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OK, one book that I think is rather bad: "Bobby Fischer teaches chess". This book is too elementary even for those who don't know how the pieces move. In the foreword Fischer said something like this: "I hope you will be a better chess player after having read this book. At least, I was!" Hmmm... wasn't this book released the same year Fischer become the world champion? Me too could have been a world champion back then!
I read this book when I was 7. There's no doubt in my mind that this book actually improved my game far more than any other book. Maybe that's because there's a ton of room for improvement at that age, but maybe not.
This visual style is engaging for youngsters in a way that other chess books definitely are not (my father had a Reinfeld book as well, and I hated that book at 7). More importantly, it teaches beginning players how to mate, and it does so backwards, like learning simple endgames and moving to more complex ones. Find the mate in one. Find the mate in two. Three, four, five...by the end you can easily see thematic mates of half a dozen moves or more.
It changed me from a 7-year-old that could beat 10-year olds with knight forks and discovered checks to a player that could beat 15-year-olds playing the KID ;). It teaches you to go for mate, how to recognize the elements of a winning sacrificial combo, etc. It teaches you to construct/build mates.
I distinctly remember playing for 3rd place at a tournament that year, and having to figure out OTB how to force a win with K+2R vs. K+R (it had never come up before), and that I would never have figured out how to convert the win without the principles I learned from Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess.
There's no way this can be considered the "worst" chess book. For the correct target audience, it's arguably the best book out there.
Agree. I'm going through this book with someone to teach them chess. It's amazingly good. I had my doubts because of comments about it "only teaching back rank mates". It's so much more than that. Might be one of the best beginning chess books ever.
BFTC isn't one of the worst books - not by a long chalk. I also think it's a pretty decent beginning chess book. I like the "programmed learning" format. But it is quite limited in the type of material covered. Is there anything about the endgame? Openings? The full range of tactics (including forks)? Counting? Elementary strategy?
This kind of question turns out to be pointless, as is the analogous question about the worst film ever made, because the worst of anything is usually so obscure that the person asking the question has never heard of the examples that responders give. Also, "best" and "worst" have to be defined for a good answer.
Having said my preliminaries, the book that came to mind when I read this thread was one I saw in a local library called "Chess for Tigers." Twice I picked it up and couldn't even figure out what it was about. One chapter was on trying to win by swindling. Two chapters went on for so many pages about Tigers and "Heffalumps" that I didn't have the patience to read through the paragraphs even to understand the point. The author seemed to be bragging about wins at his local chess club so I thought maybe the book was written only for them. Another chapter promoted a philosophy that is exactly opposite of the advice I've heard, since it said to play against the person and not against his/her moves, so I wrote off the book as ridiculous and unintelligble. I did finally check out the book just to try to figure out its point, and it did have some good advice for club players, but I still don't like its writing style or structure.
(p. 9) 2 Play the man--not the board Only an automaton plays the same way against every opponent. Thepractical chess-player looks out for the strengths and weaknesses of hisopponents, and goes out of his way to capitalize on the weaknesses.
(p. 42) 5 How to catch Rabbits Do you know Tigers catch Rabbits? Do they rush after them and tear them limb from limb? Or do they stalk them through the bush beforefinally creeping up on them when their resistance is low? The trouble with the first method is that even Rabbits have sharp teeth,and when cornered can be surprisingly ferocious. So a sensible Tiger takesno chances--he patiently stalks his Rabbit, and when the poor thing makesa bolt for freedom, he pounces and kills it swiftly and easily.
(p. 51) 6 How to trap Heffalumps Heffalumps are mighty strong--stronger than Tigers. On open territorya Tiger doesn't stand much of a chance against a Heffalump; he can't even diga Very Deep Pit to trap it, because Tigers aren't much good at digging.What he can do, however, is to entice the Heffalump on to swampyground and hope it falls into a bog and gets sucked underground by thequagmire. The only trouble is that Tigers are even more prone to gettingstuck in bogs than Heffalumps are, and they're not much good atstruggling out of them. But what is the poor Tiger to do, when faced witha big strong Heffalump? He can put up a fight neither on open plains norin the jungle; so his only chance is to head for a swamp and hope that theHeffalump gets stuck before he does. If the Heffalump had any sense hewould keep well away from the swamp, but Heffalumps, in spite of theirgreat strength, are not always sensible when it comes to staying away fromswamps.
(p. 66) I'm one of the luckiest players around, and a notorious swindler. WhenI get a lost position, my opponent always seems to blunder and allow meto escape. Well, that's not quite true, since I do lose sometimes, but I feelfully qualified to initiate you into the art of being lucky, and shall have nocompunction in using my own games to illustrate how it's done.
Webb, Simon. 2005. Chess for Tigers. London: Batsford.
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