More Questions, Comments, Concerns about the Chess Tactics Book

I’ve been getting a lot of awesome feedback from people via e-mail, facebook, twitter, and reviews on amazon about the new Chess Tactics Book!

Most of the feedback has been really great.  One person in Brazil asked me this morning  for an autographed copy.  Not sure how I would do that, but was funny!

Here are some of my responses to some of the feedback I have been getting:

Q. What about a paper back copy?

A. Right now the book has been specifically designed for Kindle.  It is over 2000 pages long, with one diagram per page, and the answer on the next page.  This type of design would be totally impractical for a paper back version.  The book would have to be completely redesigned for a paperback copy.

I did look into getting a paper copy, because I think it would be cool to have, and would be a nice visual of how much information the person is getting.  If I used “CreateSpace”, which is affliated with amazon for self publishers, it would take 4 different books, each about 600 pages long, and each would cost about 8 dollars to make.  So if we made 0% profit, it would be a little over 32 dollars to print the books.

I hate to see people being “roadkill on the information superhighway”, but a paper book for a work of this size just doesn’t make sense.

Q. Hey I bought your book, and I don’t see any tactics from my games in there!

A. it certainly wasn’t intentional :-)
I actually didn’t even know whose tactics were in there until I did a second pass of the book.
Basically I had a bunch of raw tactics problems, all of which were found by the computer.  Then Anthea and I went through those and picked the ones we liked. The original version of the book was just going to be problem and solution – no names, no variations, etc.
Then we decided it would be better to have the names based on some feedback I got from Geoff Chandler (a strong player and chess blogger from Scotland).  So for each one I had to do a “position search” in my database to find who actually played the game with the position. 

Some of them I found were actually my own games, and I was the one who missed the tactic!  A couple were actually games where Anthea and I played each other.
So it was basically a “blind” sample.  
A lot of it is just based on whose games I had.  Paul Anderson sent me hundreds of his games, and Brian Wall has been posting hundreds of games for years, and my friend Francisco (zonagrad) has sent me hundreds of games, etc.  So it certainly isn’t an evenly distributed collection of all players that I know, and these people are going to have more games in there.

But feel free to send me a collection of your games, and I will be glad to use them in future updates of this book, or a future book, or my newsletter columns.

Q. There are no explanations of how to find tactics in your games.

A.  This is true, and something I felt was beyond the scope of this book.  I am a huge fan of the website, which does an amazing job of breaking down chess tactics to their fundamental elements, and gives hundreds of pages of advice on how to find tactics in your games.  There was no reason to reinvent the wheel, when this resource does such a great job, and so many other people have covered this topic as well.

This book is 99% a puzzle book.  Nothing more, nothing less.

Q. I can’t understand the answers.  What does “9. Bg5+” mean?

A. This book also assumes that you know the “fundamentals” of chess.  How the pieces move, how to read algebraic notation, etc.  It isn’t designed to be a “first chess book”, or to teach you how to play.  It is to take someone who knows how to play, and take their game to the next level.  Learning chess notation takes about 5 minutes to learn.  There is a good wikipedia page on the subject,

Q. This book is too easy!  Too many mate in one problems!

A. Ironically one of the people who told me that there are too many mate in one problems, has a position in the book – and it is one where both he and his opponent missed a mate in one in a USCF rated game (and both were rated in the 1400-1600 range at the time!)

This same person also has a mate in two problem that he missed in a recent tournament game from earlier this year (and he is now rated over 1800).

So the book has too many simple mate problems, but this exact same person is missing forced checkmates of 1-2 moves in their real rated USCF games, with lots of time on their clock, and rating points and prize money at stake.  Hmmmm….

Seriously meme?


The truth is that “good” players are missing forced mates, and simple tactics all the time in their games. 

There is an expression “In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is King”.  I think with chess it translates to “In the land of the woodpushers, the 1 ply man is King”. 

If you can just avoid making simple 1-2 move deep tactical mistakes, and take advantage of your opponent’s 1-2 move mistakes, you can win (and avoid losing) a lot of games.

Some of the tactics in this book even surprised me.  For example, one is a 2000+ rated player who missed a mate in one at the Denver Chess Club in a rated game. 

None of these problems are designed to be tricky or fancy or complicated.  They were not “designed” at all – they all come from real games.  The goal is to build up your pattern recognition.  If you come across a pattern and tactical idea that you already know, great!  Repetition is the mother of skill.  If you come across one that you don’t know already, now you have a new tool in your tool box.

