Pandolfini's Ultimate Guide to Chess: Basic to Advanced Strategies with America's Foremost Chess Instructor

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Overview

From America's foremost chess teacher and author comes a new standard: a comprehensive course covering all aspects of the game, to improve your technique whether you are a newcomer or a longtime fan.
One of America's best-known chess masters, Bruce Pandolfini has helped millions learn the intricacies of chess through his acclaimed books and workshops. In this exciting volume, he presents a complete overview of the entire game and its culture. Structured as a dialogue between a ...
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Pandolfini's Ultimate Guide to Chess

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Overview

From America's foremost chess teacher and author comes a new standard: a comprehensive course covering all aspects of the game, to improve your technique whether you are a newcomer or a longtime fan.
One of America's best-known chess masters, Bruce Pandolfini has helped millions learn the intricacies of chess through his acclaimed books and workshops. In this exciting volume, he presents a complete overview of the entire game and its culture. Structured as a dialogue between a beginning student and an expert teacher, Pandolfini's Ultimate Guide to Chess takes the student step-by-step from fundamentals to advanced, highly strategic play. Combining easy-to-follow diagrams with trenchant and up-to-date analysis, Pandolfini puts a new twist on accepted chess theory, offering a seamless beginning-to-end approach, including:
• a short introductory history of the game
• the moves, rules, and contemporary notation forms
• the basic principles of chess
• how to develop an opening repertoire
• the art of tactical play
• pattern recognition and memory aids
• traps and pitfalls to be avoided
• middlegame play, strategy, and planning
• defense and counterattack
• transitions to the endgame and the endgame itself
• computers and the future of chess
• the best websites for playing chess online
With Pandolfini's expert insight into the history and modern world of chess, as well as several appendices to enhance play and appreciation, Pandolfini's Ultimate Guide to Chess makes the perfect gift for players of all ages and will be the benchmark title for chess players for years to come.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743226172
  • Publisher: Touchstone
  • Publication date: 9/2/2003
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 278,027
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 5.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Bruce Pandolfini, a National Master in United States chess competition, is the creator of the highly acclaimed Fireside Chess Library. He lives in New York City.

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Read an Excerpt

Prologue: Chess, The Universal Game

Somewhere back in time, human beings invented chess. Ever since, men and women have tried to explain their fascination for, attraction to, even obsession with a checkered board and its symbolic figures. A struggle of will, a contest of intellects, the vicissitudes and intrigue of power relationships, childhood delight, and just plain fun — chess can stand for it all.

Chess reflects the real world in miniature. Endeavor, struggle, success, and defeat — they are part of each game ever played. Thomas Huxley, the scientist who helped Darwin write the theory of evolution into nineteenth-century philosophy, said: "The rules of the game are what we call the laws of nature. The chessboard is the world" and "The pieces are the phenomena of the universe."

Ben Franklin, possibly the best American chessplayer of his time, also believed that the chessboard constituted a microcosm of the real world. Studying chess had practical value, he argued. Understanding the moves, rules, and structure of the game encouraged the development and training of essential intellectual skills such as inductive and deductive reasoning, long-term planning, and creative problem-solving. Plenty of present-day educators who have studied the effects of chessplaying on other disciplines have added their approval to Franklin's words. Once again Old Ben was on to something ahead of the pack.

Chess is more than a game. It's a universal tale of interlocking relationships, layered thinking, analytical drive, and an intuitive sense of how things work. It's mathematical yet musical, logical but theoretical. It can be art or sport, contest or dream, fantasy or reality. Whatever the game's ultimate significance, perhaps you've picked up this book hoping to go beyond the moves and rules to exploring some of the game's aura and seductive mystery.

What better way to learn the universal game than through a universal learning process? Almost as soon as a child begins to talk, it starts asking questions, many unanswerable. In this book, a teacher uses Socratic methods to reveal the fundamentals of chess interactively, in give-and-take conversations with a rather challenging student. We learn through their question-and-answer sessions. Their debates over chessic possibilities make up the chapters. And each chapter constitutes an actual chess lesson — on the game's moves and rules; on opening, middlegame, and endgame structure; on principles, tactics, and strategy; and on anything else germane to the improvement of chess skill that might come up.

Since we learn best by doing, the teacher in this book illustrates chess essentials by using an instructionally created but perfectly natural game. White and Black, teacher and student, discuss their choices and reasoning just as players would if they were going over a real game — by considering options, variations, and possibilities throughout.

What makes their game different is that it doesn't emphasize the state-of-the-art moves grandmasters play and seldom bother to explain. Rather, it includes a normal mixture of good, reasonable, and even bad moves that inexperienced players are likely to consider. Furthermore, the moves and their respective variations, though shown in clear diagrams that everyone can understand, are also expressed conversationally, in asides and as thoughts seem pertinent. That's just the way players converse about chess in any country of the world. To avoid confusion from the real game's moves and their analytic alternates, boldface is used for actual moves, and ordinary type for moves that are possible but not played.

Most introductory chess books offer lofty principles, presenting them as if they're inviolable absolutes in a grand narrative. But those learning the game naturally have many questions about the other side of things, when particular principles don't apply and the story takes unexpected twists and turns.

Pandolfini's Ultimate Guide to Chess offers an abundance of principles, but it also devotes time to their exceptions and subtle colors — the very things that make the game and those who play it distinctive. Furthermore, because we're dealing directly with principles and their exceptions, our teacher and student may take a second or even a third look at an idea throughout the course of the game. No lesson is wholly and completely digested in one try anyway, and the flow of the book's discourse reproduces this reality. Repetition is a crucial part of typical learning, and this text aims to capture the natural feel of the learning process. To this end, the dialogue includes the constant use of instructional reinforcement, as well as the sort of typical banter and lighter moments integral to the interactive exchange of question-and-answer learning.

