Customer Reviews: Invisible Chess Moves: Discover Your Blind Spots and Stop Overlooking Simple Wins
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on November 19, 2011
Israeli International Master Yochanan Afek and French FIDE Master Emmanuel Neiman have analyzed hundreds of high-level international games to discover what kinds of moves are difficult even for the masters to see. The result is this extremely useful collection of positions, game fragments, and puzzles that illustrate the most common causes of chess blindness.

Light bulbs kept going off in my head as I worked my way through the book. "Queen circuits" are hard to see? No kidding, my only tournament loss to a non-expert this year was the lamentable result of not seeing a diagonal queen maneuver clear across the board, followed by a horizontal check to the opposite wing. Anticipating a probable result can lead to blindness? Absolutely! In two drawn rook endgames this year I've missed opportunities to punish critical blunders and collect the full point, simply because it didn't occur to me that a winning opportunity might suddenly and serendipitously appear. Best of all, shortly after I had read the section on backward attacking moves, I invested a knight in a kingside attack because I saw that a critical defense would not prevail because of a quiet, backward attacking move available to my light-squared bishop.

Take a look at the invisible moves Afek and Neiman have classified and see how many you might have overlooked recently:

Part I - Objective Invisibility - 21

Chapter 1 - Hard-to-see moves - 22
A: Quiet moves - 23
B: Intermediate moves - 27
- The desperado - 31
C: Alignment - 36
D: Forgetting the rules - 53
E: Quiet positions - 57

Chapter 2 - Geometrically invisible moves - 71
A: Horizontal effect - 72
B: Circuit - 74
- Rook circuit - 74
- Bishop circuit - 75
- Queen circuit - 75
C: Changing wings - 77
D: Backward moves - 83
E: Backward knight moves - 86
F: Pin and self-pin - 89
G: Geometrical moves - 96

Part II - Subjective Invisibility - 111

Chapter 3 - Invisible moves for positional reasons - 112
A: Pawn structures - 113
B: Weakening of the king's defences - 118
C: Unexpected exchanges - 123
D: Unusual position of a piece - 126
E: Anti-developing moves - 133
F: Residual image - 135

Chapter 4 - Invisible moves for psychological reasons - 151
A: Anticipation of the probable result - 152
B: Blunders in World Championship matches - 163
C: Forward moves in defence - 167
D: Backward attacking moves - 176

Test - 191
Test solutions - 205
Explanation of Symbols - 237
Index of Players - 238

In addition to 30 exercise positions sprinkled through the text, the book concludes with 53 test positions graded in difficulty from 1 to 5 stars. My online ratings and recent OTB results indicate that I'm about FIDE 1800, yet I found the 2 star puzzles reasonably challenging. I learned a lot from working through the solutions of the harder ones, though, so don't shy away from this book if you're rated 1700 or above. Below that rating, though, you are probably better off just working through a conventional tactics book; if you have difficulties seeing knight forks and X-ray attacks, you should get those under your belt before you attack these more advanced themes.

Excellent tactics books have flooded the market, but excellent books dedicated to hard-to-see moves have been, well, practically invisible. Thus I am willing to give this unique work 5 stars in spite of some minor flaws that I hope will be corrected in a future edition:

* The authors do not apply their criteria for game selection consistently. They state that they will generally not use examples that involve rapid time controls or time pressure, but almost 10% of their examples (15) come from rapid games or zeitnot situations. Moreover, in several of the examples the players actually saw and played the putatively hard-to-see winning continuation. Why are they in a book about moves that masters don't see?

* About a dozen of the 53 concluding test problems have hints that are too obvious. "Long diagonal" will definitely draw your attention to the winning skewer on the a8-h1 diagonal, don't you think?

* The first set of 6 exercise positions do not include a discussion of why the winning continuation should be considered hard-to-see.

* The English translation occasionally falters, using phantom words like "automatical," "profylaxis" and "devaluating."

As these flaws detract little from the book's overall impact, I heartily recommend it to anyone rated 1700 or above who wants to improve their chess vision.

Full disclosure: The publisher provided a review copy of this book to me. I have endeavored to remain completely unbiased and helpful, and feel confident that the review reflects my commitment to objectivity.
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on December 16, 2011
This is a well organized and novel book. The topic is relevant to any chess player or trainer. The authors make a good effort in dissecting the reasons behind blind spots in chess. I just wish the authors provide more exercises. Neiman and Afek use one page for one diagram when the same space can hold at least 6 diagrams. In other words instead of one problem the can provide 12 problems with the answers in the back.

