Chess for children aged 0 to 14, their parents and teachers



Garys Adventures in Chess Country





Gary's Adventures in Chess Country

by Igor Sukhin


For centuries, chess has been the world's most popular board game. But did you know that it can also improve your child's ability to learn?

Studies have shown that by focusing on basic chess concepts, children as young as four can improve their reasoning and develop their problem-solving abilities.

Gary's Adventures in Chess Country is designed to help children delve into the world of chess through an engaging adventure story. Spirited away by a mysterious young girl on a magic tricycle, Gary is taken to Chess Country, where he learns the rules of chess and the fundamentals of chess tactics.

By following Gary on his adventuresand by solving engaging puzzles alonside himyour child will have a unique opportunity to improve focus, memory and critical thinking skills, all while having fun.


About the Author

Igor Sukhin has been using the game of chess for over 20 years to teach children. The Russian Department of Education has repeatedly bestowed Sukhin with one of Russia's highest honors by selecting his books a recommended reading. He is the author of Chess Gems and the Chess Camp series (also published by Mongoose Press).

Sukhin is the author of more than 100 titles with over a million copies currently in print.




Kay Slater

The Disappearing Chess Book


Garys Adventures In Chess Country,

by Igor Sukhin,

2008 Mongoose Press, 152 pp., $24.95.


Let me begin by saying I am no chess expert.

Im a mom of a bright but antsy seven-yearold and was looking for something to engage his mind; so I dusted off my very old chess set and set about trying to remember enough to teach him the game of chess. Beyond the basics I was lost, so I then set about trying to find a book to help me along the way. Most were dry, complex and with wonderful potential to turn us both off the game for life.

Others were so basic and childlike they earned no more than a quick flip. Finding the balance between them was the challenge; something entertaining and engaging

but with an approach that taught him (and me) the game in a systematic manner that ensured each step was mastered before another begun. Igor Sukhins book Garys Adventures in Chess Country (Mongoose Press, Boston, 2008) has done just that and with a fair bit of fun to boot.

Upon first look, you notice colorful and playful graphics on appealing large pages. Throughout are diagrams for each and every theme; which were helpful for both my children and me as we adventured through. As the title hints, the book tells a story that kept the themes connected and fun. Each topic is followed by riddles and puzzles to develop the skill and this thoroughly engaged the children. So engaged them in fact, that I often found the book missing with it later turning up at the breakfast table, by the bedside, or on the floor with the dog always with a few chess pieces laying beside it and open to one or another of the riddles or exercises.

The book begins with the absolute basics, which were below the level of my son, but which engaged his little sister and provided an opportunity for him to teach and review. It also was helpful to get us into the story and used to the format before venturing into more complex territory.

Again, the diagrams helped the children get used to the style of the book and unite it with their chessboard as we were reading along.

My son enjoyed reviewing how each piece moved with his little sister, as in chapter six The Rooks Place, and then doing the board puzzles such as army of one on page 30. Chapters seven through eleven cover the other pieces. And, other piece move specific puzzles we enjoyed included double attack on page 41, win a piece on page 54, outsmart the guards on page 67, defense on page 80, or stealth fighter on page 94.

This combination of learning through reading, then applying it to a manipulative (handling the pieces on the board) is a typical teaching technique and was very effective for us.

Chapter twelve The Flying Carpet addresses ideas about check and castling that were novel at first to a competitive kid who wanted to actually take all the other pieces my five-year-old daughter I mean! This is also the point in which we started to really think about playing the game; the story does a good job of simply and clearly teaching how and why various strategies must be considered in this chapters case; ways to defend against check and to castle. We enjoyed the puzzles at the end of this chapter, which were to blame, I believe, for many of the disappearances from the shelf!

The following chapter on checkmate and stalemate brought out the competitive spirit in the kids. They laughed and encouraged each other to find solutions to the puzzles on checkmate, which provided wonderful examples of a variety of challenges including promoting, en passant, and thinking ahead to setting up a solid finish.

