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Winning Chess Piece by Piece

A review, by Hans Bodlaender

Winning Chess Piece by Piece
by Ted Nottingham, Al Lawrence, and Bob Wade
Sterling Publishing Co, 128 pages
ISBN: 0-8069-9970-5

Winning Chess Piece by Piece is a chess book for children. It is a followup on an earlier book by the same authors, called Chess for Children. Chess for Children (which I have not seen) is meant to give the basic first introduction to chess; this book is meant for children who know the rules of chess, but want to play a little better.

Learning the rules of chess may for some beginners seem hard, but in fact, it isn't. The rules are easily available on many places, and many books show in different, easy to understand ways, how the rules of chess are. It is much harder to learn to play chess well. Indeed, the number of books that help beginners to gain chess skills is not large, whether such books are aimed at children or at grown-ups or both. This book is one of this rare, needed type of books. In several chapters, important principles of playing chess well are displayed. The description is aimed at children, and is good to follow.

In the book, there are entertaining, and for children perhaps also thought provoking stories about chess - from Judith Polgar to chess played by the resistance is Warsaw, Poland during World War II. And, there are puzzles, strategic advice, and interesting games. This material provides interesting reading for young chess enthousiasts, but their chess playing parents also should use the opportunity to borrow the book and read it themselves, as while aiming at children, some The presentation is good to follow for children, assumed they know the rules of chess, and many would learn something from this book that helps to improve their chess game.

The topics treated in the book are divers. There are chapters that mainly give some additional practice with the movement of pieces, but also chapters that teach important principles, like the fork (with a really beautiful and very illustrative sample game) or the queen and king versus king endgame, but also has some puzzles, and it mentions some chess variants: training variants, where players have only one or two knights or bishops and all pawns, where the purpose is to have the first pawn promoted; and a few pages on progressive chess. Explanations are always clear, and the starting chess player can learn important chess skills from the book, while being nicely entertained.

Overall, this is well made book. However, a few criticisms on the book are on its place. First of all, the book is short. 126 pages are quickly filled, especially when several pages have just two diagrams and little text on them. Older children will have read this book quickly. My second, personal objection is that when author Bob Wade lost a progressive chess game against an unknown stranger in a train, it is written that this stranger may have been the devil, which I find bad taste.

Who should buy this book? It seems a good book for school libraries, a must have book for chess clubs that have a youth group and a library, and it may be a nice gift for young starting but talented chess players, although it may be read in relatively short time by some of them.

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Written by Hans Bodlaender.
WWW page created: April 27, 2000.