Author Archives: Jonathan Whitcomb

My wife and I have cared for children in our family child care home for over 20 years. Whitcomb Family Daycare is highly recommended by parents.

Physicist Clifford Paiva found the wings to be apparently real

Modern Pterosaur in an Old Photograph

By the nonfiction author Jonathan David Whitcomb

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Introduction to the Ptp “Pteranodon” Photo

This photograph of an apparent modern pterosaur has been around for a long time: According to some persons, such as Tom Payne, it was in an old publication that was published many years before Photoshop existed. So guess what many skeptic proclaim about the Ptp photo. Yes, they say it’s a Photoshop hoax.

I explain much about this in my nonfiction book Modern Pterosaurs.

Apparent Civil War soldiers with an apparent Pteranodon

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In 2007, the well-known cryptozoologist Loren Coleman said of this photo only two words: “Verdict: photoshopping.” So where did he get that idea? Of course the old hoaxes, like a dinosaur alongside a group of Civil War soldiers, puts us into a frame of mind to assume that this photograph is also a hoax. But just remember that the American Civil War was a real event that happened long ago and large pterosaurs lived long ago, albeit we’re taught that it was much longer ago.

The point is this: When did any scientist examine this photo carefully before Loren Coleman’s declaration referring to a Photoshop trick? Perhaps never, that is until early in 2017, when two scientists looked at Ptp very closely and concluded that the apparent animal in the picture was most likely a real animal.

Before 2017, Clifford Paiva and I had written scientific papers, including the following two:

  • “Results of Investigations Concerning Pterosaur Sightings In Papua New Guinea” (Paiva)
  • “Reports of Living Pterosaurs in the Southwest Pacific” (Whitcomb)

I doubt if Loren Coleman has ever written a scientific paper related specifically to the possibility that not all species of pterosaurs are extinct. The two publications mentioned above, by me and my associate Clifford Paiva, are not to be automatically taken as proof of extant pterosaurs, of course, but they are evidence that the two of us have taken that possibility seriously.

To be brief, the following are just a few of the points that we found, in 2017, that suggest a real animal was actually photographed and that it was extremely likely to have been a modern pterosaur. Here is a partial list:

  1. The curved neck of the apparent Pteranodon shows muscle structure.
  2. Shadows under the animal are consistent with a shadow under the shoe of a soldier.
  3. The physicist Clifford Paiva found what are probably image-stabilization props under the animal. These were often used in photography before about the year 1870.
  4. Whitcomb found a drag mark on the ground: consistent with a recently shot-down flying creature being dragged out from underbrush, into that clearing.
  5. Paiva and Whitcomb independently found a small tree that appears to have been broken down to make it possible to drag that animal into the clearing.
  6. Paiva found that at least some of the six men were using stances with their rifles that are consistent with a 19th century practice of keeping the human body motionless during the many seconds necessary for a camera to record a photo.
  7. Whitcomb magnified the images of the soldiers’ buttons and belt buckles and found that the pixel-width sizes were perfectly consistent with six men standing in the positions these six appear to be standing. In other words, the man in the front was actually standing in the front. In other words, these were men who were standing as they appear to be, NOT cutout images of soldiers being pasted onto an image of a monster in a clearing.

More Advanced Examination of the “Pteranodon” Photo

Now let’s consider a critic who has recently insinuated that at least part of this photograph was created digitally by creating one wing and then duplicating that wing to make the other wing. That hypothesis falls apart under close scrutiny.

Physicist Clifford Paiva found the wings to be apparently real

Paiva and I have carefully examined the whitish part of the outer areas of the two wings. We may have been the first persons to have noticed that patterns are very similar from wing to wing, with this white area. This brings up the idea that one wing was created and then duplicated, with modern digital image software, to make the other wing, which could easily be inverted horizontally. Paiva and I considered that possibility, but I found differences as well, early in 2017.

The recent skeptical remarks were that a wing must have been duplicated in that way, but look more closely. The wing shapes themselves, as we look at the darker outlines, differ greatly. Paiva and I independently experimented with wing duplicating, in September of 2017, and found that one wing cannot practically be manipulated in the way that two skeptics have insisted they were. We showed it experimentally, while the two skeptics, apparently, only imagined it vaguely in their minds. Any distortion that would allow one wing shape to come to resemble the other wing shape caused great distortion of the whitish area.

