Chess Books for Kids

A World Champion's Guide to Chess : Step-by-step instructions for winning chess the Polgar way

by Susan Polgar, Paul Truong This is my new favorite chess book for beginners and reading-age children. The book is dominated by puzzles, inspired by the way Susan Polgar was taught by her father (who wrote a classic chess book full of puzzles: Chess : 5334 Problems, Combinations, and Games) which is the right way to learn chess from a book. The chapters are very short, so it's not cumbersome at all to do a chapter a day, and the content is thorough and excellent, giving a complete introduction to the game in a way that focuses on actual playing strength rather than just chess knowledge. The first two volumes of Comprehensive Chess Course cover essentially the same material as this book, but is more suited to a coach teaching a student and is more ''work-like,'' with lessons, homework, and tests. While I teach Isaac with Comprehensive Chess Course (and assign him chapters of puzzles from this book as a supplement), I use this book to teach Meredith, who approaches the game much more casually. This book has been great for that purpose. It's ''Meredith's'' book, and she loves reading her ''Susan Polgar Book'' with me. I'm not sure if this book is responsible, but Meredith is finally interested in moving forward with chess, and this book is an integral part of that process. Thank you, Susan, for providing a great role model for young girls!

Simple Checkmates

by A.J. Gilliam

This is probably the best first puzzle book. It contains over 400 mate-in-one and mate-in-two chessercizes, arranged two to a page with answers at the bottom of each page. It also has a brief summary of all the essential checkmating patterns and brief discussions of simple tactics as they apply to checkmates (for example, a pinned piece can't defend its king.) My favortie feature is that the answers for each puzzle are a tthe bottom of the puzzle's page, so you don't have to keep flipping to the back of the book to check your answers. I wish all puzzle books were arranged like this.

Chess Tactics for Kids

by Murray Chandler

When you read this tactics book for ''kids,'' keep in mind that there are 13 year old grandmasters. One of my favorite features of the book is that every position is taken from children's tournament games. This book is arranged in the same format as How to Beat Your Dad at Chess, with 50 different sections each teaching a particular tactical pattern. Many of the motifs are covered in multiple lessons (obviously - there aren't 50 different motifs). Though the book has excellent diagrams, I like setting them up on the board, especially the longer ones. Many of the puzzles are very rich, containing many themes which are much better understood by setting up the board and discussing all the ramifications of each variation. I think this book is a good exercise book, but I would choose a different title to learn tactics for the first time. Chess Tactics for the Tournament Player (CCC Vol III) by Lev Alburt and Sam Palatnik, and Learn Chess Tactics by John Nunn are excellent places to learn tactics.

How to Beat Your Dad at Chess

by Murray Chandler

The cartoon cover and catchy title appeal to children, but the content is rigorous and excellent. This book presents 50 middlegame mating patterns with the aim of building the reader's pattern recognition ability. As Murray Chandler explains in the book's introduction, the primary difference between competent beginners and master chess players is pattern recognition. Beginners typically devote 95% of their analysis of a position to calculation and 5% to pattern recognition. Masters, on the other hand, devote about 40% of their analysis to calculation and 60% to pattern recognition. Thus, it seems, the key to becoming a master is to become good at recognizing patterns, which is the goal of this book. I recommend finishing at least either Susan Polgar's book or {@ccc} thorugh volume II before reading this book. Understanding these mates requires at least a basic knowledge of tactics.

Chess Tactics for Students

by John A. Bain The best tactics book for kids. Fills the gap between knowing the basics of tactics and being able to handle a combinations puzzle book. It's arranged as a workbook with generous blanks for even young student to write answers. Each problem has hints, which become more sparse as the student advances. This format builds the student's ability and confidence gradually. Isaac loves this book, and he can work through it on his own with almost no help from me thanks to the hints.