Sunday, October 23, 2011

The one beginner's book you absolutely MUST buy!

I had never heard of Jeff Coakley before reading teaching guru Elizabeth Vicary's blog.   Follow this link to get some of Coakley's wonderful free chess lesson plans (a software download is required).

If you are teaching advanced beginners (students above USCF 800) and you can afford 30 clams, you must stop what you are doing and buy Winning Chess Exercises For Kids right now!  (The linked site is Canadian: I bought the book on Amazon last month, but they seem to be out of inventory at the moment.)  Be forewarned that these problems are far too difficult for players below USCF 600, and be careful to order the right title (Coakley has authored several books with similar titles: another book, Winning Chess Puzzles for Kids, is a tactics primer for true beginners.)


In the introduction to Winning Chess Exercises for Kids, Coakley promises, "This is at least a year's worth of material," and he delivers!  There are 100 exercise sheets in the book: each sheet is a quiz with nine diagrams: three mates, three combinations to win material, and three "find the best move" problems that develop defensive, middlegame, and endgame skills.  At the bottom of the page, there's a question generally designed to make students think about the way the pieces work. (For example: "What is the most total squares that can be attacked by two rooks?")  Most adults would find the material challenging, but Coakley and illustrator Antoine Duff present the exercises in a kid-friendly format.  (Adults rated 1000 to 1600 may wish to work through the book for their own benefit before using it to teach!)

Over the next couple weeks, I'll post some sample problems from Winning Chess Exercises for Kids.  Here's one:

White to play and mate

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