Attack? Defend? Swap pieces? Tactics are the watchdogs of strategy that take advantage of short-term opportunities to trap or ambush your opponent and quite possibly change the course of a game in a single move. Why play in a fog, only hoping that your opponent will blunder, when International Grandmaster Yasser Seirawan can show you how to put the tactics of the world's chess legends to work for you. Choose from the double attack, the pin, the skewer, deflection, the decoy, x-rays, windmills, and many more timetested tactics.
Using classic board situations arranged in chapters by tactical themes, Seirawan teaches you how to:
- Plan your entire game from the very first move
- Think ahead, step by step, anticipating every obstacle your opponent can throw your way
- Position yourself for the smashing combination and endgame you've always dreamed of
Board positions from actual games played by history's great chess tacticians are provided throughout. Review tests for each topic let you track your improvement. In no time, you'll be playing better and with more confidence than you ever thought possible.
Yasser Seirawan is one of the top-ranked chess players in the U.S.A. and was the first American candidate for the World championship title since Bobby Fischer. He is a three-time U.S. Champion, the 1989 Western Hemisphere Champion, and a six-time member of the U.S. Chess Olympiad team. His achievements distinguish him as one of a handful of players to defeat world champions Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov in tournament play.
In my first book, Play Winning Chess, I discussed the history of chess and introduced the basic rules and strategies of the game. Teaching chess to beginners is an exercise in creativity. The teacher can go about the task in myriad ways. Some teachers might explain the rules and how the pieces move and then use the world's great chess games -especially their own- as examples. Others might focus on how to play certain openings or how to checkmate. Though all of these methods may eventually lead to an understanding of the basics, some methods produce quicker results than others. In Play Winning Chess, I chose the most direct path. I broke down the game of chess into its four elements -force, time, space, and pawn structure- and showed how these elements can be combined to produce a number of principles of play-principles I deduced from studying thousands of master games. Understanding the four elements helps you understand the moves of the masters and inspires you to formulate plans of action in your own games.
After you've grasped the basics, it's time to go to the next level of chess and explore the world of tactics. Only then can you fully appreciate the beautiful combinations that a mastery of tactics allows you to create. Whereas teaching beginner-level chess takes creativity, teaching tactics is a matter of conveying classical knowledge. The teacher can package this knowledge and spin it out in a variety of ways, but the knowledge is basically the same.
Winning Chess Tactics won't teach you anything about tactics and combinations that the chess world doesn't already know. However, I've found that accessing this knowledge about these concepts can be anything but easy. Few of the books that teach combinative play explain tactics and combinations in an instructive manner. The rare exceptions tend to be for advanced players, making a study of this subject rather difficult for those with less experience. In this book, I divide tactics into themes, which I thoroughly explain and illustrate. Each chapter starts out with a discussion of the basic forms of the theme and progresses to increasingly more complex examples. This teaching technique allows for easy learning at the lower levels but also continues instruction right up to the master class. My goal is to enlighten beginner and tournament player alike!
Teaching for such a range of player strength has its drawbacks. For example, I don't stop to explain every chess term that I need to use, and as a result beginners will have it a little tougher here than in the first book. I expect you to have some basic chess knowledge. In particular, you should know the following:
" How the pieces move
" The rules of the game
" How to read and write algebraic chess notation
" How to count the force (the value of the pieces)
" Basic chess terminology
" The four elements of chess and their associated principles, as expounded in Play Winning Chess
For lower-level players who might stumble over the chess terms in this book, I've provided a glossary. My advice is to avoid skipping over terms that you are unfamiliar with. Look them up. Take the time to understand each term, and you'll be able to take this book in stride.
A word about terminology of a different sort: Things haven't changed much in the chess world since I wrote Play Winning Chess a year ago. Chess players come in all colors, shapes, and sizes, but they are still overwhelmingly male. In this book, I'll continue to refer to chess players as he. Hopefully, the situation will someday be different.
I strongly recommend a detailed study of the material in these pages for any aspiring chess player. After all, as nice as it is to admire the artistic combinations that the great chess players have given us, it's much more satisfying to create them ourselves! And I hope this book will be the tool that allows you this satisfaction.
While you are studying tactics and combinations, you might find yourself spending long hours alone, huddled over your chessboard. As soon as you're ready, I advise you to get out and test your skills against those of other chess enthusiasts. Though reading this book will not guarantee that you'll win, it might start you on your way to a championship.
The sport of chess is remarkably well organized; in fact, very few sports have such a large international network of players. Local clubs, states, and national federations organize club championships, state championships, and national championships. A scoring system of 1 point for a victory, 1/2 point for a draw, and 0 points for a loss allows contestants to gradually attain Master, International Master and Grandmaster status. The 146 national federations, including the US Chess Federation, all belong to the Federation Internationale des Echecs (FIDE), which organizes the World Championships. The World Championships are contested for millions of dollars; in fact, the prize fund for the 1993 World Championship match is $4 million!
So join your local club, enter and win tournaments, and who knows, you might manage to bag yourself a championship.
Yasser Seirawan Seattle, Washington, introduction