Improving Club Players’ Calculation

Chess is a game of strategy. This reality has been stated by a number of powerful players. What exactly does that imply? In plain English, it says that if you’re not careful, you’ll lose a pawn or a piece.

So how can you learn to be careful? It all starts with understanding the playing field. You must always be aware of what is happening on the board. Counting and thinking already start with the very first steps of the game, because everything related to chess openings. What are the locations of the components and how do they interact with each other? Don’t “forget” a piece or a pawn just because you are counting a series of moves on the other side of the board.

I used the term “calculating” to refer to the pedestrian “I go here, he goes there” scenario. This mental process occurs at all times during the game, which makes it extremely crucial. Typically, the game is won by the one who calculates better.

How can you improve your math skills? You must first learn to calculate before you can calculate “better.” The primary challenge with “I go here, he goes there” is the (in)ability to envision the location after making these mental moves. The more one progresses, the more difficult the visualization gets. This highlights the significance of the above-mentioned board awareness. The better it is, the more difficult it will be to “fade away” from your present board position as you move forward.

Every calculated line should finish with a conclusion — an assessment. Calculating a line without knowing where it leads – to a good or bad result – is pointless. It is only feasible to pick the finest variety if you have a clear evaluation in mind.

For the sake of clarity, let’s summarize the procedure:

  • Awareness of the Board.
  • “I’m going here, and he’s going there.”
  • At the conclusion of “I go here, he goes there,” the situation is evaluated.

Now I’ll go through each item in further depth.

Board of Directors Awareness

Because you must observe what is happening in the position in front of you, this is the starting point. You might easily overlook that your pawn is being assaulted and lose it if you don’t. It may sound simple, but it is critical not to hurry during this stage.

We frequently take it for granted that we understand how the pieces move and speed through the process of determining whether or not anything is being attacked or threatened.

Take your time (it’ll only take a few seconds) to look around the board and see what’s going on – which pieces are attacking, which are defending, and how they interact with one another. This step is so crucial that if you fail here, the rest of your efforts would be for none. You can calculate properly, but what does it mean if you overlook that he can take your knight for free on move 1? So, go ahead and take your time!

Calculation

A organized procedure will significantly enhance your calculation. If your calculation is a shambles, it will be ineffective and unproductive, resulting in a slew of issues ranging from time constraints to forgetting which line was excellent and why. As a result, there is structure.

By structure, I mean beginning the process by identifying potential movements. This is a list of all the maneuvers that you find intriguing and worthy of your attention. There will be less in some locations and more in others, but it is critical to identify them before commencing the computation. This will offer you a sense of control since you’ll know what you’re up against before deciding to “go here, he goes there.”

You’ll next begin calculating these candidate motions. Begin with the one you enjoy the most. Listening to one’s instincts is generally a good idea, thus there must be a reason why you appreciate a particular action. It seems logical to start with that one.

If your favored move appears to be a good one, avoid the urge to play it before checking the others. I’ve seen a number of guys do this and miss out on great opportunities just because they were impatient. Be self-disciplined in your thoughts and control your urges. First, go over the alternative options. Examine them. Then compare them to your favorite move. Play the move if it is still the best option. Play the one that is if you don’t have one.

It is possible for the computation to be simple or complicated. If the line is forced and the moves are evident, it’s straightforward since the players don’t have much of a choice. In this circumstance, you should proceed forward until the forceful motions stop, then assess the situation. When there are several alternatives for each side on each move, the computation becomes complicated. Limit yourself to no more than 2 or 3 movements forward in this instance. The majority of errors occur in the first 1-3 movements.

Evaluation

An assessment must be included at the conclusion of every computed line. Otherwise, you’ll have no idea where you’ve ended up. Some assessments are simple, such as when you finish a work ahead of schedule, while others might be challenging.

Often, you won’t know what’s going on in a situation. You compute until you reach a point where you just don’t grasp what’s going on. That’s completely OK! It may happen to anyone, including Magnus Carlsen.

What’s crucial in those instances is that you recognize how you feel about the issue. This means you become aware of whether you enjoy the position, if you are at ease in it, and whether you believe it will be easier for you or your opponent. Any subjective opinion you get of the position is a positive one, and it should aid you in deciding whether you want to play it or not.

We are frequently taught that evaluations must be objective. This is especially true in games when the stakes are clear: a pawn ahead or a technical endgame. However, the positions are frequently ambiguous, and in order to have a deeper understanding of that “unclear,” we must rely on our instincts to guide us. And these emotions are entirely subjective; what one player finds to be a comfortable stance may be unpleasant for another.

Chess decision-making is a complex process, and computation is an important element of it. You will inevitably enhance your decision-making process by improving your math skills. The training for improving your calculating skills is rather straightforward. It’s a matter of quantity giving way to quality. This simply implies you’ll have to do hundreds of calculations. In this situation, more is definitely better.

The good news is that completing a large number of tactical puzzles will enhance all of the criteria listed above. You’ll improve your board awareness, have to examine potential movements before starting the computation, and analyze the end-position to see if you’ve completed the exercise correctly. Go ahead and get that workout book!

Best of luck!

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About the Author: Carl Hausberg