Book Review: How To Become A Deadly Chess Tactician

How To Become A Deadly Chess Tactician: Bewilder And Defeat Your Chess Opponents, by David LeMoir

One of the more interesting things about this book is the way that the author chooses a goal that does not involve merely defeating one’s opponent in chess but doing so with a certain sense of flair and originality. This is a book from someone who has a high degree of success in chess (and includes many of his own games) but is not at the highest level of world chess. The author’s experience and interest in chess engines and how to deal with them is highly entertaining and also highly relevant, since while many people are not going to be able to compete in the ranks of world championship contenders, it certainly is in the realm of possibility for readers of this book to greatly improve their games, become dangerous opponents on the local and regional level that others do not want to face, and improve their score as well as their reputation. This is all something that is worth cultivating for one’s chess game. In general it is a good thing to be recognized as a deadly and creative and resourceful opponent, but that perhaps says as much about me as the sorts of books (like this one) that I appreciate.

This is a moderate-sized book of a bit more than two hundred pages and it is divded into three parts and seventeen chapters. The book begins with a discussion of symbols and acknowledgements as well as an introduction that gives three steps to becoming a deadly chess tactician, the three parts of the book. The first part of the book then discusses the motivation for one’s play, which amounts to a historical discussion as well as an analysis of games (I) from the old romantics (1), early dynamic players (2), new romantics (3), dynamic romantics (4), the makeup of a deadly tactician (5), then turning to matters of material (6), as well as the player and reader (7). After that the author discusses the matter of imagination (II), including chapters on simple (8) and complex (9) silent sacrifices, brilliant blunders (10), quiet follow-ups (11), passed pawns (12), and multiple methods (13). Finally, the author discusses matters of calculation (III), including preparing to sacrifice (14), how not to calculate (15), a test on whether the reader has been paying attention (16), as well as solutions (17), and an index of games.

One of the most important aspects of being a deadly chess tactician is not being predictable. A great deal of the approaches discussed in this book are cases where someone knows what they are doing and the opponent does not now what the ultimate plan is, and thus is less able to counteract it. At times both players may have their own plan but only one of the players may be aware that the other players’ plan is no threat and can be tolerated for the moment because it distracts them from the plan that they could be becoming more aware of. Not only does this book include chess history and a discussion of the romantic tendency of seeking exciting counterplay but it also demonstrates in very practical ways that one can seek sacrifices and quiet moves that have a sharp sting in the tail. The author’s comparison of the player to a deadly serpent may not be to everyone’s liking, but this is a book with a consistent theme, interesting artwork, and an approach that is certainly well worth taking seriously. If you want to play chess well and have a flair for creative and dangerous playing styles, this is certainly a book to keep in mind.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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