The Ultimate Tactics Book for Kids
Steve Goldberg

EXCERPTS from the book review section of the excellent Chess Cafe website: The complete review, with a detailed look at many examples can be found at:

Immediately upon opening Jeff Coakley’s Winning Chess Puzzles for Kids, the reader will be struck with the feeling that this is a fun book, not just another chess puzzle book to challenge the mind. The illustrations by Antoine Duff are first class and entertaining and the table of contents shows a varied approach to keep even the most hyperactive kid interested. In fact, the one word that describes how this book differs from the many others which are available is variety.

At the start of the book, the author writes, “If you like chess, you came to the right place. This workbook is full of fun puzzles and challenging problems that will help you become a better player.”

In my opinion, Winning Chess Puzzles for Kids meets this goal and then some. Not only will readers improve, they’ll do so without the drudgery of page after page of textual explanations and endless variations. If our schools could teach science and math as effectively as this text teaches chess, our kids would be excelling beyond belief.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book as probably the most kid-friendly I have
come across. There is so much variety here that even children who are not great chess fans will have fun!

Recommended Chess Books
by NM Dan Heisman


Books about learning the moves and rules:
Winning Chess Puzzles For Kids
I would think that if a youngster went through Bardwick's book [Chess Workbook For Children] and then this one, it would be about as good a start as could be imagined.

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


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.

Winning Chess Puzzles is Exercises's clownish younger cousin. I use it mostly to play an enormously popular game in my after school chess club called Chess Jeopardy. This is played with 6-20 students (larger numbers are grouped as teams), a chalkboard, and a demo board, (but ideally several boards, so positions can be set up ahead of time). Each game has 4-5 topics with four questions, plus a Daily Double and a Final Jeopardy. Categories can be anything I want students to practice or review, but often include:
Openings (either a question like "Show me a reasonable line against the English," or I use this category to go over recent opening lessons)
Mates in 2 (/3/4 etc.)
Thematic Mates (back rank mate, smothered mate, etc.)
Tactics (fork, discovered check, etc)
Chess Culture (questions like "Name five American grandmasters," "What do you have to do to become a grandmaster?" "Who is the current World Champion?" etc.)
Math puzzles related to chess
Silly Puzzles (and this is where the Coakley book comes in, all these examples are taken directly from WCP): Who's the Goof?, Switcheroos, Triple Loyds, Retro, Mazes

A selection of Coakley's problems with descriptions of types is below.


(See the complete article on the website for a detailed look at several examples from the book.)


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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