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Chess Tempo

Site: chesstempo.com

Type: Board Game, Entertainment

Chess Tempo is a website for chess enthusiast who wish to improve their game. The website does not offer games versus other players, instead you can put your skills to the test by attempting to solve tactical chess positions to the best of your abilities. For all your efforts ratings are maintained to signify the progress of your chess fortitude.

The site can be used for free for the most part, the paid membership unlocks better searching possibilities, custom position collections, unlimited endgame training and some other perks. That being said, if you just want to train your tactical abilities with a vast collection of rated training positions, then a free account is all you need.

A good program for chess training with a similar approach is Lucas Chess. It also has a lot of other features, but is tailored more towards chess novices. If you are looking for a chess site that offers player vs. player games, have a look at Chess.com.

Tactics

This training is the heart of Chess Tempo. The collection of positions puts your inner chess tactician to the test. All the positions are situations form real games that have been automatically analyzed and evaluated for the training corpus. The task in each is to make the right combination of winning moves, they are like puzzles that have a solution that is clearly superior to the alternatives.

The problems can be tackled in standard or blitz mode. Blitz factors in the time taken for the solution to calculate your rating change, in standard mode the timer is visible but the time doesn't matter for the rating. You can select which way you want to play in the user preferences.

Every position has a rating and every attempt by a user so solve it is judged like a regular chess game. If you make the right moves, your own rating goes up and the position's rating down and vice versa. In this manner you quickly approach a rating that is a fairly accurate reflection of your tactical skills. The positions likewise gravitate towards their real difficulty while users attempt to solve them and those you get to see are around your own rating, so that you are always faced with a fair challenge.

The right move will usually get you a piece ahead of your opponent, just winning a pawn is seldom enough, or win the game on the spot. Occasionally you will also face positions that are nor as complicated as they seem at first glance and the right move is to just grab a hanging piece. When these come up you will probably first try to find a move combination that involves some brilliancy and often fail because it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking the most obvious move can't be the right one. Another important thing about the positions is that you are always at a pressure point, you don't have time to juggle pieces before you make the important move. The right moves always and inevitably lead to an instant (material) win.

At the start be sure to check which side you are playing, this is indicated by a white or black knight piece in the upper left corner of the page. Right next to it is the timer and below you can see which castling moves are still possible for both sides.

If you are a chess novice or not used to this kind of tactical chess puzzle, I highly recommend using only the standard mode and to take all the time you need for finding the right move. The solution is usually so overwhelmingly superior to most other moves, that you won't have many doubts if you find it. Occasionally there are also secondary moves that are only slightly inferior to the solution, in these cases you will get a notification to that effect and can make another attempt to get it right.

You should only give up or guess when you really don't see the winning move after a couple of minutes. After a failed try, check the solution and analyze why it is the best move. If you keep doing the tactical training and are making an effort to understand your mistakes, then you should see your rating and tactical prowess increasing over time.

Whether you passed or failed the test, after the position is done some stats will be displayed on the left side. Among them are the position's rating and the average solution time. Here you will also see the tags assigned by the community to each position, they show what themes the tactical problem in the position exhibits. If you click the comments button, you will see the what others had to say about the problem. Quite often other players provide their analysis in the comments, it's worth taking a look when you don't see what the crucial point of a position is. In the upper right corner of the chess board you will see how your and the position's rating changed with your attempt.

In the training menu you can see that the tactics training is also available as an “old” version. The only difference between the two is the page layout, the new version can be configured in numerous way by clicking the little wrench symbol in the upper left corner of the chess board and by resizing the board. The old version is relatively static, but a little faster.

Endgame

The endgame training generally follow the same concept as the tactical training, but with a maximum of five pieces in endgame situations instead of the tactical midgame positions. The task is either to checkmate the opposing king or to get into an endgame with the odds considerably stacked in your favor. The latter usually involves taking one of the last opponent pieces leaving the other king without hope of escape.

This type of practice is very useful if you often find yourself in practically won endgame positions, but are wondering time and again how exactly you can execute the checkmate most efficiently.

The endgame positions have two training modes: theory and practice. Theory only allows the optimal moves that lead to the quickest win. Practice allows any move unless it renders a mating impossible against an optimally acting opponent, e.g. by leading to a draw. The score and thus the rating change for both are calculated with the number of moves made (or attempted in theory mode) compared to the optimal solution.

There is a button labeled “play best” below the board that does just that, but incurs a hefty penalty to your move count. For that reason it's probably seldom worth using, unless you are really clueless about any way to proceed.

You can also opt to play a position in blitz mode by clicking the corresponding button. This will activate a count down timer and you will be allowed to make any move, even if you were in theory mode before. With blitz mode you get the maximum score for a position as long as you solve it within the allotted time, there is no penalty for suboptimal moves and no bonus for time left on the clock.

After you are done with a position, you will see how your suboptimal moves (if any) prolonged a mate in the annotations on the right side and the stats on the left will show how many additional moves others needed on average. Like the tactics training, the endgame training has a comments section where users often share their thoughts on the current problem.

Note: Free accounts can only try two endgame positions per day after the first ten.

Guess the Move

This training puts you in the position of a chess master in a real recorded game. The objective is to figure out the best move in every position as the game unfolds. If you make the same move the master made or if you make the move with the best engine evaluation, you get full points and your rating increases. All other moves grant or subtract point according to their rating. It's noteworthy that every single position of the game has its own rating that is being automatically adjusted as you and others are attempting to find the best moves. Your rating adjustment for each move attempt is computed from the rating of the position on question.

The annotation area not only shows the actual moves made in the master game. If your indicated moves diverge, they are listed as variants together with their rating in pawn units.

On the left side are stats that change with every move and allow you to see how you are performing so far. The comments for the game will only be visible after you have finished to prevent spoilers.

Other Features

Tactical Motifs: This is a list of the chess themes that can be applied as tags to the tactical problems. The list is quite comprehensive and each entry comes with a description and board showing the motif. It's an interesting overview if you want to know what kind of tactical finesses chess has to offer.

Chess Database: Contains games, openings and a lot of statistics about their success ratios. This is a good resource to find out which opening moves work better in the long run. The game database can be filtered by player strength, by default only games from players with a strength above 2200 are shown. The number of games for each continuation by default actually reflects the number of games with that position, including transpositions. That means other move lines that ended with the same follow-up position also contribute to the displayed number. The performance number of a move is green when the move's rating is above the average player rating who made that move and red if it is below.

Stats: Your performance in numbers, tables and graphs. This overview is a good way to see if your training is paying off in the form of increasing ratings. If your rating is going sideways or even down, take more time to analyze the positions and your mistakes.

Companies | Games | Non-Fiction | Turn Based Strategy


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