05 June 2012

Rated Tactics Training

Many years ago, before I was a member of the United States Chess Federation, I was able to borrow copies of the organization's magazine from the library. In those days it was called Chess Life and Review. One of my favorite regular features was Bruce Pandolfini's column. After presenting the first few moves of a game, he asked the reader to slowly uncover the article while guessing the move of the player who won. By keeping track of my guesses, I was able to score each game. A chart at the end of the article presented a rating estimate based on that score.

In the early 1990s, as my interest in chess was growing again after more than a decade away from competition, I returned to Pandolfini's column. The rating estimate gave me an inflated and inaccurate perception of my likely playing strength. Some twelve years of tournament play were needed before my USCF rating approached the estimates from those old columns.

These days no one reads magazines. Everything is on the web. Some of the most popular tactics training resources give users a chess rating that seems as though it may correspond to a USCF or FIDE rating based on play. Users who do not compete may believe their tactics rating predicts the rating they would have if they played.

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