How the Chessmen Move and Capture
The puzzles start off very simply, asking the reader to identify which things can be captured, whether a particular position is checkmate and other such basic questions.
The chapter headings show the breakdown of material:
Simple Checkmates in One Move
More Checkmates in One Move
Even More Checkmates in One Move
Miscellaneous Checkmates in One Move
Basic Tactical Ideas
Puzzles from My Students
This is an excellent book for beginners, teachers and coaches. Having mastered the Fundamental material, it's time to move on to....
By NM Dan Heisman
Over the course of the packed 192 pages, NM Heisman presents a master class in all things tactical, covering all of the following categories:
Safety and Counting
78 Problems on 64 Squares
The Seeds of Tactical Destruction
Is There a Win?
The Five Levels of Tactics
The format is similar to the ‘Fundamentals’ volume, with a short introduction at the start of each chapter setting the scene for the abundance of examples the reader is invited to try and solve.
Pertinent snippets of advice feature in the many blue box-outs, such as this:
'Just because you can solve a tactical problem does not necessarily mean that you will spot the tactic in a game. The most important goal of studying tactics is to be able to spot the elementary motifs very quickly, so studying the most basic tactics over and over until you can recognize them almost instantly is likely the single best thing you can do when you begin studying chess!'
When studying tactics, especially for the first time, it is necessary to build up one’s knowledge like tiny building blocks of wisdom and experience. Consequently, a manual looking at the basics of the genre should start of with simple examples and work towards more difficult problems along the way.
That is certainly the case here. The very first test position in chapter one starts a series of simple counting problems.
Black to play and win
Some are from famous games, others are from studies. Anyone going through all of the positions will definitely have there tactical insight enhanced and by this stage will be spotting recurring patterns and themes with increasing alacrity.
A couple of randomly selected examples should illustrate the level of the material:
Black to play and mate in two moves
White to play and win
Other notable chapters are 'Opening Sequences', which takes a good look at some well-known opening traps and 'Defensive Tactics', showing that tactical weapons exist certainly not just for the attacker to have all the fun.
White to play and stop the pawn
White to play. Is there a winning move?
Now that your solving powers have been developed beyond the basics, it could be time to tackle some more heavyweight material...
The Chess Café Puzzle Book
Test and Improve Your Tactical Vision
By GM Karsten Mueller
Find the Defense
The Five Most Beautiful Combinations
The initial chapters set the scene and guide the reader through the various tactical motifs. Repetition is one of the keys to tactical success, as advised by the author:
‘From my own experience I have decided that it is best to sort the tactics by motifs first. This will help your pattern recognition, an extremely important skill. I believe that it is crucial in becoming a strong player.’
The choice of material is excellent and contains much that is new to me. It’s especially useful to see examples from events which wouldn’t normal reach my English eyes, such as the German Bundesliga.
Ftacnik - Cvitan
German Bundesliga v1997
Truly a position to warm the hearts of King’s Indian players throughout the world. Can you see how Black forced mate - in five moves?
Of course, an endgame expert can’t be separated from his favourite subject and there’s a chapter devoted to positions with reduced material. After all, one must be very aware of tactical devices in all phases of the game; the endgame is certainly no exception.
Nielsen - Rewitz
How did White break through?
Just before the real test starts, final inspiration is supplied by the authors choice of ‘The five most beautiful combination of all time’.
Kasparov - Topalov (you know the one) is there, of course, but it is good to see the older classics have not been neglected.
Bird - Morphy
17 … Rxf2!18 Bxf2 Qa3!! and Black went on to win.
‘It is easier to list the conditions under which it does not work first:
1.1) Black can play Nf8, Nf6, Bf5 or something like Qc2 or Qd3 to protect h7.
1.2) Black’s King can safely escape via f8 because f7 is protected.
1.3) Black’s material advantage is already so large that he can afford Qxg5
Finally the reader is asked to do some real work. There are ten tests, each containing 16 positions. The author advises that each test should be done on a different day and that two hours should be allotted for each one. Points are awarded for correct answers but they can be deducted for consulting the ‘hints’ pages.
This is an example of the tougher problems. White to play and win, but it’s no two-mover!
van Wely v Krasenkow
Istanbul Olympiad 2000
‘Of course the values (your ‘Tactical ELO’) should be taken with a large grain of salt.’