My tactical training in the past has gained me about 250 rating points during its heydays. I often wrote that the core of this effort was reached within about 6 weeks. Although it took a year or two before it was reflected into my OTB rating.
I mentioned this fact often in the past, and I have been in search for a way to copy this result ever since. Without any avail, alas. I remember well what I was doing during this period of six weeks of growth in tactical insight. I was working on mates in one and two in papa Polgars brick "chess training in 5333+1 positions". I wasn't even repeating the problems, the repetition came from the similarities between positions. Even during working on Polgars brick, I felt the effect of the training slowly fading away. I thought that the answer lay in doing more problems, hence being exposed to more patterns. Later I met the Knights Errant, and I was introduced to repetition and speed.
Some new areas of chess were entered, for instance the steps method learned me a lot of new things I didn't know before. And a new area means new rating points. But the amount of areas you can improve in is very limited and the amount of rating points you can gain with each area is too. See for instance my latest educated guess on endgames: it will improve you with about 70 rating points. Give or take.
After a long investigation and all sorts of effort to copy the initial result of Polgars brick I finally ended up with the necessity of adding chess logic to your moves and the need for concepts and analogies for the transfer of knowledge from one position to another. The past year at the club I have been looking for ways to transform this theoretical idea into a practical training method. When you have such concrete questions, you learn the most of your games since you are looking at them with vulture eyes. At the same time, there is little to write about as long as matter isn't materializing in a coherent way.
A few weeks ago, I was shoved from the board in 17 moves by the club champion. I didn't see it coming during the game, and I asked myself what exactly had happened. Analysis showed me that I didn't see the auras of the pieces well. And I remembered that the effect of my initial steps with Polgars brick was that my focus shifted from the pieces to the auras of the pieces. I had formulated that fact in that way earlier, but my attempts to mimic that shift in focus had been stuck in the mud in those early days. Mainly due to the attraction of volume, repetition and speed, the mental image of the auras became a mechanical effort which soon blurred out.
So I reasoned that the lack of ability to see the auras is the main area to work on. Even before working on logic and concepts. Without aura visualization, there can be no fast calculation of variations. Meaning that adding new logic and new concepts don't work without the ability to see auras.
The fact that my gained 250 rating points overtime was reduced to 100 rating points nowadays, even with continuous tactical training, tells me that aural focus need to be maintained by the right training. A scattershot tactical training is not sufficient to maintain aural visualization.
Chessable has a few tactical trainings that have gathered exactly the right material for aural training. I limit myself to 434 tactical puzzles and 387 mates to train my aural focus. Spaced repetition slows down the exposure to puzzles overtime, stimulating to take more and more time per puzzle. Discovering new chess logic and new concepts along the way too. Despite doing an excessive amount of puzzles in the past, I never asked myself any questions how the tactical theme came about. Which ways are there to deliver mate with queen and bishop? How to set up an Anastasia's mate? It already delivered me an undeserved point in an endgame where I was two pawns behind. I mated my opponent in the middle of the board, and the only way to prevent it was to exchange his beautiful bishop against my gimpy knight. He hadn't seen the mate at all.
Especially mates invite you to focus on the auras of the pieces. Since you have to imagine the box the king can't escape from. Take for instance the following position. Imagine the auras!
|White to move|
2Q5/8/p5P1/2pk4/2Np1b2/1P6/P6q/3K4 w - - 10 51