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on August 18, 2006
I have been playing Chess casually for many years. Only recently have I taken it upon myself to try to further my understanding of this game. Idiots Guide is an excellent start for the list of books I have compiled on the topic, based on other users recommendations. The book is broken up into 4 sections, with the first 3 being relevant to the rules of the game, strategy, tactic, and such. The 4th section is more of a tidbits and trivia section containing short biographies of the who's who in chess, which in itself can be pretty interesting. However, the meat of the book is in the first 3 sections. The author shows step by step the various games that demonstrate the principles. The overall writing style is simple and easy to understand. Personally, I felt that this book was too strong to be in the same category as the "Idiots Guides" or the "For Dummies" books. The end section gives a good list of follow up books also, which I also plan to read.
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on January 31, 2009
I'm 70 years old and picked Chess for my mental exercise during 2009. Hey ! It's working ! The Guide is really very clear and presents Chess in an interesting way so one doesn't get lost or overwhelmed by it. Great book to start Chess with.
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on August 12, 2006
Some of the time the instruction and material was just fine. But then something was introduced that seemed out of place or not well explained. Some rewording and some reorganizing is needed in "The complete Idiot's Guild to Chess". There is no problem with it having a lot in it, it is just how it is presented and explained. After looking around I ended up with a complete beginner's guild to chess that was directed at my age, easy to understand and had lots of material.
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on March 18, 2007
At a rather advanced age, I have decided to learn chess, but I need a lot of help so I bought The Complete Idiot's Guide. Here I uncovered an unbelievable amount of information. It answered just about every question that I had, although it did take a bit of effort. I agree with some of the other reviewers that it could have been organized better because I didn't want to wait 150+ pages to find out what was recommended for the opening. Call me a traditionalist, but I would have preferred to read about the opening at the start of the book. Wolff certainly did a good job of explaining the intricacies of chess though. The examples he includes (shown as pictures of games from famous matches) are very helpful and improved its educability. One could visualize exactly what it was he was talking about via the aide of example boards. For me the book was a good investment towards becoming an average player.
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on June 6, 2007
I've always had a fascination with chess and wanted to learn how to play for many years. My only problem and I think the problem of many other people was a fear or intimidation of the game. I was under the impression that you had to be of superior intellect to learn the game and always stayed away from learning anything about chess. I finally decided to learn about the game and read several books to try to help me learn and understand more about this great game.

Of all the books that I have read, this book has helped me the most. The rules and fundamentals of the game were explained in a manner that the chess novice could understand with diagrams included to allow you to visually see what was being explained to you. After only reading the first three chapters I was playing games of chess with friends and against my computer and actually winning a few games. I never thought I would actually be playing a game of chess but now I find it's my favorite hobby. I recommend this to anyone who has always wanted to play chess but felt that they weren't cut out for the game. You'll learn easily and find yourself playing chess in no time.
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on July 23, 2009
The last line of the first chapter states, "Anyone can easily learn how to play chess, and this book teaches you how."
The Idiot's Guide to Chess is designed to take anyone from zero to competitive in easy steps.
On reaching 40, I realized that I could no longer compete in physically exerting sports and started looking for other interests, especially something I could share with my young son. Chess took my fascination. And so started my search for a book that can go beyond explaining the rules to demystifying the first and most important elements of tactics and strategy.
If someone was looking for a book that could take any ordinary Joe off the street and prepare them for competition, this would be the book I recommend. Or at least, it would be a good place to start. For probably no one book could take you there. Chess is so profound that to properly understand it, you need the input and advice of several people and much thought and practice.
The strengths of this book are:
* It's thoroughness. With over 400 pages, it will eventually hit on every question a beginner through to an up and coming or intermediate player would ever ask. It also contains interesting anecdotes, history, and asides.
* Well organized. 21 chapters covering the range of subjects such as rules, history, tactical motives, weak squares, computers, etc. It is a good reference book. You can skip certain sections if desired, such as the rules if you already know them, and look into your areas of interest.
* User friendly. Plenty of diagrams; plenty of chess puzzles to test you and stretch your understanding; a language that is patient and easy to follow without talking down to you.
In other words, it is everything that the legendary Capablanca's `Fundamentals' is not. So if you are already chess minded, Capa's book is more compact and might get you there quicker. But it is dry and hard work to plough through. The Idiot's guide is the book I'd recommend for mere mortals.
Some weaknesses of the book:
* More effort could have been put into putting diagrams and their explanations to which they refer on the same page.
* There are no complete games to work through.
* Some chapters might leave you wanting more (this might not be such a bad thing). I found the chapter on openings useful but not satisfying. This may be why I see that the Idiot's Guide series has come up with a book specifically for chess openings.
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on January 1, 2007
If you are looking for a book that has LOTS in it, but is VERY BROKEN UP then we have have it! Qunantity BIG time. This is a great book for anyone one is not starting from scratch. This is not such a great book for someone who is not an advanced reader or who knows nothing about chess at all to start out with. It jumps around from one chapter to another and does not build exactly on one chapter to the next. I prefered "Learn Chess, A complege course" by Alander and Beach, much, much more and when I started I also got a Juniors Chess Book that was good that had a building upon each earlier chapter approach.

