Our Review of How To Beat Your Dad At Chess by Murray Chandler

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Table of Contents


This is a really popular book written and published by GM Murray Chandler, managing director at Gambit Publications. 

I remember seeing this book some years ago and my reaction was “Oh, what a cheeky book title!”

The title paints an interesting picture – You just started learning chess and you get to play against your Dad who’s been playing for years. 

For weeks and months, your Dad has been winning every single game, and the only thing you desperately need at this point is a win against your Dad AKA your chess nemesis.

Sounds familiar? Well, this book was written in this light.

Who is the Book For?

The title talks about defeating your Dad but in reality, this book is actually meant for players tired of losing games to stronger opponents without seeing any form of improvement. 

In the very first paragraph of the introduction, Chandler writes:

This book is for every chess-player who regularly faces – and loses – to opponents stronger than themselves. This could be at work, down the chess club, at school, in tournaments, or, as for many youngsters, at home, playing Dad. In fact

for ‘Dad’ read anyone who constantly outplays you, grinds you down, takes your

pieces and checkmates you.

What This Book is About And What I Think

This book is centered around 50 deadly checkmates – basic attacking patterns that occur frequently in games played by players of all levels. 

The book also provides simple and clear explanations for each mating motif, and several illustrative examples are included to help readers understand the concepts better.

Here’s what I think so far:

This book is tactics-focused so it won’t teach you stuff like knowing how to plan in chess or psychological meanderings like ‘How to Reassess Your Chess’ by IM Jeremy Silman. 

Instead, it focuses on 50 checkmate patterns and this is quite understandable. 

As a beginner, you might not need to (immediately) know how to take advantage of an outpost or open file, but one thing you do need to know early is how to checkmate and force winning tactics to ‘defeat your Dad’.

As already noted, the book emphasises pattern recognition, basic attacking patterns, and breaks down the anatomy of a combination in a way that teaches you to replicate the same positions in your games.

Checkmating patterns such as Bxh6 sac, Damiano’s mate, Arabian mate, Greco’s mate, Greek gift, Back-rank mates, Double Rook sacrifice, and many more are taught in this book.

I also love the cartoon illustrations and conversational tone adopted in the book – making it much more beginner-friendly. 

At the end of the book on page 114, there are 36 test positions to find a winning combination that either forces mate or wins material. 

The fact that each position was obtained from a real tournament game makes it more practical. 

For the tests, there are scores that correspond to your problem-solving abilities. This is to help you know where you fall in terms of strength…whether Master standard or Tournament strength player or below.

Want to try your hand at this? I recommend you get the book.

Finally, the book at the end gives some pieces of advice if your ‘Dad’ happens to be Garry Kasparov, one of the best chess players of all time. 

Well, as a beginner you stand no chance against a legend like Kasparov but as they say, every chess master was once a beginner. You have every opportunity to improve and get better in your game.

Final Thoughts 

It doesn’t matter whether you have a sibling or Dad at home you plan to take revenge on. 

As far as you struggle with basic tactics or checkmating patterns, or can’t follow up accurately on your sacs, this is a book that’ll clear all those up for you.

Let me know if this review was helpful.

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