Usborne Starting Chess

Book Review



Usborne First Skills:  Starting Chess


Harriet Castor


EDC Publishing, Tulsa, OK



Reviewed By:

Frank Fogg

Review Date:

April, 2001


Usborne First Skills: Starting Chess is a chess primer aimed at developing game skills for primary school readers. This 32 page book is included in an Usborne Kids Kits package along with a small magnetic chess set.

The book begins with a short history of chess, how to set the pieces to start the game, and moves on to short descriptions of each piece and how it can move. Extensive illustrations are included throughout,  with the chessmen being drawn as humans in armor. A short section also describes simple game strategy and special moves such as castling.

A large number of basic concepts are presented in simple language. The book relies heavily on simple primary school language to convey to the reader how chess is played. The vocabulary does not  contain technical chess terms that a youngster would not understand, but uses  simple words and short sentences that are familiar to readers in this age group.  The illustrations of the pieces as people creates a unique personal feel for learning this difficult game, and the drawings more fully express the complicated  moves than would be possible with words alone.

This book has three features that are  perfect for children wanting to learn the game of chess. The first is that the words and sentences are simple and short. The second is that the scope of coverage is strictly limited to the basics of the game without including more complicated terms and concepts. The third is the use of colorful illustrations to introduce each piece and how it moves.

A small magnetic chess set is included with this Kid Kit. When folded for transportation, the set is about the size of a pocket calculator, ideal for school bags and lunch boxes. Unfolded it measures  about 7 inches by 7 inches with the pieces up to one inch tall. The pieces are standard design in miniature and are traditional white and black.

This Usborne Kid Kit is a great vehicle  for teaching younger children the basics of chess. The simple words and colorful pictures clearly explain and illustrate all of the important basics of the game. Children of primary school age will find this kit fun and entertaining.

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