Tactics Resources

Feb 19, 2016, 3:55 PM |

I recently saw an article by IM Jeremy Silman that provided some recommendations for tactics books.  Several I had not seen before, but I plan to look into them...  Here is the article (content also pasted below) 

A Superior Tactician

Chess.com member Mzeekimaro wrote: “I am a big fan of you and your chess books. I am rated 1581 by FIDE. I want to be very good at tactics. What do you recommend I do? I want to be labeled as a superior tactician.”

Dear Mr. Mzeekimaro: Everyone would like to be a superior tactician. However, “wanting” and actually “getting” are two very different things. Though some people toss out long, elegant tactical sequences from birth, others try and try for endless years only to find that they simply don’t have the “tactics gene.”

World champions that were gifted with extraordinary tactical genius were/are (from 1900 to the present): Emanuel Lasker, Alexander Alekhine, Mikhail Tal, and Gary Kasparov (create a database of their games and look through them). Of course, other grandmasters and world champions calculate with outrageous skill, but those four (and perhaps Morphy) had a special “something” that can’t be taught or equaled. They were simply tactical gods.

Though natural talent is needed if you wish to reach pro-levels, hard work can take you a long way. There are myriad computer programs that will test your tactical acumen. Chess Mentor courses are great, and the Chess.com tactics trainer should be used often. On top of that, there are many wonderful books on tactics.

Some old classics:

Combinations the Heart of Chess by Irving Chernev, Chess Traps, Pitfalls & Swindles by Horowitz and Reinfeld, The Art of the Chess Combination by Eugene Znosko-Borovsky (as a child, I gained 300 rating points after reading this little book), The Art of Attack in Chess by Vukovic, Chess Tactics for Advanced Players by Averbakh, The Art of Sacrifice in Chess by Rudolf Spielmann, and on and on it goes.

More modern books on this subject: 1000 Checkmate Combinations by Henkin, Chess Gems: 1,000 Combinations You Should Know by Igor Sukhin (this is actually a very special book since it not only shows you many of the best combinations throughout history, but how combinations evolved and what was discovered via the book’s timeline), Chess: 5334 Problems, Combinations and Games by Laszlo Polgar, The Magic Tactics of Mikhail Tal by Karsten Muller and Stulze, Chess Tactics from Scratch by Weteschnik, etc.

You can (and should) bolster your tactical study with Kotov’s Think Like a GrandmasterMy Best Games of Chess, 1908-1937 by Alekhine (Russell Enterprises), The Life and Games of Mikhail Talby Tal, Mikhail Tal’s Best Games 1 – The Magic of Youth and Mikhail Tal’s Best Games 2 – The World Champion by Tibor Karolyi, Tal–Botvinnik 1960 by Tal (a classic), and other game collections by super-attackers like Frank Marshall (Marshall’s Best Games of Chess, also known asMy Fifty Years of Chess, is endless fun), Authur Bisguier (The Art of Bisguier: Selected Games 1961-2003 by Bisguier), Alexei Shirov (Fire on Board: Shirov’s Best Games and Fire on Board Part Two: 1997-2004), Rashid Nezhmetdinov (do a study of his games from a database, or pick up a book like Super Nezh: Rashid Nezhmetdinov by Pishkin), and Yeffim Geller (Application of Chess Theory by Geller).

If you really want to reach your goal of “superior tactician” (though I’m not quite sure what that means –- superior to who or what?), use the Chess.com offerings (mentioned above), read at least 40.382 percent of these books, and create an opening repertoire (an all-gambit repertoire is fun -– it’s not something you will use forever, but it will give you some exciting moments and allow you to make use of all sorts of tactical moments) that will be conducive to tactical opportunities.