The World's Most Instructive Amateur Game Book about to ship

The World's Most Instructive Amateur Game Book about to ship

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My 11th book, "The World's Most Instructive Amateur Game Book", is about ready to arrive at the publisher, Mongoose Press ( You can order via that website, or the book will be available most everywhere soon (now at Amazon: ).

I am very happy with this effort; it is my second-largest hardcopy book (only A Guide to Chess Improvement is longer), and represents quite a bit of work by me, my editor, and my reviewers. The book is dedicated to one of those reviewers, my late student Joe Casey (

The idea for the book originated from my popular video series; of the 180+ videos about 2/3 are amateur slow games submitted by viewers. Of these I chose about 20 of the most instructive and popular games as a basis for the book. However, I wanted a reasonable selection of "non-video" games as well, so I found and added 10 instructive games not in the video series, for a total of 30. To make the book as original as possible, I did not review any of my videos while writing the book, but instead annotated the games "from scratch" to give them a fresh tone, even for those familiar with my video series.

In the Introduction I briefly discuss teaching Howard Stern (whose rise in the amateur's ranks was instructive and inspiring), and hint a game or two of Howard's might have made the book. However, to protect the innocent and the guilty, the names of the players are always just "White" and "Black". I did sneak a couple of my early games in there (no wins!), and eventually had to admit to the reader when that happened, since the lessons learned were quite personal.

The idea of the book is not just to annotate the games, but also to provide considerable general advice on how to improve, with emphasis on learning from the mistakes of the players. Unlike master-master games, where the reader benefits from seeing "good" play, here the reader benefits from seeing mistakes that he and his peers make, why they made the mistake (sometimes I interviewed one of the players after the game), and what can be learned from these to minimize similar mistakes in the future. None of the selected games are by absolute beginners - these are not games where the players put pieces en prise. Nevertheless, the amateur level is quite wide, and the USCF/FIDE equivalent ratings of the included players ranges from about 900 to 2200.

In order to provide the "truth" of the positions, I analyzed all moves with top engine Houdini 2. Therefore, throughout the book the computer is always "over my shoulder" with notes about what best play could have been. The computer analysis is certainly not the emphasis of the book (the generic improvement advice is), but it is there persistently so the reader will not just see the mistakes, but also the suggestions of correct play. It was a juggling act to make sure the computer's suggestions were not too pervasive, but the reviewers and editor thought it was balanced.

The five sections of the book are:

  1. Too Fast
  2. Too Slow
  3. Endgame Mishaps
  4. A Variety of Instructive Play, and
  5. Disaster Strikes

A note about the title. Unlike master-master game books, which abound, and even master-amateur books, which have been around a while, amateur-amateur books annotated by a master are quite rare, so I thought it would not be overly bold to call this the "most instructive" one. I certainly hope the readers and reviewers agreeSmile.

If you do purchase it, drop me a line and tell me how it compares to my other books (PS: my next book project is a second edition of Looking for Trouble, one of my favorites).

An excerpt is available at If you do get a chance to read the excerpt (and later even the entire book!), drop me a note to let me know what you thought - thanks!

Nov 29 update: Mongoose Press replies to my inquiry as to whether the book arrived from the printer: "I was just about to write - yes, they did, yesterday! I picked a couple of copies for myself today - they look good!" - Can't wait to get my hands on a hard copy, and then get the first reviews from the readers...Smile