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Practical Chess Exercises: 600 Lessons from Tactics to Strategy Paperback – May 15, 2007
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"If you study this book, you will acquire the most important chess skill of all: the ability to think for yourself."
-- John Watson, International Master, Author of the award-winning Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy, Chess Strategy in Action, and Mastering the Chess Openings
"In creating Practical Chess Exercises, Ray Cheng has turned a labor of love into a treasury of instructive problems to help non-beginners improve their chess. The problems are of all types -- tactical and positional -- and all levels. Best of all, they are not labeled in any way other than who is to move, so for each position you have to find the relevant concerns and properly address them. The answers are not just a list of moves, but they also include instructive prose. This book answers the prayers of chess enthusiasts looking for Â'unmarkedÂ' problems to test their skills."
-- Dan Heisman, U.S. National Master, Author of the award-winning Novice Nook column at Chess CafÃ© and books such as A ParentÂ's Guide to Chess, Looking for Trouble, and EveryoneÂ's 2nd Chess Book
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There are many fine tactical books to help the brain recognize the patterns of tactics, first offensively, and then in a manner from which I can recognize when I am setting the stage for my opponent to make a tactical strike against me. Yet it is this book that stands apart, and although it should not replace the many tactic books (and web sites), it is essential for someone like me, who has been studying tactics and getting the "mate in 3" or "win a piece in 4", and so on because this book uses real settings but does not alert as to whether or not a tactic is present.
If present, I must find it.
If it is not present, I must find the best move.
This is fascinating and is a wonderful supplement to my tactical training. As I can now "see" certain tactical patterns almost immediately, when doing tactic after tactic after tactic, I am now faced with situations where I do not know if a tactic exists, therefore, the more advanced form of positional play is introduced.
Well written, with a user friendly page set up, it is a terrific book for Intermediate players.
Most chess puzzle books provide a position and a clue about what theme is at play in said position. This book is different. All that is offered is a position and an indication of which side holds the move. The problem is on one page and the solution is on the facing page. The idea here is to force the solver to actually think a little more deeply about the situation, much like what would happen in a live game against a real opponent. As long as the reader does not look at the solution right away, this approach is interesting and it works - to a point. On several positions I personally would benefit from a subtle clue without being given too much information, but once I have reached a point where I need to reference the solution there is no opportunity to get that kind of help. If I have figured wrong, then I have essentially blown the opportunity to "get it" on my own and I really have not learned to recognize the problem for what it is. Even just a handful of positions with vague hints would have been a nice addition here, to help get the reader started and "in the zone".
The subtitle on this book is "600 Lessons from Tactics to Strategy". I don't think this book is really presenting lessons to the readership. Lessons would be more of an explanation of a theme with an example or two to work through. This book is about problem-solving and learning to think, and the explanations given for each solution consist of a simple statement of the theme ("fork", "skewer", etc.) and then a dump of the solution. Does the reader learn the theme? Perhaps. The reader will NOT learn it well, though, as there is insufficient explanation offered.
This is a good puzzle book, regardless. The approach is different and the philosophy is right. It does promote thinking hard about a position to arrive at a solution, which is something many players simply cannot do without some training (myself included). While not a perfect book this puzzle collection is a good addition to the library of anyone looking to work on their game by improving their thinking ability.
As said, it's not a book for the beginner. You do need to be familiar with chess rules and with algebraic notation. Now if there was just a book to teach me how to maneuver my opponent into one of the 600 example above ...
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