I am looking for books with exercises to improve at tactics. It seems that there are lots of options.

My definition of what constitutes a “good” tactics books is variety. Even if the book focuses on a specific puzzle type (like checkmate puzzles), I believe a good book will have a great variety of positions in different stages of the game where different tactical ideas are required.

I also prefer books with some explanation or analysis on why certain moves may or may not work, not just the diagrams and moves.


2 Answers 2


I think the following books are extremely suited for beginner players seeking to improve tactics. At least two of these are available on Chessable for those seeking digital options.

  • Everyone's First Chess Workbook: good for board vision, learning patterns, themed chapters by motif, builds to more difficult puzzles that combine themes. Answers include explanations and some details on relevant variations.

  • Winning Chess Tactics: Topical chapters with tests on learning throughout book, with two chapters at end to take as exams and compare against scoring rubric. Second exam at end will be a challenge to beginners.

The series by Polgar is also often recommended for beginners (Perpetual Chess podcast recommendations).

  • Learn Chess the Right Way: Book 1 Must Know Checkmates
  • Learn Chess the Right Way: Book 2 Winning Material

Book covers

I hesitate to include Seirawan's Play Winning Chess in the image as it isn't really a tactics book, but prepares readers a bit for his Winning Chess Tactics books. I imagine some in the community may say Play Winning Chess isn't a tactics book, and they are probably right. It seems to be in the spirit of your question though, and designed for beginner players.

Additionally, the Chess Steps series of workbooks are filled with puzzles. Tactics, board vision, checkmates, and defense are recurring themes.


Excellent for novices are Dan Heisman's books. My favorite of his was Back to Basics : Tactics . I have nostalgia for Seirawan's Winning Chess Tactics as it was the first chess book I read all the way through. Sent both to my grandsons. For more advanced study consider one of Weteschnik's books, although they are limited in the breadth of tactics they cover.

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