Roman Pelts & Lev Alburt
This book is probably the definitive volume when it comes to teaching chess to complete beginners and turning them into promising players. It covers everything from the basic moves up to fairly complex combinations and set mates. Each of the two volumes is divided into twelve lessons, but my experience is that each lesson takes about a month to cover properly if you are teaching a group for an hour a week.
There is no doubt that this book will give any teacher using it a lifetime's supply of material to use with their pupils. If you have amongst your players anyone talented enough to say that they are too strong for the material on offer, then you are fortunate indeed.
The book is not easy to come across. As an American publication, my copy is listed at $42, but Amazon do not list both volume as a single book. As with all books published in the US and exported to Britain, expect a grossly unfavourable exchange rate.
The course was, apparently, used by Pelts when he was a coach in the Soviet Union, and his work was smuggled out to the West.
If you have problems obtaining a copy of this book, please e-mail me.
John Littlewood is one of the Grand Old Men of British Chess and he has a wealth of playing and coaching experience to pass on. This book is aimed at players who have already reached a fair standard, and in my view there is a considerable disparity amongst the different chapters in terms of the standard of player who would benefit from them. Given that the majority of chess played in British schools takes place in the primary sector, (and this fact should shame any secondary Head whose school does not give Chess at least as much priority as it does physical sports) this book will be of limited use.
Having said that, I find that the ideas explained in Chapter 5 (How can we teach Endings?) are especially useful. I find that the endgame is the easiest part of the game to teach, largely because the objectives are clear (either a basic checkmate or the queening of a pawn), the number of pieces on the board has been drastically reduced, and the ideas can be most easily explained in simple English. The endgame positions shown on pages 76 - 85 are absolutely essential knowledge for any player, and the very act of trying to master them will give the student a technical ability which will transfer itself to the other aspects of the game. For this chapter alone this book is a must.
W.T. McLeod and R. Mongredien, Collins
For a chess book to appeal to a child, it has to be colourful and striking, and this matching pair cover the basics admirably. All the basic moves are covered using standard diagrams and colour pictures. Notation is introduced towards the end of the first volume and throughout both books, as a new idea is introduced, there are constant reminders of what has been taught previously. The language used is simple without being patronising, although quite a lot if it is in a much smaller typeface than most young children would be used to reading.
Surprisingly, Amazon do not even list these two books, but I cannot think that two such fine volumes are out of print. They are excellent books for the self-starter.
ISBN 0-00-106244-1 and 0-00-106272-7