Comparing Two Chess Books


The new book, Beat That Kid in Chess (BTKC), and the older publication, The Kids’ Book of Chess (KBC), have two things in common:

  • From the covers, both books appear to be for children
  • Both of them encourage person-to-person chess combat

Yet they differ in two ways:

  • KBC is just for children; BTKC can help older children, teenagers, and adults
  • The Kids’ Book of Chess teaches the rules; Beat That Kid in Chess teaches winning

Whether you’re giving a chess book as a gift or buying it for yourself, comparing these two publications may be helpful.

Beat That Kid in Chess

The back cover says, “How few chess books are for the raw beginner!” This one is an exception, written specially for the “early” beginner who knows only the rules of the royal game and yet wants to know how to win.

The text is simple enough for some older children to handle but capable of holding the interest of teenagers and adults. Here is part of the text from page 66:

The black king may be well defended in the above position. White can check it by moving the bishop: Bh7+, but the king will then just move to h8. What is the next thing white should look for, since white cannot make a checkmate in this position?

. . . Can white win material? Yes, there is a way, a tactical trick.

Notice that black’s queen and king are on the same diagonal and that the squares of that diagonal are the same color as the squares on which the white bishop moves. Put that bishop on e6 and the black queen will then be pinned. White will win much material in the exchange.

Beat That Kid in Chess teaches you how to win games. It’s for those who already know how to play but want to get positive results quickly.

The Kids’ Book of Chess

This is more than just a book: It comes with a chess set. The promotional material on Amazon includes the following:

Selection of the Book-of-the-Month and Trumpet Book clubs. Suitable for ages 8-12. 792,000 copies in print.

Much of the book may be explaining the rules of chess, yet this is done in a way to catch the imagination of the child. From a review in the School Library Journal we read:

The Kids’ Book of Chess explains all the basic elements of the game in a colorful, dramatic story of the medieval battlefield that the chessboard represents. All the pieces from pawn to king are introduced according to the role they play in the chess game and compared to their actual role in medieval life. How to begin the game, move the pieces, and develop a winning strategy are well described in clear, simple text . . .


If you’re a nine-year-old who wants to learn the rules of chess, you need The Kids’ Book of Chess. If you’re older and already know the rules yet need help in learning how to win chess games, you need Beat That Kid in Chess. If you’re already an intermediate-level player, you probably need a chess book other than these two, unless you need a good book to give as a gift, and the subject is chess.



Chess Books to Explore

‘Beat That Kid in Chess’ can teach the reader how to win a game, even if he or she knows only the rules of chess. In spite of the title and the cover, this book is best for the teenager, adult, or older child

Three Degrees of Ability in Chess Novices

I divide chess beginners into three levels of ability: raw, mid-level, and advanced.

Chess Book for Beginners – gift

Three books reviewed:

  • Beat That Kid in Chess (best for raw beginner)
  • How to Beat Your Dad at Chess (best for intermediate player)
  • Conquer Your Friends (a “cheat sheet”)

Best Chess Book With Beginners

Who can say what is the best chess book for a beginner? But one point can be said for ‘Beat That Kid in Chess’: It uses a new method of instruction called nearly-identical positions. This greatly helps the student to see those critical details in chess positions, details that make all the difference.


About Jonathan D. Whitcomb

Chess instructor
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