Do you often get the ... "Wait a minute, there has to be a combination here." but the life of you, you just cannot find it over the board?
Here's a small little snippet of a position I played a few days ago on FICS.
My opponent White, just played 30. Qc2
It was at this moment that something in my mind clicked about the position and that little voice in my head then said, "There's something in here."So I began calculating....
1. If it is White's turn to move, what is White likely to do?
My king and queen are currently not under threat. Neither are my pieces with the exception of the e4 pawn and possibly, the c6 pawn once the Knight on c5 moves. The Knights are likely to take the e4 pawn first and coupled with the a-pawn push, White would be winning.
I need to find something and fast.
2. Can I stop White's threats of taking the e4 pawn with any pieces?
No, the pawn is being attacked 3 times. The only way to defend is f5 but my exposed King would be quite vulnerable along the b2-g7 diagonal. I can take the chance but I don't like it.
3. Let's look at the safety of the White king and queen now
I looked at the White King's position, it's extremely vulnerable along the dark square diagonal of g1-b7 but that diagonal is defended by the pawn chain of e3 and d4. I'd notice my bishop targetting the rook on a1 so if my Bishop can plonk itself on d4, I would be an exchange up then. So how do I remove this pawn defence?
Once I saw this, I found the combination. All I need to do now is to recheck any variations that might interfere with my plan. Seeing none, I looked to see if there are other good moves I can make but could not find any. So I played....
30....Nxe3 31. Rxe3 (forced as other alternatives are poor eg. 31. Qxe4 Qxe4 32. Nxe4 results in 32. Nc2 forking both Rooks and I would be the exchange up with a very active bishop and 2 rooks - Black is winning) Bxd4 32. Rae1 (see diagram below)
And the pin along g2-a7 diagonal decides matters - the White Rook on e3 is going nowhere. So, I take my time 32... Qxc5 33. Qxc5 Bxc5 and the game quickly finished.
I admit this was one game I got lucky. I didn't see the 30th move until it presented to myself. In an actual game, I would have to see this move well ahead in advance.
However, one good thing arising from this is that once I recognise the pattern, I can now "lock" this useful idea and store it into my "brain" database (and my PGN database of games) of tactics I can possible use in the future.
And it is only by consistently building "chunks" of tactical patterns, that will help create ideas and help formulate plans in the future.