Chapter fourteen brings strategy and thoughtfulness to the forefront for good now. The book did something important here in having Gary make a mistake. For kids who enjoy excelling, making a mistake can be a difficult thing, but Garys character models this here when he misses seeing a stalemate with:

Its whites turn to move. He cant checkmate the black king in one move, thats easy to see. What do you think White should do to win quickly?

Simple, Gary said, feeling proud of himself. Just push the pawn up the file and promote it into a queen, then you will be in checkmate.

No Way! Riddles called out. If the pawn becomes a queen, its a stalemate!

Well, then into a knight or a bishop, or something, Gary mumbled, unhappy that he missed the stalemate.

Cassie, Garys guide through Chessland says, Dont try to guess; look at the board and think.

Even this small example of making a mistake then getting back into the game and just studying the board, was really helpful for my son and his friend as they hit a few walls in seeing solutions. It gave them permission to just go and try again, that the solution would come to them if they took their time.

Chess Country concludes with a fun and challenging review and a clear and colorful explanation of chess notation and the answer key to the puzzles, which I, the mom and no big chess pro, appreciated to double check our play through the puzzles.

Complaints? I have very few. Occasionally parts of the narrative of the story were distracting to the younger readers, as in chapter three when all the squares jumped off the board and danced around Gary. Like snowflakes in a storm they went around, up, and down and we had a hard time sometimes telling if the white pieces were white or black unless they were next to each other to contrast. In summary, with my Garys Adventures in Chess Country gone missing once again, Id recommend this book to any parent interested in having some fun while learning and sharing chess with their kids, or in our case, my previously non-chess playing spouse who wanted to also join in the fun. The book is engaging and fun while being effective and on task of teaching all of the basics of chess and related strategies. This book has given us the foundation to play for fun and think about some minor league competitive games as well! This book along with a simple chess board will be my gift of choice for the endless elementary school birthday parties that we attend!



Marsh Towers: Chess Review: Garys Adventures in Chess Country


Garys Adventures in Chess Country By Igor Sukhin 152 pages Mongoose Press By following Gary on his adventures - and by solving engaging puzzles alongside him - your child will have a unique opportunity to improve focus, memory, and critical thinking skills, all while having fun. The titular Gary is a young boy left alone with the most boring babysitter in the history of the universe. Before he knows it, he is whisked off by Cassie on her tricycle to an amazing chess adventure, featuring the following activities along the way


The Chess Pavilion


The Diagonal

Magical Pieces

The Gates of Caissa

The Rooks Place

The Friendly Bishops

Visiting the Queen

The Knight in Shining Armour

Pawn Kindergarten

An Audience With the King

The Flying Carpet

Checkmate and Stalemate

Gary is solving Difficult Problems

Goodbye, Chess Country


Gary and Cassie take the reader on a magical journey through the wonderful world of chess. Theres plenty of clever word play and an abundance of unusual - yet highly instructive - puzzles to solve along the way. The vibrant colours bring every page alive.

Igor Sukhin may not be well known to Western readers, but he is revered in Russia, with the Russian Department of Education being particularly keen on recommending his books to young players. Prior to publication, I was in the fortunate position of being able to test out some of the material on my own pupils. The narrative is fun and the colour is absolutely outstanding, from the first page to the last. Theres no way this chess primer could ever be accused of being boring or dull.

One particularly impressive feature is the unusual selection of puzzles. In addition to the straightforward checkmates, there are copious amounts of positions aimed at teaching one particular lesson at a time. The basic moves of the pieces are demonstrated with a single piece given the task of manoeuvring to capture a flag or to avoid dangerous mines. These exercises were very popular with my students and as the puzzles got slightly tougher each time they were able to steadily develop their powers of calculating and thinking ahead. Heres a few random samples of the text to demonstrate the clever use of words, a feature which is present throughout the book:

He wont need a flashlight, but can a rook move from a light square to a dark square? From dark to light? From light to light? From dark to dark? Despite all the kings horses and all the kings men, is it possible to capture the king in a game? Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines! In the starting position, which queen (white or black) has a light-square bishop next to it? Maybe when nobodys looking, he practices on his trampoline, but can a king jump over other pieces? There are some regular chess problems too, and the following examples demonstrate the standard: Check it out: work out a way that White can checkmate Black in two moves. I wont give the answers; solving the problems should be well within your powers.

