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Chess

The great thing about chess is every game is different. It's also quite hard to learn and even harder to master so a book is a good idea to aid the learning process.

Chess for Children
by Murray Chandler and Helen Milligan
(Gambit)
This book starts right at the beginning, introducing the way the pieces move and suggesting simple games to play using only a few pieces. From there, it moves on to capturing pieces, checks and checkmates, before introducing the more sophisticated ideas of castling, pawn promotion and en passant capture. With the technicalities out of the way, the later sections of the book look at some of the basic tactics involved in playing and winning games. Throughout the book, all the information is clearly written and easy to understand, with new ideas illustrated with well-chosen examples. Puzzles and tests let readers try out their new knowledge and a series of cartoons about a chess-playing alligator provide light relief. Formal chess notation is introduced early on, but arrows on the diagrams mean it is not relied on totally. This is a good book for beginners and novice players of all ages and a useful guide for a parent teaching a child to play.
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How to Beat Your Dad at Chess
by Murray Chandler
(Gambit)
A killer title hides a book that, while ostensibly aimed at children, is really for any player who wants to improve their game, especially their ability to attack and get checkmates. (For those who understand the jargon, our chess expert tells us this book is most appropriate for beginner-intermediate players looking to strengthen their middle game, as there is no opening theory in the book.) Far from light reading, it's a focused, intensive how-to book, and some readers (including many adults) will find the masses of diagrams and move-notation daunting. However, the writing itself is informative without being dry, and there's enough chess history included to keep things from getting boring. For a certain sort of determined young player, this could be the perfect tool to help them achieve their dreams of dad-domination.
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Checkmate at Chess City
by Piers Harper
(Walker Books)
This puzzle book is designed to help with one of the hardest parts of learning to play chess: remembering how the different pieces move. Each puzzle features just one piece (or in one case, two) and involves finding the way across a chessboard-style grid filled with hazards. The pieces can only move in the same way they can in a game of chess and there are safe havens on the grid to help you decide when to change direction. The cartoon-style artwork packed with detail adds plenty of visual appeal and the puzzles themselves are easy enough to be do-able but hard enough to make you think and encourage you to look ahead. Suitable for beginners and improvers.
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Starting Chess
by Harriet Castor, illustrated by Norman Young
(Usborne)
The cartoon illustrations make this a very user friendly introduction to chess for young beginners. To ease the learning process, it suggests playing first with just the kings, queens and pawns and then gradually introducing the other pieces once the reader has learnt how they move. The rules are explained simply and clearly with some easy puzzles to practise on and a few very basic hints on strategy. Very good for young children learning chess for the first time but not for those who have already mastered the basic moves.
Ages 6-9
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Chess: from first moves to checkmate
by Daniel King
(Kingfisher)
This uses computer generated pictures and diagrams to introduce first the moves and then the strategy of the game so, with its help, children should be able to progress past the rather depressing stage where they lose all the time. To add interest, there are also some tests to practise plus information on the history of the game. The book introduces the standard chess board notation very carefully and most moves discussed are illustrated with arrows on diagrams so you don't have to rely on it completely. This gives this book a huge advantage over others which rely more heavily on the notation. A good choice for complete beginners and those who have mastered the moves but not the strategy.
Ages 8 to adult
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