This book is ok for somebody who knows well the rules and the very basic stuff. Otherwise, just so, so, but takes work!
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on December 23, 2008
I started to play chess quite long ago, when I was a child. I got my first chess lessons from my dad, with whom I regulary played.
Albeit he's not a professional player and doesn't participate in tournaments he's a very aggressive player who's been playing chess for over 40 years. Having recently moved next to my dad's I got the chance to play with him regulary once again. Since I'd spent a couple of years away from playing chess and he was still a thorn in my side, I thought I had to study chess in order to beat him. So I got a couple of books, covering the basic stuff and a couple of more advanced topics like openings.

Prior to read this book I read "Chess for Dummies". This book has NOTHING to do with the Dummies...the Dummies doesn't go deep on the concepts, doesn't presents the reasons why you should or not play something and does not have any exercises. This book is exactly the opposite!

Everything is extremely well explained, covers from the basic stuff ("First lesson: this is a pieces") to more advanced material (combinations, pawn formations, etc) and has lot's of exercises at the end of each chapter that allow you to consolidate the knowledge and even to complement what was said on the chapters.

After reading Dummies I felt no improvement on my chess, but after reading this book I felt I was starting to play differently and was able to think more as a chess player than before (I was just a piece-pusher). If you are looking for an introductory book that shows a couple of directions on chess and that might act as reference for you, this is it!

The exercises have solutions on the end of the book and are thoroughly commented, explaining EVERYTHING and showing lot's of variations.

The only downside of the book is that the author keeps talking on and on about a supposed famous match between Kasparov and some Ananad guy who happened in 1995. The author was a coach for Anand on that match and as such the theme is recurring on the book, which I find a little bit annoying. But don't let that stop you from buying this book. It's really worth it!!
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on June 9, 2006
Don't listen to the guy who was off on a rant about the "Idiot"

franchise being bad for one's self esteem.

Technically, the ranting guy is right- the "Idiot" franchise IS idiotic, but this is a trivial, pedantic point and not worth wasting such a long review on. Yeah, we all know that the publisher is using the logo to try to sell books, just like McDonalds or Microsoft. Big Deal.

Fact is, Patrick Wolf is a top Grandmaster, and if you are smart, you will listen to anything he has to say about chess. If you are a beginner, there is plenty of good stuff for you here.

I own a whole bookshelf of chess books and play at around an 1800 level. There are lots of useful excercises in the book for a player of my level, too. I got it out of the library, but if I were a beginner, I would buy the book and just enjoy it.

In particular, I enjoyed the "movie" sequences; in one example, you can follow a

whole combination that Kasparov played against Anand in a world championship. These frequent "chess movies" help the novice visualize the flow of action on the board. You can go backwards and forwards.

Also, Wolff actually wrote the book himself, which is more than one can say for "Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess".
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on February 2, 2010
When I decided I wanted to learn chess three years ago, I picked up this book and never regretted it. This is the perfect book for beginners looking to learn the rules and some basic tactical information on the game. I found my level quickly jumped upon finishing the book. I found the exercises extremely helpful. It may be tempting to just glance at them, but actually navigating through them was extremely valuable to me in really practicing the concepts in order to be able to implement them during a game. This book is definitely just the start; there is so much to learn about the game and so many books out there to help with openings, strategy, etc. But this book is a fabulous introduction to chess. In addition to the practical, it also includes some historical and trivial information which makes learning the game that much more fun. Highly recommended!
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