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on 23 June 2004
I bought this book from my local bookseller, because I was learning how to play chess properly. Alas, this book is flawed - quite fatally flawed! Even to the point, that I can't recommend people buy it.
Simple: Pandolfini is someone who is a great name in chess, and yet he allowed Chapter 3 of the book (which gives the reader 20 chess puzzles to solve) and yet some 50% of them, have the wrong or inaccurate answers! The occasional error, is acceptable, when it comes to chess puzzles. But when the author is a Chess Master, allowing half of the first set of puzzles to go to print, with incorrect answers, is not on! It makes you wonder if the rest of the book is any more accurate. (For the most part, it is. But still....!)
For that reason, and no other, this book has to be avoided, for anyone learning the game. Pandolfini may be a great man, and a good writer, but when it comes to accuracy in teaching someone something, this is NOT the book to use! I wrote to the publishers, but they obviously don't care to respond to their readers. As such, put your wallet away, and choose something more accurate and reliable! An expensive tome, that's full of errors!
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on 3 October 2013
I think this is a lovely book from this well known US writer and coach. The first thing that makes it appealing is that Mr Pandolfini has written it in the form of a Socratic/Platonic dialogue between a beginning student with only a few perceived ideas of the game and gently instructs and advises as the book goes along. Mr Pandolfini (unlike his portrayal by Ben Kingsley in "Searching for Bobby Fischer") is known to be a laid back and yet effective teacher. This comes across in his assurances to the reader not to panic or get distressed if something is not immediately clear as it will be revealed later. I find this approach a breath of fresh air as a lot of chess books throw a lot of information at you very fast: often with lines of notation which you either have to play on a chessboard to hand or something like an ipad. Pandolfini's book, thanks to plenty of diagrams means that you sit yourself down and absorb the material without having to flick between board and book. I have not seen them yet but no doubt his "Chess Movies" books will be even better in this regard.

I have not come across any typos yet in my book of confused diagrams but I could comprehend these from the gist of the text. There are always going to be a few mistakes as to diagrams and notations in a book such as this ("The Right Way to Play Chess" By David Pritchard (recent update by someone else whose name escapes me) is littered with them but you can figure the problem out normally. I would recommend this because the calm and yet detailed style of the book makes it particularly useful to younger players or those who are taking up the game later in life and want a clear, simple guide. Unfortunately not many off us are able to have access to a top chess coach but through good books like this, "Learn Chess" by John Nunn (Gambit), Play Wining Chess by Yasser Seirawan (Everyman ) and the Dover reprint of "Better Chess" for Average Players by Tim Harding (Pandolfini and Harding: IMs and Nunn and Seirawan GMS) you will have great instruction by players who have the gift of great writing and teaching. This book is probably the first i would recommend out of all of them for its breadth and its accessibility however.
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on 8 January 2006
I have many excellent chess books that cover the basics right through to positional analysis but this one made the most sense!
I particularly like the student / teacher format. This combined with a single game played throughout the book used to illustate various topics makes this a must have.
However, I would recommend that the beginner start with something like The Chess Player's Bible - James Eade before moving onto this one.
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