Thursday, 25 October 2012

Chess Reviews: 200

Chess Puzzles for Kids
By GM Murray Chandler
128 pages
This book is a continuation of Gambit's best selling series of instructional books aimed at junior players. The previous volumes are Chess for Children, How to Beat Your Dad at Chess and Chess Tactics for Kids, all of which were covered in my first review column, back in 2005. 

There are lots of books for juniors on the market. So, what does this one bring to the table?

''This chess puzzle super-challenge contains 100 fun positions to solve, ranging from encouragingly easy to mind-numbingly hard. Using an innovative format, every puzzle is preceded by an instructive example, illustrating an important pattern.''

The 100 positions are arranged by theme, such as Attack on the Castled King and Back-Rank Combinations. Each numbered lesson is presented on a single page. The clarity of the presentation makes the book very easy to navigate and makes it an excellent volume for chess coaches to use with their students.

The first position on each page serves as a relatively simple sample and the second position is a tougher example on the same theme.

Here's a sample, from lesson 27 (''Winning the Exchange'').

Kramnik - Svidler
This one is fairly straightforward: 1 Ne7+ Kh8 2 Ng6+!

Pikula - Ivanisevic
The second position is more difficult. The key move is 1 ...Qa6! and Black goes on to win the exchange 2 ...Ng3+ It's unusual, because the white Rook turns out to embarrassed after 1 ...Qa6!

Despite the title, I think this book has a potentially wider audience than just youngsters and the blurb agrees with me:

''Each puzzle has been graded to suit a wide range of chess abilities. Beginners or younger readers will enjoy reading the basic warm-up exercises. The more experienced can wrestle with some classic puzzles, whilst at the same time learning of typical themes and killer concepts.''

Club players may find some of the positions of use too, as quick warm up exercises just before a game.

The book concludes with two series of tests (60 puzzles in all) which should enhance the reader's understanding of the tactics in question.

It's a very enjoyable book, enhanced by quirky illustrations by Cindy McCluskey (look out for ''Arabian Mate'' and ''The Rook Lift'' and bound in a sturdy hardback cover (durability is an important quality in the classroom environment).

Before you go, dear reader, why not try these two puzzles? They shouldn't give you too much trouble, as they are just for kids...

Hort - Portisch
White to play and win

Babujian - Ter-Sahakian
Black to play and win

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