Update (Dec 3, 2015):
My new paperback book Beat That Kid in Chess is for the early beginner, the player who knows the rules of chess but almost nothing else about the royal game (published Sep 2, 2015). This chess book is now available on Amazon and with other online retailers.
It’s for a wide range of readers: adults, teenagers, and some older children. The title implies a narrow focus, but the age of your opponent, in a game of chess, is actually unlimited. Whoever your opponent, of whatever age, this book can help you in your over-the-board competitions in the royal game.
How does this new publication teach the raw beginner better than previous books for the novice chess player? Beat That Kid in Chess uses NIP, a new teaching method that naturally guides the mind of the reader to grasp basic tactics. Nearly-identical positions are used systematically in this chess book, perhaps the first publication to use NIP in an organized, dependable way. (For more on this, look further down in this post.)
Here is the table of contents in the 194-page book:
Here’s a paragraph from the middle of the introduction:
You may notice that many diagrams are nearly identical, something rarely encountered in most chess books. You need to get used to those small differences that are so important in chess games. How critical can be the smallest difference! This approach can help you to think like a tournament player, in the sense of diving into a chess position as if it had never come up before, a unique landscape for you to explore.
I’ve read and studied dozens of chess books in the past 53 years. I don’t recall any of them that included nearly-identical positions for training. Many of the authors were masters or grandmasters of chess, but few (if any) of them likely had much experience in teaching or tutoring students except for intermediate and advanced chess students. In addition, few chess authors are professional writers.
I may not be able beat grandmasters over the board, but in writing a book for chess beginners few grandmasters can compete with me. One evidence for this shows itself in the nearly-identical chess positions in my new book.
Why show a chess student a position that’s almost the same as one that was already shown to that student? Many small details can make an infinite difference in chess, and these can be created in nearly-identical positions. Consider what can happen when a book has no such near-duplicates: Students can unconsciously memorize general appearances and fail to look carefully, and failure to look at a position with care often leads to losing a game.
The reader need not even know that NIP is working on that player’s side, for the tactics and good chess habits are learned naturally. This has the added advantage of allowing this moderate-length book to have more value, as if it were a long book: You can get through it more quickly but still have the opportunity to review it later, for maximum training benefit, if you like. Either way, you’ll learn to see a chess position tactically, more like an expert or master would comprehend that position.
The Background of Jonathan David Whitcomb
I come from a family of generations of authors and teaching professionals. My tutoring experiences with chess beginners extend back to the mid-1960’s: I know what the beginner most needs, to quickly learn to win chess games, and I know how to teach it.
Beat That Kid in Chess – for the early beginner to win, possibly the best chess book for beginners because of the systematic use of nearly-identical positions (NIP)
Test scores improved by 17.3% for students regularly engaged in chess classes, compared with only 4.6% for children participating in other forms of enriched activities.
What is the Philidor position? It depends on what kind of endgame you’re talking about. With queen versus rook, it looks something like this . . .
In the endgame position on the right, white has many ways of missing a win. One set of moves will win, but just one slip- up will allow the defender to avoid loss.
“Chess dramatically improves a child’s ability to think rationally . . . increases cognitive skills . . . improves children’s communication skills and aptitude in recognizing patterns . . .”
. . . clear understanding of the influences of chess pieces can here make an apparently difficult problem easy to solve.