Customer Reviews: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Chess (2nd Edition)
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on December 14, 1999
If you are just starting out and just learned the moves a few days ago ... or you have been playing tournament chess for a couple of years and you still are not where you want to be; THIS IS THE BOOK YOU HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR!
I am a Life-Master. I bought this book to teach out of. I was not supposed to enjoy it. God forbid, a beginner's book should teach me anything! But this is exactly what happenned.
Not since Capablanca's Primer and Chess Fundamentals has there been such a book. A book like this comes along once every 20 years. Believe me, I have sufferred through enough of the bad ones, I appreciate the good ones.
If you are trying to improve in chess and you can read, this book will help you. Hint: Set up a board and study every position in this book. You will get the maximum benefit from it.
GM and U.S. Champ Pat Wolff will make you a better player. Get it. Buy two. Give one to a friend.
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on December 14, 2000
This book is MUCH better than the Chess for Dummies book. This one gets into tactics, strategy, analysis and is STILL easy to read and understand. Where the Dummies book teaches how the pieces are moved, this one suggests ways to play effectively. There are many excercises at the end of each chapter that really contribute to your understanding of the subject. It doesn't go too in depth on opening strategies, or endgames, or any specific part of the game, but it gives you adequate knowledge of everything. That sounds impossible, but then I read this book. Besides, they have whole other books on those subjects so they don't have to cut corners. If you want a book to teach you the absolute basics, buy the Dummies book. If you want not so much detail on how the pieces move, but more on how to move them, this is the one. This one's a keeper.
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on May 20, 2002
There are basically two types of chess players. Those who know how the pieces move and play maybe once a year or so. Then there are people who study the game and take it more seriously. Whenever someone wants to make the jump from the first to the second stage I always recommend this book as the first stepping stone.
There are lots of chess books out there, but this one provides a great gentle introduction to all of the important phases of chess as a hobby. After reading this book you will not feel intimidated talking to a chess geek, who will talk in a special language such as "he played the Sicilian against me".
If you have to choose between this book and Chess for Dummies I would recommend this one more. I liked the content and humor better, and found it more useful in general. This book is not just about how the pieces move, and will get you started towards playing serious chess and enjoying in more ways than you originally might think.
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on February 28, 2000
Legend has it that a former world chess champion, the late Mikhail Tal, used to skim through beginners' books in search of ideas. If Tal were alive to read this one, I'm sure he'd be thoroughly impressed.
Patrick Wolff describes the game more completely than any single writer in any single text has done before. I especially like it for its separate sections on strategy and tactics, and Wolff's distinguishing between the two. (Sometimes even I forget which is which.) And I truly appreciate his advice on how to study chess openings and endings. If this book has a weakness, it's that it might be filled with too much information for the beginner to absorb at once. But, hey, better too much than not enough, right? In that case, I'd advise keeping this book on the side of the chessboard as a ready reference.
I admit that I had my doubts about this book after I noticed on the cover photo that White's king and queen are not standing on their correct starting squares. I guess it pays to not judge a book by its cover; Wolff has provided a gem of a primer. I wholeheartedly recommend it.
FYI, my all-time favorite beginning chess book is "The Right Way to Play Chess" by David Brine Pritchard "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Chess" didn't quite unseat Pritchard's work as tops on my list. But it came mighty darned close.
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on April 13, 2001
This book is wonderful for anyone, from the person who has never played chess to someone who knows how to play but wants to become serious. The authors spend a little time on the basic rules of the game and a description of how the pieces move. Most of their effort, however, is expended on the basic tactics and strategies involved in a more sophisticated game of chess. The book provides all the information necessary to become a good player. Most importantly, it accomplishes this goal with lots of illustrations showing how the board changes, move-by-move. As a result, the book is exceptionally easy to understand. You do not need to sit with a chess board or computer, plotting moves, to follow and understand the authors. If you are a relatively new player and want to by one book, this is it.
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on November 14, 2000
I've been playing chess on and off for about 15 years now. Only recently did I decide to start formalizing my tactics and strategies. In the past, I would simply wing it against my opponents and most of the time I would win, simply because I had more experience than them. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Chess is a well-written book. It has plenty of board diagrams showing all the rules, tactics, and strategies that most novice to intermediate players can appreciate. What was really helpful for me was that it actually described and categorized moves that I've always used, but never knew the names of.
The book is extremely easy to follow. I usually pick it up and read a little before I play my computer. I've noticed an increase in my performance in a very short time. It's becoming easier and easier to beat the machine!
Definitely worth the investment for all fans of the wonderful game of chess...
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on July 14, 1997
Given the vast graveyard of beginning chess books authored by

the game's grandmasters, including those written by their ghosts

(e.g., "Lessons in Chess," by Garry Kasparov and the Kasparov

Chess Academy), these most accomplished of players would be

well advised to heed the adage "those who can do, those who

can't teach" -- with the exception of Patrick Wolff.

This book not only educates and entertains the aspiring player,

but relates enough of the International Grandmaster's personal

experience and candid opinions to make it an interesting read

for the more accomplished player. Over a lifetime of playing

chess and reading dry and mistake-ridden chess books, this is

not only the best beginner-type book I've come across, but one

of the better chess books, period.

Tim Sweeney (
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on December 1, 2004
Well, I feel like an idiot since I feel I could have done a better job writing this book. My issue is that it is written with an assumption that you with a minimual amount of information you can grasp everything - then move on to the next step without sufficient explanation. So what did I do, get another book on the basics. And boom! It did the job - Chess For Dummies wasn't it - it was Learn Chess Volumes One and Two by Alexander and Beach. These British chaps knew how to teach beginners with a reasonable IQ.
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on June 25, 2006
I already knew how to play the game pretty well, but i read this book when i wanted to jump back in. It's great. It teaches all the basics and then leads you to more advanced topics. It's an amazing beginner's book. IGNORE THE RANT BELOW - it sounds like he has never even read the book. It's very instructive. I wish I read this when i first learned chess - it puts you off to a great start. He even includes follow-up books that he thinks will help people who want to know more. This book is so much better than Chess for Dummies. I skimmed through that one and just didn't get a good vibe.

If you're new to chess or even just really bad at it, this is a great choice. After this, you can only go up.
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on May 5, 2003
Despite its unfortunate title, this is one of the best chess books I have ever seen, and a bargain for its price considering how much there is in it. Having been a casual player forever, but only recently getting (somewhat) serious, I found that this book massively helped me. Wolff does an excellent job explaining key concepts and they quickly become obvious and intuitive once you grasp them. The exercises at the end of each chapter are very helpful, and there are a lot of them. The book is easy to read and not technically overwhelming, there are a lot of useful diagrams, and the book can be useful from anyone ranging from a talented beginner to a moderately good player.
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