Thinking Tactics - An Amateur's Perspective
"A famous chess coach Mark Dvoretsky considers the tactical skill of a chess player to include two main components - the combinative vision and the calculating technique. In his opinion, in order to develop one's chess imagination one should solve tasks aimed at finding (not calculating out!) a correct tactical idea."
"It is important to remember a 'golden' rule when calculating variations: in any position, you should first see if there are any checks, then any captures and if they work or not, - then calculate the threats (Pins, forks, etc.). We call it 'checks - captures - threats'."
It is important to organize your thinking process in this manner as most games are decided by tactical shots. We should get used to looking at all:
3) Threats (Pins, Forks, Double Attacks, etc.)
as we process a position in our inner minds. It pays to try and develop a repeatable and efficient thinking technique when looking for tactical shots. One of the best ways to do this is to conciously walk a checklist when solving tactical chess problems during your training session. This will translate well into your games because chess is 90% tactics at the end of the day.
One exercise that you may find helpful is to take any GM game and play through it until you get to the middlegame. Now, without moving the pieces, play the next several moves in your head and then write down all the Checks and Captures the side to move can make at that new position. Play the next move on the board and do the same. This will help you visualize checks and capture in analysis variations you come up with in your head.
Checks, Captures, Threats - Pins, Forks, Double Attacks.
The big THREE.