Chess Tactics Workbook for Kids

Chess Tactics Workbook for Kids : John Nunn

Chess Tactics Workbook for Kids
Chess Tactics Workbook for Kids

John Nunn has written around thirty books on chess and many of these are some of the finest chess books published in any language : Secrets of Pawnless Endings (1994, Batsford) easily is a candidate for the all time list. John is a director of Gambit Publications Ltd. together with Murray Chandler and Graham Burgess.

GM John Nunn
GM John Nunn

Chess Tactics Workbook for Kids is the sixth (a seventh and eighth are scheduled for January 2020 publication) in a highly successful series of “for Kids” books. Indeed, we recently reviewed Chess Opening Traps for Kids. The Workbook theme is likely to be extended other “for Kids” style books from Gambit Publications.

This workbook is a follow-up to the original (2003) and much liked Chess Tactics for Kids by Murray Chandler :

Chess Tactics for Kids
Chess Tactics for Kids

Chess Tactics Workbook for Kids is robustly (!) hardbound in a convenient size such that weights are not need to keep it propped open (unlike some A5 paperbacks) meaning studying with this book is more convenient than with many books. The layout and printing is clear (as you would expect with Gambit) with numerous diagrams at key moments in each, relatively short, game. In essence, players under 18 (for whom this book is intended) will find it easy to dip in out of and it can be used without a board (although BCN and most chess teachers and coaches would always recommend following each game on a “proper” board).

As you would expect with Gambit, the notation is English short form algebraic using figurines for pieces. A previous criticism (ibid) has been addressed in that each diagram has a symbolic “whose move it is” indicator. Each diagram does have coordinates which are very welcome for the younger junior reader.

The book is divided into 13 chapters as follows :

  1. Fork
  2. Pin
  3. Skewer
  4. Deflection and Decoy
  5. Discovered Attack
  6. Discovered and Double Check
  7. Removing the Guard
  8. In-Between Moves
  9. Trapped Piece
  10. Pawn Promotion
  11. Opening and Closing Lines
  12. Forcing a Draw
  13. Test Papers

Chapters 1 – 12 each contain a description of the type of tactic that is subject of the chapter followed by 20 – 40 exercises for the reader followed by a set of more challenging “Tougher Positions” and then, interestingly, by a set of “Does the Tactic Work ?” exercises. We appreciated the latter especially since this appears to be a novel feature. These are excellent blunder prevention tests since they help to slow typical impetuous juniors down who often move first and then engage their brain.

It was clear when working through the easier set of exercises that the author had thought carefully about their sequence since the reader should (we did for sure !) notice the level of difficulty increasing slowly but surely. The solutions are remote from the puzzles nicely avoiding the “accidentally seeing the solution” issue one gets with lesser books. The solutions themselves are clear and concise and instructional in their own right.

Here is a particularly satisfying example (we thought so anyway !) from the Skewer chapter (Tougher Positions #23) *solution at bottom of this review

We particularly enjoyed the chapters on “Trapped Piece” and “Forcing a Draw” as these are less usual to find in books of this kind.

Here is a pleasing (well, we liked it here in the BCN editorial office) example (#30) from the “Does the Tactic Work?” section of the skewers chapter :

@and the solution is at the foot of this review

We enjoyed working through the chapters and emerged with a feeling of attending a mental gymnasium : exhausted but refreshed.

Chapter 13 (“Test Papers”) puts all of your newly learnt skills to a full and proper test since there are no themes, hints or clues of what to do : just like a real game !

One negative comment we would make concerns the cover. “Never judge a book by its cover” we are told and you might look at this book cover and think it was suitable for say primary aged children. We would say not but we would suggest it suitable from secondary aged children. We would say strong juniors from 12 upwards would read this book and enjoy it.

As we previously mentioned in our review of Chess Opening Traps for Kids, The title and cover might, perhaps, put off the adult club player market. However, the content is totally suitable for adult club players upto say 150 ECF or 1800 Elo.

In summary, we recommend this book to any junior or adult who wishes to improve their tactical vision and results. It makes an excellent stocking filler for young players and the young at heart !

John Upham, Cove, Hampshire, November 11th 2019

John Upham
John Upham

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 128 pages
  • Publisher: Gambit Publications Ltd (22 July 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1911465317
  • ISBN-13: 978-1911465317
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 1.3 x 22.9 cm

Official web site of Gambit Publications Ltd.

Chess Tactics Workbook for Kids
Chess Tactics Workbook for Kids

*solution to Skewer exercise #23 : “Normally this material would lead to a draw, but White can win with a brilliant tactical idea : 1.Bd6!! (the only defence to the threat of 2.Qd3# is to take the bishop) 1…Qxd6 2. Qd3+ Kc5 (2…Ke5 3.Qg3+ is a mirror image) 3.Qa3+ and the queen falls.”

@solution to Skewer exercise #30 : “It seems impossible to save the game because after both side promote White has a skewer, but there is a miraculous defence : 1…g2 2.c8=Q g1=Q 3.Qc5+ Ke2! and further checks don’t help White, while after 4.Qxg1 Black is stalemated.”

