The TRC Chess Calculation Method

Calculation is a skill you need on nearly every move you make. Clearly, then, it would be very helpful if you had a calculation method that you can practice beforehand and use during your games.

In this lesson I’ll explain how the TRC Calculation Method works. It is a very helpful tool and easy to learn.

Introduction to The TRC Chess Calculation Method

The TRC calculation method is a 3-stage process that helps you consider all the important aspects of calculation in every position. Each stage helps you gather information that will be useful in the next stage.

You may find it helpful to remember the stages by thinking of the 3-letter acronym TRC:

  1. Find Opponent’s Threats. (T)
  2. Observe Tactical Resources. (R)
  3. Calculate Forcing Moves. (C)

Note: It is important to understand that this method is not intended as a strict algorithm that you must follow on every move. Rather, it offers you a practical way in which to structure your calculations, not only in positions where you sense there may be tactics, but also in any other position where a certain amount of calculation is required.

Next you will learn more about the objectives of each stage and then you will see an example of the method in action.

Stage 1: Find Opponent’s Threats (T)

A common mistake chess players make is that they think about the position mainly from their own perspective. However, both players desire to steer the position in a direction that they deem favorable to them–and that is why you should take the time to grasp your opponent’s imminent threats and likely plans. In other words, you should see the white and black pieces as two sides of the same coin.

An important benefit of understanding your opponent’s threats is that it provides the perfect background for the next stage of your calculations. And if you didn’t find any serious threats, then you can in any case move on to the 2nd stage–observing all the tactical resources.

Stage 2: Observe Tactical Resources (R)

Tactical resources are any targets you can attack, threats you can make and any potential tactical patterns or checkmate patterns you can find in the position. Your calculations will be far more effective if you spend time to identify all the potential resources, at your disposal, before actually calculating anything.

Targets (fairly obvious)

In chess, a target is a piece or square that you can attack directly. Examples are an exposed enemy king that can be checked, undefended pieces that can be attacked, important defenders that can be undermined or even weak squares that can be occupied with one of your pieces.

Other Resources (a little less obvious)

Not all tactical resources in the position will be obvious, but taking time to find them is a crucial part of your calculation process. Examples of other resources include underlying tactical patterns such as pins or forks, ways to create new targets, having a majority of forces in a certain area of the board or anything else that could potentially work in your favor if you could make a few changes in the position.

Stage 3: Calculate Forcing Moves (C)

Calculation is an infinitely complex part of chess and therefore it is helpful to simplify it where it makes sense to do so. A good technique is to calculate mainly forced moves such as checks, captures and threats (also known as CCT).


A check is the most forcing move in chess and therefore the easiest type of move to calculate. If you find a check that leads to a forced win, then there is no need to calculate other moves. In many cases a check could also be a capture.


When you capture a piece your opponent’s best response will likely be to recapture. It is always easier to calculate the moves where you know what your opponent’s response should be.


A threat is an attacking move that forces your opponent to either respond in a defensive way or to make an even stronger counter-threat.

Example of the TRC Calculation Method

A great way to practice the TRC calculation method is to use it when you solve tactical puzzles.

The following example comes from my collection titled Calculation Methods | The 3 Stages of Calculation (TRC Method).

You can get the complete set of exercises here (link).

Here’s an example:

Exercise 4

TRC Calculation Method Example Exercise

Diagram above: Black just played Qxb2. Apply the 3-stage calculation method to the position and try to find the best move for white.

Once you have completed the 3 stages of the calculation process, compare your findings with the solutions given below.

Stage 1: Find Opponent’s Threats (T)

TRC Calculation Method Example Exercise Stage 1

Diagram above: As a consequence of black’s last move, Qxb2, black is now threatening Qxe2, Rxe2 Rb1+, with mate to follow.

Stage 2: Observe Tactical Resources (R)

TRC Calculation Method Example Exercise Stage 2

These are the tactical resources white observed:

  • The pawn-shield in front of the black king is compromised. The black king is partly exposed to checks.
  • The black rook on b8 defends the black queen on b2. If we can undermine the role of this rook, we could potentially win the black queen.
  • The black pawn on e6 is undefended.

Stage 3: Calculate Forcing Moves (C)

TRC Calculation Method Example Exercise Stage 3

Here are the main variations white calculated:

1.Rc8+! Rxc8 2.Qxb2 and white gets a big advantage.
1.Rc8+! Kh7 2.Qxb2 Rxb2 3.Rxa8 gives white a big advantage.
1.Rc8+! Kh7 2.Qxb2 Rxc8 and white gets a big advantage.
1.Qxb2? Rxb2 2.Rxe6 Rxa2 and it is unclear which side, if any, is better.

Exercise 4 Conclusion

TRC Calculation Method Example Exercise Conclusion

Note how the TRC calculation method provided structure to white’s thinking process. Of course, being familiar with tactical patterns (in this case the ladder trick, overloading a defender) will further support your calculations.

If you practice this calculation method whenever you solve tactical puzzles, it will eventually become a very useful tool to help you calculate variations in your own games. The acronym TRC (Threats, Resources, Calculate) will help you remember the 3 stages.

A great way to get a head start with the TRC calculation method is to get your copy of my exercise collection: