Customer Reviews: Chess Openings: Traps And Zaps (Fireside Chess Library)
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on May 11, 2013
I have had this book for about a month or so and i have just finished reading it and some other chess books. I really liked the perfect pirc and play the french, but this book was just inferior and a waste of my time.I have played chess for a long time and i am very experienced.

Teaches you tactics (but in a very bad way).
Sets up groundwork so that if you ever do get into a situation you may have deja vu and say oh yeah, i can checkmate in 3 moves muahaha!
Even grandmasters fall for traps!!!

Doesn't cover what you should play to avoid the trap.
Little Details about the trap, it just shows you a picture and how to reach the trap.
Flaws in the book! i saw great moves to counter the trap in the trap for the opposing side and i put it through computer analysis and guess who agrees with me, that's right, there were flaws and oh so many.
no comment on moves before the trap.
They repeat traps at later moves! like a trap could begin on move 3.c5! and then it would be 10 pages later a trap on move 4.c5! and i'm like ??

Consumer Warnings/Misc:
Don't memorize traps! it will make your chess games fall into a hole and you will most likely not be able to execute the traps in a normal game!
You have to buy 2 books to get both the 1.e4 and 1.d4 variations.
Winning chess Traps for juniors is a sound alternative to this book but it doesn't have as many traps compared to this book, but it is better in analysis and should be looked upon.

If you would like to contact me about this book or would like to have a video review of the book or anything else, i will be happy to respond to your requests in 6-8 hours if you post them below :)
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on November 24, 2014
A lot of people "want to get into chess" but don't really want to put the time in. The prospect of learning an opening can be daunting, and it can be hard to absorb the information out of context. This book is great because it teaches the important principles of the most common openings by showing you precisely how to exploit the most common opening mistakes. You'll quickly see why controlling the center, castling early, winning space, developing pieces in the proper order, etc. are important because you'll see exactly how to punish an opponent for violating key principles. Plus, these moves will be useful right off the bat against other beginner players - and even against mid level players who try to get cute. I recommend this book highly to anyone new to the game.
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on January 9, 2000
My father (an avid fisherman) used to say to me "Son, there are two types of fishing lures - One type is designed to catch fish, the other type is designed to catch fishermen". This book is a near shameless attempt to market useless information at unsuspecting new players who don't really know what it is they need to learn. These 'traps and zaps' type books are designed more to separate you from your hard earned dollars with snazzy marketing promises than they are designed to teach you anything usefull.
Pandolfini gives really unlikely positions where your opponent would have had to commit a string of gross blunders, and then asks you to find the 'winning move'. I suppose that this book may have some small amount of tactical merit (emphais on small), but it does a poor job at that and really does almost nothing to teach the student about how to open a chess game.
If you are new to chess, study simple tactical patterns first, and then learn some introductory positional play and basic endings. Microsoft press publishes a fine 'winning chess' series that is well written and instructive - and will do far more for the novice player than anything that Pandalphini has ever published could.
The majority of Pandalphini's works should only be handled with a pair of 40 foot tongs and a radiation suit. He and Eric Schiller are chief contenders for the crown of 'Most Shameless, Misleading, and Least Value Providing Chess Instruction of the Decade'.
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on August 16, 2015
Having taken the time to go through both volumes of “Chess Openings: Traps and Zaps,” I’m left trying to understand what the value of these books is. Pandolfini’s one of my authors, and I never miss columns or puzzles, whether online or in “Chess Life,” etc.; and I’ve read nearly all of his books. These volumes mystify me, because he general produces material of such clear value that these are far from his typical quality of work. An important points: if you hated these books, don’t think that that reflects the author’s caliber, because it doesn’t. With that being said, I think it is simple enough for me to suggest that you forget about “Traps and Zaps,” and get something else to help you study up. I’ll say a word or two more about what I was hoping to get out of the books, so you have some idea why I am very disappointed.

