We now look at three chess books, each of them appearing, from the cover, to be for children. The ideal ages for readers of these books, however, may surprise you.
How old should you be for these chess books?
Chess for Children
Chess for Children has been very popular on Amazon, with high praises in the customer reviews on that site. In fact, this chess book is often in the top five best-sellers, on Amazon, in this category. Yet those few readers who negatively reviewed it make one weakness known, and that relates to the age of the reader. One child said:
However, I did not fancy it as a book for someone over 8 years old (I am almost a teen). The reading level is for someone my age, but the design for someone much younger.
One adult purchaser said:
I expected this to be a book my 6 year old could sit down and read through …. but this isn’t the case. … not a very good book for what I was looking for.
One dissatisfied grandparent said:
I am a good chess player and have 3 grandchildren, 6, 4, 2 years old. I find this book neither “fish nor fowl”, so to speak, for them or for me.
The official Amazon-stated age range for Chess for Children is “9 and up,” but kids older than ten years old could be the most likely ones to dislike this book. That’s a real weakness in this publication, notwithstanding the many favorable customer reviews.
Looking past the attractive cover, Chess for Children may be best for an adult to read to a child four to seven years old. Other chess books may be better for most kids if all you want is to hand one over to a youngster.
Beat That Kid in Chess
Like the other two books here reviewed, this one is not for handing over to a five-year-old. The Amazon promotion section has the following two statements:
- Reading level for the text: teenagers and adults
- Children, teenagers, and adults can benefit from these lessons
So are children included or not? Examining the interior text reveals that a precocious eleven-year-old should have no problem reading Beat That Kid in Chess. But for average readers the ideal age ranges from teenager through adult. This is not easy reading for an average nine-year-old, although the ideas shown in the diagrams are simple enough.
Chess Tactics for Kids
The Amazon promotion section and the back cover include this:
Chess enthusiasts of all ages and levels will find this book an instructive delight.
That’s a fair statement if we remember the word enthusiasts and forget the phrase and [all] levels. The following would be more accurate:
Older precocious kids and teenagers and adults who have been playing chess for over a year and at least once a week, and who regularly beat raw beginners but lose to intermediate-level competitors, will find this book an instructive delight.
Of course no publisher is likely to put that proclamation on the back cover of a chess book, but it gives us a more accurate concept of Chess Tactics for Kids. Like Beat That Kid in Chess, it’s more for teenager and adults, in the reading level.
Skill-levels for these three chess books
It’s not only a matter of reader-age, when you buy a chess book. You can choose one based on the skill level of the reader. Here’s a simple solution:
- A child wants to learn the rules of chess – Chess for Children might work well
- You know the rules but hardly anything else about chess – Beat That Kid in Chess
- You’ve played for a long time and win sometimes – Chess Tactics for Kids could help
We’ll take a brief look at the Euwe and wishbone positions, among the many that could be considered (javelin, third-rank defense, Philidor, cage, etc.).
The greatest relative mental-exercise benefit from chess is in the early stages of learning and playing the game. Beat That Kid in Chess is for the early-beginner, the person who gains the most relative benefit from chess experience.
Only a relatively few chess books contain anything about queen-versus-rook end games, even though they are filled with tactical and strategic possibilities.
[This chess book is] for the beginner who knows the rules but not much else. Children, teenagers, and adults can benefit from these lessons and the two chapters of exercises . . .
It says [on the back cover], “This is the best book for the early beginner.” . . . what the author of this one calls a “raw beginner,” . . .