Qxf4 followed by Ne2+ Nxc3, but white would probably be better still

  29. Can you please do a video on ZWISCHENZÜGE? Both spotting and avoiding them. I am intermediate and sometimes in a seemingly strong position, I get bloodthirsty and fall prey to Zwischenzüge. It makes me second guess in situations where I really do have a winning position, and I sometimes draw winning games to avoid imaginary threats. Vielen Dank!!!
    I watched the Jennifer Shahade video and it's 50 minutes of her being condescending to her class and poorly explaining the mechanics of intermezzo and also boring as hell. Your approach is fun and infinitely more instructive.

  30. gone for 3 days and i already missed a lot. man! i will not miss out more.

  31. You have such a wonderful gift for teaching chess! Thank you very much.

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