Heres another one, coming in process of a problem-solving bout between Gary and Zug: The chess battle between the two boys went on until they reached the following position: Its Blacks turn to move. What would you do? Checkmate in one move! declared Gary. No way! Zug was bug-eyed with surprise. There is nothing you can do here. Oh yes, I can! said Gary with triumph, and he.

Well, dear readers, what did he do?

Its a magical journey - and a fantastic book for young juniors. The sturdy hardback binding should give the book a fighting chance of reasonable longevity even in the classroom.

This should be required reading for all those involved in Primary School chess clubs.




Garys Adventures in Chess Country

01/05/2009 Author: Igor Sukhin Publisher: Mongoose Press Language: English


Many children love to play chess; yet as parents and coaches would admit, teaching children rules of the game could be challenging. A good teacher is always looking for ways to spice up the education process.

The author of Garys Adventures uses an attention-grabbing story to make learning the geometry of a chess board and the chess rules an entertaining experience. Wide variety of puzzles inserted in each chapter add mind stretching element to the entertainment. Each chapter of the book is devoted to features of a single piece where multiple quizzes and puzzles reinforce learning, and make it fun. Each chapter has a large amount of learning material and it would be advisable for an instructor to break the material of each chapter into two lessons.

In addition, the book contains double attack and checkmate puzzles. Although basic examples of such puzzles compliment the material of the book, puzzles that require two and three move solutions are too advanced for students who just learned how to move the pieces. Instead of having advanced puzzles, this book would benefit by including chapters thorough explaining basic mates: with two rooks, with a queen, and with one rook.

Overall Garys adventures is fun to read; children will enjoy answering multiple questions and solving puzzles along with Gary and his friends. The book will especially appeal to young children; its great value is an entertaining manner of explaining dry rules of chess and empowering children to do what they like the most play!




REVIEW BY J. Donaldson


Using stories and puzzles Sukhin starts off by teaching the rules of the game and steadily moves forward until by the end of the book readers are solving 2 move check mates.

This book, which is suitable for children ages four on up, is lavishly illustrated with lots of color.

The real key to its success however is not the excellent production values but the well thought out approach to presenting the material.

Garys Adventures in Chess Country is suitable for a parent or teacher working with a child or for a youngster working independently.



Gary's Adventures in Chess Country

Discuss This Book


Dan Warren rated it 5 of 5 stars

I thought this was a really amusing and instructive book for a young person looking to learn the rules and basic ideas of chess. I enjoyed the story and the characters, and it's loaded with puzzles to practice as the rules and ideas are taught.

The puzzles actually get pretty difficult by the end of the book (checkmate in three puzzles, etc.), so not everything here is for complete beginners!! However, those who are beyond beginner level will probably find more value elsewhere, unless you're just looking to be entertained.

I am actually a chess teacher, and I found that this book contained a lot of interesting ideas about how to teach basic chess concepts in a fun, creative way - so I thank the authors very much for that!

The only complaint I had was that the Kindle edition was a bit hard to read, with some of the chess diagrams being too small so that it was difficult to solve the puzzles without straining to see which pieces were which. I imagine reading the physical copy would have been easier. Anyway, perhaps this can be fixed. Just a small disclaimer (not much to complain about, really, since the Kindle edition was 99 cents!).

Very enjoyable read! Mostly for kids looking to learn, but those interested in teaching chess may find some unexpected treasures here, too! :


Josef rated it 4 of 5 stars

Great book to teach young ones Chess.


Alan H. rated it 5 of 5 stars


Nathan Zimmermann marked it as to-read



Gary's Adventures in Chess Country [Hardcover]


Editorial Reviews


"This book will provide many hours of enjoyment for you and your child, on their journey of chess discovery. There is no doubt that after going through this book your child will know how to play chess, and will have an excellent foundation on which to build."


Paul Szeligowski

Director, Boulder County Chess School

"The book will especially appeal for young children; its great value is an entertaining manner of explaining dry rules of chess and empowering children to do what they like the most - play!"


