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1001 Brilliant Ways to Checkmate, Fred Reinfeld. This is a must have for any tournament chess player. It helps your visualization of chess moves and patterns for creating a checkmate. Pattern recognition is a very important skill in chess both for attack and defense. This book drills in this very matter testing your ability to recognize a pattern and to calculate the variations leading to checkmate. Covers Queen Sacrifices, Checkmate Without the Queen, Storming the Castled Position, Harrying the King, Discovered Check and Double Check, Pawn Promotion, A Variety of Motifs, and finally Composed Problems. A variety of motifs makes it so that you have no idea what kind of checkmate it is (i.e. whether its a queen sacrifice, or pawn promotion, or both, etc.). This makes it so that you have to use all the previous chapters to help you. All the solutions are provided in the back too.

1001 Winning Chess Sacrifices and Combinations,
By Fred Reinfeld

For books on combinations/tactics look for:

1) Do the positions in the book resemble those that occur in actual play?
2) Are the positions varied enough, even within a theme?
3) Are the puzzles challenging enough?
4) Are there enough puzzles to justify the price tag?

In the case of this book, the answer to all of these questions is a resounding yes.

One of the main lessons that one can learn from this book is that tactics very often make surprising appearances in the most tedious looking of positions.

Players with ratings of 1500 and upwards will benefit most from 1001 Winning Chess Sacrifices and Combinations. The puzzles are varied and challenging enough for most.

Chess: 5334 Problems, Combinations, and Games,
By Laszlo Polgar, Bruce Pandolfini (Introduction)

If you love chess puzzles, this massive tome is for you. Basically the book consists of over 5000 problems, many taken from over-the-board play, and most of which can be solved within a few minutes - though if you're anything like me some will probably take you much longer! Polgar explains that there are "very few books containing chess problems, games and endgames which are not only easy to solve but elegant and instructive as well. And there are even fewer that offer a sufficient number for regular and intensive training over a relatively long period." His aim is to help us develop our tactics and powers of pattern recognition, and his book, which is great fun to work through and involves practically no reading at all, certainly does seem to improve one's ability to see the possibilities a position may hold.

Art of the Checkmate,
By Georges Renaud, Victor Kahn

Considering that the object of chess is to mate the opposing king, it's peculiar that so few modern chess publications focus on this aspect of the game. Beginners can find many guides to tactics and positional play, as well as opening and endgame manuals, but very few foundational works on constructing an attack against the castled king. Perhaps that's because in master play, the brilliant sacrifices and dashing sallies of a few generations ago lie buried in the variant lines. Nevertheless, the developing player needs to pass through a study of such attacks, and it is impossible to conceive of an attacking line unless you know mating patterns inside and out. This classic and attractively-priced text presents over 20 essential checkmates organized in logical sequence. Coverage of each mate is rather sparse, but emphasizes the primary theme of the book: visualize the final position, sac pieces to open lines, then finish with a forcing sequence. Chapters also contain a small library of games; these are rather dated and often amateurish, but they do demonstrate the mates in practice and occasionally illustrate an important chess truth--that the threat of mate is usually enough to induce a weakness in your opponent's position. Every several chapters the book pauses for a review quiz.

The Magic of Chess Tactics.
By Claus Dieter Meyer and Karsten Muller.

Provide training exercises and a teaching approach for more complex tactics. Chess is 99% tactics. So to be a good chess player, you have to spend a lot of your training time on tactics. Although basic tactics are explained in a number good books, complicated tactics the kind that separate tournament winners from the pack require intuition, imagination and precision. The Magic of Chess Tactics helps you develop these qualities. Aimed primarily at aspiring chess players from club to master level who seriously want to improve their chess understanding, The Magic of Chess Tactics provides examples selected for both their entertainment and instructional value as well as detailed explanations and exercises.

Storming the Barricades,
By Larry Christiansen.

General considerations on attacking, ripping apart the kingside, and Christiansen's 11 favorite attacking games of the 1990s, all well annotated in readable verse.

The Art of Chess Combination,
By Eugene A. Znosko-Borovski

International Master Jeremy Silman, once gained 400 rating points after reading this book while a junior player. There is no better review of this classic than that, in my humble opinion. Tactics and combinations on the board make up close to 90% of weaker Chess games so it makes sense for one at that level to closely study them: Eugene ZB introduces the pupil to them in a nice, unhurried manner using language, albeit, that is quite ponderous from time to time and might take a re-reading to understand fully. All the better because the subject matter is key to your success at the Royal Game. Pick this book up and don't read another Chess book until you finish and understand it. Good luck!

  • Simple Checkmates, A.J. Gillam
  • Winning Chess Tactics for Juniors, Lou Hays
  • More Chessercizes, Bruce Pandelfini
  • Winning Chess Tactics, Yassar Seirawan