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Attack the king

One of the finest chess books ever written. Those are tall words from the back cover of this classic book. But The art of attack in chess is one of those books that keep popping up in lists of best chess books. It is highly regarded by many players and trainers, so the initial statement is probably not all wrong. This is a book that has been on my reading list for several years, but it has taken some time for me to actually pick it up. I've been curious about what the hype is all about, and now that I've finally found out for myself, I am ready to share that insight with you. So let's dive in!

What can you expect from this book? Before we begin, let me just get one detail out of the way. One thing that struck me when I picked up the book is the title, which seems to be missing a "the". When reading about the book online, it is referred to both with and without "the". When I looked up the original book (this one is a revised edition, edited by John Nunn)…
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Selling chess calculation

Chess calculation is a core skill in chess. Some say it's the most important skill, and that the ability to calculate deeply and accurately is the best predictor of playing strength. Thus, getting better at calculation should be a top priority for any improving player. So when I found the book Excelling at chess calculation, I felt that this should be a no-brainer. Let's take a look at this book!

What can you expect from this book? Let me be upfront. When I was done reading this book, I was quite upset. The content does not fulfil the promise of the title - not even close. Upon writing this review, I went through the book again, just to check if I got a different impression. In one way, I didn't, but in another way I did. Let me explain.
"A crucial guide to the skill of chess calculation. Ideal for both club and tournament players." That's what the back cover says, and I had heard people recommending the book. My expectations were high and I was excited when …

Back to basics

Chess is 99% tactics. This is a truism that is often repeated. I don't know if it's correct, or if it even makes sense to discuss the validity of the claim. But anyway you slice it, tactics are important. If you don't know your basic tactics, you'll get shredded on the board.

A while back, I decided that I would brush up on my basic tactics. This was based partly on recommendations from various sources, and partly on inspiration from people within the Twitter chess community (shout out to all #chesspunks out there!).

I don't think there is anything directly wrong with my tactical abilities, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to ensure that I had a solid tactical Foundation before pursuing my more advanced studies. So I designed a training program for drilling basic tactics, drawing on a number of different books. Thus, I thought I would write another multi-book review, with focus on basic tactics books.

In this review I take on the following titles:
Chess tactics f…

Everything you need?

You should not judge a book by its cover. I don’t think this has ever been more true about a chess book than in this case. Lev Alburt’s Chess training pocket book is an excellent book, but the cover is horrible. I first read about this book in a forum on, and one member described how he wrapped a piece of paper around the book so people on the bus wouldn’t think that he read a book about how to attract women through chess (however unrealistic that concept is). But don’t be put off by the artwork. Let’s take a look at the content instead.
What can you expect from this book? According to the author, this tiny book (only 175 pages) contains the most important positions and ideas you need in order to improve as a player. The statement on the cover (”300 most important positions & ideas”) may be interpreted as an indication that the book contains all you need to know in order to become a strong player. Of course, this is not true.

It is hard to disagree with the fact that th…

Is it safe?

I am fairly good at tactics. At least for my level. Of all the various
ratings I have, my tactics rating is the highest by far. It has been
well over 2000 for longer than I can remember, whereas my OTB rating
is at a meek 1500 level. Now, why is that? Well, the problem is that
my tactical skills are one-sided. I usually spot tactical
opportunities for myself, but I often miss tactics that are available
to my opponents. This is something that Dan Heisman has identified as
a very common problem among amateur players. Therefore, he has written
two books on the topics, Looking for trouble and Is your move safe?.
Both books focus on the same topic, i.e. defensive tactics, but they
have slighly different flavors. Anyway, I thought I'd take on both
books in the same review.

What can you expect from these books?  Both of these books address the problem that I mention in the introduction of this post. Although both of them are tactics books, they differ rather much from other t…

Under the surface

I did something different. I bought a chess book without doing any research. I decided to reward myself with a new book after having written ten reviews. So I asked my friends on Twitter for suggestions, and someone suggested that I take a look at the book Under the surface by Jan Markos. Since the book is quite new, I couldn't find much information about it, so I decided to blindly trust the recommendation. Luckily, I was not let down.

What can you expect from this book? I am not the only one who has done something different. Jan Markos did the same when he wrote Under the surface. He takes a quite philosophical approach to chess, which should probably be expected from a former student of philosophy. This comes across quite clearly in his choice of chapter titles. The names "Magnetic Skin", "Anatoly Karpov's Billiard Balls" and "On the Breaking Ice" are not the most transparent chapter titles in the world. But once you get under the surface (p…

Out of tune?

Have you ever missed a tactic in your games? Of course you have. We all have. Wouldn't it be good if someone wrote a book that could help you get better at spotting tactics? Well, there is such a book. Actually, there are many such books. And one example is Tune your chess tactics antenna by Emmanuel Neiman.

I'd like to warn sensitive readers, as this review may contain sarcasm. You have been warned.
What can you expect from this book? As you probably know, there are hundreds and hundreds of tactics books out there, and most of them are pretty similar. Usually, a tactics book is divided into themes (pins, forks, skewers etc.), and the author explains each theme and then there are a bunch of puzzles for you to solve. Sound familiar?

In Tune your chess tactics antenna, you will find a similar component, but that is not all. In the first part of the book, the author presents seven signals that a tactic might be present.
Weak king positionUnprotected piece(s)Alignment (pieces on…