Reviewed by P.P.O. Kane
Tune Your Chess Tactics Antenna
By Emmanuel Neiman
New In Chess, 2012
Tactics is all about vision: recognising crucial patterns, noticing when and where a combination or tactic may be present.
Emmanuel Neiman’s book aims to develop a player’s skill in spotting combinations, and in this it will undoubtedly succeed. Some early chapters are quite elementary – there is a chapter dealing with basic mates, for example – but later ones cover more complicated tactics and advanced topics, such as how to calculate variations in a systematic and accurate manner.
At the start, Neiman sets out seven central signals, key indicators that a combination may be possible. These include factors such as, for example, unprotected pieces, an overloaded defender or a shaky king position. They are then looked at in more detail later, with exercises being given to test understanding. One unusual twist: there are exercises that in effect ask whether a combination is actually present. So not (or not only) ‘What’s the combination?’ but ‘Is there a genuine combination or a deceptive and dubious tactical possibility?’ In an actual game, this is of course a question – the key question, perhaps, since sacrificing a piece entails a risk – you have to ask. A final test, fifty tricky positions to solve, rounds up what is a very enjoyable book.
The strengths of the book include the freshly minted examples of classical tactical themes (virtually all games date from 2011 and 2012) and the systematic approach overall, as regards both the tactics and Neiman’s account of the thinking process (combinational vision, calculation, evaluation).
I recommend this book highly.
About the reviewer: P.P.O. Kane lives and works in Manchester, England. He welcomes responses to his reviews and you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org