Brief Book Review: Three Intro Books

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Brief Book Review: Three Intro Books

Post by fiveredapples on October 19th 2016, 10:37 am

1.  How To Play Chess For Beginners – Joe Carlton

This is truly a beginning chess book, offering the bare essentials needed to start and finish a game.   It's both a small book at 6” x 9” (with plenty of blank spaces and relatively large diagrams) and a short book at 108 pages.  While the table of contents boasts such topics as Openings, Middlegame, Tactics, and Endgame, you're getting the most cursory of information.  For example, in the Openings chapter, the opening lines for the various openings go no deeper than four moves – often just one!  

The target audience for this book are people who know nothing or almost nothing about the rules and want to start playing pronto.  These people don't care about strategy yet.  They just want a quick, easy explanation so they can start moving pieces and deliver checkmate.  

Content Grade: 7/10 (for the right audience)
Price factored in: 6/10 (too much – $8 to $10 – for too little)

2. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Chess – Patrick Wolff

This book is the next step beyond a basic 'learn the game' book.  Wolff is an engaging writer and delves into many topics albeit briefly.  For example, he devotes 27 pages to basic tactics – forks, pins, skewers, discovered checks, etc. – which of course means he doesn't spend too much time on any one theme.  He touches on strategy and chess principles too.  You get 24 pages on pawns, 16 pages on space, and 14 pages on weak squares, to name just a few key chapters.  There are exercises with answers in the back.    

There's other stuff, too, such as tips on where to find study material, where to play, and the history of chess, including brief bios of some key figures.  

This is a solid introductory book for those who want slightly more than the rules of the game.  It's like a fun textbook, if there is such a thing, which aims to take you just beyond the level of wood pusher.  

Content Grade: 8/10 (A bit long-winded – 350 pages – but an enjoyable informal prose)
Price Factored in: 8/10 (You can get it used for $5, or less, on Amazon)  

3. Chess Made Simple – Milton L. Hanauer

This book does more in 170 pages – and does it better, too – than what The Complete Idiot's Guide to Chess (which I enjoyed, by the way) does in 350 pages.  Let me put it this way: the conscientious reader of 'Chess Made Simple' will beat the conscientious reader of the 'The Idiot's Guide.'   You get a narrower field of coverage, but you get deeper coverage of important themes.

There are no chapters “wasted on” the history of chess or recommendations of where to play.  The goal of the author is to make you as strong a player as possible after having read only 170 pages.  He does about as good as job as you could expect.

Content Grade: 9/10 (Packs a punch)
Price Factored in: 10/10 (At $8 to $10 it's a steal)

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Re: Brief Book Review: Three Intro Books

Post by ernestosim01 on November 6th 2016, 7:36 am

Nice review! I bet your real life work involves writing stuff?

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