” Chess is 99% tactics” – Rudolf Teichmann
Are tactics really important?
If you look at the games of most players, you will notice that games are not won by brilliant strategical moves or perfect endgame technique. Instead, most games are won because opponent made a tactical mistake.
So… yes, tactics are important.
Let’s look at some of the best chess books for tactics that will help you improve your tactical strength.
1. Winning Chess Tactics
Author: Yasser Seirawan
This was my first chess tactics book and if you are just starting out, I recommend this book. This book is divided in 3 parts.
Part 1: In this part, you will learn most common tactical motifs like fork, pin, skewer and deflection. Advanced ideas like decoy, clearance sacrifice, X rays, windmill and intermediate moves are also covered in detail.
Part 2: You have learned common tactical motifs, now it’s time to see how these ideas are used in real game by masters. Games of 6 greatest tacticians are covered in this part.
Part 3: This section gives you tactical tests to practice your knowledge of these tactical motifs. Basic tactics, advanced combinations and professional combinations allow you to practice and improve your tactical strength.
Conclusion: This is a great book to learn chess tactics especially for beginners.
2. The Art of Checkmate
Author: Georges renaud and victor kahn
This book teaches you most common checkmating patterns that keep repeating in your games. Having a strong knowledge of these common checkmating patterns allow you to instantly recognize them when they appear in your games.
You will learn the following types of checkmate patterns in this book:
learning these types of checkmate will improve your game because it is easier to find a pattern in real game when you are familiar with it.
Conclusion: This is a good book if you want to learn different kind of checkmating patterns.
3. The Ultimate Chess Puzzle Book
Author: John Emms
This book gives you 1000 high quality chess puzzles from beginner to advanced level. It also gives you a scoring system so that you can measure your current strength. As you progress through this book, you will notice that your tactical strength is increasing with every chapter.
First chapter of this book covers common tactical ideas and gives you a basic introduction of common tactical themes.
Then you get 112 elementary puzzles for warm up. In some of these puzzles, you will get a hit and in later part of these puzzles you will not get a hint.
Puzzles from 113 to 178 are checkmate puzzles where you checkmate the opponent’s king. Some of these puzzles are really hard as you are supposed to checkmate the opponent king in 5 moves.
Puzzles from 179 to 450 are for intermediate and advanced level players.
Puzzles from 451 to 530 are test puzzles where you practice what you have learned so far and best part is you can score your points in the puzzle and check what your tactical rating is.
Puzzles from 531 to 616 are takes from previous soviet championships and these games were played by well known masters.
Puzzles from 617 to 660 are unique because in these puzzles, you are supposed to find the wrong move!
Puzzles from 661 to 740 are again test puzzles where you can measure your improvement. If you have solved previous puzzles honestly then in this test you will definitely see improvement in your tactical strength.
Puzzles from 741 to 820 cover endgames.
Puzzles from 821 to 900 are again test puzzles. when you take this test and compare the results from previous test, you will see the improvement.
Puzzles from 901 to 1000 are ultimate puzzles because i had a really hard time when i was trying to finish this book. These puzzles are for advanced and experienced players only.
Conclusion: If you are intermediate or advanced player then you should choose this book for improving your tactical strength.
4. The complete Chess Workout
Author: Richard Palliser
As the name says, this book gives you a complete chess workout with 1200 puzzles. This book is divided in 7 parts.
Part 1: Warming up – First 100 puzzles are easy and you should be able to solve them without any problem. Sometimes it’s checkmate and sometimes it’s small tactics to win a pawn.
Part 2: Attack – This chapter is the longest and most important chapter of the book. Puzzles from 101 to 677 are designed to increase your attacking skills. All the common themes of attacking on the king are covered in this part.
Part 3: Opening tricks and traps – Every now and then you fell in opponent’s opening trap and lose the game. Puzzles from 678 to 739 covers the common opening traps that you might fell into, solving these puzzles will allow you to avoid any trap in the opening.
Part 4: Endgame – Studying the endgame improves your overall game. Puzzles from 740 to 838 deals with the tactics in the endgame.
Part 5: Loose pieces and overloading – You must have heard the saying ” loose pieces drop off”. Generally most tactics happens when one of opponent’s piece is unprotected. In this chapter you will learn to identify such situations and take advantage of them. Puzzles from 839 to 1028 covers this topic very well.
Part 6: Calculation – learning common tactical motifs ensure that you don’t make simple mistakes but sometimes a tactical mistake is made because of fault in calculation. Puzzles from 1029 to 1080 is designed to train your calculation.
Part 7: Test – Now. it’s time to take test and check what you have learned. You get a scorecard and you can measure your tactical strength. Puzzles from 1081 to 1200 are test puzzles that will help you measure your strength.
Conclusion: This book is especially good for attacking puzzles, if you want to improve your attacking skills then this book is for you.
5. Woodpecker Method
Author: Axel smith and Hans tikkanen
This is my favorite book for chess tactics, not because it contains some special chess position but because of the technique recommended in this book.
What is woodpecker method?
Basic idea of woodpecker method is to train your memory muscles to identify some common patterns so that when these patterns appear in your games, you can quickly identify them.
Here is how you do it:
You choose 1000 tactical exercises and solve them over X number of days. Once you have solved these exercise, you take a break for few days.
Then, you again take the SAME 1000 exercises and solve them again but this time try to do it in X/2 number of days.
Example: First time, it took you 30 days to complete 1000 exercises then in second round, you should try to solve same 1000 exercises in 15 days.
Then in 3rd cycle, you again take the SAME 1000 exercises and solve them in 7 days.
So, with every cycle your aim is to half the number of days to solve SAME 1000 exercises.
This technique is called woodpecker method.
Your goal is to solve 1000 exercises in 1 day or if you cannot solve 1000 exercises in 1 day then do 7 cycles. ( Solve SAME 1000 exercises 7 times and each time it should take you less time to complete the cycle)
Does it work?
Yes, woodpecker method works. I tried it on myself and saw 200 points jump in online rating.
Conclusion: If you are serious student of chess then you must give this method a try. You will definitely see improvement.