I think part of it is that chess players like to feel smart.  So when they complain “These problems are too easy”, they are basically saying “I am too smart and good at chess to deal with these types of problems”.

The goal isn’t “can you solve this”.  The goal is to burn the patterns into your brain.  It is like being able to calculate that 9×4 = 36 by using your fingers, versus just knowing that 9×4=36.

These problems aren’t designed for you to be spending 3-5 minutes on, or give you a brain aneurysm, because they are so deep and complex. 

Unless you can solve every problem in the book with 99% accuracy in less than 10 seconds per problem, I don’t think it is too easy for you.

That being said, I don’t think the book is for “everyone”.  I think the people who will get the most benefit are players in the 1200-1400 range, who want to take their game to the next level.  Based on the feedback I have got, these are the people who see the biggest results.

Also, if you don’t like the book for any reason, amazon will give you a full 100% refund within 7 days.  So if it truly is too easy (or hard) for you, just return it. 

Q. Why do you have the move number in there?  Why not start each variation at 1?

A. Since all of these positions come from real games, it made sense to include the actual move number from the game.  This can also give you a clue as to when the move took place.  If the first move is less than 10, it was some kind of early opening tactic.  If the move number is in the 70s, it was probably a tactic from the endgame, etc.

Also, I sell a tactics database that contains all of the games mentioned in the book, so if someone owns the database, they can find the exact move and tactic easier if they know the move number.


Thanks again for all the great feedback on the book!

Want to Improve Your Chess Game?

Join my free e-mail newsletter today for tactics, tips and tricks!

Related posts:

One thought on “More Questions, Comments, Concerns about the Chess Tactics Book

  1. Dear Timmy!

    I would like to make some comments. I hope some of them might be interesting :).

    I have chosen some of your sentences and below I am answering them. After the sign “*” (asteriks if I remember correctly) starts my response.

    1) Unless you can solve every problem in the book with 99% accuracy in less than 10 seconds per problem, I don’t think it is too easy for you.
    * It is really strange, but I can confirm it. I have solve about 10.000 chess puzzles (most in the range of 1000-1700). I thought that after solving the book once – it is too easy for me. However when I tried to solve at random (without hints or “one after the other”) it was not as easy as I thought.

    2) If you can just avoid making simple 1-2 move deep tactical mistakes, and take advantage of your opponent’s 1-2 move mistakes, you can win (and avoid losing) a lot of games.
    * It sounds silly (yes – stupid if someone wants another word), but it is true! Most dumb moves deep to 1-3 plies (a ply is a move made by any side; 2 plies is one whole move) are the real killers. Sometimes if it in the time trouble and other time it is when we have plenty of time. When I was 1400-1600 player I did those stupid “droppings” all the time! (especially after move 15 when the opening part was gone).

    3) The goal isn’t “can you solve this”. The goal is to burn the patterns into your brain. It is like being able to calculate that 9×4 = 36 by using your fingers, versus just knowing that 9×4=36.
    * Absolutelly right! I would be a little more broader – the goal is not just “burn patterns”, but improve your “tactical radar”! Yes – the same that is responsible to find “a free shots” with ANY position – in a few seconds! I treat these puzzles as a GREAT refresher and improver of my “internal tactical radar”. I am player rated about 1900-1950, but I have some “holes” in my system – thanks for those puzzles I can find them! It might sound absurd, but that’s the way I see it!

    2)… it would take 4 different books, each about 600 pages long
    * I think that paper book should contain about 1000-1200 chess puzzles (with answers and introduction with chapter containing some easy examples with a guide how to recognize tactical weaknesses and solve most problems). The book might be “just” 300-320 pages long. How it is possible? Every page should contain 6 diagrams (positions) and the solutions might be on the next page. It is not difficult to produce – I have got a book ” The complete chess workout” (by Richard Palliser) and you can see how they (Everyman Chess) done it.

    And last but not least – saying “those puzzles are too easy” – when you are not able to solve them very fast and with nearly 100% accuracy – is like saying “multiplying and adding is too easy” – when you are not able to do it without effort and much waste of time. Much more important is their REAL practical value – they are not from games a strong IM vs medium GM, but people who played the games and missed them!
    PS. I strongly NOT recommend to solve these puzzles for people who are titled players – started from 2200 ELO range (CM, FM, IM or GM). They do benefit nothing from solving these puzzles by themselves.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>