Monday, September 17, 2007

Rook's Rudimentary Resources - Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess

Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess has gotten a lot of criticism, from complaints that it was "ghost written" (i.e. Margulies and Mosenfelder wrote it while Bobby just lent his name) to condemnation that this book doesn't really teach you chess. I don't disagree - both these criticisms are well taken - and yet I still think it is ONE of the best books to read for the absolute chess novice.

Without an understanding of checkmate, most beginner's lose track of the ultimate object of the game and aimlessly move their pieces around or gleefully try to capture ever piece within range. Reading this book, after having learned how the pieces move, will help focus a new player on the real goal of the game - the ultimate checkmate of the opponent's king.

So let's be clear about this. If you are looking for a single book that "teaches chess" this is NOT it. This book does not even TOUCH on the subjects of algebraic notation or opening principles or simple endgame positions. If you already know a bit about chess and what checkmate is and how to do it, again, this book is NOT for you. However, if you have JUST learned how the pieces move, and you need to understand ultimate the object of the game - checkmate and how it is achieved - THIS IS the book for you.

The book really should be titled Bobby Fischer Teaches Checkmate. This would be an accurate title that would squelch the main (and truthful) criticism of the book - that it fails to teach you all you need to know to play chess. But it does do a great job of making sure you understand what checkmate is and how it is accomplished. You also learn some of the basic tactics - pins and forks and the like - that are put to use in the process of giving checkmate.

So learn how the pieces move first and then, with the aid of this excellent book, learn the goal of the game. Once you have done that, you can then proceed to learn more of the basics with a general purpose instructional book on chess. More on those books later...

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