Dean's Chess Academy DVD
I could have been World Champion. Sure, I didn't start playing the game until I was 30—that's the only reason I'm not pre-eminent among International Grandmasters right now. It's not my fault: people my age didn't have DVDs to learn from. You had books, many of them very old, dry, and written in the Cyrillic alphabet. If you're lucky enough to have grown up in a major city like New York, there are teachers available like Bruce Pandolfini and Lev Alburt, but for those whom aren't so fortunate (like me), only second-rate players (like me) might be around, or circumstances might not permit access to a live teacher at all. Thus, the only reason why I'm not offering Rook odds to Karpov and Krammnik at my own personally-named, Fortune 500-sponsored Interzonal play-off celebrating my endorsed merchandise IPO is the historical bankruptcy of instructive praxis offered my entire generation of wood-pushers.
OK—actually, the truth is there's no negligence on the part of the educational system at fault: I had every opportunity; I just didn't make use of them, and I'm an unmotivated slacker that only became fascinated with playing about ten years after I graduated from college. But fortunately for today's novices, it's no longer 1976, and players of all ages just starting out can learn the key fundamentals from one of chess education's finest, IM Dean Ippolito, with his excellent Dean's Chess Academy DVD series.
Although thorough enough for adults, the video lectures have definitely been created with youth in mind, and were in fact filmed in front of a live audience of school-age children receiving a comprehensive series of lessons from the unusually charismatic (for a chess teacher) Ippolito. Beginning with the very basics—how to set up the board, movements of the pieces, etc.—the four volumes progress through introductory opening strategy, fundamental checkmates, and entry-level tactical ideas, leading up to a very interesting discussion of one of my favorite games: Paul Morphy vs. Count Isouard (1858). (Yes, it's possible to have an "interesting discussion" about the topic). In all instances, the instruction is of a very easily comprehensible, but fun variety that virtually anyone capable of learning the rules of the game can understand.
Unlike some of the other entries in the chess video market I've unfortunately seen, the series is exceptionally well-produced, with high technical values and outstanding sound, so it's unlikely bad camera work and glitches will stand in the way of the learning process. It's important to realize that this is not the only curricular material you'll need to master the game; the emphasis is very much on the most basic knowledge necessary to begin playing, and parents of children with some experience may want to look at videos with more intermediate and advanced theoretical content.
For anyone, and especially any child, looking to climb the hill from the very bottom, however, I really can't recommend this outstanding, thoughtfully produced educational product highly enough. For more information, or to order on-line, visit www.chesshouse.com.#