Take the five-minute tactics test on Playchess

by Albert Silver
3/20/2012 – Many may not realize that there are inherent differences in the versions of Playchess that come either Fritz 13, or ChessBase 11. One function they both provide, that does not come with the standalone Playchess program is the "Tactics training". This adrenaline rush test, is a five-minute quiz in which you must solve as many positions as possible. Find out more and see how well you can do!

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Take the five-minute tactics test on Playchess

By Albert Silver

It is no news that with either ChessBase 11 or Fritz 13, not only do you get a subscription to Playchess, but the Playchess program is included. What many may not realize is that there are inherent differences in the versions of Playchess that comes with each of these packages. For example, while Fritz 13 alone has the Let’s Check functionality, only ChessBase 11 gives access to the Online Database within Playchess. There is, however, one function they both provide that does not come with the standalone Playchess program: Tactics training.

If you access Playchess from with ChessBase 11 or Fritz 13, you see the same program, but with one distinct difference, an extra button on the toolbar called “Tactics Training”. Here is an introduction to this feature and its characteristics.

If you access Playchess from ChessBase 11 or Fritz 13, you will see an extra button

Starting the feature is as simple as pressing the button, but you should be prepared for some of its inherent challenges. The first thing you will see is both timers running, one with a short countdown, and the other starting with a total of five minutes. This five-minute countdown is the time you have to solve as many positions as possible. The shorter countdown is the time you have to solve that particular position before automatically skipping to the next one.

The effect of seeing the clocks count down creates a certain pressure to do as well
and solve as many as possible.

Under the board is a yellow light. If your solution is correct, it will turn green, and if wrong, it will turn red. Either way you pass to the next position. If you wait enough time, without providing a solution, not wanting to give a wrong one, the program will give you a tip by highlighting the correct piece to be played.

If you get the right answer, you will see the yellow light turn to green as here

Aside from the difficulty of positions that vary from basic mate-in-ones to slightly more complex combinations, the positions also always give you the perspective of the player whose move it is. In other words, if it is Black to play, then the black pieces will be at the bottom, and if White, the other way around. This can not only be slightly disorienting, but to be fair, in some endgames it was not immediately obvious who was going in which direction. If you are uncertain, look at the notation where it will say whose move it is.

After you are done, a pop-up will appear with your results, showing how many you got right, how many wrong (there is always one since the last position you did not finish is counted as unsolved), the rating performance, and the rating you have accumulated until now. There is also a button called “Check Solutions” that allows you to look at all the solutions.

Playchess will keep track of your results, and give you your stats as well

The solutions are then shown in a list, saved in your computer in a database called “MyInternetTactics”.

Whether you want a quick, time-controlled tactics test to improve your standard, or just waken up your neurons, these five-minute quizzes will do the trick. Since the test can never be solved, as it is about how many positions you can do within five minutes, there is usually a good adrenaline rush involved.

Have fun and see how well you can do!

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Copyright ChessBase

Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications.
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