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Winning Chess: Tactics and Strategies

A review, by Hans Bodlaender

Winning Chess: Tactics and Strategies
by Ted Nottingham, Al Lawrence, and Bob Wade
Price: approx. US$ 10,95
Sterling Publishing Co, 128 pages, 1999
ISBN: 0-8069-9956-X

In Winning Chess: Tactics and Strategies, authors Nottingham, Lawrence, and Wade present a more than worthy followup on their previous book Winning Chess Piece by Piece. Both books are aimed at children that are learning chess. The `Tactics and Strategies' book is of a somewhat more advanced level than the previous book. It shows several important principles of playing chess well, and does this in an entertaining and very intelligent manner.

In the book, a number of topics are treated. Several chapters focus on combinations, like forks, pins, discovered attacks. Other important chapters give insight on how to play the opening well, some endgame theory (including a well readable part on the endgame with two bishops and king against a lone king), improving piece play. The book gives a number of exercises, chess stories, and examples from games played by grandmasters and world champions.

These examples make for me the book special. They are well chosen examples of brilliant play of well known chess players, but at the same time, they illustrate important principles of general applicability, and readers (not only children, but also many grown ups) will learn a lot to improve their own chess chess playing by following these examples, and at the same time, it is a real pleasure to see these brilliant combinations of people like Capablanca, Short, or Kasparov.

There are two critical comments that can be made on this book. One is, like for Winning Chess Piece by Piece, its length. With almost every move illustrated by a diagram (thus removing the need to follow games with a separate board, actually a good thing as many impatient chess students will not do such), many pages are quickly turned, and the book may be read by some in just a few evenings. My second comment is to some of the stories. While most are intriguing stories about the lives of chess players, two are different: a story about an Arab who says he plays chess against Allah, and a story of Capablanca and the devil. In their previous book, the authors also give a story with the devil as a figure. To some people, Allah and/or the devil are just fictional figures, but this is not true for all people. Thus, I think it would be much better to leave this kind of stories outside of a chess book, in particular one that is aimed at children.

Apart from these comments, I think this is a book that is very well done. It would make a good source for chess training, and a nice gift for talented young chess players. And, if you would give the book to your chess playing child, be sure to borrow it when he or she is asleep and read it yourself...

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Written by Hans Bodlaender.
WWW page created: November 24, 2000.