This book partially draws on ideas in my earlier publications. But over time, experience teaches us how to compose more precise formulations and more effective presentations. Pandolfini's Ultimate Guide to Chess uses an innovative framework to show you exactly what you need to know in order to un-derstand how chess is played, and how it ought to be played. Reading it should help equip you with the tools required to play and enjoy a challenging game of chess, even if you're starting from a position of knowing relatively nothing about pawns or society's metaphors for them. As you absorb specific chessic knowledge, you'll acquaint yourself with valuable analytic weapons that can be used to sharpen your approach, not only for playing chess, but for any intellectual endeavor whatsoever.

While you're luxuriating in the joy of pure mental stimulation, perhaps even learning how to beat someone you've never quite been able to beat before, you might also pick up on something else: how not to beat yourself. How many games can offer all this and be as rewarding as all that?

Copyright © 2003 by Bruce Pandolfini

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Table of Contents


Contents

Prologue: Chess, The Universal Game

Lesson 1: In the Beginning

The Moves and Rules

Lesson 2: Arming for Attack

Non-mating Tactics

Lesson 3: Defining the Goal

Mating Patterns

Lesson 4: Terms of Engagement

The Elements

Lesson 5: Staking out Territory

Opening Principles and the First Move

Lesson 6: Establishing the Neutral Zone

Black's Response

Lesson 7: Determining Priorities

Development and the Center

Lesson 8: Starting the Campaign

Comparing Minor Pieces

Lesson 9: Digging the Trenches

Trades, Pins, and More on Minor Pieces

Lesson 10: Accumulating Advantages

Pawn Play and Weaknesses

Lesson 11: Forming Plans

Doubled Pawns, Castling, and Open Lines

Lesson 12: Evaluating and Calculating

The Middlegame, Exchange Values, How to Analyze

Lesson 13: Breaking Through

Strategy and Tactics, the Importance of Material, Avoiding Errors

Lesson 14: The Beginning of the End

Endgame Principles, Centralization, the Active King, and Pawn Promotion

Lesson 15: Approaching the Goal

The Passed Pawn and Pawn Majorities

Lesson 16: All Good Things Come to an End

The Seventh Rank, Invasion, and Simplification

Epilogue: Chess = mc2

Appendix 1: Glossary

Appendix 2: Opening Moves

Appendix 3: Chess on the Web

Appendix 4: World Champions

Appendix 5: Significant Dates in Chess History

Appendix 6: Quotes

Appendix 7: Chess in Movies and Books

Appendix 8: The Most Famous Chess Game of All Time

Bibliography

Index

Acknowledgments

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 25 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 25 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Good but not Great Introduction to Chess

    This is one of Mr. Pandolfini's better books, and most certainly his best introduction to chess for the adult level reader. It has everything with its pages that will get you started and prepared to continue to more advanced books. It has a reading level which most older children might have a problem with (consider, "Chess for Everyone" for children ages 9+ or even yourself as another excellent choice). The progression of material is perhaps not the best, but the writing style is clear and to the point.

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 20, 2008

    A good first chess book

    This is one of the better books that introduces chess to the absolute beginner (also excellent is, "Chess for Everyone; A complete guide for the beginner" with good follow up books layed out in a progressive series). It contains moderate depth and is understandable. Perhaps the author's best book!

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2008

    Good Book on the Basics though perhaps not the best

    I found Pandolfin's Ultimate Guide to Chess to be in general 'good' but not outstanding. I found that the material is clear but not presented in the most logical order. This lead to a little confusion. I found 'Chess for Everyone' to be a superior introductory chess book (also for the young reader) in most respects. As a elementary classroom teacher who introduces chess to students I am always looking at basic chess books.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2008

    One of the better books that introduce chess to the beginner

    Though not my favorite chess book for beginners this is indeed a good general introduction for the beginner. Strong Points: 1. It contains the basic material needed to learn how to play chess. 2. The writing style is clear. Weak Points: 1. It doesn't have the most logical order of progression. 2. It uses a talking to format that makes it more difficult to go back and review and find what you want. This book is suitable for and adult level reader 'not for kids'.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2005

    Great for a beginner like me

    The book was an excellent introductory to the game. The first few chapters were a little too basic, but the rest was excellent. It improved my game, and introduced me to many new ideas. The book has an interesting layout. It is a conversation between the professor and the student. I suppose I liked the book because the student asked some of the same questions that I was.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2003

    A decent book for adults

    I would say this is an ok book for adults. Whereas, some people like a lot of diagrams, I feel there are too many, and would rather have more text. I wouldn't recommend it for young readers under age 13 (my favorite book for beginners is 'Chess For Juniors' by Random House) - it has a rather dry personality to the writing style. It is logically arranged and organized.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 10, 2010

    Not Very Instructional

    I am not sure what the thought process was in deciding on the format of this book, but the best I can say is it's misguided. It is a conversation between a student and teacher, about one specific set of circumstances, and has done nothing to improve my beginner/intermediate level game. It does contain basic definitions of common tactics and strategies, but nothing groundbreaking. If anyone is aware of an instructional book for improving to a more advanced level, I'd love to hear a recommendation. This book, however, is not it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 20, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Improved My Chess!

    This book definitely helped me improve my chess playing abilities. I've beaten people I couldn't beat before!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2003

    Pandolfini's Ultimate Guide to Chess: Basic to Advanced Strategies with America's Foremost Chess Instructor

    Excellent guide for all chess players!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2003

    Pandolfini's Ultimate Guide to Chess: Basic to Advanced Strategies with America's Foremost Chess Instructor

    This book will guide you into the 4th dimension of chess.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted May 8, 2009

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