This is a very good book , that give me the motivation to find and classify my own blind spots. Now I search for blind spots in my games o when playing solitarie with GM games. For example in the first game for the World Champ between Smyslov and Botivinnk the later played pawn in g X Rook in f6 doubling his pawns!. What! Then I realized that my option Kxg6 was positionally"correct" but allows drawing chances. In contrast, Botvinnink choice was "antipositional" but justifed by concrete calculation and superior understaing of the position (the double-isolated pawn provides control of the critical e4 square).

I am not a professional reviewer. My skill level is around 1900 USCF and the publisher did not provide a sample copy of this book.
Update Feb 6 2012: This effort by Neiman and Afek won the book of the year award at chesscafe.
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on March 30, 2012
I love tactics! Everyone likes different aspects of this great game: some like to study openings, some like middle games, some endgames, some like to study positional ideas, but I love and find the beauty of chess in tactics and tactical surprises. The reason this book was named "book of the year" by ChessCafe must of been for the extreme beauty of the chess tactics the authors were able to include in this work. I needed another tactical book like I needed another orifice, but the problems in this book are real gems. On (which I highly recommend) I'm rated in the top 95 percentile of users and I have solved many thousands of problems, but this book is a real joy and that sets it apart from most books on this subject. I set up most of the examples and the test problems up on the board and will spend up to 30 minutes working out the solutions. The authors are to be commended for their search to find such refreshing examples of the hidden ideas in chess!
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on April 10, 2012
The positions shown in this book is very simple and the answers are very much surprising... We are simply miss the moves... The chapters of chess blindness, and the logic and scientific reasons of the chess blindness are very well handled by the authors. The positions are simple, but answers are very difficult to find, but they are also very simple... An average chess player is very much improved by reading the chapters, following the examples meticulously and solving the problems... Though the book 200 plus pages, the theoritical and practicle examples containing only 170 pages, the rest of them are filled with 50 puzzels... Horizontal board vision, backward moves, knight backward moves are very much interesting...

My only complaint in this book is, the authors might have included a conclusion chapter describing how to improve one's chess visibility... By reading this book, one cannot improve his chess visibility, he might have known there are some hard to see moves available in the particular position and there are some methods to see the position... But the player's ability by solving the puzzles only cannot improve... One bench marking lesson, how to practice, how to analyse, what points to be seen for an invisible move and what are the check points to check before making a move in a particular posion...

By all means, the book is good and trustworthy...
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on August 22, 2012
A good book based on accessible explanations and many examples. The examples are based on a given position, then looking into why a strong (sometimes super GM) can and does overlook the best move. The book goes straight into finding best moves that are hard to find, it reminded me of the book on Forcing Moves which is similar but not the same. This book is more about how to see the board and use thinking motifs similar to how we study combinations and the related motifs (pin, skewer, x-ray), but this is not a tactics book, and unlike Forcing Moves, it does not try to philosophize on how a computer can find a move but humans struggle, instead it lays out categories of patterns that have been known to mask normal thinking.

Part I - Objective Invisibility
Chapter 1 - Hard-to-see-moves {quiet moves, intermediate moves, alignment (this is not typically part of tactics training, and is common sense once you gain experience, it is an application of some tactical motifs with pieces on a given diag/file), ... others in chapter 1}
Chapter 2 - Geometrically invisible moves. This chapter was interesting since we know that deep mastery of chess is really based on pattern recognition, so the use of logic and geometry for people who are visually oriented is a potential way to accelerate improvement. This section basically reveals a hypothesis that humans are biased geometrically, for example a backwards or undeveloping move is harder to see as best since we typically push forward in chess. In this chapter they deal with and break down each category, horizontal effects, backwards moves and such. There is also a set of sections on circuits, such as bishop, rook, queen circuits that are likely to be worth the price of the book, unfortunately there is little on this subject.

Part II - Subjective Invisibility
Chapter 3 - Invisible moves for positional reasons {pawn structure, unexpected exchanges unusual position of a piece, anti-developing moves ...} In this section we see moves that would appear to violate basic positional principles but are simply exceptions, and this is why they are hard to see, we have to work against all the years of training to find them, but this is why they are called exceptions.

Chapter 4 - Invisible moves for psychological reasons - anticipation of the expected result, this is where humans are different than a computer, if you are playing a known stronger player, there is a high probability based on rating alone that you are unlikely to win more games than you would lose, there is a common misconception about ratings however that would be valuable to know, you should not expect to lose all games, and the confidence bias can actually make things worse, so in some sense this chapter points us to play the game and not the player. In this section we again see a section on backward moves, "Backward attacking moves" which are known to be hard to find.

