The Magic of Chess Tactics 2 Reviewed by Patriarch Fan


The Magic of Chess Tactics 2: Claus Dieter Meyer & Karsten Muller, Russell Enterprises, Inc. 2017, 192pp

In 2002 a book arrived on the scene that delivered some long sought material. That book was The Magic of Chess Tactics (TMOCT) by renowned German authors, FM Claus Dieter Meyer and GM Karsten Muller. Finally there was a book aimed exclusively at players of at least 1800 Elo.

Since then a number of strong exercise books have come out from such authors as Jacob Aagaard and Mark Dvoretsky.

So what a delight when, fifteen years after the original, the authors of TMOCT decided that indeed, they are not finished with what they have to say.

Just like in the first volume, the authors show little interest in the “find the fork” and “pin and win” style simple tactics. Yes, the fragments and problems presented herein do involve such elements, but the solutions are not your typical “win the material in a couple of moves.” Instead, the solutions tend to be rich and complex, requiring precise calculation and move order accuracy.

After a forward by five-time world champion Vishy Anand, the book is broken down into six chapters, each with several subchapters. The chapters are:

  1. Attacking With the Queen and Knight 2. The Knight on the Attack

  2. Attacking With Bishops of Opposite Color

  3. Pins

  4. Learn From the World Champions

  5. Exchanges & Transformations

Along the way the reader will find many exercises, the solutions to which are in the back of the book.

At the beginning of this review is one of the exercises from Chapter Two. The game is Naiditsch – Grandelius 2013 from Wijk aan Zee. I placed it at the beginning so you can attempt to solve it without seeing the solution right below you!

Below the diagram in the book it says:

White to Move (+-)

Position after 22…h6?

With a view to prophylaxis, the deficiency of this move indicates how utterly he mistook his opponent’s attacking potential.

In the solutions section the following is given:

“23.Ng5! No doubt, this came as a nasty surprise for the defender. 23…e4

(a) 23…hxg5 24.Qg6+- and Black has no remedy for 25.Be4 followed by mate (24.Be4?? would be disastrous on account of 24…Bb7 25.Qf3 g6);

(b) 23…g6 24.Qxg6+ Qg7 25.Rxf8+! Kxf8 26.Nh7+ Kg8 27.Nf6+ Kh8 (27…Kf8 28.Qe8#) 28.Qe8+ mating.

24.Qxe4 hxg5 25.Wg6 1-0

The finishing touch: White can flourish undisturbed on the d3-h7 diagonal, a point which Black failed to notice in time.”

I should point out that the solution above is one of the shortest in the entire book by far with most running half a page or so, with many more than a full page of dense analysis. If you’ve ever read Twenty-Five Annotated Games by Hubner then you know exactly what I am talking about.

Who would benefit from this book? In my mind there are two main groups – anyone over 1800 or so, and fast improving juniors who are at least 1500.

As a result, this book is not for everyone, but if you fit into either of the two above categories then there’s no reason you shouldn’t order this book today.

Best Chess to You,

Patriarch Fan