(You Bet They Do!) Do Chess Puzzles Improve Your Chess?

One hugely important way to improve as a beginner in chess is to take on Chess puzzles. To solve a chess puzzle you need to understand the rules of the game and how each piece moves to solve the puzzle in perhaps one move or a series of moves in the correct order. Can chess puzzles help with your game?

Chess Puzzles help improve your overall game of chess because while you may not be in the exact same scenario within a game, you will recognize the principle and goal of the position from previous puzzles you have completed in chess training and be able to make the optimum next move.

I complete at least one chess puzzle every single day, for fun, for stress relief, as a reward and many other things, and it has served me well in real games where I have been able to draw on the experience of puzzle-solving, avoid blunders more often and improve my chess rating.

Read on for everything students could ever think to ask about daily puzzles including where to play them for free, and how to advance through the difficulty levels.

What Are Chess Puzzles

You are able to find many resources for chess puzzles, from online free and premium subscription websites to printed books too. The scope of training puzzles extends far beyond a single move choice. So what are Chess puzzles exactly?

A Chess Puzzle is a chess-related problem that looks for the best possible move to be presented as the answer. Logic, along with chess rules and pieces is used to find the optimal next move. Chess puzzles can incorporate problems, mathematical tests, and tactical positions to be solved.

Puzzles incorporate a different aspect of the game to train and improve your ability to find the best possible solution should you encounter a similar situation in a actual games. Collectively they can be broken down into 3 different types

  1. Problems
  2. Tactical Elements
  3. Mathematical

These puzzles provide good logical and tactical training to be utilized in your chess game against opponents and offer an alternative to casual or competitive games when there is no opponent readily available and solo chess play is the only option.

Let’s look at each in a little more depth before we start playing puzzles.

Chess Problems

A chess problem presents a position on the board of any making that most often represents the final moves in an end-game where you need to provide an answer to the route to ‘checkmate’ in the fewest possible moves. Often single moves increasing in difficulty to several ‘best-moves’ to achieve the goal.

Such are the number of possible positions at this point of a game, it is unlikely you will ever be in the exact same position in a game but you will learn to recognize more easily the possible conclusion more readily.

In most cases, there will be only a single move that can be made to correctly achieve the goal, although other slower solutions are present but marked incorrectly if used.

Tactical Puzzles

Tactical chess puzzles are arguably the best form of chess training, often presenting the opportunity to arrive at ‘checkmate’ but also positions from openings and mid-game. Real chess game records can be used to test a student to find the decisive move or attack strategy a grandmaster did to force a victory or resignation.

To really improve your tactical skills understanding a full tactical series of moves is essential in both defense and offensive strategies. Being able to practice these tactics without the tangible potential of competitive defeat in chess puzzles can facilitate your ability to consider and test through trial and error your thought processes whilst anticipating your opponent’s counter-moves.

You’ll remember your errors [hopefully], gain pattern recognition, and be better prepared to avoid common and less obvious mistakes when you take your freshly learned tactical ideas to the board.

Spend countless hours on Chess tactics puzzles and it should set you on the road to improvement in finding solutions in puzzles and provide basic pattern recognition to make connections between pieces and improve your practical game and ultimately your chess rating.

Mathematical Chess Problems

Less common, but fun nonetheless to those of us who love a mathematical problem solving challenge are mathematical chess puzzles. They do not form a key element to chess training

The theme of a mathematical chess puzzle is to utilize the chessboard and pieces and challenge players to find, usually unique problematic situations to set out the board in the correct way to satisfy a recreational math question. the most famous of which is the ‘Eight Queens Puzzle.

The Eight Queens Puzzle

The Eight Queens puzzle is a challenge to have eight separate queens positioned on a standard 8×8 chessboard where no queen is in a position to be captured. This requires each queen to share no horizontal, vertical, or diagonal column or row.

The Knights Tour

Another pretty famous and super challenging mathematical puzzle in chess is known as the Knights tour.

Quite simply, [I say simply], you have to move the knight around the chess board in the standard L shape move, without landing on the same square twice.

The Knight’s Tour CC0

It looks a relatively impossible feat to figure this out for the first time, and indeed it very nearly is to a mere mortal like you and I. However, memorising this particular pattern of 64 moves is not a huge problem with practice.

The kinghts tour on an 8×8 board is just one iteration, other board sizes can be applied to the puzzle as had been done through history of the Knight’s Tour.

What is the point of chess puzzles?

Given that as mentioned, the likelihood of coming across a situation relating exactly to a chess puzzle you may have previously attempted to, or have solved, you may be wondering what the point of doing chess puzzles is.

Well, there certainly are benefits from some of the more complex puzzles that can be applied to bullet chess games in particular or any time control games for that matter. The primary benefit is the recollection of solutions or recognition of certain patterns that lead to seeing the calculation of moves required more quickly. This will lead to an improvement in your game.

So, as this redditor rightly points out, it is very much worth taking on chess puzzles as part of your training, no matter what level you play at or how lofty your Elo rating is.

How do Chess Puzzles Work?

Using the chess.com model and chess puzzle section, you are presented with different puzzles of increasing difficulty to solve, whereby you are scored and gain a puzzle rating which account for how accurate you solution is and how quickly you identified and moved the required pieces.

Students will be given a board with pieces set out, and potentially be informed of the move made immediatly before your required input.

You will not necessarily know the desired outcome of the move, but if a check or checkmat position can be gained, you can be certain that is the goal.

The puzzle may require several moves to attain the checkmate position; the task at hand is for you to identify and play the optimum move/s to attain that position as quickly as possible.

The puzzle may require just one move, or a more complex series of moves including a sacrifice to achieve.

As you make each move, you will be informed if you have made the right move and have completed the puzzle with an adjusted rating, or if further moves are required. Make an incorrect move, just one, and the challenge is over, you will lose, and your rating will be adjusted accordingly

Much like the way your Elo rating will be affected, win or lose, by your current level and player you compete against, your puzzle-solving rating will change accordingly. it is not intrinsically linked to your Elo rating of course.

Summary – Are chess Puzzles Worth it?

I’m a big fan of chess puzzles and try to make sure I complete at least three a day time permitting. it is a great way to keep your hand in on the game when you don’t have a window large enough for a complete game.

It keeps you fresh, you learn as you go and with the challenge of growing your chess puzzle rating on sites like chess.com, it presents an ongoing and potentially endless journey to increase your skills and become a better chess player.

Your chess skills will develop, your calculation skills will be more accurate, and your overall improvement in chess will be tangible.

Where Can I Find Chess Puzzles?

You can find tactics puzzles, problems, and more on chess.com. I especially like the fork puzzles and endgame puzzles to improve my skill level. Head over to my other articles in the learning section where you will find one specifically for where to play chess puzzles, online, offline, from chess books and more. You know if you have questions, ChessQuestions will answer them.

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