The best explanation for the similar patterns in the whitish areas of the wings is this: It is biological similarity, not from any digital hoax manipulation.

Conclusion

The Ptp photograph continues to pass anything that skeptics throw at it. It becomes more clear, as we examine it, that the best explanation is this: That apparent animal was an actual animal that was photographed, not in any way, in any part, created through anything like Photoshop.

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Living pterosaurs in Africa

What about the kongamato? It may be the same flying creature that is called “Batamzinga” in Kenya or “ropen” in Papua New Guinea.

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Nonfiction Books About Living Pterosaurs

Quoting three cryptozoology books that are about non-extinct pterodactyls

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A Modern Pterosaur in a Photo

Yet before the beginning of 2017, before Cliff and I began our joint investigation of Ptp, the typical skeptic would say, in response to this photo, something like, “It’s a Photoshop hoax.” One skeptic said that it was a very good Photoshop job, but that it was a hoax. Cliff and I found significant evidence, however, that it is not only much older than that digital image manipulation software but that it has evidence that the soldiers were actually standing in the way that they appear to be standing and that the animal was a real animal.

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Ptp photo of a modern pterosaur (~ Civil War time)

Problems in an online publication by an extreme skeptic of living-pterosaur investigations

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More than one prop in the photograph

I’ve written about the tree-branch prop used when this “Ptp” photo was recorded, indicating it was probably before about 1870 when those six men were standing over the body of the pterosaur. . . . The scientist Clifford Paiva has recently found another prop, this one under the left wing of the animal.

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Is the ropen a living pterosaur?

We have reports of modern pterosaurs in other parts of the world including the United States: California, Washington State, Oregon, Arizona, Utah, Maine, Ohio, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Georgia,North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania,Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas,Oklahoma, Kansas, and other states.

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Nonfiction book about the “Civil War” pterosaur photograph Ptp

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non-fiction cryptozoology book about a photo of a real modern pterosaur

Modern Pterosaurs – by Jonathan David Whitcomb

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Jonathan and Gladys on Ensign Peak, just north of downtown Salt Lake City

Chess Lessons in Utah

By the chess tutor Jonathan Whitcomb, living in Murray, Utah

When my wife and I lived in Southern California, she ran a large family day care for children, and I offered free chess lessons to those attending. Yet I now offer chess instruction for players of all ages: adults, teenagers, and elementary-school-age children (a pre-kindergarten child may learn to play chess in some cases; phone me at 801-590-9692 and feel free to ask about that). We now live in the Salt Lake Valley, and I can probably drive to your location for lessons.

Jonathan and Gladys on Ensign Peak, just north of downtown Salt Lake City

Jonathan and Gladys Whitcomb now live in Murray, Utah

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Let’s now look at a chess position from a game played at the Harman Senior Citizen Center in West Valley City, Utah. White has just captured a black pawn with that bishop on the left:

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White just moved Bxh5 but that does not necessarily win a pawn

The white bishop just captured a pawn on the h5 square. What can Black now do?

The above puzzle is not for the raw beginner but for advanced players. Don’t feel too bad if you fail to find a good move for Black. The man who played on that side in the actual game at the Harman Chess Club in the Salt Lake Valley—that player also failed to find the right move and eventually lost the game.

Part of the key to this chess puzzle is the following:

  1. White has just captured a black pawn
  2. The black queen is attacking an unprotected white pawn

This is a brief chess lesson, but it can be too challenging to those who do not know chess notation, so we’ll soon look at another diagram that makes it more clear.

Let me take you through the tactics of this positions, as if I were a chess tutor sitting next to you, explaining how to think about this position. The obvious move, capturing the white bishop with that pawn, is the wrong move, but the reason is does not work may not be obvious to you.

Notice the black knight on the c5 square. It is now attacked by the white queen but also defended by the black queen, so there is a balance at the moment. That’s important, for if the black queen were not defending that knight, the white queen could capture it.

Now notice that if it were not for the black pawn at g6 (the pawn that can capture the white bishop), the white knight in front of the white king could move to the f5 square, attacking the black queen and at the same time protecting the white pawn at h4.

