Originally posted by grit
What are the best chess puzzles books for someone rated 1250 - 1400?
Something lively and that does not announce "mate in two" or "knight fork." so that you feel like you are in the middle of a game without being told what to look for.
And also is there an easy book on the middle game? Every middle game book I hear about sounds impossibly hard.
If you haven't already done so, I think you'd benefit by reading over Dan Heisman's "Recommended Chess Books" web page:
Also be sure to read his two related Novice Nook articles linked on that page titled "Chess Books and Prerequisites" and "An Improvement Plan". The two links are near the top of the page, just underneath the Amazon cart logo.
Having given "Dan the Man" a blatant plug, I'll now throw in my maybe worthless 1.5 cents.
First, I'm assuming when you say "puzzle books", you really mean tactics books to learn tactics patterns, and not just for the pleasure of solving chess puzzles? (I think there's a difference.)
I suspect there's not an easily determined "best" book. Every one of them has plusses and minuses. Most of them give some kind of hint to the solution. None of them has all the tactics you'll ultimately need to learn. (Dan lists seven books needed to get you close to the 2000 tactics goal.) Probably most tactics books are far from "lively".
I've only gone through three tactics books:
1) Bain's "Chess Tactics for Students". Pretty easy, it was a good start for a novice like me. Not too many typos. Not a huge number of positions, so you'll want to get more books after this one. Gives major hints, so you'll have to work at ignoring them. (Maybe cover the hints with an index card or something.) I plugged the positions and answers into my freeware Scid database program (lots of work) so that I can have the positions pop up with no hints. You can set Scid so that it doesn't show you the answer until you're ready for it.
2) Woolum's "The Chess Tactics Workbook". I think it has more positions than Bain's book, but it had too many mate problems to suit my taste, and it had too many typos, imho. I didn't care for this one.
3) Heisman's "Back to Basics: Tactics". Not a huge number of problems, but what is there was carefully selected for maximum benefit. A good section on counting near the beginning of the book that you probably won't see anywhere else. Not too many mates (that's a good thing); The types of tactics are fairly representative of what you'd see in actual games. Despite that fact that it's not a big, thick book, I liked this one a lot. (Edit- I forgot to mention that this book does give hints. Book sections are by tactical motif, and positions will say something like "White to play and win a pawn", or something similar. But I didn't think the hints detracted much from the learning experience.)
Probably next on my list will be Coakley's "Winning Chess Exercises for Kids".
....No, I'm not joking.....Yes, I'm serious. Despite the turn-off title and the juvenile, cutesy-pie illustrations, Dan states, "Possibly the best 'intermediate' book to test the tactics for players of all ages! Highly recommended." I've seen the innards of the book. Hints? Nine positions to a page, three of them are labeled as "mate", three labeled as "material", and three labeled as "best move". Don't confuse this book with Coakley's other two books, Winning Chess Strategy for Kids (easier) and Winning Chess Puzzles for Kids (much easier). The "Exercises" book may be a bit of a stretch for me, as it's an intermediate book. Dan claims that some of the positions near the end give even him a hard time, and he's around 2200!
Middlegame books? Sorry, no comment, I haven't really read any of those yet. But the two Novice Nook articles that I mentioned have some decent advice on this topic.
Good luck, I hope you find some books to your liking.