07 November 2011

Tactics Training: Shredder iPad App

Back in January, my initial review of iPad chess applications highlighted Shredder as an exceptional playing program. I noted then that it also comes with one thousand tactics exercises. Although these exercises are not technically difficult, they must be solved quickly to get full credit. Many of the problems are on par with the vast majority found in Fred Reinfeld, 1001 Winning Chess Sacrifices and Combinations (1955). Some are much simpler, requiring the solver to notice a piece that is en prise.

Problem Number 703
Mike Klein, "Comparing Apps to Apps," Chess Life (October 2011) also recommends Shredder, although his comments might carry more weight if he had tested tChess Pro, which has far better database features than found in the two apps that he recommended for that purpose.

In Shredder, each training problem must be solved before moving on to the next. As time is expended, the number of possible points earned diminishes. Wrong answers diminish the score more rapidly. After too much time, or a couple of wrong answers, the score will be zero. Even then, the problem remains before the solver until a solution is found. In the upper left-hand corner is a question mark. Touching this image causes the piece to be moved to flash. Trial and error, if it comes to that, will eventually reveal the correct move.

Playing and Puzzle Ratings
Some problems require six moves or more. Many are one or two moves deep. Shredder tracks progress: total score and percentage of possible points. These data is provided for both the whole set, and for the past ten problems. This data can be reset to the beginning.

The Shredder app is not my only resource for tactics training, and so I do not use it every day. I have completed just over seven hundred of the thousand.

Capturing the screenshot and solving the problem above took me less than half a minute. That was long enough to lose one point. After playing Bxc5, a message appears: "You have solved this puzzle and get 9 points!" The message offers two options: stop, which ends the session, and next puzzle, which brings up the next exercise. If it is Black to move, the board will flip. The opponent's previous move is always shown, which eliminates ambiguity concerning whether an en passant capture would be possible. I vaguely recall that such a capture was the correct first move in at least one of the problems.

I plan to complete all one thousand problems, and then begin anew, going through the set a second time with more discipline and consistency. My principal objective the second time through will be to improve my scoring percentage.


  1. Current tally: 1314 puzzles. Raised my overall score from 77% to 78% about 100 puzzles back.

  2. I love the shredder problems and would love to see more tactical and position/end game problems in the same format. Shredder makes the problems much more pleasurable to solve than any other apps I have seen. I would pay 5-10$ for more problems I wish I could import my own problems from books I have so I could have thousands of tactics at my fingertips.