from November 10, 2006

Brilliant. Brilliant. Brilliant.
By S. Sankaranarayanan (Bryan,Texas)

You will not find this book up at your local B&N bookstore. Rather than be disappointed, I am actually glad. I feel that anyone who gets rewarded with a treasure like this ought to have looked around or taken a little effort to know of its existence before they laid their hands on it!!!

I can't stop gushing about how good Coakley's books are for players ramping up to an intermediate level and want to be absolutely sure they have no holes in their chess knowledge. (I'm about USCF 1579 at the time of writing this and I feel that the exercise positions in this book have so much to offer me.)

The delivery of exercises ( 9 per page ) and the quality of the answers at the back are very impressive. A tactics book that has non "find the mate or find the best move to win" positions is a rarity these days.

His Number 9 position on each page offers a wealth of instruction if you haven't seen those positions before. I've even started to document those in my own training notes, as positions that I should know COLD in order to be competitive at my level.

Overall, one of the finest tactics+non-tactics exercise books I've seen.

from May 11, 2004

Chess Tactics
By Steven Craig Miller (New Lenox, IL USA)

... As a chess coach, I've looked at a large number of books which teach tactics, IMO this is perhaps the best I've seen for students.

from October 24, 2007
By Czech King (Jacksonville, FL)

I am always on the lookout for instructional material to use in my chess classes. This workbook fits the bill, but not for beginners. ...

The excellent solutions to each contest, found in the back , are very detailed, accurate, and insightful. Cartoon characters throughout the book are humorous and appealling to youngsters. I highly recommend this workbook for aspiring chessplayers, rated USCF 1000 or higher, who are willing to work individually to improve their understanding of the Royal Game!

The United States Chess Federation / USCF Chess Life Online / September 2, 2007

By Elizabeth Vicary

For the complete article, see

I work in a public junior high school in Brooklyn NY, teaching a mixture of chess and eighth grade English. This week I've been getting ready for the new school year, trying to plan (roughly) my year's curriculum. In doing so, I'm noticing how much I steal from a relatively small collection of books; this gave me the idea to write an article detailing which ones these are, in the hopes that the list is useful to other chess teachers. I also enjoyed and learned quite a bit myself from these books, and so I also hope a reader with no interest in teaching might get something useful from reading them.

Let me be clear that I am choosing these books specifically for teachers who give group and private lessons. This means they will have material that can be translated into lessons-- ideally into lessons with multiple parts: warm-ups, direct instruction, practice, extended thinking, etc. In addition to giving my thoughts about each book, I often try to describe how I translate these into 45-minute (or longer) classes. The teacher-focus also means that some excellent books for beginners are omitted.
I should say upfront that my personal top ten list is heavily skewed in favor of a few authors. Why? Because great teacher-authors seem to consistently write great books.

#5. Winning Chess Exercises For Kids
#6. Winning Chess Puzzles For Kids

[ from later in the review: #1 Winning Chess Strategy For Kids ]

Two fantastic puzzle books from a dedicated and successful Canadian coach. The first is a straightforward collection of worksheets with a unique structure, constructed so that each page practices a variety of skills. Every worksheet consists of ten questions: six are your standard bread and butter: three checkmates and three tactics problems, all sharing a common theme. Then things get weird: in position seven white is in difficulties -- you have to find a way out. Problem eight is a general best move question-- it could be positional, strategic, tactical, anything. Position nine is an endgame. Ten is a word problem ("Can you escape from a check with a check?" "How many moves does it take a knight to get from a1 to h8?") I love using these for homework because they require real thought: some straightforward calculation, some subtle assessments, and some creativity.


This wonderfully entertaining book also happens to be quite effective.

Everything any child will need to know about chess strategy and more is here in this book, which is well laid out and easy to follow.

Part of the fun factor for kids is that the book is replete with cartoon images of chess characters to help make the learning experience more exciting.

A bright and colorful cover, as well as the large workbook format and algebraic notation make this a book which will occupy your child's attention for many hours.

The flexible "perfect binding" makes it easy to turn the pages and have them stay in place.


Recommended Chess Books
by NM Dan Heisman (updated 05/25/2009 )

Intermediate Books (USCF ratings 1300 – 1650):
Good Problem Books:

Winning Chess Exercises for Kids - Coakley
Possibly the best "intermediate" book to test the tactics for players of all ages! Highly recommended - don't be fooled by the "...for Kids" part of the title. A follow-up to his more basic "Winning Chess Strategy for Kids." Much harder than Bain and more well-rounded (has defensive  and "best move" problems) than any other intermediate books...  Over 900 problems!
***This is the book for which I receive the most positive feedback of any book I recommend!***

See the website for a list and description of all the books recommended by NM Dan Heisman.


Richmond Junior Chess Club
by FM Peter Sowray
I'm from a generation who learnt chess from books, and there are literally thousands to choose from!

Amongst the many beginners / improvers books, the outstanding titles are 3 books by Canadian chess master Jeff Coakley. The striking thing about these books is the enormous amount of material contained in each. There is an emphasis on solving puzzles and each book will provide hours of material for the keen player. The titles are:

  • Winning Chess Puzzles for Kids (the red book)
  • Winning Chess Strategy for Kids (the green book)
  • Winning Chess Exercises for Kids (the blue book)
I would read them in the above order ...

The above books assume that you know the rules of chess, but they do explain chess notation. Highly recommended, but requiring a lot of effort to go through all the material and to get the most out of them.


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