miércoles, 10 de febrero de 2016
Review: Tactimania - Flear
Author: Glenn Flear.
Publisher: Quality Chess.
Here I have another oldie for you. This book, as the name suggests, is a book about tactics. It contains around 450 tactical exercises from the praxis of Glenn Flear and his wife. It is a family work, as the illustrations come from their son.
The book contains 13 chapters, eleven of them dealing with some theme (from mates to trying to save lost positions), while the last two are tests of around 20 positions each. Those two last chapters have their solution in the next page too, as the whole book, but they are called test because you get to score points and see at what level you are at.
This book is quite hard to make sense of. It is littered with drawings one would assume target a kids' audience, but the exercises can get quite difficult. When I picked up this book I thought I would use it as Weteschnik Tactics from scratch, as a way to warm up, but that is not so, I was unable to solve some problems with one star (it has only three levels of difficulty).
The length of the book at 264 pages is ok, but some of the pages have drawings, so you actually get less chess than that. To compare, while this book contains 450 exercises, Weteschnik packs 300 (easier) and Quality Chess Puzzle Book (I hope to review it sometime, when I manage to finish it) packs more than 700 (harder).
The solutions are normally correct, sometimes mirroring the computer line exactly even if it does not make sense from a human point of view. In those cases I would have loved to have more depth, because I was left wondering where all those moves came to be and had to put the position in the computer to understand them. On the other hand, some problems have duals solutions which are not contemplated, or even wrong solutions according to my computer. They are not many, but they exists.
You should know by now that wrong solutions annoy me a lot, because I get the feeling that each time I fail an exercise I need to check it against the computer to ensure my solution is not flawed. But that is not what defined this work for me.
For me the drawings are terrible, but I think it is a taste thing, and you can do like I did and just ignore them. So that is not what defined this work either.
The most striking feature of this book is the choosing of the exercises. Flear put into himself the task of finding tactical exercises in his and his wifes' games, and came up with a very strange collection.
While I was reading the book, I never got the hang of it. In normal books you start looking at sacrifices and such, normally that is what works in those. But here, as the number of games was so low, some very untypical examples managed to make it to the book.
That is a good thing in the sense that you have to shift your way of thinking, but if you are anything like me, you will get annoyed at some exercises.
All in all I cannot recommend this book. I do not like the drawings, nor I feel the exercises are well selected (although I told you already that is a good thing!, but I do not like it). It does not have that many exercises, so that is not a point for it either. At the end of the day, there are better books to choose from.
Lastly, if you decide to go for the book, I can tell you about chapter 12, which has the first test. I went to solve the 19 exercises in it in two hours with a friend of mine rated approximately like me (2200). We had to photocopy the problems as the solutions were intermixed with them, and we wrote down our solutions. The final result was that we classified both as tournament players (with a very similar score), which is lower than international players, IM and GM. I felt that two hours was very little time to solve all the exercises.