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Playing Chess

Book Review

 

Title:

The Usborne Guide  to Playing Chess

Author:

Susan Caldwell

Publisher:

EDC Publishing, Tulsa, Ok

ISBN:

0-7460-0135-5

Reviewed By:

Frank Fogg

Review Date:

March, 2003

Rating:

The Usborne Guide to Playing Chess is a beginner's guide to learning the game of chess. This is a full color paperback  book of 64 pages.

Get more information about Playing Chess at amazon.com This book assumes the reader knows nothing about chess and begins by explaining what chess is, what pieces are used, how to set up a game, and how to move the pieces.  It continues by demonstrating basic game concepts using just a few pieces in simple situations. Moves are illustrated using clear color-coded diagrams with green and red arrows showing exactly what moves are possible. Once most of the basic moves have been shown, the book moves on to a sample game that provides  a concise example of how to play.

Several sidebar articles add spice to the story. Short biographies of Karpov,  Fischer, and Alekhine are sprinkled throughout the text. Other short articles explain the history of chess, ancient chess sets, chess game variations, and how chess notation (writing down the moves for the game) is used.

Beside the examples and sample game, Playing Chess also gives important hints  on improving your game. Clear explanations of the opening, middle game, and  end game and their required strategies are provided. Several methods to checkmate the opponent are also demonstrated, including how to avoid stalemate and perpetual  check. Near the end of the book is a list of national chess federations for the United States, Canada, British, Australia and New Zealand along with their mailing addresses.

I really like this book as a vehicle to teach beginners how to play chess. All of the basic concepts are explained in plain language. A glossary at the back  further explains unfamiliar chess terms. The three-dimensional color diagrams  are far superior to the standard black and white two-dimensional boards common with many books of this type. The text contains everything one needs to learn  the basic game without trying to digress to teaching canned openings or advanced  concepts. To summarize, the two strengths of this book are the delightful color  diagrams and the simplicity with which everything about basic chess is explained.

The Usborne Guide to Playing Chess is a plain language tutorial for chess that is clearly worded and appropriate for beginners of all ages. Unlike a number of confusing books for beginners that I've seen over the years, this one gets  right to the point using an economy of words and a wealth of colorful diagrams.  If you have always wanted to learn how to play chess, this is undoubtedly the book for you.

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