Review of “Learn Chess The Right Way Book 1” by Susan Polgar
by Chris Wainscott
Over the past few years I have seen and reviewed quite a number of books for beginners. One thing that I’ve noticed is that it becomes somewhat difficult to differentiate between them as one is often just like another one, etc. Four time World Champion Susan Polgar took up the challenge to build a better mousetrap, and with Learn Chess the Right Way Book 1: Must-know Checkmates she has succeeded.
This 158 page book, published by Russell Enterprises, Inc. is comprised of 500 puzzles spread out over ten chapters. They are:
- Chapter One: Checkmate in 1 with a Queen
- Chapter Two: Checkmate in 1 with a Rook
- Chapter Three: Checkmate in 1 with a Bishop
- Chapter Four: Checkmate in 1 with a Knight
- Chapter Five: Checkmate in 1 with a Pawn
- Chapter Six: Checkmate in 1 with a Pin
- Chapter Seven: Checkmate in 1 with a Discovered Check or Double Check
- Chapter Eight: Tricky Checkmates in 1 Move
- Chapter Nine: Various Checkmates in 1 Move
- Simple Checkmates in 2 Moves
In addition to the ten chapters there are an introduction, a question and answer section, and of course the solutions to the problems.
There are a number of things that set this work apart from the competition. Chiefly among the reasons is that GM Polgar went through the most famous children’s chess training program ever devised. She, along with her sisters Sofia and Judit, trained very intensively from an early age, and all were very successful during their careers as players.
This alone would uniquely qualify GM Polgar as the person who should develop a program such as this one, but her accomplishments go much further than that.
Susan is the coach of the most successful college chess program in history, with the SPICE (Susan Polgar Institure for Chess Excellence) program having won the last six college Final Fours in a row. She has been the coach and trainer to countless champions at all levels.
So as you can see, she is very qualified as a teacher. But the book…what makes the book so useful?
First off, it’s a nice oversized printing with a very soft cover and spine which allows it to easily lay open on a table. This is something that so many chess publishers manage to overlook. A book with a firm, unyielding cover and spine is not easy to sit at a board and read. This plays a large part in how useful a chess book is. If it’s not easy to read it’s not going to be read.
Another nice feature is the size of the diagrams. With only four per page they are large and easy to read. Again, a nice useful feature for a book that is designed to be a text book rather than a novel.
My favorite feature of this book is that in addition to having a space to write the solution to a problem there are four lines to write the time taken to solve each problem. The idea is for kids to be able to solve the same problems multiple times to see if their time is improving (the famous “woodpecker method” at work). This way as a child works their way through the book several times they and their parents should be able to see the progress being made.
I also liked the way in which the material was laid out. Granted, while no one move checkmate is truly difficult I think that it’s important to add structure to the way in which the material is presented and GM Polgar did just that.
Learn Chess the Right Way!
Book 1: Must-know Checkmates Paperback – May 23, 2016
The Polgar Way to Better Chess!
Learn Chess the Right Way is a five-volume chess puzzle book series aimed at the novice, beginner and intermediate level player, using the unique methods of the award-winning coach and former world champion Susan Polgar. It introduces the most important checkmate and material-winning tactics, as well as defensive techniques to the new chess player. Each of the five volumes will consist of 500+ puzzles.
In Book 1, the focus is on one-move checkmate exercises. In each of the first five chapters, a specific piece delivers checkmate (in Chapter 1: the queen, Chapter 2: the rook, and so on). In Chapters 6-8, checkmates which involve special tactics (such as pins, discovered attacks, etc.) are introduced. Chapter 9 has a mixed collection of puzzles, without any hint about which piece is to deliver checkmate. Chapter 10 builds on the previous 9 chapters, and introduces basic patterns of checkmate in two moves.
With over 40 years of experience as a world-class player and coach, international grandmaster Susan Polgar has developed the most effective way to help young players and beginners Learn Chess the Right Way. Let her show you the way to understanding the most common and critical patterns and let her show you the way to becoming a better player.
