03 July 2012

Tactic Trainer for iPad, iPod, iPhone, Android: Review

Tactic Trainer is a simple and easy to use app that is available for several platforms, including iPad and Android.* It is developed by CoreGames, which also also produces a multi-function chess program called CoreChess HD. The developers claim:
More than 20k tactical chess problems are provided to be solved. The range of difficulties from trivial to professional. Your tactical performance will be measured by the Glicko rating system. Receive a tactical rating and track performance via statistics and graphs.

There is no way to verify the number of problems after several days of use, but it is clear that the app offers a range of problems at an appropriate level for my training, and that test a variety of tactical themes. Presumably it also offers appropriate level training for those much weaker, as well as those stronger than me.

The app offers a graph of one's rating progress, but no summary statistics. The lack of detailed statistics limits the app. It is no substitute for ChessTempo and other similar web-based resources. However, Tactic Trainer requires no web connection, although it does connect to Apple's Game Center. The available tactics problems are downloaded with the app.

I can anticipate using the app for many hours during those times when an internet connection is impractical, and sometimes when it is available. The simple, uncluttered board and quick response are useful features. The app offers several piece styles (all two-dimensional Staunton--the only sets that I would ever use) and square color options. As with many other training programs, the program shows the last move, and then the user looks for the correct (strongest) move or sequence of moves. If the solver gets the problem incorrect, arrows at the bottom of the board permit playing through the correct sequence.

The menu across the top offers Training (solving mode), Progress (reveals the user's rating graph), Leaders (lists top players using Game Center), Settings (opens a box for choosing pieces and set--see image), Info (shows the text quoted above, and lists descriptions of typical tactical motifs).

For $2.99, the app merits attention for anyone looking for ready access to continuous tactics training.

Update 26 May 2013

An update to the Tactic Trainer app last week added two menu items, removing the principal weakness in the utility of this app. The menu now adds history and statistics. Statistics tells the user the highest and lowest active ratings, the number of problems done with the number correct, the number wrong, and percentages. I now know that I have completed 1152 problems with 731 (63%) correct. History allows the user to review all completed problems. Alas, this option is poorly designed: it lists the first one hundred problems beginning with the last one completed. At the bottom of the list, press "more 100 iteams (sic)" and it brings up the next 100 also in reverse order. The app would be more useful if it maintained the reverse order, but began with the most recent 100.

The improvements are useful, and with a small tweak (and correction of spelling) will become even more useful.

*I have been using the iPad version. There may be slight differences in other platforms.


  1. I bought the iPhone app and it looks quite good. Trying to make use of the analysis board make the app to crash and maybe it is too generous in terms of rating points. After 10-15 "find the Queen forks" I am already above 1700.

    1. It appears the analysis tab is a crash button. It does not work. My rating in the app is a bit higher than my standard rating on Chess Tempo, but still significantly below my actual OTB rating.

  2. Thanks for the review, very helpful in evaluating the utility of the app.

  3. YO uso esta aplicasion. Es muy bueno. No tanto como chesstempo pero va bien.Ahora estoy en el TOP 10. LuisJavierLp.

  4. Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
    thank you :)