Sunday, November 30, 2008

Chess Tactics Server

As tactics are one of the best ways to improve your game, consistent study of tactics is important. There are many ways to do this and one of the most common are tactic books. The problem with many tactic books is that they can have a host of errors in them. My absolute favorite way to study tactics is the Chess Tactics Server.

While overall it's not perfect (which I will discuss later), It is the best and most enjoyable way to study tactics. Not only are you trying to solve tactical issues, it sets you up like a real game. The server shows you the board and them moves for your opponent after six seconds and it becomes your turn. You are also timed on how long it takes you to move and your score for solving the problem is altered by how long it takes you to solve the problem. This includes getting a negative score for taking too long to solve the problem!

There are currently almost 24 thousand problems to solve (way more than any book you can buy!) all of them pre-rated on their level of difficulty. The ratings used at the Chess Tactics Server are based on the Glicko rating system.

The negatives of the server are minimal, but sometimes annoying. First, it doesn't check for legal moves. Of course if you're studying tactics, I'm sure you actually know what is a legal move is. Sometimes you may accidentally click on a square adjacent to the correct square causing an incorrect answer. While this is something I would fulled accept if I clicked on an actual legal move by mistake, I find it extremely annoying if it wasn't a legal move in the first place. While I understand it was my mistake, in an actual game of chess you are not allowed to make that move and are required to correct the problem. Though if you place a piece on a legal square by accident, you aren't allowed to correct that problem.

Even though I don't like it allowing illegal moves, that doesn't detract my overall enjoyment of the Chess Tactics Server. I would love to get a version of this for my mobile phone that I could update with any new tactics that may come out. My commute on the train to and from work everyday would become so much more enjoyable!

On that note, I give the Chess Tactics Server a rating of a 5 out of 5 stars. I would give it a 4.5 out of 5 stars due to my one issue, but with every other tactics studying tools (books, etc) being so poor in keeping my attention, it's hard not to give it 5 stars. The dimensions it adds like showing opponents move first, having fully rated problems, rating your progress and even basing your ratings on how long it takes to complete a problem make it truly enjoyable. It creates a challenging game out of tactics study.

The Chess Tactics Server is a first class study aid and first class enjoyment!

Until next time.

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