Sunday, May 6, 2012

Chess is Child's Play

     My friends at Mongoose Press sent me a review copy of their newest, Chess is Child's Play, and I liked it enough to overcome my laziness and read it/think about it/write this.
     Basically, Chess is Child's Play is the perfect book for someone who doesn't know anything about chess or teaching and wants everything spelled out. It could be titled The Idiot's Guide to Teaching Chess to One 4-8 Year Old Kid.  Now this could be a great thing: if I had to teach a kid how to build a motorcycle, I would want a book like this. And it tells you good things like what to do if your kid is bored or makes this or that type of mistake.
     I personally can't read it because it's insanely basic. The whole reason I teach junior high and not elementary is that I cannot stand explaining the totally obvious types of things that this book explains, like how you capture a piece by moving your piece on the square their piece was on and at the same time take their piece off the board and place it with the other captured pieces. But some parts of chess, like determining if a position is or is not checkmate, are complex, multi-step thought processes, and it's nice to have someone walk you through it in such a patient and reassuring way.
      It is also a noticably nice-looking book: hard-cover, well designed and laid-out, lots of soft-focus photos of angelic children in gardens playing chess.
     bottom line: If you're intimidated by chess and new to teaching, this is a very good book to start with.

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