counter customisable


Irving Chernev & Fred Reinfeld


Many chess games take the following course:-

1. Opening.  Both players bring their pieces into play, placing them in their most advantageous positions.

2. Middlegame.  The players manoeuvre to try to force their opponent into committing to inferior positions and then take advantage of their weaknesses to get a winning game.

3. Ending.  As a result of weaknesses created in the middlegame, gain a material or positional advantage that will put the result of the game beyond doubt.

"Winning Chess" by Batsford gives many examples of how a decisive action can be employed to achieve the desired ending of the game.

This is not a new book but it updates the successful edition published in 1949, and now presents it in algebraic notation.

Chess trainers quite rightly stress the importance of tactics and recommend that students of the game spend a lot of time getting to know tactical motives and practice their implementation.  To do so it is important to study good tactical material and this book more than adequately provides a good basis of study. All the basic tactical motives are explained together with well chosen examples. Irving Chernev and Fred Reinfeld have joined forces to sift through thousands of games, separate their findings into various themes and then annotate the game fragments in easy to understand language and variations.

There findings are published in a rather novel fashion as the following excerpt demonstrates.

169A.  White moves.  He can simplify with 1.Rxe8+ Qe8 2.Qxc7 Qe2+ 3. Kh3 etc which is good enough.  But he looks for a quick win, based on removing the guard.  The indications are there, for the Black, which can be captured with check, is guarded only by the queen.  White plays 1.Qg4+!


169B. Black moves.  To save his Queen he must play 1...Qxg4.  Now White does not continue 2.fxg4? (which leaves him a Rook down after 2,,,,Rxe1.  Instead he continues as planned: 2.Rxe8+, now that the Rook's defender has been removed Black has no time to save his Queen (priority of check!)  After 2...Kg7 3.fxg4 wins easily.


This tableau is spread over two facing pages, a system that has several advantages, one of which is that it allows the reader to cover the second page with a piece of note-paper ensuring that you do not see the solutions before you have attempted to find the answer yourself.  I find it particularly annoying to have accidentally seen the solution to a problem before studying the initial position, but with this format it is easy to prevent such a happening. There are of course, several techniques available to carry out a study of these tactical problems, another being to set up the initial position on a chessboard and then treat further play in the same manner as if playing a game.  Whichever system you use, make certain that you tackle every example given in this book as it will surely improve your appreciation and understanding of tactics.

The attacking themes demonstrated are presented in accordance with their prevalence in the thousands of games the authors examined.  This resulted in fourteen chapters covering the following subjects:

The Pin

Removing the Guard

The Knight Fork

"No Retreat"

Double Attack

The Skewer

Discovered Attack

Queening Combinations

Discovered Check

The Vulnerable First Rank

Double Check

Breaking Communications

The Overworked Piece

The Surprise Move

The majority of these themes well be well known to chessplayers but I would like to give an explanation of the "No Retreat" section.  This is a quotation by Purdy:

"The idea of the combination does not have to come to us like an inspiration from heaven.  I maintain that in every position that arises, we should deliberately search, among other things, for any pieces which have no retreat.  If we see one, we automatically look to see if it can be netted."

This theme is worth illustrating:


194A. Black moves.  His f-pawn requires protection.  Instead of resorting to passive defence, he prefers to counterattack.  This takes the form of exploiting the awkward position of White's Bishop and his knight on g4.  When fleeing from attack, they are bound to get in each other's way.

1. .....      g5

2. Bg3     h5!


194B.  White moves.  The menaced Knight must retreat, and he has only one square for the purpose: h2.  But by going there (3.Nh2) he robs the Bishop of its only flight square.  Now 3. ...h4 strikes at the helpless Bishop which has  no retreat and is therefore lost.  ...............................


Quite about from the fourteen chapters devoted to an examination of various attacking themes, there are seven more chapters dealing with more general matters, one of which is "Calling a spade a spade".  This extols the benefit of using simple language when writing on chess matters  a virtue which I trust will be upheld by other authors.  The final chapter provides some illustrative games played by both authors. 

It is sometimes overlooked that Fred Reinfeld was a strong master during his playing years and this can be seen in this chapter.  Unfortunately, at one point in his career, he was forced to write "pot-boiler books" in order to make a living, but prior to this his writings were absolutely top class and these books are worth searching out for their quality alone.

Chernev is a well known writer and has several best sellers to his name including the classic "Logical Chess Move by Move", the forerunner of many other books on the same subject.

Batsford have produced, in their usual diligent manner a fine looking book of 229 pages, packed with expertly researched and interesting material, at the recommended price of £14.99. 

If you need to brush up the tactical side of your chess, this is the place to start.

Bill Frost

December 2013

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