Author: Yasser Seirawan
Chess combinations are better known to those outside the chess world (self included) as sacrifices. For example, you sacrifice your queen - the most powerful piece on the board - for a quick checkmate, winning the game. According to Seirawan, combinations come up in every chess game, whether executed or merely pondered. As such, learning to see them (for one's self), avoid them (in the case of one's opponents) and recognize favorable conditions for them is essential to chess mastery. Sounds good to me.
By the author's own admission, this book targets a slightly higher skill level than the others in his Winning Chess series. I readily acknowledge that most of it was over my head. I grasped the general principles but merely skimmed most of his deep analysis. Thank goodness for the final chapter which provided a succinct summary of the highlights of the previous eight.
So, now I am faced with a question: where do I go with chess from here? There are no more chess books on my overflowing TBR shelves, nor do I have immediate plans to add any. The truth is, as much as I admire the game, I don't play much. I play tabletop games all the time - with my wife on weekends plus two groups of friends online during the week - but not chess. There was an online chess tournament at school over the summer. I play against a computer occasionally. But it's been years since I actually sat down at a real chess board with a fellow human being.
And yet, I truly would love to get better. Seirawan's books are helpful but I know perfectly well as a musician that what I truly need is practice: regular, structured, rigorous practice. I could make that happen, and really it wouldn't take much to be better than I currently am. But there are so many other things I want to do, too. So, what to do with chess?
For now, it's a rock solid I don't know.