Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Book Review: Chess Puzzle Learning Levels, Volume I

I love playing chess, but studying chess has always been a chore.  Most chess books are terribly boring, especially the ones heavy on puzzles.  I enjoy Silman's chess books because he adds enough humor to make his lessons palatable.  But I had never met a chess puzzle book I loved (or even liked) until I met Wyckoff's Chess Puzzle Learning Levels.
This 175-page book is divided into four levels, Level 1 is for players rated 400-999, Level 2 is 1000-1399, Level 3 is 1400-1800, Level 4 is 1800+.  Wyckoff gives puzzles for each of these levels, and ends the book with fun puzzles from an assortment of levels.  The format is pleasantly simple; there is one puzzle per page, with a title and a hint.  Turn the page, and you'll see a diagram with the answer and explanation.

Considering my dread of puzzles, my game plan was simple: go through 10 pages a day to finish in 17.5 days.  That didn't quite work out--I was through 50 pages in one sitting!  Since I'm rated 1699, Level 1 and much of Level 2 was very easy.  But the second half of the book slowed me down with some problems too difficult for me.

Featured in the puzzles were games from Fischer, Bill Gates vs Magnus Carlsen, an X-Men movie, various world champions, and compositions by the author.  Hints and titles contained references to history and literature--your knowledge of the fate of Anne Boleyn could be a great help in solving one puzzle!  Wyckoff gives just enough hints to make almost every problem solvable--thanks to his hints, I even was able to solve a mate in 10.

Also included are obscure chess terms and crazy trivia.  Do you know what Allumwandlung means?  How about Novotny?  Have you ever played fairy chess or heard of a knight becoming a nightrider?  Can you solve a mate in 5 from pieces formed into a letter of the alphabet? How about solving a puzzle to stalemate yourself in 4? 

One warning: the author does have predilection  for under-promoting knights to force mate, so by the end of the book beware--you may be tempted to promote every pawn you see into a gallant knight.  But if you search for beauty in chess, this is the book for you.  The puzzles and mates presented delight the aesthetic mind.  

This book is available at Amazon.com.
Also sharing this at the Springtime in Magnolia Book Club.

16 comments:

  1. Bethany I admire you that you are a good chess player

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    1. I'm always trying to be a better one. :)

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    2. Definitely! I agree with your statement Gosia! Bethany is really great chess player! She can even play blitz games... and you would not like to know how well she can handle this type of extreme chess! I have always followed Bethany's FICS TL games as I can learn a lot by watching these! :)

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    3. I learn a lot when I play you, Tomasz. You crush me. :)

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  2. I never liked chess that much. Too much variation in skill. Either other players are too good or they're too dumb. "What does the horse do?" etc.

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    1. On internet chess servers there is a wide enough variety of players that you can choose to only match opponents around your skill level.

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    2. Adam

      Actually "Too much variation in skill" is a blessing rather than complaining! Try to imagine 64 levels of opponents from the great pool of players - you can start with these who barely knows how the pieces moves... finishing with masters who can beat you 95% of the time you are willing to suffer playing against them ;) :).

      I like chess because there are a lot of different people who play chess with many various styles, strenght and time controls. Such a variance is a blessing in my opinion!

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    3. Glad you enjoy playing, Tomasz! It's great to have you on my chess team.

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  3. I love playing chess also!!! Thing is, I only have Bud to challenge, and he won't play the game...I win, I cheat. So he claims. It's a great game; even mathematically challenging at times. I don't think I've ever read ANY chess books.

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    1. If you're up to a game sometime, I'd love to play you online. I play as BethanyGrace at the Free Internet Chess Server

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  4. Well, I don't know how t play, but several of my grandchildren do. Congratulations to your little sis. Quite a feat!

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    1. Awesome that your grandchildren play! And thanks, I was so happy that she won that championship.

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  5. This sounds like the perfect book for me! JK.
    You have some fortitude Bethany! Both for playing chess so seriously and for reading this book. You certainly have won my admiration. :)

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  6. Hi, i have a website about chess puzzle. You can try here chesspuzzle.novalondo.com. Hopefully it's useful to you, and i would be very grateful if you leave a feedback.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by. I'll check it out.

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