Best wishes WGM Sheila Jackson

WGM Sheila A Jackson, photograph by John Upham
WGM Sheila A Jackson, photograph by John Upham

Best wishes to WGM Sheila Jackson on here birthday, this day, (November 11th) in 1957.

From Wikipedia :

Sheila A Jackson (born 11 November 1957) is an English chess player who holds the title of Woman Grandmaster (WGM, 1988). She is a four-time winner of the British Women’s Chess Championship (1975, 1978, 1980, 1981).

Sheila Jackson by Cathy Rogers
Sheila Jackson by Cathy Rogers

n 1970, Sheila Jackson won the British Chess Youth Championship in the age group U14, but in 1971 she repeated this success in the age group U18. Sheila Jackson participated in many British Women’s Chess Championships and four times won this tournament (1975, 1978, 1980, 1981), but in 1977, after the additional match, she was second[1].

Sheila during a Lloyds Bank Masters
Sheila during a Lloyds Bank Masters

Sheila Jackson played for England in the Women’s Chess Olympiads:[2]

In 1974, at first reserve board in the 6th Chess Olympiad (women) in Medellín (+2, =2, -5),
In 1976, at second board in the 7th Chess Olympiad (women) in Haifa (+5, =2, -2) and won the team silver medal,
In 1978, at second board in the 8th Chess Olympiad (women) in Buenos Aires (+5, =3, -4),
In 1980, at seconde board in the 9th Chess Olympiad (women) in Valletta (+5, =4, -3),
In 1982, at second board in the 10th Chess Olympiad (women) in Lucerne (+7, =3, -2) and won the individual silver medal,
In 1984, at second board in the 26th Chess Olympiad (women) in Thessaloniki (+5, =7, -2),
In 1986, at second board in the 27th Chess Olympiad (women) in Dubai (+6, =2, -4),
In 1988, at third board in the 28th Chess Olympiad (women) in Thessaloniki (+6, =2, -3),
In 1990, at third board in the 29th Chess Olympiad (women) in Novi Sad (+5, =4, -3),
In 1992, at third board in the 30th Chess Olympiad (women) in Manila (+3, =6, -2).
Sheila Jackson played for England in the European Team Chess Championships:[3]

In 1992, at second board in the 1st European Team Chess Championship (women) in Debrecen (+0, =3, -1).
In 1981, she was awarded the FIDE International Women Master (WIM) title and received the FIDE International Women Grandmaster (WGM) title seven year later.

In 1991, in Subotica Sheila Jackson participated in the Women’s World Chess Championship Interzonal Tournament where she stayed at 31st place[4].

Since 2000, participate in chess tournaments rarely[5].

WGM Sheila A Jackson
WGM Sheila A Jackson

Remembering Fred Dewhirst Yates (16-I-1884, 11-XI-1932)

Fred Dewhirst Yates
Fred Dewhirst Yates

We remember Fred (not Frederick) Dewhirst (not Dewhurst) Yates who passed, this day (November 11th) in 1932.

From Wikipedia : (

Yates almost won the British Championship in 1911, when he tied for first place with Henry Atkins, but lost the play-off. He went on to secure the title in 1913, 1914, 1921, 1926, 1928 and 1931.[2]

Despite considerable domestic success, his record in international tournaments did not do him justice. Often the winner against his strongest opponents, he would then lose to those at the bottom of the table. This was particularly apparent at the Budapest tourney of 1926.

His lack of consistency was attributed to poor health and loss of stamina. A constant hacking cough went unchecked, as his funds did not stretch to a holiday in warmer climes; the advice given by his doctor. He was also subjected to journalistic pressures, frequently reporting on the tournaments in which he was playing. Yet, dedicating himself to the playing side of chess would have earned him insufficient sums to make a living. A number of his contemporaries believed that his talent could have placed him among the world championship contenders, had his circumstances been different. Nevertheless, in his time, he defeated most of his illustrious adversaries, the most notable exceptions being Emanuel Lasker and José Raúl Capablanca. His victory against Alexander Alekhine at Karlsbad in 1923 won the brilliancy prize, while his win against Milan Vidmar at San Remo in 1930 was described by Alekhine as the finest game played since the war.[3]

Fred Dewhirst Yates, Jacoby Archive
Fred Dewhirst Yates, Jacoby Archive

As a journalist he was the chess columnist of the Manchester Guardian and with William Winter, the co-author of Modern Master Play (1929). He wrote accounts of two world championship encounters; those between Alekhine and Capablanca, and Alekhine and Bogoljubow.[4]

In team competition, he played at the first, third and fourth Olympiads, representing the ‘British Empire’ team. On each occasion, he made a plus score and at London 1927, earned a team bronze medal.[5]

His life ended prematurely, when a leaking gas pipe caused him to asphyxiate during his sleep.[6]

According to the inscription on Yates’ gravestone,[7] his birth name was actually Fred Dewhirst Yates. However, throughout his chess career he was known by the name at the head of this article or simply as F.D. Yates, both of which featured in his posthumously published, part-biographical, ‘My Best Games’ Collection.[8]

Fred Dewhirst Yates
Fred Dewhirst Yates