Chess for Children

Activity Book


Sabrina Chevannes



In our modern age writing a chess primer for children is a very difficult proposition.  Why should that be?  When a child aged twelve or thirteen is a Grandmaster a primer is hardly suitable reading material.  Also children aged ten who are International Masters would not be excited.  But that is as things are today.  Gone are the days when such youngsters would be called prodigies, there are so many of them. 

As an active club player I have sat opposite youngsters who can hardly reach the far regions of a chess board, and I have been soundly thrashed,   This is not a pleasant experience I can assure you and it is quite a relief to me to find that when assembling for a match there are players barely out of primary school playing for the opposition and fortunately I am not paired with any of them.  Give me a grey-haired opponent who has arrived using a walking stick, probably with some forty years experience of playing the game.

So, it is worth repeating - how do you go about writing a primer for children?  Sabrina Chevannes has found the answer.  Ignore the thirteen year old Grandmaster and write a book for children in the format that will appeal to the normal child.  A book that will no doubt be read and explained by Mum or Dad to the aspiring Grandmaster.

Sabrina Chevannes has the  right credentials to author such a book.  She is the managing Director of the Chevannes Chess Academy teaching chess in many London Schools.  She has been playing chess from the age of eight and won ten British chess titles, so she has a clear experience of how to approach such a project

She gives presents us with two characters, Jess and Jamie, who talk us through how to play the game of chess, starting with the set-up of the board and then the properties of the various pieces, their values and interaction with each other.  These steps are animated with charming drawings of the pieces.  Unfortunately, we don't get to know the name of the artist but the various figures are beautifully drawn and coloured.  I can see many children relating to these characters and consequently learning how they operate on the board.

After being introduced to the pieces, Jess and Jamie move on to the tactics and strategy that are employed in the game.  There are too many sections to describe but I can assure you that all aspects of a game are explored and explained.  Furthermore, exercises are presented which will test the understanding that children have absorbed from the text and diagrams.

It would be easy for any author to provide so much explanation that the understanding is confused in a child's mind, but happily Chevannes strikes a median that is neither understated nor too intricate for child's minds.  At an early age such information is readily absorbed ad understood.  To learn how to play chess at an early age is undoubtedly an advantage as the mind is fresh and not so cluttered as it becomes as the years pass by.  This book makes it very important for children to learn from.  

It is interesting to see that the one example of a complete game is the one played between Reti and Tartakower from the Vienna Tournament of 1920 rather than a fabricated game from the mind of the author. 

This is a book that is best read jointly by parents and children as it is rather unlikely that a child would study it alone.  So come on Mum and Dad, Christmas is fast approaching and this is something that will adequately help to fill your child's stocking and give plenty of opportunity to provide your child with something that is both amusing and capable of exercising their minds.

 Batsford have performed up to their usual high standard in producing this invaluable primer and it is reasonably priced at £9.99.

Bill Frost

December 2015