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Good tactics books

  • #1

    No chess player can become better without working on tactics.

    However, this is an area I have neglected, having studied openings and endgames.

    Can anyone recommend an intermediate tactics book?

    I have reinfeld's book which I am presently working on but would like to simultaneously work on some others too./

  • #2

    Why not use the tactics trainer on this site or on other chess sites? You can google up a whole list of them, I like chesstempo.com 

  • #3

    for a variety of reasons online tactics trainers are no where near as good.

    for one, the problems are not well selected.

    also, some of these are timed which obviously doesn't make sense

  • #4

    I recommend "Chess Tactics Antenna" by Emmanuel Neiman. 

  • #5

    I haven't read any of these but they are all written by World-Class GMs (at one time or another) and each book has a very good reputation.  The last book on my list has been considered a classic for several decades.

    You can read numerous customer reviews of each book at amazon before deciding on one, and you can "look inside" some books at amazon online to check out random pages, the table of contents, indices etc. 





  • #6

    I'm going through Improve Your Chess Tactics: 700 Practical Lessons & Exercises by Neishstadt, very good book.

  • #7

    great recommendations.. thanks! will try and go through these.

  • #8

    It depends on the type of "tactics book" you want; e.g. graduated from easy to hard (or mixed), obviously mate or fork oriented (or you work it out)

    Ray Chen's 600 Practical Chess Exercises from Tactics to Strategy - with a foreword by IM John Watson - emphasizes a mixed difficulty and "you work out what the plan should be" approach to tactics training.

    This is more realistic and akin to playing real games - the only hint we have as mover is the expectation that "the next move(s) should  achieve something, but whether it is a small or large improvement in a position, or gain in material or a defensive move or a mating sequence, we have to work out".

    Two examples. The problem is a chess setup on the left page, The answers are supplied on the right page, which should be covered with a card or postal envelope, until you have decided on your move or give up.Then Cheng explains the answers, such as

     (1)* Fork 1....Nb3! 2. Rb1 Nc5 (forking Rook and Queen) wins the exchange, taking a rook for a minor piece. Note that the number of "*" for each challenge indicates its approximate degree of difficulty from easy (*) to very difficult (****).

    An example of a more difficult challenge is (14) White to move.


    The answer is given as (14)*** Swap defender of outposts (Cheng suggests that should be white's objective in this position). He then describes the 3-move forced sequence with additional explanatory notes, ending up with the white Queen nicely placed near the Black King, after which white can play Nd2-c4-d6, and threatening mate next move.

    In my opinion, these are real exercises in Tactics and Strategy, and would complement Tactic Trainer on Chess.com



    Susan Polgar reviewed the book in 2011


    The author, Ray Cheng, relates that he had been working at chess and found the problem solving books to have an inherent problem. Problem books start out telling the reader what to expect. If you get an endgame problem book, it is not likely to have rook sacrifices and conversely if you have a tactics book there isn't much chance of solving a queen-and-pawn versus queen ending. 

    This book presents 600 "problems" that could potentially fall into any category. There aren't any groupings or specific arrangement to the problems, endgames in with tactics in with defense and even opening positions. This is quite a good idea as it introduces the bite of uncertainty to solving the problems. In other words, the reader is deprived of the little bit of extra info that most of us lazy players lean on when we are going through problem books. Diminishing the complacency, that can become standard for improving players, is worth reading this book alone.”


    I am not saying "only buy Cheng", but it is a very good start. Personally, it took me a while to get out of the mood that the next move had to be dramatic. And while I could solve most of the 1* or 2* lessons (easy to medium), I had a lot of difficulty with the 3* and 4* lessons (difficult to very difficult), but experienced an "aha reaction" when the solution was revealed.

    Note even some of the simple lessons are subtle, such as moving a rook pawn forward to prevent an opponent's pawn advancing and attacking a piece. I played all of the games out on Chessmaster, and sometimes lost. It does not mean that the tactic was wrong, but perhaps the original position was losing anyway.

  • #9

    I also like Ray Chen's book.

    For 1300 1 to 3 move tactics problems, with increasing levels of difficulty, try the 2 volume "Manual of Chess Combinations" 1a and 1b. The early problems start at the 1000 elo level and end at the 1600 elo level.

    If you are already over 1600 elo, then go for Ray Chen or Lev Alburt's "Chess Training Pocket Book" with 300 important positions.


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