A Training Method That Combines Openings And Tactics

A number of chess programs have been created that allow players to learn openings by importing their preferred variations and then repeating them. Just over a month ago I looked at Chess Position Trainer, there’s a similar pieces of PC software called Chess Openings Wizard.

There’s also an Ipad app called Chess Openings Trainer. Here’s a video of this latter program with will give an idea about how it works:

These programs are ostensibly aimed at strong(ish) players who want to learn openings and are not seen as being suitable for weaker players, or those who wish to improve their tactical skill. Yet I’ve discovered a wider application, depending on the lines you put into them. I think they can be fantastic for players to learn typical tactical ideas as long as they input files of openings variations which contain them.

I’ve been doing quite a bit of this with my son, and he just loves it. And in repeating both the opening and the tactic at the end he learns both.

How do you set this up? Well I often start with a search of Chessbase for short, decisive games in the kind of position I’d like him to learn about. After that I’ll see if there’s a decent tactical idea at the end and then put it into a pgn (portable game notation) file that can be imported into the training software. It could be that I’ll need to doctor the finish to make it more instructive and might even enter several versions of the game showing how the end might play out if the losing side had done something different.

Here’s a game with a suitable tactic and a nice, logical opening. To enhance the instructional value it’s a good idea to add a few moves at the end that will show how it can lead to mate, but I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader!

Nigel Davies


Author: NigelD

Nigel Davies is an International Chess Grandmaster living in St. Helens in the UK. The winner of 15 international tournaments he is also a former British U21 and British Open Quickplay Champion and has represented both England and Wales on several occasions. These days Nigel teaches chess through his chess training web site, Tiger Chess, which has articles, recommendations, a monthly clinic, videos and courses. His students include his 15 year old son Sam who is making rapid progress with his game. Nigel has written a number of chess books that are available at Amazon: