Tune Your Chess Tactics Antenna; Know when (and where!) to look for winning combinations (Author: FM Emmanuel Neimann)
A book review by A.J. Goldsby I <July 3rd, 2013>
I got this book - in the mail - back in March of this year, so I am running a little behind on doing this book review. It's bad to be too slow, but no one cannot say that I have not spent sufficient time in this volume or not gone in depth for this overview of this book on chess tactics. (I have carried this one with me practically everywhere I have gone for more than three months. Doctor's offices, car repairs, chess club, the list is too long and too diverse ... and completely boring, so I won't spend any more time on this subject.)
First of all, the following situation has come up constantly (over the years) ... when I give a student, even one that is fairly low-rated, a chess problem and tell them, "It is White to move and mate in two," they can generally find the solution, especially if they look hard enough and long enough. However, when opportunities arise to find a killer shot in their own games, the chance for the quick knockout usually is missed or falls by the wayside. Why? And the author covers this exact situation in the third paragraph of the Introduction!
Now ... allow me to backtrack: Who is the publisher? ("New In Chess")
Simply put, NIC is probably the finest chess publishing house in existence today. Every volume comes close to being a work of art, generally no facet of these diamonds are left unpolished. (Good binding, good paper, solid proof-reading, excellent organization, etc.)
Secondly, who is the author? FM Emmanuel Neimann. Personally, I do not know the author, but this is where having an extensive network of friends and contacts comes in handy. The author is from France, and he has a very high reputation as chess coach, and he has already written at least one award-winning chess book. ("Invisible Chess Moves")
Now we return to the book. Naturally, I tore it apart looking for mistakes. I may have found points where I might disagree with the author to his approach on a few things, but I never found anything that I could label as an actual error. (This is rare for me.)
I am often told I am a good chess teacher. So one of the first things I looked for was a discussion of some of the common ideas that I also teach. A good discussion of "hangers," (unprotected pieces) is one of the areas that I often touch on when I teach chess tactics. One of my favorite games to illustrate this theme is the game, GM L. Christiansen - GM A. Karpov; Match Game, Wijk ann Zee, NED / 1993. (Black loses the game in under 15 moves ...) and we find this game on page #11 of this book!!
I could go on and on, but that would give away too much. I WANT you to buy this book, I can think of NO BETTER WAY for you study tactics if you are a player below 2200!!! (And I have RARELY given such a blanket endorsement to ANY BOOK! Ever!!)
I can only offer a few of my own tips to augment your study of this book.
#1.) Study tactics for at least 30 minutes every day. (How you study is just as important as what you study!)
#2.) There are several websites on tactics, looking for them with any good search engine will reveal just about all of the important ones. (My recommendation would be to spend at least 15 minutes a day on one of these sites. Find me on the Internet, you will see that I do this myself.)
#3.) See my web page on training. Study on a regular basis. Your schedule should be written down and you have to be totally committed to it. You should alternate between the three phases of the game. (Openings; middlegames, chess strategy and tactics; and also - of course! - endings.) Ignore any one area at your own peril.
#4.) Work your way SLOWLY through this book 3-5 times! (No, I am not joking at all. I have generally studied this way my entire life. I have already done a thorough review of this book, and I have already begun my first pass working my way through this book. Many times, when I am really interested in a game, I fire up my favorite chess engine ... and take it apart. This is a great way to learn on your own.)
#5.) Try to remember every chess position - with a tactical solution - generally has a theme. (I.e., King Safety, hanging/unprotected pieces, bad pawn structure, a piece on a bad square, etc.) Be sure to mentally enunciate the correct theme every time you solve a chess problem, especially one that deals with tactics.
#6.) Buy one more book with a lot of chess positions in it, there are literally dozens of these out there. (I give more specific advice on my website.) You should work your way through such a book at least 2-3 times.
I really cannot add anything more. In summation, this is a fantastic book, and I enthusiastically recommend this to any class of player, especially those players below 1800!!!
And if you ever beat me in a tournament, don't tell me it is because you read this book ... if you do, you may have to watch a grown man cry!