Aleksander Kitsis

President, Vivacity School of Chess

"I think this book is a beautiful introduction to the world of chess. Children will love following Gary and his friends and will particularly enjoy the well-designed puzzles."


Peter Sowray

FIDE Master / Director Richmond Junior Chess Club

"Adventures in Chess Country is a very entertaining chess book. It will help your child to absorb basics of chess effortlessly. I recommend it highly".


Matt Jelic

Coach, Chess School SA

"Gary and Cassie take the reader on a magical journey through the wonderful world of chess. The vibrant colours bring every page alive. This is a fantastic book for young juniors and one which should be on the shopping list of all chess teachers."


Sean Marsh

Editor, Marsh Towers

"This is a unique way to present chess to beginners. The young children will be captivated by the story line."


Todd Bardwick,

Author of Teaching Chess in the 21st Century and Chess Workbook for Children

Opinions of Advance Readers

About the Author

Igor Sukhin has been using the game of chess for over 20 years to teach children. The Russian Department of Education has repeatedly bestowed Sukhin with one of Russia's highest honors by selecting his books as recommended reading. Sukhin is the author of more than 100 titles with over a million copies currently in print


Customer Reviews

By Midwest Book Review

"With an informative introduction by Susan Polgar, "Gary's Adventures In Chess Country" by Igor Sukhin is a complete guide to the fascinations of learning the complexities of chess geared to children age 6-10 years. The study of chess has been demonstrated to enhance a multitude of desirable abilities, including patience, planning, improved self-image, and imagination, in addition to contributing to increased success in academic test scores. "Gary's Adventures in Chess Country" is deliberately designed to appeal to the "non-geek" students who might have dismissed chess exploration as "too hard" or "too boring," etc. Exciting illustrations and stories are used to describe and illustrate the different pieces and moves, and anecdotes about the history of chess are woven into the text. At the end of the book, a list of puzzles from the notebook and answers to the chess problems are presented and explained. Hey, who knew learning to play chess was so much fun?"


By editfish

The plot involves Gary taking a trip to Chess Country, which is admittedly thin at times, but the main focus of the book is introducing the reader to the game and intricacies of chess. I've played chess for years and years (rather badly), and found this book to be extremely informative. The exercises are valuable to training the eye to 'see' various moved and to look for successful strategies. After 152 pages of 'A-ha!' moments, I'm more confident than ever in my game (and have finally been able to dispense with the 'badly'!)

Although the target audience is children with little or no knowledge of the game, this book is very useful to anyone wanting to improve their own play. It will help tremendously, and you will not want to share the source of your newfound knowledge!


By R. Syed

I always wanted to teach my daughter chess and she is 5 years old. I also wanted the teaching to be more of excercises so they can think on their own after the basics are layed out to them.

For a long time I was wondering if there were any books in this format to teach kids with lots of interesting excercises so their chess foundation is very solid. I even thought that maybe I should write one.

But I was extremely happy to finally see a book that will lay the chess foundation very strongly.The execersises in the book takes elementary steps with Rooks, Bishops, Rooks & Bishops, Queen, Rooks & Bishops & Queen and so on. The puzzles are interesting and the kids learn a lot because of them.They build upon the previous excercises to make a solid foundation. Simple concepts like Capture and Protect are introduced subtly, which is very important when the games is played.

Kids that are just starting to read will not be able to read the book (5 year olds). I was not interested in the story of Gary and I just skimmed them, but the questions posed in the story were important so i just asked my daughter those interesting questions.

Check and Checkmate are introduced at the very end and you do not even play a game till all the baisc foundations are layed out and understood well.

I am surprised there are not many reviews on this book. In my book this takes all five stars ( disregarding the Gary storyline) .

Thank you Igor Sukhin for this Excellent introductory book for kids.As a chess fan my hats off to you!



Gary's Adventures in Chess Country


kssunflower Mar 31, 2011.

Back when I decided to go to law school, I had only two weeks to brush up on logic before taking the LSAT. All the various arguments and mechanisms used to master the seemingly convoluted questions in the exam seemed overwhelmingly. I struggled with books and articles on logic written for adults, and became increasingly frustrated. My solution was simple: search out a well-written children's book on logic. It worked.

