Simple stuff first
Crumpled up in the back of my car I discovered a printout of a comment on tactical thinking during games. I thought it was something I posted here, but actually Google revealed it was just a comment I left at Steve Eddins' blog:
Recently I’ve vastly simplified my thinking during games, making it a priority to look at checks, captures, and threats first. And by threats, I mean simple one-move tactics such as fork, skewer, etc.. I try not to let myself think about more complicated stuff until I’m sure my candidate moves can survive this basic tactical evaluation. It has simplified my thinking in games (no more 10 minutes spent thinking about pawn structure: I allow only quick thinks when it comes to quiet positions), made the games more fun, and resulted in fewer embarassing losses (though I’ll always have embarassing losses I’m sure).Since I started playing slow games again, I realize I need to start doing this again. Look at checks and captures first. Back to the simple basics. I've missed some subtle but devastating checks I could have made in a couple of games.
My reasoning when I started this was, “Hey beginners start by learning simple mates and one-move tactics in their books and puzzle software, maybe I should reorient my thinking in real games to look for simple stuff first, and once it becomes second-nature to do that, I will be more disposed to build vision for the higher-level stuff.”