A review of What It Takes to Become a Chess Master by Andrew Soltis

Reviewed by P.P.O. Kane

What It Takes to Become a Chess Master
By Andrew Soltis
Batsford, 2012
ISBN: 9781849940269

Soltis’ useful book focuses on nine aspects of chess play that’ll enable you to become a better and more successful player, perhaps even a chess master. His suggestions for how to improve take in topics concerned with competition (e.g. squeezing a win out of an equal or only slightly better position) and skill set (what to think about, when), as well as strategy and tactics and positional factors such as pawn structure.

To illustrate the range of the book, one chapter looks very specifically at sacrifices and different kinds of compensation, another at how to aim for decision-friendly positions, where there are clear, straightforward plans and the moves are relatively easy to come by. In each chapter, along with a discussion of various instructive positions taken mainly from contemporary practice, there is advice about what to study and methods of study too.

All nine chapters end with a quiz, a series of puzzle positions where you’re required to answer a relevant question and find the best move; altogether, there’re just over 50 of these quiz positions.

A helpful book on the whole, in the same category if not quite of the same class as Nigel Davies’ 10 Great Ways to Get Better at Chess and Simon Webb’s Chess for Tigers.

About the reviewer: P.P.O. Kane lives and works in Manchester, England. He welcomes responses to his reviews and you can reach him at ludic@europe.com