Review of Chess Openings For Kids By John Watson and Graham Burgess 

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Table of Contents

Chess Openings for Kids is a book that teaches all about openings as the name implies.

This book discusses ’50 Mighty Openings‘ which I’ll list subsequently but first let’s see the motivation for the book.

According to the authors, the openings are often the trickiest but most important part of the chess game. 

But this is where a lot of beginners falter – early in the game, we see pieces disappearing without compensation and the king chased all over the board.

This was why the book was written – to give anyone reading (especially newbies) the knowledge to get off to a good start. 

The book follows the same structure as Murray Chandler’s How to Beat Your Dad at Chess and Chess Tactics for Kids, so if you’ve read these books at any time, this opening book comes as a nice addition to put your tactical knowledge and checkmate ideas to use.

You’ll probably wonder why the authors chose to call them ’50 Mighty Openings’. This is because they carefully selected these openings as those that have proven effective for play as seen in thousands of masters games.

From top to bottom, these openings include:

  1. Giuoco Piano
  2. Evans Gambit
  3. Two Knights Defence
  4. King’s Gambit
  5. Danish Gambit and Centre Game 
  6. Goring and Latvian Gambits
  7. Bishop’s Opening and Vienna Game 
  8. Scotch Game
  9. Philidor Defence
  10. Petroff Defence
  11. Ruy Lopez: Introduction
  12. Ruy Lopez: Closed Main Lines
  13. Ruy Lopez: Marshall Attack
  14. Ruy Lopez: Open Spanish
  15. Alekhine Defence
  16. Scandinavian Defence 
  17. Caro-KannDefence
  18. French Defence: Introduction
  19. French Defence: 3 Nc3 Main Lines 
  20. Sicilian Defence: Introduction 
  21. Closed Sicilian and Grand Prix Attack 
  22. Alapin (c3) Sicilian
  23. Morra Gambit
  24. Bb5 Sicilian
  25. Open Sicilian: Introduction
  26. Sicilian Dragon
  27. Sicilian Najdorf
  28. Sveshnikov Sicilian
  29. Queen’s Gambit Accepted
  30. Classical Queen ‘s Gambit Declined
  31. Tartakower and Modern Lines
  32. Queen’s Gambit Exchange Variations
  33. Tarrasch Defence
  34. Chigorin and Albin Counter-Gambit
  35. Slav
  36. Semi-Slav
  37. London, Colle and Trompowsky
  38. Dutch Defence
  39. Modern Benoni and Benko Gambit
  40. King’s Indian: Introduction
  41. King’s Indian: Main Lines
  42. Grunfeld Defence: Introduction
  43. Exchange Grunfeld
  44. Queen’s Indian and Bogo-Indian
  45. Nimzo-lndian: Introduction
  46. Nimzo-Indian: Main Lines
  47. Reversed Sicilian
  48. Symmetrical English
  49. Assorted English Lines
  50. Reti Opening 

What I Love About The Book 

I appreciate books that don’t rant on and on about variations that are not helpful or ones that the readers may not recall again. 

Chess Opening for Kids is one of those books. It goes straight into the opening, explores variation where White moves and Black moves, and goes as far as the 12th move. 

The good part is that this information is presented in 2 pages per chapter so this makes it easy for readers to take away practical value without having to wade through dozens of variations.

I also love the position images. For every chapter, there are 6 images sometimes with arrows and emphatic symbols. 

This makes for easy understanding and remembrance.

What I Don’t Like About The Book 

It’s meant to be a book for kids but it’s written in a way that seems suitable for teens and adults (take away the funny cartoons). That’s how I see it. 

And there’s just a 6-page brief introduction that covers basic ideas about chess, then every chapter delves into critical analysis of the openings in raw chess terms.

Who This Book Is Not For 

This book is not for you if you’re yet to learn the basics of chess. 

Even though it’s all about opening, it delves right into analysing moves in algebraic notation and discussing variations. 

A beginner with no prior knowledge will definitely struggle. 

What More?

At the end of the book are questions to test your opening knowledge and your opening skills (whether you have what it takes to find the winning moves in poorly played openings)

Final Thoughts 

I’ll happily recommend this book to beginners struggling with openings – like having to remember so many variations and falling to cheap traps in tournament games. 

This book will help them streamline their thoughts and show them the most important moves that matter. 

If you’re coaching kids too, this is a great book to give them for further study or you can use it as teaching material. 

However, the student in this case must have learned the basics of chess before starting this book, otherwise, it’ll be difficult to follow.

It’s worth noting that there’s a workbook from the same author on the discussed topic. You could also get that if you’re interested in challenging your opening skills.

Images below:

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