What I was looking for was a collection of tactical responses to common mistakes in openings. There are a couple of those, such as Noah’s Ark traps, and so on. But the books were largely simplistic puzzle books with bonehead moves, and it is left to the reader to figure out why the move was a mistake. The emphasis in the title and on the back matter is openings, but the book is a remedial puzzle book, and many of the puzzles don’t have thematic tactical motifs in them. Basically, if you are given one of these volumes for free and have nothing else to study, or if they are the only chess books your local library possesses (and shame on them, by the way, if that is the case), then going through them isn’t a complete waste of time; however, I can’t imagine a reason I’d recommend these books to anyone.
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on December 2, 1999
A number of the examples require your opponent to make such a bad move that the situation is unlikely to happen; or if he's that weak, you would likely win anyway without studying the book. Some of the examples are useful as real traps that can occur. The well known Petroff's Defence trap for instance. The examples are given 1 per page in classic Pandolfini style which makes each idea easy to study. One may find the attacking tactics, especially how to spot a weakness useful. This book involves an number of the most popular e pawn openings only.
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on June 6, 2000
After having read this book by Pandolfini I was heavily disappointed. Playing through his first trap I noticed that there was a flaw in the diagram. THE FIRST DIAGRAM CONTAINS A FLAW! Does the publisher not have anyone who reads through the first print of a book?
After the first flaw many others followed, e.g. (1) Flaws in the daigrams (2) Flaws in the notations (One of the flaws in the section about the Urusov: "You can win in this position by playing Bf4! Or you can win equally impressive by Bf4!" That sure is equally!) (3) Diagrams on succeeding pages are switched
This book must have been published to keep the reader awake, for I cannot think of another reason for so many mistakes in a book. It surtainly kept me awake in anger.
A serious matter as well is that on the cover it cannot be found that the traps/zaps-book only contains traps in the Open Games. Some people may be looking for just that subject (me for instance), but I can imagine what a disappointment it must be to buy something else than you expected.
For some people (real beginners) this book can be fun to read. They can ovoid these traps and punish others with them, but stay awake, because nasty flaws will cross your path!
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on November 21, 1999
This book is practically useless. The positions that appear in this book only occur if your opponent is just terrible. These positions do not occur as the result of an opening trap that one may commonly fall into. Instead they are the product of (often multiple) random and erroneous opening moves. The positions really are too specific to be helpful to any chess player.
It could only be used as a book of tactical positions. However, even if this book was used as such, it would still be very poor in regards to improving a player's tactical ability because the positions all occur in the opening, instead of the middlegame when most combinations are possible. For tacical training, one is better off buying a book of tactical positions.
In order to learn about the traps in an opening, one has to study a book on that specific opening. If you want to learn an opening with a lot of traps, maybe you should try the Smith-Morra Gambit: 1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 (for example: ...dxc3 4.Nxc3 d6 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.Bc4 Nf6! 7.e5! Nxe5? (...PxP 8.Qxd8+ Nxd8 {taking with the knight is better than the king because of 9.Ng5, threatening Nxf7+ forking the king and rook} 9.Nb5 Rb8 10.Nxe5 {threatening mate} ...e6 11.Nxa7 When white has regained his material and has an advantage due to his queenside pawn majority) 8.NxN PxN? 9.Bxf7+! Kxf7 10.QxQ white wins)
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on August 1, 2002
A horrible book. Although pretty cheap ..., it really doesn't help you. This book contains 202 different "Traps and Zaps" grouped by different openings. Another bad thing about it is that this book only does the double king pawn openings (1. e4 e5). So it is rather limited in that respect. Each trap/zap has the name of the opening, name of the tactic to be used, all the moves that led to the position, a scenario that sets up the tactic, and an interpretation of what happened. Also each one has its own diagram. I know what your thinking, "Well that doesn't sound all that bad..." Trust me it is. Each trap/zap that Pandolfini used was because of a horrible error, that average players wouldn't do. These errors are all blunders (a horrible mistake due to the player not thinking carefully). An example of this would be moving your queen to where it could be taken easily without a problem. So after such blunders, the average player would see the mistake and make their opponent "pay the piper." So all Pandolfini does in show you how to make the opponent "pay the piper" even when it's already way too obvious. Another bad thing about this book is that it has so many errors. On the very first diagram, it's missing a knight! And the knight is like the main argument! Since this is geared for beginners (even though it says for the average player), all the errors will only confuse them. This will also get them very frustrated and might even turn them off of chess forever. That is unacceptable. One of the good things about this book is that Pandolfini used lots of quotes from famous chess players and scholars. At the end of every page there is usually a new quote, which is cool. So I'm sorry but I really disliked this book.
Pretty Cheap
A lot of Cool Quotes
Easy to Read and Eye Friendly (cool cover too)
Only Has Double King Pawn Openings
All the Traps and Zaps are Because of Serious Errors
Doesn't Teach You Much, if anything at all
Tons and Tons of Errors (Diagram and Text)
Summary: The only reason to buy this book is if you like random quotes. That's all. There's not even that many either (maybe 50 - 100). I seriously regret buying this book. So if you have all the good books and just want something that will look pretty on the shelf, go for it. Otherwise, DON'T GET THIS BOOK.
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on June 2, 2003
This is a great book for drilling opening tactics. Just flip it open, look at the diagram, and figure out the best move. Typically, the opponent has just played a horrible move which allows you to decimate his forces immediately.
Why is this useful? Can you use these ideas to ensnare your own opponents? Probably not, and that's not smart chess anyway. This book is useful primarily for improving your pattern recognition of the various attacking motifs in the opening -- SO THAT YOU CAN AVOID THEM!
Sure, if you play another novice, it can be fun to look for ways to induce him into one of these blunders, but eventually, as your opposition improves, you will become frustrated at falling into these same traps yourself.
After you spend some time on this book, you will begin to notice when your opponent can fork your pieces, or win material with a sudden check by his Queen, etc.
Pandolfini's commentary is sometimes helpful as advice on avoiding the traps, and it is always enthusiastic.
Though the others are good too, this book is the best of Pandolfini's trap books for beginners. These are all dual-king pawn openings (1.e4 e5) which typically produce the highly tactical games that beginners can learn the most from. The traps are comprehensible but not obvious for beginners. And the format here is somehow the most pleasing.
Only 4 stars b/c of errata, but the errors do not really get in the way.
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on November 13, 2000
This book is written for the novice user. It presents the e4-e5 openings rather well, and shows you how to play the openings. More accurately, it describes common mistakes in judgement and demonstrates why they are bad.
More advanced users, or serious students of chess, may want more details on the openings...variations, etc. than are presented in this book. It's worth the price.
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