New in Chess (Alkmaar, The Netherlands) sent me a review copy of its 2010 book Checkmate for children: Mastering the most important skill in chess by Kevin Stark (translated from the German by Peter Boel). Beginners must know how all the chessmen move before starting this book. This book could be helpful for beginners ages ten and older (or younger children with an adult’s help) for three reasons.
First, I think the chess content is arranged logically. The book begins with the board and notation. Other early sections teach mates in one with king and one or two chessmen, for example king and rook versus a king, or king and two bishops against a king. Later sections show checkmates more typical of middlegames, such as a queen and bishop checkmating a castled king. Most checkmates are mate in one, but the book builds up to some multiple-move mating problems. Second, I like the quizzes at the end of each section. Third, I like the end-of-book, 60-question “Great Test,” which features mates from all earlier sections. Both the quizzes and the Great Test have answer keys with explanations about why the solution is correct and why certain tempting alternative moves are wrong. I anticipate photocopying some of the quizzes or the Great Test for use with my high school chess club students and my K-8 grade chess campers. I would change two things about this book if I were the publisher. First, I would make sure that boldface, chess-specific terms are in the Glossary. For example, “mating motifs” is in boldface in the text. But when you turn to the Glossary, “mating motifs” is not there. Second, I would use algebraically-labeled diagrams, especially on the quizzes. Since readers are asked to give their answers in notation, why not help them by including the letters and numbers on the sides of the diagrams?