I know solving a lot of tactics problems has its benefits, but also its limitations. In a real game there is no way to know if a tactic is present — maybe the best move is defensive. I am seeking thousands of positions to solve where the best move could be anything, not just a tactic. So far I have found Ray Cheng's book with 600 of these kinds of problems, and a few channels on YouTube featuring similar type quizzes (e.g., https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpUUMhWg5GPD5ynP_vhnMJg).

Does anyone know of any better or additional resources?

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    I don't have a recommendation, unfortunately, but I would like to speak towards your comment of tactics being undetectable. While tactics aren't always easy to spot, they can become much easier to identify by reviewing what checks or captures are available and how your opponent would respond. Sometimes, of course, a tactic simply isn't present, but I've found this method has helped significantly in my real game tactic recognition.
    – Chris
    Commented Jul 21, 2022 at 1:35
  • Related: Non-Tactical Puzzles Commented Jul 21, 2022 at 15:34

5 Answers 5


What you really need is perhaps beginner/amateur books like Master vs Chess Amateur by Euwe, Formation Attacks by Johnson, and stuff like that. The books on strategy and openings are not the right path in the beginning. They are to be studied when the player gets beyond basic amateur level. So, it's the right path but later on when openings, strategies, and positional play need to get more attention. Yet, some basics of openings and strategy (or strategic puzzles) are okay for amateurs and beginners. However, the priority is calculation and pattern recognition which is achieved through tactics and playing long games. In the beginning the priority is not openings, strategic puzzles, fast controls, fast online puzzles or some great diversity of artificial puzzles (e.g. give us a puzzle where two moves have already been made, etc.) There's little sense trying to improve by solving dozens of thousands of simple/primitive puzzles without trying to visualize better and step up to longer solutions requiring calculations of 5-6 moves ahead and accounting for variations.

That, said, of course, there are other books like the one by Cheng. Some of them might be more popular and more hyped than others. Some are for higher level, some are for lower. It's all subjective. Examples of such books are below. These are puzzle books for strategy, positional play and middle game:

  • Test Your Positional Chess by Bellin and Pozetto

  • Can You Be a Positional Chess Genius? by Dunnigton

  • Mastering Chess Strategy by Hellsten

  • Practical Chess Exercises by Cheng

  • and many more books like that.

Some of such books focus on specific aspects like pawn structures, some focus around openings etc. They are often too early to tackle unless you reach serious club level. Yet, some folks, want to bypass to a strong level with no calculation; with a wave of the magic wand! No long tactics! Just doing a few move puzzles on the Internet! And they want to solve thousands of them or want great diversity or they want doing move by move puzzles just like playing online; thus, bypassing long games (two hour games) along with the hard work of calculating variations. We can give a student a move and a simple explanation but I'm afraid it's not going to be efficient. It's hardly going to work beyond 1700-2000 Elo, and even reaching that level will take longer if things are done the wrong way. I'm sorry if this answer comes across as ironic. It's not. It's just a simple explanation of misconceptions: Most folks want to reach high levels through online blitz and move by move online puzzles. Any answer that denies it, makes them frustrated or invokes negativity. Yet, I know no serious player who has reached a pro level by doing it that way. And books are not the magic that produces strong players bypassing everything else. No, something else is also necessary: playing long games and learning to calculate far ahead (Blitz games and online rapids don't count. it's not serous chess).

What's wrong with Practical Chess Exercises by Cheng? Do you need simpler puzzles but diversity and huge numbers? Maybe thousands of them? So, Cheng's book is not that good? Maybe all chess books are not that good! Maybe, they all ask you to calculate deep and account for variations! That's because chess is more than than calculating three moves ahead and doing tactics move by move like online. Amateurs/beginners often don't know it and have misconceptions. It's not only about the quantity of puzzles. It's also about the their quality. It's all about finding continuations, variations, subvariations, and best counter-play, not just finding a single move and then a next single move.