The best children's nonfiction books are those that are written by authors who have mastered the subject and can write in clear, simple prose, thinking simultaneously like a bright child and a bright adult. Complex information can be quickly absorbed through these books because of the author's expertise and understanding of both the subject and his or her audience.

Igor Sukhin has written a superb book to enable children to master the basics of chess and capture the enthusiasm that he himself obviously has for the game. Children will learn all the correct terms, all the right moves and, best of all, the right approach and attitude for this game of skilled strategy.

I remember the humiliation of trying to teach myself chess as a teenager and later trying to help our daughter enjoy the game. Alas, both attempts resulted in lackluster ends. Neither she nor I play chess on a regular basis because of haunted feeling that we know just enough to scrape by without being seen as total frauds. However, had I had Gary's Adventures in Chess Country back then, both attempts would have succeeded. I am sure of it.

In fact, I can report that by reading the book for this review, I am going to have another go at chess myself. I learned more in the first few chapters of this book than I had while stumbling through entire grown-up how-to books. Even as an adult reader, I found Sukhin's use of stories, rhymes, quizzes and riddles entertaining, not condescending or boring. It was a delight to realize how he was helping me build skill upon skill as I read through the book. Children will respond even faster because they are not working through years of fear of humiliation.

By the way, all the answers to the questions and riddles are in the back of the book, but the text itself is written to reinforce the answers so you may never have the need to use the Answer Key. It will probably serve as more of a comfort for the adults reading the book to children or reading it for themselves. Most children will pick up on the correct answers as they work through the chapters.

Therefore, it is with the same passion that Sukhin invested in his book that I recommend it to children, parents of children and adults in general. If you have ever wondered about or longed to be able to play the game of chess, this is the book that will transform your wondering or longing into real skill.

Just as that children's book on understanding the fundamentals of logic and the mechanism of Venn diagrams opened the doors to law school for me, this book will open the doors to wonder and fascination Chess is a powerful game; it hones both self-discipline and observation, and it strengthens analysis of both the moves and your opponent. The game can a lifelong joy. This book empowers you to tackle the many aspects of the game while enjoying the process.

The cover and internal illustrations by the Creative Center Bulgaria enhance the journey from a confused observer to a competent player. In short, this book was well-conceived, well-written and well-presented. It is a book that should be in every one's library whether you are seven or seventy.

As for myself, I can hardly wait until our daughter comes home for a visit. She and I are going to use this book to complete our quest together. I just hope she doesn't beat me right off the mark. ( )


RaucousRain Mar 27, 2011.

What a terrific introduction to the game of Chess! I think this book is ideal for kids, and wonderful for the adults who would like to enjoy the game with the young folks in their lives. The antics of Gary and his pals are fun to read about, while the book provides an entertaining and seamless way of building up from the point of no-knowledge of chess to an advanced understanding of the games goals and strategies. The more one reads, the more one learns and absorbs all accomplished in a most enjoyable way.

The physical book itself is a nice size for displaying its engaging artwork colorful graphics which illustrate the interesting exploits of Gary and his pals, as well as the pictures and puzzles there to inspire and instruct. The book is well laid out, nice endpapers (so rare these days), and the text is easy to read. The binding is great in that when it is open, the pages of the book lay flat. This, I have always found, to be an excellent feature in any how-to book.

I heartily recommend this book! ( )



If you are looking for a book to go through with a child to introduce them to the world of chess in a fun and visually impressive way, this book is right up your alley. From the very basics of chess to more complex thought processes, Gary's Adventures in Chess Country will give you a fun yet structured way to explore the game with your child together. Each section of the book covers a fundamental aspect of the game, and introduces it in story format, leading towards puzzles that you can work through with your child. I can't stress enough how awesome it is that this book can be a collaborative effort with your child - not only will you be helping to teach him or her chess, you will also be making memories together as I am positive you will share some laughs along the way.

