This week’s review is about Chess Tactics Art 3.0, a program based on work by Russian GM Maxim Blokh. Much like the previously reviewed Intensive Course Tactics by Renko, this software program presents you with a variety of positions to solve. The positions involve a number of tactical motifs: distraction, decoys, clearance and more. There is also a whole section of combinational motifs to practice combination play. But more than that, this program deals with ideas in chess, such as winning a tempo, destroying a pawn shelter or playing for stalemate. It would take much more space and time to go into depth on the wealth of information available in this program so I am jut going to point out a few items – but trust me, there is more.
There are many nice features built into the program for helping you practice. First, you have the choice of ‘practice’ mode or ‘test’ mode, within a given tactical category. Once you start the position, if you choose the wrong move the program will show you why it was wrong and how the opponent could refute your attempt – that is nice. If you guess wrong again it will give you hints as to what piece to move. The next stage of help is a very cool feature – if you guess wrong again the program will load another window with a simplified position so you can review the particular tactic you are striving to achieve. I personally think this multi-level help approach is the best way to go because it continually makes you THINK about the position and the ideas involved in the position without just telling you the answer. And, as we all know, the program can’t tell you the answers while you are playing in a tournament somewhere – you need to find them yourself! Another great feature is that many of the positions can be played from both the white and black perspective. As is often the case in real life, the game changes dramatically based on whose turn it is. So, after you solve for the white position, the board will flip around and reset and ask you what black should do if it were their turn instead. This is like getting two puzzles for every one and is truly a nice addition to the learning experience.
All in all, there are over 1,200 practice problems in the software – more than enough to make you a much better player. The program claims to be for players rated 1600 – 2300 but I personally see no reason why lower rated players would not benefit from its lessons. The positions can also be practiced by difficulty level so yo can build up your confidence. Finally, another really nice feature is that the program keeps statistics for each user that you can view and find your strengths and weaknesses. The program will also estimate your elo rating after you solve a given number of positions.
All in all, I highly recommend this software for all levels of players and I thank Bob Wilder for pointing it out to me originally. And unlike many of the Chessbase products, this software is entirely self-contained – you don’t need any other software installed to run it (although, to be fair, Chessbase does usually include the reader software necessary to run their software for free).
Until next time…