A Chess Book as a Gift

Most chess books are purchased by the players who use them, rather than by those giving them as gifts. One exception is a gift-book for a beginner. A new entry in that genre is Beat That Kid in Chess. We’ll now compare it to an older book, Winning Chess Tactics for Juniors. One thing these dissimilar books have in common is a misleading title: The age of the reader (or the age of one’s competitor) has almost no relevance. Many adults and teenagers, and some talented older children, could benefit from one of these two books. Which one is best—that depends on the chess skills the player already has.

Basic Approach to the Chess Beginner

Beat That Kid in Chess is strictly and clearly for the “early” beginner, the chess player who knows the rules but would like to learn how to win, at least win some games, rather than lose all the time. The back cover says:

Do you know the rules but almost nothing more about chess? This is the best book for the early beginner. . . . Checkmate, pin, knight fork—those are demonstrated and explained, but how much more is given to you in this chess book for early beginners!

Winning Chess Tactics for Juniors, on the other hand, does not appear to actually be for beginners, at least not for the raw beginner; it’s more for talented and experienced young players. In fact, the back cover says:

At some point in every strong chess player’s career, [he or she] stopped and made a deliberate study of tactics. A skilled tactical player can reach the Class “A” or even Expert level with only limited opening and endgame knowledge. No amount of opening or endgame study, on the other hand, can make a good chessplayer out of a weak tactician.

Basic Content of Each Book

Beat That Kid in Chess has a great variety of subjects, selected for the early beginner in chess to quickly learn what is most needful in winning a game.

  • Basic chess terms
  • Brief introduction to notation
  • Checkmate patterns and principles
  • “Power Grabbing” (gaining a material advantage)
  • Defending your king position
  • Tactics of knight fork, discovered attack, and pin
  • The order of what to look for in a chess position
  • Simple endgame instructions
  • Simple middle game instructions
  • Simple opening instructions
  • Simple exercises
  • Advanced exercises (still for beginners)

Beat That Kid in Chess


Winning Chess Tactics for Juniors

Winning Chess Tactics for Juniors, on the other hand, has 534 chess problems for the reader to solve. That can do wonders for an intermediate player who wants to advance in tournament-competition results. But few of those problems are suitable to most beginners, many of the puzzles being multi-move tactical finesses that are way beyond the ability of a raw beginner.


If you’re a low-level beginner or will be giving a chess book to such a player, Beat That Kid in Chess is best, regardless of the age of the opponent.

If you’re an intermediate-level player, capable of winning at least one game in a tournament, Winning Chess Tactics for Juniors may be helpful to you, regardless of your age (or lack thereof).



New Chess Book for the Beginner

If used as a gift, this new chess book may be more likely to please the recipient, compared with other books on the royal game. The main requirement is that the reader is a true beginner in chess . . .

Chess Book for a Teenager

The reading level is teenager/adult, although some twelve-year-olds could understand and enjoy it [referring to the new book “Beat That Kid in Chess”].

New Chess Books for Beginners and More Advanced Players

Three publications: authors are David Smerdon, Jonathan Whitcomb, and Gawain Jones