I'm interested in collections of chess problems where we are not told beforehand what is happening in the positions presented, but we have to decide by ourselves, whether something clear exists (a winning or drawing combination, a good move or plan that keeps the initiative) or whether the position presented is still unclear. Clearly the goal is to exercise analysis, intuition and general judgment of positions, by simulating actual play.
So are there collections of problems of this type, in print or online?

  • 2
    I'm sure there is such literature, but I can't name any in particular. What you could do is read a normal chess book and when reaching a diagram that the author will talk about, think about it yourself first. Then see how what you say compares to the author. Oct 7, 2019 at 21:30
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    – user929304
    Oct 12, 2019 at 11:42

2 Answers 2


You can find such positions in Dvoretsky's books. Also, in "The Defense Triumphs" by Kotov. But in general I am not aware of a collection of positions without a clear objective presented.

Then there are a couple newer "positions you must know" books that you might explore.

Of course if you go over annotated GM games as if you are playing the game, thinking before reading the next more or comments -- this is a good way to achieve such training.


First, in a real game, you can often get a sense of how things are going, so there are always some "hints" just by looking at the board.

I just went up and looked at my library, and opened up a number of books. The old Dvoretsky books really do not do this much, but the "School of Future Champions" and "School of Chess Excellence" series do have many sections that just say "white (or black) to play", and nothing more.

Other Dvoretsky books that do that significantly are "Recognizing Your Opponent's Resources", which has 154 such examples. Also, "Chess Lessons" and "Maneuvering: The Art of Piece Play". That said, all of Dvoretsky's books are quite advanced, and you need to be above 2000 OTB, preferably 2200, to really benefit.

A couple of other tough books, but not as tough as Dvoretsky, are the classic "The Best Move" by Hort and Jansa, and "Test Your Chess Skills" by Sarhan Guliev and Logman Guliev. Again, both are a bit advanced, but still OK for a wider range of players.

My recommendation for most players are two outstanding series of books. The Yusupov series "Build up/Boost/Chess Evolution". There are 10 books in the series, and in each one, there is a lesson, and then a series of 12 test exercises for each lesson with just who is to move. The first four books are not simple, but they are accessible to players of a very wide range of OTB ratings. They get harder after that. This series is like having your own former top-10 GM as your teacher.

The other is the Jacob Aagaard series "Grandmaster preparation". There are 6 in this series, and there are many problems within each book.

Start with the first four Yusupov books, and go from there, is my recommendation.

P.S. The Yusupov books cover everything, from opening to tactics, to endgames, to positional play, as you specifically asked about.

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    Thank you, esp. for Hort & Jansa.
    – exp8j
    Oct 9, 2019 at 18:06

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