The book of the 2016’s Olympiad, “Pearls of Azerbaijan” contains a selection of tactics for chess players of all strength who want to improve their tactical vision.
The author, Grandmaster Djakhangir Agaragimov, had the idea of creating this book while going through the games of the Azerbaijani players who he noticed created many combinational motifs in their play. Out of all those games, he decided to select the most beautiful and sparkling ones and put them in this volume just in time for the start of the 42nd Chess Olympiad that was celebrated in Baku.
The reader can find all types of tactics, as the book is structured in three levels of difficulty – easy, medium and hard. The first part of the exercises are very useful for lower rated players who want to train their ability to immediately spot basic tactical motifs. Not much calculation is required here, although there are situation when you’ll have to rely on your intuition. For the medium level diagrams you’ll need to calculate a few moves ahead and make sure you keep the correct position in your head. What I liked is that, just like it happens in a game, the combination doesn’t necessarily lead to a forced win (mate or extra material). Some will lead to an imbalance and you will have to correctly evaluate the resulting position. The last part of the book contains more difficult exercises that will help you improve both your tactical vision and calculation ability.
From time to time, you will find some affable smiley-faces that are meant to help you find the solution. The “helpers” indicate if the exercise admits two solutions, if you have to find a “silent” move, if your intuition is required or if the solution is not that obvious and you’ll have to have a deeper thought in order to get it right.
In conclusion, it is a tactics book for every chess player and a very useful one for that moment when you feel like your tactics are getting rusty. We’ll leave you with a nice exercise where we are signaled that “it is really time to have a deep thought. It might be that the most obvious move is not the right one or the “main” move of the line is not the first one”:
Written by (WIM) Raluca Sgircea