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Chess School – Manual of Chess Combinations #3 just arrived at my mailbox. I had high expectations of this continuation of the popular series published by “Russian Chess House” in the best traditions of Russian chess training schools. You can see my review of the 1st book in the series here. The 2d book was a successful follow up, and now I am looking at the 3d one. All three are devoted to development of tactical and calculation skills, but aimed at different strength levels. This book, like previous ones, is a multilingual edition with all of the text in Russian, English, German and Spanish.

The book is written by experienced Russian coach and International master Alexader Mazja. It consists of 750 diagrams categorized into 8 chapters based on various criteria. Here are just a few of the chapters – 1. Combination vision, 4.Rational Choice of Moves Candidates, 6. Taking Account of the Opponent Resources, etc… The book is aimed at the experienced players expert or master strength. It has very limited commentaries at the beginning of each chapter. Answers to the diagrams have no text, just figurine notation and Informant type coding.

Here is couple of examples -


Black to Move!


White to Move!

Stop here if you want to try and solve these. Answers are below!

1. Combination vision - finding simple tactical blows.

Stahlberg, G - Keres, P (1936)

1...Bxe4 2.Pfxe4 Nf3 3.Pgxf3 Rd2 - + 

Pirisi, G - Sapi, L (1980)

1.Nf5+ gxf5 [1...Kg8 2.Nh6+ Kh8 3.Nxf7+] 2.Rh7+ Kxh7 3.Qxf7+ Kh6 4.Qh5+ Kg7 5.Rd7+ Be7 6.Rxe7+ Kf6 7.Rf7+ Ke5 8.Qxf5+ Kd6 9.Qd7+ Ke5 10.Rf5+ Ke4 11.Qd4# 

Who should use this book –Experienced players with ratings of 2000 (USCF) and above, who already completed Manual of Chess Combinations #2. Experienced coach who has students ready to work on problems involving complex calculation.

How to use the book – Set up position on the board; set 15-30 minutes on the clock. Write your variations, then compare against the answer in the book. Practice inconclusive positions against your favorite chess program. Look for hidden opportunities and try to challenge the author.

Consider this example – 


Black to Move!

No reference given, so I would assume that this is a training position. Black is in trouble, White pawns are way to dangerous. Nevertheless, there are bright spots as well for Black. First is an obvious one - he can win the Knight. The other one is less noticeable, White King is in the mating "net" (Nf6#).  According to the author Black is not only surviving, he is winning, by combining these two ideas into one variation. 1...Nxa7 2.b6 Nc6 3.a6 Nb8 4.a7 Nd7 5.Kg4 Nxb6-+

The idea is great and the variation looks forced, but there is a "small" problem - if instead of 4. Pa7, White played 4. Ph4 - attacking Black's pawns, breaking the "net", and maintaining the threat of 5. Pa7. Black must play 4...Nxa7 and settle for a draw after 5. Phxg5.

Finding ideas like this will certainly increase your calculation skills, and your overall confidence. However, there is one more lesson from the diagram. There is a "big" problem as well.


Take a look at the final position after 5...Nb6. It certainly  looks like Black solved all of his problems and will easily win. However, knowledge of standard endgame ideas will come to the rescue here! If White can get rid of the g pawn, Black will not be able to win - period! Knowing this idea, will help with the defensive plan here. 6. Kf5 Kf7 7.Ph4! Pgxh4 8.Kg4 and after 9.Kxh4 Black can't win.


After 5...Nb6


Summary – this book has a very good collection of problems for a very experienced player or a coach. Buy it and use it!

Send me your thoughts

This is review is a Copyright @ 2003 by Igor Khmelnitsky &

Interesting parties can submit their products for review:

Igor Khmelnitsky

PO Box 60088

King of Prussia, PA 19406



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