The book has exercises in every section, lots of small examples based on a key position. Unlike the tactics puzzle book "1001 Winning Chess Sacrifices and Combinations" this books has fewer examples. Unlike books that take games deeper and cover more of the strategy and moves, this books use focused sections sometimes with only a few moves and mainly based off of the key pivot point where the incorrect decision was made. It is easy to give a book that won the ChessCafe Book of the Year award a 4 out of 5 star review. I have many chess books that are better in terms of classics, but this one filled a void and is a nice addition to the foundational books without having to get into pure philosophy treatments (hence the use of concrete positions to demonstrate the point).

240 pages, a short read, you can take it and work through the book in a short amount of time compared to end game studies, each concept is presented in a introductory fashion, I guess it is a type of survey of the concepts that are organized here. I am not sure if similar concepts have been presented before, I have not seen this perspective before. Well organized but brief. Another aspect of the book is that is uses a linear line with at most a single alternate line instead of what some books has with multiple branches requiring a slower process to work through.
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VINE VOICEon May 24, 2014
I was predisposed to really like this book. After all, aren't most chess games lost by moves that one of the contestants didn't see? And depending on your skill level, it might be easy or difficult for the average chess player to find. So, the idea is good, but I found the execution of this book on the rather awkward and not incredibly effective. Many of the examples were top GMs that missed a move during the game and some of the moves were missed in their post game analysis as well! GMs have a well-trained eye for both tactics and positional moves, so is it really reasonable that the average reader is going to somehow learn from a mistake that only a computer could find in a GM's game?

The point of the book is that the average player must opening up his thinking and explore visually or psychologically difficult moves. An example of this are classically backward moves (moves made that almost look anti-aggressive). Personally, I believe these moves are always rooted in an idea that either works or doesn't (tactically). If the move is done for long term strategic purposes (regrouping or improvement of piece position), they tend to be much more "visible". So, overall, I tend to think that it's good to study moves that are counter-intuitive or were non-obvious to the players, but as a training aid, you might just be better suited trying to understand "ideas and execution" and just get better at understanding how core positions work (as a result of typical openings that you might play).

So, this book might be of interest and your cup of tea, but it really didn't have the positive effect that I was hoping. But still, 3 stars is a decent rating, it just isn't among the better instructional books that I've read over the past years.
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on June 15, 2015
This book is excellent for advance players. When I looked at the puzzles the first thing that came to mind is that only a computer could ever see these moves. This is what makes this book great. Right in the introduction the author gives a great example of what appears to be a very difficult situation. And no matter how many candidate moves you look at it does not seem to work. so I spent some time on the introduction puzzle and tried all the candidate moves, tried pushing pawns etc, yet nothing, eventually i gave in and looked at the solution. The solution in this one puzzle involed at looking ahead several moves out and seeing that the game is one in the endgame with pawns. Ok so in this puzzle you needed to visualize the position 5 several moves out but from an endgame perspective. and the moves that lead to that endgame involved a series of prepatory moves that initially do not make sense, and hence are overlooked in real play. Dont get me wrong not all puzzles are viewed from an endgame perspective, some will require looking at the position from a geometrical motif and even paychological perspective.
So this book is excellent for advance players, it focus on considering non candidate/traditional moves, focuses on multiple prepatory moves (most other chess puzzle books dont focus on prep moves but rather direct forced moves, while in this book a series of prep moves may be involved) It focus on thinking out side of the box by visualizing the boards from several different perspective. Many of these moves in the puzzles were discovered by computers, and were missed by both players, so you may get a feel that they are too hard to find. But thats the purpose of the book, to help you look at positions in a different way. We have to acknowledge that since computers play a larger role in chess than say in the 90s, and so many younger players rise fast in the ranks because they study different than many of us older players, the key has been better computers at analyzing and thats what this book appears to do, show you a different way of analyzing rather than just looking for forced moves. When I look at this book it reminds of Bobby Fisher type of thinking back in the days before computers where dominant. Bobby Fisher looked at position in a way that was different and study different than the norm and when he was moving up in rank he was dominating GMs of his time because his way at looking at the position was different than the norm. another way to look at this book is look at how a 2200 thinks differently than a 2400. Basically this book will have you evalutaing positions like a 2400 player rather than some one who has reached success but is stuck at 2200. Great book, for advance players.
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on July 13, 2012
Interestingly off beat and I really like the variety of examples given.
Disappointedly it is a New in Chess product and uses the long form of notation. This really broke my concentration when was reading and I had to find a board.
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on July 11, 2014
Some good insights into how the brain and the eyes work - or don't work some times. Fascinating and informative for chess players at every level.
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on September 10, 2013
I but it because the title was interesting and this book has earned a prize! After almost finish it, I have to admit is a well done book. It is not only interesting positions, the authors know how to engange you. THis book has topics never presented before and the why we ommit these invisible moves.. Enjoy it!
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