“I spend hours playing chess because I find it so much fun.
The day it stops being fun is the day I give up.”
It is a widely acknowledged fact that solving tactics is one of the most important ways of improving in chess. Both amateur players and pros dedicate a serious amount of time to developing their combinational vision and polishing their calculation skills. How does one make the most of this process in terms of efficiency and entertainment?
Surprisingly enough, in 2020 many chess fans keep resorting to technologies that have been around for centuries. Publishers continue flooding the market with all sorts of books on tactics, proving that there is still a considerable demand for such old-fashioned educational tools. Moreover, most chess apps and software offer essentially the same content as books, but in electronic form. Clearly, this is not much of an improvement.
In contrast, Tactics Frenzy is an innovative chess application developed by a star-studded team of experts led by World Champion Magnus Carlsen himself.
Here is a brief overview of the features that make Tactics Frenzy unique, more efficient and fun for solving chess tactics as compared to traditional educational tools:
|Features||Tactics Books||Tactics Frenzy|
|Puzzle pool||Fixed. Usually a few hundres puzzles. It is easy to run out of puzzles to solve. Due to space constraints either not all the tactical motifs are covered, or they are poorly represented in terms of quantity.||Millions of puzzles. Updated on a daily basis. All the tactical motifs are represented in adequate proptions, making your training comprehensive and well-rounded.|
|Accuracy of solutions and ability to learn from your mistakes||Mixed. Misprints happen, as well as occasionally faulty lines are provided in the “Solutions” section, leading to irritation and confusion for the readers.||All the puzzles are carefully tested by chess engines and additionally reviewed by GM experts to ensure the highest quality of material possible. You can review your mistakes in the app and find out what you did wrong.|
|Puzzle difficulty evaluation||Normally performed by a single person and thus biased. “Easy” puzzles might in fact turn out to be “hard” for most people and vice versa.||Initial classification is performed by a diverse team of experts in chess, IT and education. Once a puzzle is added into the database, its rating starts changing automatically based on the performance of the people trying to solve it. This ensures reliability when it comes to puzzle difficulty evaluation.|
|Competitive aspect||Very limited, if present at all. Typically revolves around solving tests and seeing how well you perform on them. You also have to calculate your results manually.||An opportunity to compete against yourself by trying to beat your own high scores, as well as to see how well you match against other players. A chance to win prizes every month.|
|Timed modes||Not applicable unless you make up your own rigorous rules, such as setting a clock next to you and monitoring the progress, distracting yourself from solving.||A few built-in timed modes suitable for different types of chess training and entertainment.|
|Appearance & sound||All the diagrams look in a predefined way. No sound.||Plenty of designs to choose from, featuring different chessboards, pieces, colors. Customizable music and sounds.|
|Price||For $25.99 you are likely to obtain one book featuring a relatively small set of puzzles.||For $25.99 you can buy a yearly Tactics Frenzy membership, getting access to a pretty much never-ending supply of top-notch chess puzzles.|
Let’s take a look at the game modes that are currently available in Tactics Frenzy:
Perfect for hardcore chess fans who are serious about improving their skills and/or for old-school aficionados of the game who like to solve puzzles at their own pace. The main focus in this mode is on getting the answer right in the end even if it takes you quite a while to work out all the details.
The app keeps track of your rating, thus providing information on how successful your performance is. The “review solution” feature allows you to learn from your mistakes, making steady progress as a chess player.
Timed mode is centered on having fun and competing against others, as well as fighting for prizes. If you love blitz/bullet chess or simply want to speed up your thought process a bit, this is the section where you should be heading to.
As of now, there are four different categories within the Timed mode:
- Random – “Life is like a box of chocolate. You never know what you’re gonna get.” You will be given 3 minutes to solve as many puzzles as you can. Their level can be anything from easy to hard, allowing you to discover how lucky you are today.
- Easy, Medium and Hard – in each of these three categories you will be assigned 5 minutes to handle as many puzzles of a chosen difficulty level as you can.
In the Timed mode the app keeps track of the number of puzzles you have solved per run, as well as of your best streaks, i.e., the largest number of puzzles you have solved in a row without any mistakes. Hence you may either go all out, trying to get as many problems right as you can, or focus on diligently tackling the tasks one by one for the sake of scoring a nice streak. Similar to the Training mode, you can review the solutions and identify what went wrong in your calculations in case you make a mistake.
One of the defining features that makes the Timed mode even more thrilling is that you get some time (currently 10 seconds) deducted for each wrong solution and receive a relatively small time increment for each correct solution. This results in the opportunity to prolong your runs if you perform successfully, as well as adds another layer of decision-making to the process. For example, sometimes you have to make a wise choice whether to invest a lot of time into trying to get a tough puzzle right or to just skip it as quickly as possible, losing 10 seconds, in order to make better use of the remaining time.
In the video above you can see World Champion Magnus Carlsen take on a beta version of Tactics Frenzy’s Training mode. His judgment is known for being severe, but just! A few more Tactics Frenzy videos are available at the official Play Magnus YouTube Channel.