This book contains 300 positions of the ‘White (or Black) to play and win (or draw)’ variety: you have to decide on the best move, work out the most accurate continuation.
The positions are arranged in quartets: four diagrams to a page, with the respective solutions on the page facing. Most positions are taken from actual play but a few are composed studies or are standard, theoretical endgames. As well, there are a fair number of tricky endgames, though it has to be said that tactical middlegame positions predominate. They vary in difficulty.
Alburt’s introduction sets out some training tips and methods. He also discusses some
skills (intuition, calculation, etc.) that the positions are intended to develop. And, certainly, solving these kinds of positions represents an effective form of active learning. The positions provide concrete examples of tactical motifs that frequently arise in practice. Studying them will help you to recognize and seize such opportunities when they come up in your own games.
It is a nice size and all, this book, and very portable. During the interval at a play and concert, sitting through the adverts and trailers before the start of a film, travelling on both train and tram: I’ve studied this book on these occasions and a fair few others.
Some of Alburt’s solutions could be embellished upon or might possibly require correction. For example, in position 230 I don’t think 1…Qxf2+ 2.Qxf2 d2 (as suggested by Alburt) is actually very good; after 3.Rf1 Re1 4.Bd4 White extricates himself from the pin. Placing this and a few other minor blemishes aside, however, and what you have is an enjoyable collection of mainly tactical puzzles that serves as a useful training tool as well.
You can read a description of Chess Training Pocket Book: 300 Most Important Positions and Ideas, Third Edition by Lev Alburt at the Amazon website here.
By Lev Alburt
W.W. Norton & Company, 2010