Headcoach - Chess Pathshala

Pattern Recognition

An important aspect of chess improvement!​

Why Grandmasters are Grandmasters? 

Why are Grandmasters stronger than most of the other players in Chess?

Well, there are a lot of reasons that make a player strong and one of them is surely Pattern-Recognition. In this article, we will be discussing this important aspect of Chess improvement and I will also give you 3 tips on how you can apply this in your Chess training in order to improve your play.

Whenever you look at a Chess position, some moves will automatically pop-up in your mind.

Moves popping in your mind!

These moves are usually referred to like the moves suggested by our intuition. The more refined and strong a player’s intuition, the higher will be the strength of the moves suggested by his intuition.


But how does the intuition gets stronger?

  • Now, this is where the topic of pattern-recognition comes into play.
  • Whenever you study an instructive game of Chess played between two strong players, there will be moments in the game where a player has played a brilliant move or he formulated and executed a beautiful plan to get an advantage or score a win.
  • This important moments where a player sacrifices something to execute a combination or manoeuvres his pieces to gain an upper hand in the position can be termed as patterns in Chess. 
Chess is filled with thousands and thousands of patterns.

These patterns can be roughly categorized into the following:-

  • Mating Patterns
  • Tactical Patterns
  • Positional Patterns
Matting Patterns!
  1. Mating Patterns:- When a novice learns the rules of chess and begins to move the pieces on the board, he/she is usually introduced to solving ‘mate in one move’ puzzles be it in the endgame or in the middlegame. At first, it is difficult to spot mate in one move and a lot of conscious effort is required to find the mate in every puzzle. Once the novice solves many such puzzles, his brain is able to spot the mate in one move quickly. After solving numerous such puzzles it becomes second nature to spot those mates and he is able to solve them in a few seconds. Then the player goes on solving puzzles with a mate in 2 moves, 3 moves etc.


Mikhail Tal sacrificing ALL his pieces – from pawn to queen!
  1. Tactical Patterns:- Tactical patterns are in reference to the positions where the side to move wins material with the help of tactics. These patterns can be further broken down into topics such as pins, double attack, etc.
Capablanca V/S Marshall -Positional Patterns!
  1. Positional Patterns:- These patterns are comparatively difficult to grasp and need a certain level of appreciation of the position. Positional patterns may include manoeuvrings, weak squares, weak pawns, etc.

Let me show you how pattern recognition exactly works through the examples of my own play

I have grown up studying the games of classical players and I am sure it has helped me a lot in my Chess career. I would like to show you a game of Aron Nimzowitsch where he employed a nice knight manoeuvre.  

Aron Nimzowitsch

Now, let us see how I was able to use a similar manoeuvre in my own game.

Honestly, during the game, I had did not consciously remember the game of Nimzowitsch. All I knew was that I had seen this knight manoeuvre somewhere and it felt so natural to me. It is more important to remember such important patterns than to remember the names of the players, etc.

Now let me show you a more complicated example

Find the best move for white!

I am sure you must have selected your move by now. But before showing you the solution to the above position let us first revisit the gem by GM Nigel Short grin.png

I am sure you have enjoyed the gem by Nigel! The KING WALK grin.png

Now let us get back to the game between Hillarp Persson vs. Laurusas which we had given a try.

How to catch a Tiger? Don't chase him into your own den, that's for sure. | Photo: Mike Klein/

 I am sure most of you had difficulties finding the correct move in the first instance but after seeing the instructive king walk by GM Nigel Short it was easier to guess the correct move and think in that direction which many of us would not have even considered at first.

 So, how were you able to guess such a complicated move? Well, the answer is that you saw a pattern (the king walk to h6) and got a chance to apply it in a similar situation immediately!

 But when you actually study and remember important patterns it might be months before you get a chance to apply it and this is where memory plays a huge part in Chess. 


Grandmasters are usually good at remembering Chess patterns!

So how can you apply it in your practice?

 Here are my 3 tips that you can apply in your training!!

I hope you found this article on Pattern-Recognition helpful. Do let me know in the comments what you liked in this article and what are the tips that you will apply in your training starting today!!

Here is the video explanation of Pattern-Recognition on our youtube channel!

All the best guys! Stay connected!

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