Tactics, they say, are the heart of chess. To quote the authors of these books, tactics are ???the short term maneuvers which always involve either threats, captures or combinations???. The ability to recognize and exploit these short term tactical threats is, at the class-player level, frequently the deciding point in a game. Often the most useful tactic is the unexpected exploitation of a threat that you see, and your opponent does not. Used against us, these tactics represent deadly peril; used against our opponents, pure joy! Even if your opponent sees the trap, often the tension is enough to create a small advantage, and build that into a winning game??? but one has to see these opportunities in order to exploit them.

The tactical wizardry of the great players seems the stuff of the Gods, the unobtainable realm of the immortals, but contrary to popular belief, tactics are a learned skill that anyone, with a little work can develop. OK, I lied. It takes a lot of work! These books represent a good starting point.

Developing a feel for tactics begins with building your ???pattern recognition???, i.e. the ability to quickly recognize positions which contain the elements of tactical opportunities. Pattern recognition takes practice, practice, practice, and for that a few ???power tools??? can greatly shorten the path to success.

Two books ???303 Tricky Checkmates??? and ???303 Tricky Chess Tactics???, by Fred Wilson and Bruce Albertson are a terrific way for anyone from beginner to advanced intermediate to gain, develop, and hone those skills, and build the knowledge and pattern recognition tools that will improve your tactical abilities.

I found both 303 Tricky Chess Tactics and 303 Checkmates to be a great set of books because of the quality of the presentation and the material.
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