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Sammy Seahorse Teaches Chess

A review by Hans Bodlaender

Sammy Seahorse Teaches Chess, by F. Donald Bloss and Andrew Kensler is a book for children to learn chess. On 192 (small) pages, children are explained not only the rules of chess, but also many important principles for winning chess games.

The book is written as a dialog between Sammy Seahorse and four other swimming animals, like Gary Grunt and Stella Starfish. Sammy teaches his four tank-mates the rules and principles of chess in this dialog. By having the book written in dialog form, this makes that many points can be clearly explained by the author, and thus making the book easy to follow for children. The book is nice and enjoyable to read.

Unlike many other books to learn chess, this book mixes rules and principles. For instance, at page 48, some principles of opening a game are given, like the importance of controlling the center, while the stalemate rule is explained only at page 131. Many tactical and strategical principles are given: forking, skewing, endgame play, discovered attacks and check, double pawns, a few openings, etc. The number of exercises in this book is small - after reading the book, the child should have the possibility to play chess games.

As a negative comment: the book contains a story about the devil and Capablanca. While the story shows clearly the importance of the touched move rule, I think it is unsuitable for a chess book for children. (This is the second children's chess book mentioning the devil - why do American chess book authors do this?)

Apart from this one negative comment: Overall, this is a book that many children will enjoy to read and will be easily to follow and understand many important chess rules and principles- while reading this book, children will learn to play chess and a lot more about chess.

Sammy Seahorse Teaches Chess
A light-hearted introduction
F. Donald Bloss, Andrew Kensler
Pocahontas Press, Inc., Blacksburg VA, USA, 1995
ISBN 0-936015-61-6
US$ 11.95

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Written by Hans Bodlaender.
WWW page created: July 4, 2000.