Here is the trailer for the book to give you an idea on just how nice the visuals that the book uses are

So get that chess set out, and prepare for a lot of fun sessions with your son, daughter, niece, nephew, or grandchild and get ready for some fun helping them learn the game you love and enjoy!



Garys Adventures in Chess Country

Igor Sukhin

Chess is much more than a fun board game. It can also improve childrens learning skills. Studies have shown that by focusing on the concepts of the game, chess can help kids as young as four improve their reasoning and problem solving abilities.

Garys Adventures in Chess Country is designed to help children delve into the world of chess through an engaging adventure story. Spirited away by a mysterious young girl on a magic tricycle, Gary is taken to Chess Country.

Following Gary on his adventures and solving puzzles alongside him, your child will have a unique opportunity to improve focus, memory, and critical thinking skills, while having fun. Attractive, brightly colored illustrations throughout the book are a visual reinforcement of the lesson in the text.

Igor Sukhin has been using the game of chess for over 20 years to teach children. The Russian Department of Education has repeatedly bestowed Sukhin with one of Russias highest honors by selecting his books as recommended reading. Sukhin is the author of more than 100 titles with over a million copies currently in print.



Customer Reviews of Gary's Adventures in Chess Country


Gregory from Tinley Park, IL

Gary's Adventures in Chess Country Review

I wanted a book to teach my young Grandchildren the basics of chess in a story format. This book was amazing. Although it does not teach overall strategy. The chess pieces play an active role as characters in the story. The book covers setting up the board and movement of each piece. Each chapter also provides a lot of exercises to reinforce piece movement. The book closes exposing the reader to the notion of the end game. I would highly recommend this book for toddlers. My Grandchildren are 4 and 5. The fine staff at Wholesale Chess are very helpful and professional. They also go out of their way to make sure you the customer are beyond satisfied with your purchase.


Laura Sherman from Clearwater, FL

Gary's Adventures in Chess Country Review

This is an excellent book for children! One of a kind book that makes chess FUN to learn.


Lyndia from Kaysville

Gary's Adventures in Chess Country Review

Garys Adventures in Chess Country is one of the most delightful and helpful chess teaching books that has come along in quite some time...Read the full extended WSC Blog review by visiting the Wholesale Chess Blog.



Reviewed by R.Kennedy "Garys Adventures in Chess Country by Igor Sukhin": "Todays title, Igor Sukhins gorgeous Garys Adventures in Chess Country, has to be the hands-down leading candidate for the Perry PawnPushers Young Readers Award Garys Adventures in Chess Country is the ideal book for a parent, teacher, or chess coach to work through with young elementary students My congratulations to Igor Sukhin and Mongoose Press for presenting a great resource for the coming generation of chess players" -



By Edward Scimia

Gary's Adventures in Chess Country by Igor Sukhin


Gary's Adventures in Chess Country by Igor Sukhin presents the game of chess in a manner designed specifically for young children. Chess Country is filled with colorful characters and an engaging story that will keep kids coming back and learning more about chess even if they don't realize that's what's happening.

The book's story begins when Gary, a young boy, finds himself at home with his babysitter one boring afternoon. His day picks up when a young girl named Cassie comes to take him away to Chess Country, a world where everything is related to the royal game. Along the way, Gary meets many of the residents of Chess Country, including Riddles who provides Gary and the reader with numerous chess puzzles and Zug, another young boy who will become Gary's chess rival.

The story is fun and should encourage young children to read on to find out what happens. Large, cartoonish graphics are also tailor-made for kids and should keep their attention, at least for a while. While there are plenty of books out there for children beginning to learn chess, this is perhaps the one that is best designed to capture the attention of a young mind. They might not realize they're learning while they read, but all the information needed to play the game is there. First, Gary learns about the chess board; then he goes to various locations to "meet" different pieces and learn about their moves. Finally, the rules of check, checkmate and stalemate are introduced, and only then does Gary venture to play a full game of chess.

Of course, you might not be quite so lucky with the child who reads this book; children often want to play as soon as possible, and the book might be too long for them to wait out before they ask for the complete rules and demand to play a real game. Even if this happens, though, it's okay; the real strength of this book is that children are likely to continue to come back to it, learning new things and reinforcing the concepts they've already read about by rereading chapters and solving the puzzles again and again. As they play and read, they'll start to grasp the rules and tactics presented in the book much more quickly than they would if they were "forced" into learning them.

