With many new chess books published in 2019, it can be tricky to pick one that you will like. “How do you pick out tactics books that are appropriate for you?” asked International Master John Donaldson at about one hour and 31 minutes into being interviewed on Ben Johnson’s The Perpetual Chess Podcast on September 17, 2019 (episode 143).

Chess Tactics Workbook for Kids Cover

For players rated below 1800 or 2000, Donaldson answered his own question as follows. Just solving tactics is not the way to go. You must solve tactics but you also must find books that explain tactical themes. If you are browsing at a chess bookstore, try 10 tactics problems in a book. If you solve them all immediately, then the book is too easy for you. If you really apply yourself, and you can’t get 50% right, then the book is too hard for you. If you can’t peruse a book in person, look for a PDF excerpt of the book you are considering to attempt its tactics problems.

The CHESS TACTICS WORKBOOK FOR KIDS (John Nunn) 128 pages (230 mm by 178 mm), hardback, published by Gambit, has a PDF of 18 of its problems at the Gambit website, located at gambitbooks.com (search for CHESS TACTICS WORKBOOK FOR KIDS under the “Complete List” tab). Test yourself on those first 18 fork problems and see how you do. Note that the earlier fork problems are easier than the later ones. For example, the first nine problems have one-move-long solutions. If you are challenged by problem 18, which has a two-move-long solution, be aware that numbers 19 to 48 mostly have two-move and three-move-long solutions.

I like Nunn’s book, but I am mystified by the “for kids” part of its title. It seems appropriate for all readers. And, also, not especially geared toward children. There are no cartoons or characters. The print is fairly small too. Maybe the “for kids” part was added by marketing, as Grandmaster John Nunn does not mention kids specifically. Nunn writes in his introduction, “This book is aimed at readers who know the rules of chess and want to start winning games.” Nunn’s words suggest that both adults and kids can benefit from his book.

The CHESS TACTICS WORKBOOK FOR KIDS meets Donaldson’s criteria of explaining tactics (see the book’s PDF at the Gambit website for how Nunn explains forks) and including problems. Not surprisingly, then, Nunn’s book also has Donaldson’s endorsement: “John Nunn is one of the most trusted authors in chess and Chess Tactics Workbook for Kids continues his practice of producing well organized and clearly written instructional works” – IM John Donaldson.