Two Chess Books; Just One for Beginners

It may be rare for two chess books to differ greatly inside when they look very similar on the cover. Yet that’s the case with Beat That Kid in Chess and How to Beat Your Dad at Chess. The first is for beginners; the second is for more experienced players.

How the Two Books are Similar

Besides the covers, with cartoon characters and similar titles, they have something else in common: Both emphasize the importance of tactics in winning chess games. Both are extremely practical, preparing their readers to beat their opponents by checkmate.

Both authors are highly experienced in chess, but in different ways:

  • Murray Chandler is an international grandmaster, at one time ranked #29 in the world
  • Jonathan Whitcomb has played only in lower-ranked tournaments, never even competing with grandmasters, only winning first place in small tournaments; but he has tutored chess beginners, both adults and children, beginning in the 1960’s

Contrary to what their titles can imply, Beat That Kid in Chess is not really about how to compete against a child and How to Beat Your Dad at Chess is not really about how to compete against an adult. Those titles appear to be marketing angles. Both are about winning, regardless of the age of your opponent.


review of two books on chess

Two chess book covers that appear similar

How the Two Books Differ

Beat That Kid in Chess (BTKC) is for the early beginner, who knows the rules of the game but little or nothing else, who would like to win but has little idea how. How to Beat Your Dad at Chess (HBYDC) is best for the more experienced player, who has won some games but wants to win more, who knows a little about getting the upper hand but wants to improve in pushing the advantage home to victory.

Both emphasize getting checkmate but how greatly they differ in other ways!

BTKC gives a broad perspective for the raw beginner, with practical suggestions for the three phases of chess: opening, middle game, and end game. Yet checkmate is emphasized.

HBYDC is much deeper and narrower, for the intermediate player, with practical lessons on many types of checkmate. (Yet it may be useful to some advanced-beginners who already know something about the basics of competition over the board.)

Which do you Choose?

For the player who has played less than twenty games (or who has not yet played a game of chess), losing all or nearly all of them, the best book is Beat That Kid in Chess. For the player who has played 20-80 games and has won or drawn at least 15% of them, the best book is How to Beat Your Dad at Chess. Yet that formula may be simplistic.

Here’s another way. For those who have never before read a chess book, know the rules of the game, and want to learn how to win—they probably need Beat That Kid in Chess. For those who have already read one or more chess books, know the basic tactics, and want to win more often—they probably need How to Beat Your Dad at Chess.

What if you want to give a chess book as a gift but you don’t know all the above details? Give both of these books together. How can you lose?

The Importance of Tactics

Chess tactics are those quick actions like hand-to-hand combat in the here-and-now. They may resemble a wild cat-fight in a closet, at least when tactics are compared with strategy.

It’s been said that chess is 98% tactics. Slow and subtle positional maneuvering, which can take many moves over much time—that is strategy. Beginners need to improve in their abilities to employ tactics in their chess games, for that’s what usually wins.


The best chess book for beginners may be Beat That Kid in Chess, although this would require that the reader already knows the rules of the game.



Comparing three chess books

  • Beat That Kid in Chess
  • How to Beat Your Dad at Chess
  • Conquer Your Friends With 8 Easy Principles

The Chess Beginner and Checkmate

The first sentence of the first chapter in the book “Beat That Kid in  Chess” makes it clear: ‘What’s the most important thing to see in  chess? See how to get an immediate checkmate.’

Winning a Chess Game by Patience

I recently played chess with a friend from church. The results may be instructive to lower-intermediate level players and possibly to some beginners.

A Chess Book for Beginners

It’s intended to be the most useful book ever written for the beginner who knows the rules but little else about chess.

Chess Tactics

  • Double-attack forks
  • Discovered attack
  • Pin and skewer
  • Removing the guard


About Jonathan D. Whitcomb

Chess instructor
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