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Elements of Chess: An Essential Guide to the Game Paperback – October 4, 2012
About the Author
Visit matthewlowes.com and follow the author at twitter.com/matthewlowes.
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The book is not comprehensive and that is by design. The objective of the book is to introduce the reader to the complexities of Chess by dividing them into easily comprehensible sections. Lowes does not present the basic rules of the game, it is assumed that the reader is familiar with these. But invaluable information regarding some of the more complicated rules and common misconceptions about these is presented very clearly. Because of the importance of clock time in the modern day game, an entire section is devoted to discussion on how clock time is incorporated in various versions of the game.
The book starts off by discussing common chess notation and commonly used vocabulary. This reader found this discussion valuable particularly because with the understanding of just this chapter, a wide range of outside material became accessible instantly. The book then moves on to distinguish the different phases of the game by their characteristics, how to identify these and what the relevant strategies and tactics are for each of these. Lowes very intelligently discusses openings and checkmates first, then moves onto chapters on tactics - broadly looking at what overall intentions should be at various stages on the chess board. He then discusses the significance of various pieces and how they can be used to a players advantage with simple but extremely useful examples. The section on the significance of pawns, possibly one of the most underestimated pieces on the board by beginners, was very illuminating for this reader. A chapter on strategy and then one on the phase of endings round up the main content of the book. This reader found the chapter on tactics which elaborates upon the various short-term goals one should keep in mind while playing to and how these can be utilized given the various strengths and weaknesses of the different pieces presented in the subsequent chapter to be the most informative and useful.
The book is wonderfully structured so that going through the book enhances ones understanding and intuitive abilities of playing the game very fast. There is a useful glossary that can be used to figure out what the jargons one usually stumbles upon in literature exactly mean. Finally, Lowes presents a number of classic games as instances and it is a highly skill enhancing exercise to work through these games armed with the understanding that "Elements of Chess" delivers unwaveringly.
All in all, this is probably one of the best books for the beginner who wants to fathom the depths of the game but finds material in the classic literature terse. The very lucid presentation and breaking down material into small manageable chunks of information is very helpful to the cause of preventing the reader from feeling overburdened with information at any time. This simple, 125 page book strikes home in its ability to introduce all major dimensions of the game in a way that makes transitioning onto the classic pieces of Chess literature much easier. I highly recommend this book for all beginners, or for all players who want to get serious with their game but find other material too complicated.