Older children might find this book a little too "childish" for them, and might prefer one of the many other books for beginners that present the game in a more straightforward manner. But Gary's Adventures in Chess Country isn't for the older set; it's specifically designed for young children who will get wrapped up in the story and graphics and learn chess without realizing they're learning anything at all. If you're looking for a way to encourage a budding grandmaster under the age of 10, Sukhin's Chess Country is the perfect way to teach them the game.



The United States Chess Federation

Jean on Garys Adventures in Chess Country

By Jean Hoffman

July 24, 2009


Jean Hoffman is the executive director & co-founder of 9queens (see a FOX news video interview with Jean here.) Mongoose Press donated 100 copies of Garys Adventures in Chess Country by Igor Suhkin to 9 Queens' in-school chess program that makes chess a part of the curriculum in low-income public schools.

In spite of conventional wisdom, I have always felt that you can learn a lot about a chess book from its cover. As a chess teacher primarily focused on promoting basic chess literacy, I spend my time not only teaching students the rules and basic fundamentals but also trying to show them that chess can be fun and exciting. When working with children oftentimes the way information is packaged and presented is just as important as the quality of the content.

With this in mind, I knew as soon as I saw the cover of Garys Adventures in Chess Country that it would offer an innovative, kid-friendly approach to chess education. The cover looks more like a colorful poster for an upcoming Pixar film than a chess book. In fact, very little about the cover reminds one of chess. At first glance I didnt even notice that the majestic army standing in front of four giant figures was actually an artistic illustration of a chess set.

Garys Adventures in Chess Country by Igor Suhkin is full of imaginative illustrations like the cover. One of my favorite images is the figure of Cassie, a spunky personification of Caissa who acts as Garys chess teacher and guide in the mythical Chess Country. Like so many characters in the book, Cassie in her checkered dress and knee-high boots isnt your stereotypical chess teacher.

Despite the prevalence of compelling illustrations, Garys Adventures in Chess Country is much more than a picture book. The book consists of fifteen chapters, each containing a short narrative about Gary as he learns to play chess, an instructive lesson, and a series of practice exercises and puzzles. Throughout the comprehensive beginners guide to chess, Suhkin manages to seamlessly combine interesting plot twists, creative explanations and instructive exercises.

Although the reading level of the book is a little advanced for most elementary school students, Suhkin does a great job breaking down even the most fundamental chess principles. Whereas many how to play chess books tend to ignore or glossover explanations of board geography, Suhkin patiently devotes the first four chapters to concepts like lines on the chess board and diagonals. The book is full of potential lessons and activities like the Army of One puzzle shown below. In this exercise, the reader is directed to capture all the black pieces with the white rook, taking one piece each move

Although the book is full of exercises appropriate for students just learning how to play, the difficulty level of the chess puzzles varies greatly. A large portion of the exercises, like the Head Scratcher shown below, are far too advanced for beginners

On the plus side, this book can be used throughout stages of a young players' career (total beginner up to intermediate), but on the other, it would be unrealistic for a child and parent without much chess knowledge to read straight through it. Given the range of activities, Gary's Adventures in Chess Country seems like an ideal resource for elementary or middle school coaches.

Purchase Gary's Adventures in Chess Country on USCF Sales. See a FOX news video interview with Jean Hoffman at a 9queens Academy in Tucson, Arizona.




Book Review: Garys Adventures in Chess Country


Last week, my seven year old son came home and said that he had been challenged by his school principal to a game of chess. I knew that the principal uses chess as a way to connect one-on-one with students (so my first thought was: what did my son do now?). But it turned out to be a friendly challenge, and now my son wanted to learn how to play chess so he could take on the big man. I had taught my older sons when they were about the same age, so I grabbed a chess board from my classroom and my boy and I started to play.

