If you are serious about getting good at chess, then solving chess puzzles is the way to go. It’s one of the best ways to improve your pattern recognition and visualization skills over the board. This will help you win more games and increase your overall rating.
One common question asked by many chess players is “How many chess puzzles should you solve per day?” In this article, we will answer that question and explain how to efficiently calculate in order to successfully solve these puzzles. With that said, let’s jump right in!
How Many Chess Puzzles Should You Solve Per Day?
Solving 5 to 10 difficult puzzles per day is enough training to help improve your tactical and calculation skills over the board. Each puzzle should have an instructive theme that you can learn from. Some of these themes can include: decoy, discovered attack, deflection, x-ray, etc.
Many beginner players think that solving a bunch of puzzles per day will drastically improve their overall strength. However, the truth about chess development is that it doesn’t matter how large a number of puzzles you solve per day.
What’s important is the level of quality puzzles you solve and how you were able to come up with the winning move. For example, you may find the winning move for a puzzle, but did you actually spend the time to calculate ALL the possible lines and forcing moves from your opponent?
In order to improve your tactical skills over the board, you have to develop a thorough system of thinking which involves the right calculation technique.
A lot of beginner and intermediate chess players rely on what is called “intuition”. This often leads to inconsistent results in your chess games because you don’t have a concrete way of thinking. One day you beat a very strong player, and the next day you lose to someone 200 rating points below you. And you wonder why this is so? It’s because you haven’t developed the right system of thinking.
Solving chess puzzles is like doing pushups. You can do 20 pushups daily in rapid successions but actually never make any substantial change in your physique. However, the guy that does 20 pushups slowly and with proper form will see better results from his training. So what’s the right way to solve chess puzzles you may ask? Read on to find out more.
What’s The Right Way To Solving Chess Puzzles?
The first step in solving chess puzzles is to choose your level of difficulty. You should always aim for the most difficult of puzzles as solving easier puzzles won’t have any effect on your chess development.
We recommend that you set up the puzzle on an actual chess board and use a chess clock to control the time spent solving the puzzle.
You should set 10 minutes on the clock for solving each puzzle and write down all the different candidate moves and variations that you’ve calculated.
Here is a short summary of what your calculation process should be like:
- Study the tactical and strategic elements of the position. Tactical elements include pins, forks, loose pieces, discovered attacks etc. It will be harder to find the right moves of a chess puzzle if you don’t understand the tactical and strategic elements in the position. In other words, you shouldn’t start calculating straight out of the bat.
- Look for your opponent’s threats. This can be any forcing move that threatens to win material or an attack against your king. (if there are none, proceed to the next step)
- Look for forcing moves on your side (This includes: checks, captures, attack)
- Calculate each of these candidate moves in their entirety and your opponent’s forcing moves in response.
- If none of your forcing moves work, play a positional move that improves your position.
You can read more about the thought process here
Solving Strategic Puzzles
80% of the puzzles you solve doesn’t involve strategic play. This means you cannot completely rely on puzzles to improve every aspect of your chess game. A good way to develop your strategic and positional skills is to simply read books.
A book about chess strategy will teach you how to create and execute a plan in the middlegame. Without a clear middlegame strategy, you will make a lot of blunders as you will not know what to do once you come out of the opening.
There are different strategies you need to master in chess, but choosing the right one to use will depend on the nature of the position. You can read this article on the 10 Best Chess Middlegame Strategies that you can implement in your games.
The best way to develop and hone your strategic skills is to solve puzzles, but not the tactical ones you solve in chess apps or in some of the books. No, this training is completely different.
Here is what your training should look like:
- Open a game from your favorite chess player. This can include games from super GMs like Magnus Carlsen, Vishwanathan Anand, Garry Kasparov etc. You can use a chess software like chessbase to open the games, or through websites like chess.com or Lichess’ Masters database.
- Skip to move 20
- Try to guess the move that was played by the winning player. (Use 5 minutes on the clock)
By doing this, you’re training yourself to think like a grandmaster which is perhaps the best way in solving puzzles. You see, many of the puzzles you solve doesn’t actually appear in real games. However, when you practice from real games, you can implement these same strategies in your own, and that makes your training more worthwhile.
How many of these strategic puzzles should I solve?
The more grandmaster games you can study is the better. For every move you guess, you should give yourself a point. Try to do at least 3 of these everyday and you should definitely see improvements in your games.
Where To Find Tactical Puzzles?
You can find tactical puzzles to solve on the internet by downloading apps on the playstore for android or on the applestore for iOS device. You can also solve puzzles directly from chess websites such as chess.com or lichess. However, from my experience, these puzzles aren’t really that great. It’s best that you download an app specifically geared toward solving puzzles. These are more thematic and more challenging to solve.
The best apps for solving chess puzzles are:
- Chess Tactics Pro (Puzzles)
- Chess Tactics For Beginners (by Chess King)
- Chess Coach- Chess Puzzles
- Pocket Chess
- Fun Chess Puzzles
- Chess Tactics Puzzles (by TIMLEG)
You can read more about these apps in the article: Top 8 Best Chess Tactics Apps
Physical vs Digital Puzzles
A more traditional way of solving puzzles is from physical books. The digital and physical puzzles each has their own merits and disadvantages.
For example, when solving from a physical book, you will eventually run out of puzzles. However, some chess apps and websites never run out of puzzles as they update them every day with fresh new puzzles.
On the other hand, the benefit to having a physical copy of puzzles is its ease of access. Moreover, some physical books explain and elaborate on the answers to each puzzle unlike digital puzzles.
One of the best chess tactics books I use to train with is “Imagination In Chess”. It has some of the toughest puzzles ever and helps to improve your creativity and imagination over the board. This book is not for the faint hearted. Click here to check it out
You should strive to solve 5 to 10 difficult puzzles per day. Don’t just try to find the right move. Instead, find the complete solution of moves by using the correct thought process. This means you should cover all the possible variations of that puzzle and not just rely on your intuition.
This system of thinking works well in your real games, because it trains you to avoid overlooking possible forcing moves by your opponent. This in turn helps you score more consistent results as you won’t be making blunders like you used to.