“A to Z Chess Tactics” by George Huczek, Batsford 2017
The author is a Canadian Correspondence Chess Association “Senior Candidate Master”.
The title of the book says it all. For example, A is for “Attraction”, B is for “Back Rank Mate”, S is for “Smothered Mate” and “Skewer” etc. So there are actually 50 headings, not just 26.
Each section has several examples of the tactic in question with detailed and clear explanation. Sometimes, complete games are given. In “Yielding to Zugzwang” (which comes under “Y” not “Z”!), the position with white Ke6, Pd6 and black Ke8 is given. The text says correctly that 1….Kd8 is black’s best although it still loses to 2.d7, but then says that if black goes 1….Kf8, the answer is 2.Kd7 Kf7, 3.Kc8 winning, whereas 2.d7 is clearly quicker. I don’t mean to be harsh to the author as this was the only error I found (and it still wins of course).
After Z for Zwischenzug, there are 400 exercises with the answers showing analysis of alternative moves. Quite rightly, there are no hints as to which type of tactic is used. There is however an index to “exercise themes”, so you can cheat a bit, or to put it more positively, you can practise all the “overloading” exercises, or all the “triangulation” exercises if that’s what you want to work on. There is a further index of themes, openings etc., but not a player index.
Developing players would benefit from the explanations of tactical themes, but stronger players should still enjoy the exercises. I could see myself sitting on a plane or a train, happily studying the exercises to while away the time. The book costs £15.99 and you get nearly 350 pages for that. Overall, I think the book is very good value and entertaining.
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