ADVICE: visit some real life chess club and talk this subject over with high rated coaches and players. You may also read all about doing puzzles in chess books and generally how to improve in chess. Try Silman's books, Seirawan's books, Kotov books, etc. where advice is given about how to train, calculate, etc. None of them will tell you to solve for quantity and not quality! It's not the best move you should be finding; it's best variations and counterplay. Sorry, but it looks like you got some things wrong. It almost looks like when we want some miraculous 25th frame effect in commercials in the form of puzzles. It's like when we want things on a silver platter but it's usually just hard work. And I have just pointed out the way it's done in chess clubs, by coaches, etc. You might have solved too many online puzzles. The latter are good for blitz. However, nobody turned pro by playing only blitz and doing the tactics of that type. And if you have become disappointed in and bored with online tactics, then kudos to you. You got that one right. Books contain a greater variety of puzzles, they contain deeper puzzles. You just have to choose the right level. Non-tactical puzzles usually target strong club players or higher. Even the book Chess Puzzles by Nunn recommended by the user Marked Duplicate is targeting that level, a strong club level, although it is basically a book on tactical puzzles, not strategic puzzles. At higher level books undergo higher specialization. Don't expect everything rolled into one, especially in books targeting professionals.


Have a look at this: Bricard: Strategic Chess Exercises (also available as physical book).

According to Chessable:

Chess training exercises are usually about tactics. But in most of the positions that you think about during a game, there is no tactical solution. [...] This book is for you if you want to:

  • know what to do if there is no tactical solution
  • improve your understanding of chess strategy
  • learn how to apply strategic principles in concrete positions
  • gain time on the clock by having to calculate fewer variations
  • learn how to accumulate advantages in various types of positions
  • be inspired by great examples of strategy.

Another book that might be interesting is the Woodpecker method (also available as physical copy).

as per our personal preference, these are not all "play and win" combinations. The task is to find the best move (and supporting variations)and the best move could, for instance, be to force a draw, gain a slight advantage or even avoid falling for a counter-tactic in a seemingly obvious combination.

This might be a very interesting book, as you will have to find best moves and do not know whether its a tactic or something else. It's designed so that you don't know what's going on - just like in a real game. No hints like "mate in 4". Also, they deliberately included "red herrings" (i.e. positions where it looks like there is a tactic, but it doesn't work) so that unlike in typical puzzles books you can't be sure whether the tactic you see really works or whether there's a tactical solution at all.


Having been in the same position as you, I managed to find a book called "John Nunn's Chess Puzzle Book", whose primary distinguishing feature is that the puzzles it throws at you are of unpredictable nature. You aren't told whether the goal is to find a mate in 3, win a piece, or perhaps even force a stalemate in a losing position. The puzzles are difficult and generally somewhat tactically inclined, however.


For the German language, there are the Konikowski books "Testbuch der (subject)", which match your description: To a position three answers are given, and you must choose the correct. Obvious tactics may get unclear or backfire completely, so no "this is a tactics problem, just sacrifice the queen" stuff! Sorry, no English translation available.


@ken-draco's answer is excellent. So I just want to add a couple of thoughts. I recently started playing correspondence chess, and each position, right from the beginning, has many difficult problems to solve, and require a lot of analysis. I start with a basic variation that I like by taking a cursory look, then I continue to look for improvements for my opponent and myself, and go on updating the so called PV (principal variation). It is extremely hard - and I am not a beginner. I have all the time to analyze, and it is still hard to consider 3-4 move variations. In the end, it is still difficult to decide if I want to make move x or y. You can call this analysis positional or tactical or whatever. I am quite convinced that practicing such analysis is much more valuable to me than mindless puzzle solving with instant gratification. So to answer your question, the games you play themselves offer lots of positions. You can add annotated games or other types of books to learn how stronger players think or what problems they try to solve.

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    That's exactly what I'm trying to say with books like Master vs Chess Amateur by Euwe, Formation Attacks by Johnson, etc. And long games are extremely important along with learning to calculate deep and to account for variations and best counterplay. There's no magic book or website that cranks out masters. People do need to play classical chess. Online move-after-move puzzles are to a degree mindless or boring or primitive in comparison with the astonishing variety in chess textbooks that ask for variations/analysis and even for positional/strategical solutions with quieter moves.
    – user32756
    Commented Jul 23, 2022 at 20:50

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