I also ordered this book, Garys Adventures in Chess Country by Igor Suhkin. I have long had a hard time finding a fun book that teaches kids about chess in a storyline. I remember complaining about this once to a writer friend of mine, who then went on to create a short story with chess as the narrative device that he got published in Cricket Magazine. Of course, I cant find the story now. I even used chess as a device in a novella I started and abandoned, and may yet return to one of these days.

I took a chance on Garys Adventures because of mostly positive reviews, and while it is by no means perfect, the book is a nice combination of a storyline of Gary learning chess through a storyline, while the reader/player encounters multiples chess-based challenges that teaches you about the basic moves of all of the chess pieces and the history of the game itself. This book does a lot of things. The story is sort of weak, but it holds together long enough to engage my son, who spent a few days walking around with the book in his hands. The illustrations are colorful and nicely done in a sort-of anime style, and I do love the two-page challenge areas that scaffolds the movement of pieces on the board. (I also see that Suhkin has a series of books called Chess Camp that I might need to check out, too.)

I also downloaded a chess app from the Mac Store (Dinosaur Chess), but we havent even opened it up yet. Instead, were just playing the game, and he is a quick learner. With only a little help from me, he won his first game the other night. And he has already played his principal and has been asked by his classroom teacher to bring in the board and teach another student in the classroom (who wants to be able to play the principal, too).

Id recommend Garys Adventures in Chess Country as a nice primer on the game, and then get playing.

Peace (on the board), Kevin.



Get Your Kids Playing Chess Quickly With These Great Training Books

BY DAVE BANKS 02.05.11



Garys Adventures In Chess Country, is a great book for someone whos never seen the game. This book cleverly explains the pieces and their movement through a storytelling narrative that involves a boy named Gary who is learning to play chess for the first time. Starting at the very beginning, Gary learns about ranks, files and the importance of different areas of the board. Lessons are followed by a short quiz or puzzle to reinforce learning.

Gary then learns about pieces, movement and attacks. Bishops, rooks, pawns and even squares come to life, extolling their individual virtues and limitations. As the reader progresses through the book, the story takes more of a backseat and the traditional chess puzzle plays a stronger role. By the end of the book, your child will be solving mate-in-two puzzles and (likely) giving you a run for your money.

Garys Adventures In Chess Country is an impressive book and one of the best weve seen for teaching kids how to play chess. Its available in hardcover or in a kindle version. While a paperback may be seen eventually, we recommend the hardcover version because chess puzzles can be tough to read on electronic reading devices and we think its important to be able to write in chess books.



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A New Approach to an Old Game: Mongoose Press Introduces an Adventurous Way to Learn Chess

Newton, MA, July 06, 2009 ( Think chess is meant for retired men, reliving their inner geekiness? Think again. Studies around the world have proved that chess not only improves childrens test scores, but it also encourages self-confidence, patience, imagination and many other key social abilities. But how do you teach an elementary-aged child the complicated game of chess? How do you keep them from becoming bored?

Renowned Russian chess author, Igor Sukhin, has the answer with his new book: Garys Adventures in Chess Country. Through colorful pictures and puzzles, Sukhin brings chess to life with lively characters geared to young children. The story engages young readers immediately, with flying carpets and magical bicycles, while teaching chess in an easy to understand way. Using this approach, Garys Adventures in Chess Country is unique in the American market today

Garys Adventures in Chess Country is more than just an instruction manual, past Womens World Champion, Grandmaster Susan Polgar writes in her Introduction. It is a tool to help you create your own unique chess adventure with your child. It is an invitation to a chess expedition, an exciting journey that just keeps getting better.

Sukhin has written nearly 50 educational chess books. He is the only chess author whose books have been recommended by the Russian Department of Education. An earlier version of this book has been used successfully in Russia for almost two decades. This is the first English edition.

Bottom line, children who study chess become smarter. They learn to think for themselves, tackle problems with ability and look for outside-the-box solutions. Schools all over the country are initiating chess programs as they recognize the importance of these skills. Garys Adventures in Chess Country gives children a firm foundation in the game so that they can reach new intellectual potentials.







Garys Adventures in Chess Country








"Educational Course in Chess for Primary School"

2013 Suhin I.G.

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