Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Beyond the Blue Coakley

I have already said that Jeff Coakley’s Winning Chess Exercises for Kids (the hardest Coakley) is the subject of my next tactics training experiment, but what is there for me to consider after that?

Richard Palliser’s Complete Chess Workout  - 1,200 problems:
This book gets good reviews on Amazon and elsewhere, and is reasonably priced with a good cost per problem.  The introduction to the book says that it was written for club players.  I have bought a copy, and it looks very good.  I was put off buying this book for a long time by the publishers statement that it is suitable for all levels of player. Fortunately, that is not true.

Ray Cheng’s Practical Chess Exercises  - 600 problems:
I have had a copy of this book for some time.  I will have to get round to using it!  The book gets good reviews on Amazon and elsewhere.  600 problems is not a lot, but the book is cheap and the price per problem is good.

Maxim Blokh’s Combinative Motifs  - “Many more than” 1,205 problems:
I had a chance to look at a copy of this book at a local tournament.  It is sorted by motif, with numbers in circles indicating the difficulty of the problems.  I would have expected more than a small paper back for the money, but the diagrams are not too bad, and the price per problem is reasonable.  This book is the paper version of the computer based trainer CT-ART 3.0, which has a good reputation.  The latest version of this trainer, CT-ART 4.0 has 2,200 basic exercises and 1,800 auxiliary exercises:
I have not seen any praise of the new problems added in CT-ART 4.0, and the paper version is more convenient.

Sergey Ivashchenko’s Chess School 2  - 1,188 problems:
I expect that the format of this book is the same as for Chess School 1b, which I found to be excellent.  The book is expensive, but the price per problem is reasonable.  The computer version of this book is Chess Tactics for Intermediate Players:
I found a web post saying this program is harder than CT-ART.  Again, the paper version is preferable.

Chessimo  - More than 6,000 problems:
It has tactics, strategy and endgame modules, with built in repetition.  The endgame modules have a particularly good reputation, and the strategy modules look good too. Chessimo is not cheap, but it does appear to offer a lot for the money.

Yakov Neishtadt's Improve Your Chess Tactics  - 700 problems:
I have a copy of the forerunner of this book, Neishtadt’s Test Your Tactical Ability, which is very good.  The new book contains more problems, and omits the very hard “Do You Know the Classics?” chapter.  Kasparov’s coach has been quoted as saying that it is the best tactics book ever.  I also had chance to look at this book at the tournament.  The diagrams are tiny!  My optician says that I have excellent corrected vision, but I do not believe that I could cope with this book.  I will stick to the old book!

Other Possibilities
Unfortunately, most tactics books are claimed to be suitable for beginners to super GMs, which is not what I want at all!  The Ultimate Chess Puzzle Book, Giant Chess Puzzle Book and Quality Chess Puzzle Book all appear to fall into this “something for everyone, but not much for anyone” category.  However, as with the Palliser book, this may just be misguided marketing.  None of these books are cheap, but the price per problem is reasonable.  Sharpen Your Tactics (Lein) is widely recommended, but is out of print. Second hand copies are usually very expensive after shipping from the US.  One review on Amazon said that the problems were 75% checkmates, which is not ideal.

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