An Amateur Game

The two children competing in the following game (played in 1995 in California) had little experience with chess books. But the father of these two sisters had experience in tournament play. At this time, however, these two chess players were just beginners.

White: Rachel

Black: Susanne

1. e4     e5

2. Nc3  Nc6

3. Nf3  Nf6

Rachel Whitcomb versus Susanne Whitcomb

Diagram-1  White to move in this Four Knights opening

4. Bb5  Bb4

5. O-O  O-O

6. Nd5  . . . .

Black to move

Diagram-2  after White moved Nd5

In Diagram-2, Black should capture the white knight at d5. Capturing the e4 pawn instead—that would be a blunder, for White could then win a piece after Bxc6.

6.  . . . .  Nxe4?  Black made the blunder

After Black’s Nxe4, White should now capture the black knight at c6 with the white bishop that is now at b5. After a black pawn recaptures by taking that bishop (that will then be at c6), the white knight at d5 will then capture the black bishop at b4, winning a material advantage for White. That combination was overlooked by White, however.

7. Nxb4  Nxb4

8. Nxe5  . . . .

Black to move after Nxe5

Diagram-3  after White moved Nxe5

8. . . . .  Nf6

9. d3     d6

White can retreat the knight back to f3, but Nc4 can lose a piece: a bad choice.

10. Nc4?  . . . .  White made a bad choice.

Black has an opportunity to now win a piece after 10. . . . . a6

10. . . . .  d5?  Black missed that opportunity

11. Qe2?  . . . .  White could have returned that knight to e5

11. . . . .  dxc4  Black now gets a free knight, obtaining a material advantage

12. Bg5  c6

White to move

Diagram-4  White should now move Bxc4

13. Ba4?  . . . .  this allows Black to not play b5

13 . . . . .  cxd3  this may be almost as good as b5

The white queen is attacked. It can be saved by a move like Qd2.

14. Rfe1?  . . . .  this throws away the queen, a big blunder

14. . . . .  dxe2

15. Rxe2  Re8

White needs to avoid losing the rook at e2. It can be saved in several ways, including moving it back to e1. But it would be a big blunder to protect it with the other rook.

16. Rd1?  . . . .

White finds a different big blunder.

16. . . . .  Qxd1+

17. Re1 . . . .  the only legal choice available to White

17. . . . .  Qxe1#  Black wins by checkmate.

Both players were chess beginners, at this time in their childhoods.

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Chess Books for Beginners

To begin, we’re using novice players to mean those who have limited experience playing and observing chess games, yet they know the rules of the game.

How to Beat Your Dad at Chess

It was the best of books; it was the worst of books. For average chess beginners or the lower-intermediate-level players, how can this book simultaneously be the best and the worst? . . . The focus is narrow: checkmate patterns, so if that is what you most need to learn, I highly recommend it. . . . [but this book is not for the raw beginner]

Chess Book for Beginners

. . . the choice of a book on chess should depend on the playing level of the one who reads the book. The purchasing decision should depend a great deal on that point . . .

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