My Review Of Levy Rozman or ‘Gotham Chess”s Book – ‘How to Win at Chess?’

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Table of Contents

Finally, after a seemingly never-ending anticipation, Levy Rozman, better known as Gotham Chess, has shocked us all by unleashing his new book, ‘How To Win At Chess” onto the public.

He has demonstrated that he’s able to put together a chess guide that’s not just compelling, but also shaking up the chess scene. 

I managed to get my hands on the Kindle edition and I thought to do a review of this book.

Book Structure and Unique Features

Levy’s book, clocking in at around 260 pages, is neatly divided into 15 information-packed chapters. 

Following each chapter, you’ll find a summary of what you’ve just learned, along with a QR code that leads you to Levy’s Chessly website for additional practice.

Split into two parts, the book caters to a wide range of chess newbies. 

The first part targets raw beginners – from those who’ve never even placed their hands on a chessboard to those who know the basics but often forget them during gameplay. 

The second part caters to the intermediate players, often guilty of playing poorly or hanging their pieces despite knowing the principles of tactics and strategy.

What sets Levy’s book apart is that it’s entirely readable without a physical board, which, in my opinion, is quite a relief. 

No more hassle of clearing a space, setting up a physical board, double-checking engine lines on the computer, or scribbling down moves in a notebook. 

Got a smartphone or an e-reader? You’re all set to learn chess, be it on your comfortable couch, during your commute, or even in a spinning class.

The Role of QR Codes

Now let’s tackle the role of QR codes, which, in my opinion, is a game-changer. 

At the end of each chapter, the QR codes whisk you away to Chessly websites. 

Here, you can revisit the core concepts from the chapter using an interactive virtual board. The drills that practice these concepts are an added bonus.

The thing is practice and repetition are the keys to mastering this strategic game. 

Simply reading about chess isn’t going to do much for your progress. 

That’s where the QR codes stand out – offering an opportunity for active learning and interaction.

With all its brilliance, the use of QR codes is not without its shortcomings. 

When trying out the supplied problems, I intentionally opted for incorrect moves to assess the corrective feedback. 

However, instead of explaining why a move was faulty, the system simply denotes it as incorrect. 

This could prove a lost opportunity to further educate about common, easy-to-make errors.

While these discrepancies are few and far between, it’s important to mention the few rough patches amidst a sea of well-designed content. 

With the given volume of additional content included through these QR codes, I would estimate that they expand the wealth of knowledge in the book by around 40%. 

This includes detailed annotations of complete grandmaster games that could be beneficial for players at all levels.

What’s Inside the Book?

The book begins with a comprehensive guide to the basic rules and principles of chess, including how to move the pieces and the concept of castling. 

This foundation is proceeded by an introduction to basic openings, endgame theory, and tactics, amongst other topics. 

In the latter parts, he uses chess terminologies, which might be new to beginners, and immediately provides clear definitions to aid understanding. 

He brilliantly guides the transition from basic to more advanced material, something that other books often struggle with.

Part Two: Taking a Step Forward

Part two of Levy’s book mirrors the build of the first part, focusing primarily on openings, endgames, tactics, and strategy. 

However, since now we’re dealing with more advanced concepts, the content delves deeper.

While the content becomes a little thin when discussing openings, the QR codes come in handy again, providing more detailed guides and drills to practice on Chessly.

The following chapters discuss basic endgame theory, where we learn about same-colored and opposite-colored bishop endings and more advanced guides – like how to draw with the ‘Philidor Position’ in rook endgames.

Levy’s explanation of intermediate tactics, which introduces the ‘checks-captures-attacks’ checklist, is yet another important takeaway from this part of the book.

Subsequently, the last chapter on ‘Intermediate Strategy’ is really interesting.

It’s a treasure trove, with nuggets of knowledge on various pawn structures, pawn breaks, pawn islands, isolated pawns, backward and doubled pawns, the list could just go on. 

Interlaced with Levy’s trademark humor and catchy analogies, this chapter will help you cement the learning and apply it in real games.

Who is this book for?

To give an inclination about who this book may benefit the most – if you’re a raw beginner or want to introduce someone to the beauty of chess, this book is the perfect starting point.

Or if you’re an intermediate player, often unsure of what your next move is during a game, or struggling to plan in the endgame, this book could be a great learning tool. 

Or even if you are a notch above, but suspicious about any learning gaps, this book would give confidence in your chess fundamentals by validating your understanding.

That being said, the book isn’t flawless.

Despite these minor gripes, Levy’s book is an impressive piece of work. 

It pulls together a vast array of chess concepts, from beginner to intermediate level, delivering them in bite-sized, digestible elements. 

However, where it truly shines is its integration of Chessly content via QR codes, blending learning with a seamless crossover between traditional reading and interactive learning.

Final Thoughts

Regardless of the minor oversights, my overall experience of Levy’s book has been overwhelmingly positive. 

It’s filled with engaging and descriptive instructions that’ll help cement your learning and upgrade your game. 

The humor lightly sprinkled throughout makes it a fun read and the QR codes bring it all together, bridging the gap between learning and doing.

Though there are areas that need improvement, ‘How to Win A Chess’ currently may be one of the most useful beginners’ chess books out there and is an essential read for beginners and intermediate chess enthusiasts.

Let me know if you found this review helpful.

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