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Review: Coffee House Chess Tactics

Coffee House Chess Tactics, John Healy (New in Chess publishing)

Coffee House Chess Tactics is a distillation of homeless-alcoholic-turned-chess-champion John Healy's chess anecdotes and memorable games. Healy's new book provides some of the back story, but if you haven't already you should immediately buy and read Healy's earlier book, The Grass Arena. Chess actually doesn't factor in until the end, but it's one of the best memoirs I've read. But the present review is of Healy's latest effort and again he doesn't disappoint.

Healy's style is initially a little off-putting, but if you give him a few pages you'll be hooked. He isn't a top player and the analysis isn't exactly in-depth, but Coffee House is nevertheless a good read (and one that can be enjoyed without board). Healy is a master of blending anecdote with analysis. Further, the chess positions, of the kind you'd typically see in the park or in a blitz game online, are usually entertaining attacks or surprising tactics, perfect for enjoying when you just have a little bit of time to read. You'll see Healy "acting in restraint of trade" with a combination to avoid a queen exchange and continue the attack, or with "a pint in the hand and a pig on the seventh."

Coffee House Chess Tactics isn't the kind of chess book you buy to study carefully, but it is the kind you buy to enjoy. Highly recommended!