Tuesday, May 15, 2007

So I am an Idiot

The second book that was recommended to me was Patrick Wolff's The Complete Idiot's Guide to Chess.

I had high hopes for the book from the recommendations and the reviews at Amazon.

And, as cranky as I am, I liked it. However...

The unfortunate thing, is that it generally is written to a lower level. This is not a bad thing though. One of the big problems in scholastic chess, is that the vast majority of kids that start chess never learn how to play chess. Every tournament at least a third of the kids don't know how to play chess, and never return again. At the state tournament there were dedicated parents that were taking there dedicated kids to the tournament, totally ignorant of the fact that their kids simply did not know how to play chess, and that they were lucky enough to beat 3 other kids that knew nothing about chess. This is just simply a tragedy for them.

Every parent, of every kid, thats starts a chess program should be given a copy of this book. It should be left around the house, and scanned and picked up from time-to-time. Some should even read it, and sometimes the kid will read it. But the point is, this is the tome, that will help move the kid from the horsey jumps to actually learning how to play chess.

I don't know if I can give a stronger recommendation, in that I immediately ordered a copy for my non-chess playing friend that wants his daughter to start playing chess.

For the knights, however, I am still looking for that next book. That thing that helps to cross the educational crevasse that exists between having learned to play chess, to some sort of expertise. Something, beyond tactics training, and playing.

There are at least couple of things that I think are helpful here in the book. First, its encyclopedic and scannable nature, means that the book can be useful for looking up things that it happens to cover. For that, it makes a good reference to keep around to add to the Internet in general.

It also has a nice section on tactics dirtier tricks which lays out things beyond simple skewers and forks. In my mythic next book this is material that would be in there.

One of the other complaints that I have seen brought up by the Knights, and I have experienced it myself, is that tactics are a lot easier to see if you know there is a tactic. Like in PCT, or in a book. Patrick has put in at least one, and one may be enough, diagrams where there are no tactics. The answer key tells you there is nothing to find here. That possibility helps increase the educational value of all the diagrams. And I think it would be a nice addition to things like PCT just to keep you honest, and help develop that additional vision of nothing's here.

So, if you are not quite a knight, or you have know someone who would like to learn how to play chess, a friend or spouse, or you have a kid that has yet to learn to play. Get them this book.

Alas, I keep hunting...

More later.


Blue Devil Knight said...

I'm surprised you had high hopes for a beginner chess book, if your goal is to get a good "second" chess book!

The chapters on positional chess were especially helpful for me in the Idiot's Guide. Thanks to Pawn Sensei, another Knight, for recommending it to me. I plan on rereading it once I am done with the Circles.

It isn't really all that clear what you want besides a chess book aimed directly at your level of play. Maybe you should get a chess coach who knows the literature, gets to know you, and can suggest good stuff.

likesforests said...

"For the knights, however, I am still looking for that next book. That thing that helps to cross the educational crevasse that exists between having learned to play chess, to some sort of expertise. Something, beyond tactics training, and playing."

Well, beyond tactics are endings, strategy, and openings. But if you are weak tactically mastery of the other topics will serve you little.

A chess coach sounds like a great idea. If you're not open to that, post your last few games (not your best few games) and perhaps folks here can give you better suggestions.

Anonymous said...

Let me guess, another player rated below 2450 that recommends books to everyone so they can play as poorly as you...

hisbestfriend said...


Wow, I am stunned you have the time to comment, and comment so poorly.

Why are you here?

Yes, I am WAY under 2450. That's really the point. I am part of a group of people that may some day like to make it there. One of my problems is the lack of instruction for this group and myself. We are by far, the majorit of chess players. The ones that may like to get there some day.

I may no claim at all as to what would be good for a 2450 player.

And no, it is not a book for me. Or even my son, who is 750. (though it has *some* on topic stuff). But a recommendation for getting through that barrier from knowing how pieces move to chess. I have just lived through that, and talked with a number of parents, and personally witnessed the fact that most people are having a very tough time doing that.

Until something better comes along, and this is *way* better than anything I have seen, I recommend it. I reviewed it, because it had been recommended to me.

Either contribute or move on, but I suspect this blog holds nothing for you.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Your first troll! Congratulations.

Have you seen Heisman's 'Eveyryone's Second Chess Book'? I haven't so can't review it.

hisbestfriend said...

Thank You BDK.

Actually only my first public troll, I had some squashed earlier before I made the settings easier.

And yes, Heisman's stuff belongs in my mythic book, as does the circles stuff.

I think I am getting closer to explaining what I am looking for. Keep reading, I think I am going to need your help!