SUSAN POLGAR is a winner of four Women’s World Championships and the top-ranked woman chess player in the United States. She became the #1 woman player in the world at 15 and remained in the top 3 for over 20 years. In 2013, she received the U.S. Coach of the Year Award and the following year, she was named the Chess Trainer of the Year by the International Chess Federation (FIDE). She thus became the first person in history to be accorded both honors. Under her guidance, SPICE chess teams at both Texas Tech University and Webster University have won a combined six consecutive National Division I Collegiate Chess Championships.
- Series: Learn Chess the Right Way!
- Paperback: 160 pages
- Publisher: Russell Enterprises, Inc. (May 23, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1941270212
- ISBN-13: 978-1941270219
About Susan Polgar
– Winner of 4 Women’s World Championships (Under 16, Blitz, Rapid, and Classical)
– First World Chess Champion in history (male or female) to win the triple-crown (Blitz, Rapid and Classical World Championships)
– 5-time Olympiad Champion with 10 overall medals (5 Gold, 4 Silver, 1 Bronze)
– Head Coach of 6 consecutive Division I Collegiate Final Four Championship teams (2011-2016)
– Previously held 5 world chess records (* still unbroken):
– * 56 consecutive Olympiad game Scoring Streak (A record of 31 wins, 25 draws, 0 loss [77.7%] over 4 Chess Olympiads from 1988 – 2004, all on board 1)
– Most Simultaneous Games Played (326 players: 309 wins, 14 draws and 3 losses = 96.93% in 16 hours and 30 minutes)
– Most Games Won Simultaneously (309)
– Highest Simultaneous Winning Percentage (96.93%, beating the old record of 95.64%)
– * Most Consecutive Games Played (1,131 games against 551 opponents: 1,112 wins, 16 draws and 3 losses = 99.03% – Previous record: 1,102 games)
FIRST WOMAN EVER IN HISTORY TO:
– Break the gender barrier to qualify for the Men’s World Championship Cycle (1986)
– Earn the “Men’s” Grandmaster title (1991) through traditional FIDE requirements
– Receive the Grandmaster of the Year Award (2003)
– Win the U.S. Open (Men) Blitz Championship (2003, 2005, and 2006)
– Coach a Collegiate Men’s Division I team to win the National Championship (2011)
– Coach a Collegiate Men’s Division I team to win 6 straight Final Four National Championships (2011-2016)
– Coach a College Men’s Division I team to win the Final Four National Championships with 2 different universities (Texas Tech 2011-2012, Webster University 2013-2016)
– Be named National College Chess Coach of the Year (2013)
– Be named Chess Trainer of the Year (2014) by FIDE (World Chess Federation)
OTHER NOTABLE ACCOMPLISHMENTS:
– Won the Girls’ Budapest Championship under 11 at the age of 4 with a perfect 10-0 score!
– #1 ranked woman chess player in the world at the age of 15 (remained in the top 3 in the world for 25 years)
– Still currently rated as the #1 female in the United States
– Award-winning and best-selling chess author in numerous languages
– Winner of the prestigious Cramer Award for “Best Chess Column of the Year”
– 3-time winner of the Chess Journalists of America Award
– First ever recipient of the “Chess Educator of the Year” award
– First ever recipient of the “US Scholastic Chess Ambassador” award
– Ambassador and final torch bearer for the 2008 Chess Olympiad in Dresden, Germany
– Chess for Peace Ambassador with former World Champion Anatoly Karpov and former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev
– A pioneer in women’s chess and a true role model to millions of young people worldwide
– Founder of the Susan Polgar Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization to promote chess, with all its educational, social and competitive benefits throughout the U.S., for young people of all ages, especially girls. The foundation has awarded over $4 million in chess prizes/scholarships to young chess players on behalf of various supporters/sponsors
– Founder and Managing Director of www.ChessDailyNews.com, the world’s most popular chess blog
Book 2: Learn Chess The Right Way – Winning Material is about to go to print. Book 3 is being edited now.