Review of Learn Chess the Right Way Volumes 2&3 by GM Susan Polgar
By Chris Wainscott

Recently former World Champion Susan Polgar began a new series of books aimed at laying the foundation of a proper chess education for beginner-level players.  The series is called Learn Chess the Right Way and will comprise five volumes.

I reviewed the first volume here and am pleased to review volumes two and three as well.

Just as the first book aimed to teach students the most basic of all checkmates, volume two teaches basic ways to win material, and volume three basic defensive technique.

Before proceeding I’d like to once again inform the readers of this blog who these books are for.  These are not books for intermediate players looking to improve.  If your rating is four digits then these are not the books for you (although in a sense they do help with instant pattern recognition) as you will gain very little from them.

If you are new to the game of chess, or if you coach students who are like I do then you will get a lot of use from this book.

Book Two is comprised of thirteen chapters.  They are:

  1. Captures with the Queen
  2. Captures with the Rook
  3. Captures with the Bishop
  4. Captures with the Knight
  5. Captures with the Pawn
  6. Captures with the King
  7. Various Captures
  8. Removing the Guard
  9. Forks and Double Attacks
  10. Pins
  11. Skewers
  12. Discovered Checks and Discovered Attacks
  13. Various Tactics

After these chapters there is also a section for the solutions.

To give an illustration of how basic these tactics are allow me to present an example from Chapter 7:


As you can see the solution is 1…Nxd4 and it’s really just a recapture anyhow.  So the most basic level of beginning player will benefit from this.  if you have ever coached, directed, or watched scholastic players you have seen many examples of kids who would have benefitted greatly from this level of training.

Just like book one, books two and three contain 500 puzzles to solve.  One nice feature is that there is a space where the student can write not only the solution, but the time taken as well.  This will allow students to gauge their progress as they see their times improving.

Book Three is comprised of ten chapters.  They are:

  1. Run!
  2. Getting Out of Check
  3. Protect Each Other!
  4. Avoid Checkmate!
  5. Counterattack!
  6. Escaping by Stalemate
  7. Escaping by Perpetual Check
  8. Stop the Promotion!
  9. Avoid Being Trapped!
  10. Various Saving Moves

Once again those chapters are followed by a section for solutions.

What I found to be the most useful in this book were the sections on stalemate and perpetual check.  Again, having directed many scholastic events and coached scholastic players I have seen quite a number of games where one of the players could have attempted various stalemate traps, but they don’t tend to think in those terms.

I also thought Chapter 3: Protect Each Other to be very useful for beginning players.  The instinct when started out is to immediately move any attacked piece.  This chapter is designed to teach students that you can also simply protect a piece rather than moving it.

So again, know your audience when buying or recommending these books, but so far in my experience these books are far and away the best books to use for players just starting out.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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