“We are simply going to become brilliant on basics”. — Vince Lombardi
“The greatest enemy of learning is the belief that we already know”. — Wyatt Woodsmall
One of the oft-repeated axioms of chess improvement is to study tactics. According to Tim Brennen, author of “Tactics Time” this is true, but the material usually available for such study is less than perfect for what you need.
Tactics are the main building block of a chess game. They involve the effective use of your pieces to attack the enemy king. Knowing and mastering them is key for improving your game and notching more wins.
At first glance “Tactics Time” looks like any other book on tactics. Positions are given and the reader is invited to find the best move, usually one that wins material or leads directly to checkmate. This is where the similarity ends.
In most books on tactics, the positions chosen for study are either from grandmaster games or are created specifically to illustrate a particular point. Brennen makes a good point that studying these positions has some value, but most likely amateurs will never reach those kinds of positions in their own games. In grandmaster positions, most everything is set up perfectly. The pawn structure is neat and clean, and the pieces are placed harmoniously and in their optimum positions.
If you are an amateur player, you know that these conditions rarely exist is your games. Your positions are full of errors and weaknesses, misplaced pieces, and hanging pawns. If they didn’t, you wouldn’t be an amateur! What Brennen does is take positions from the games of class players like us and mine them for tactical possibilities and instructional positions. When you are looking at a set up and asked to find the best move, you are looking at the work and potentials of players just like yourself!
The problems are presented in an easy-to-use format and they play fair. There are no problems designed to show you how clever the author is, only relevant positions presented to improve your game. The solutions involve simple, easy to understand analysis to illustrate the point of the position and the tactic involved.
Your average club player will undoubtedly benefit from this book. Its material is relevant, engaging and even fun! On one problem I found difficult I made a fist pump in the air when I finally found the solution. I know I will be spending many hours poring over the books treasures and fully expect to see a jump in my rating!
For more information for adults looking to improve their game: http://www.tacticstime.com