I know that all this can be hard to visualize, so let’s look at the following diagram:

Part of why it would be a mistake for Black to capture that bishop

Why it would be a mistake for Black to capture that bishop: the red circle

The black pawn circled in brown—that pawn is protecting the square that has a red circle. That’s where the circled knight can move if the black pawn captures the white bishop (another brown circle is around that bishop).

Now imagine that the circled black pawn captures the circled bishop (brown circles).

Notice that the white knight, after moving to the square that has a red circle, would then do two things: attack the black queen and defend the pawn that has a green circle.

The tactical trick here is that the black queen would no longer be able to defend the black knight that is on the other side of the board. Whatever safe square the black queen would move to, it would allow the white queen to capture the black knight.

In chess, what happens on one side of the board sometimes affects the other side.

Now let’s get back to the original position. The best move for Black is probably to move the knight to e6, which indirectly puts the white bishop in danger:

Put the black knight on a safe square

The quiet-looking move may be the best here: moving the knight to a safe square

After the black knight makes that move, the white bishop really will be in danger of being captured by the black pawn.

This little chess lesson is not over yet. If the black knight moves to e6 (shown above), would not the white bishop also move to a safe square? White would then have won a pawn, right? No, it does not actually work out so well for White.

Let’s go back to the diagram with circles. Notice that the white pawn with a green circle will still be undefended and will still be attacked by the black queen. As soon as the white bishop moves to safety, the black queen will capture that white pawn, so the material will be even: Each side captured one pawn. In reality, however, Black will be better off, for the black queen will be in a position to eventually attack the white king, or at least that is a possibility for the future.

Private Chess Lessons in the Salt Lake Valley

Your own tutoring sessions, if you decide to take lessons in chess, will not necessarily involve that kind of tactical detail. What your lessons entail will depend on your precise skill in the royal game. Your lessons will be created precisely for your needs. As you improve in your abilities, the tutoring sessions will progress in step with your progress.

I can drive to many locations in the Salt Lake Valley, yet your chess lessons need not be in your own home. If you like, we could meet in a public library or a public park convenient to both of us. (I live in Murray, but my city business license does not allow me to conduct business in my own home; it is a home-office business.)

The first session is free, allowing you to learn how I teach and allowing me to learn where you stand in your chess-playing abilities. Regular lessons are at $25 per hour, but you can proceed as you will after the first free session: You don’t need to make any commitment to continue.

Call me at 801-590-9692 or send me an email with your questions. Thank you.

Chess tutor Jonathan Whitcomb in Utah

Chess tutor Jonathan Whitcomb, Salt Lake Valley, Utah

This instructor is an active member of the Harman Chess Club in West Valley City, Utah.

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Instructive Chess Lessons in Utah

Beat That Kid in Chess [published late in 2015] I wrote for the early beginner, the chess player who knows the rules of the game but little else about how to win. More recently, I began offering my services as a chess tutor in Utah, with private lessons in the Salt Lake Valley for $25 per hour.

Chess Tutor in Salt Lake area

Before moving to Utah, he was helping, part time for over ten years, with his wife’s large family child care business in Long Beach, California, where they offered free chess lessons for children . . .

Chess Instruction in Utah

This chess coach (who lives in Murray) is now offering private and group lessons in the Salt Lake Valley of Utah, with no travel charges to the central communities of the valley.

Chess Coach in Salt Lake Valley

I’m the author of Beat That Kid in Chess, and I now am available for teaching new students in the Salt Lake Valley. Chess lessons can be tailor made for each student, with the following levels of ability . . .

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Missing Children and LUFC

By Jonathan D. Whitcomb, cryptozoology author

The tragedy of strange missing-persons cases—that compels me to write about my interpretation of the more mysterious aspects of these disappearances, especially because so many of these lost individuals are children.

In giving this explanation, I don’t mean to imply that all the details in all these cases fit well with my model. Not at all. But many strange aspects of these vanishings become easy to understand with a LUFC (large unidentified flying creature) interpretation. Many of these cases appear to come from attacks from large flying predators, be they huge unclassified birds or ropens (long-tailed modern pterosaurs) or non-ropen Pterodactyloids (short-tailed pterosaurs).

Earlier this month (April of 2016), I was one of those interviewed for a television episode on missing persons in national parks of the United States, in this case Yosemite. This should be broadcast on American TV sometime around the end of 2016 or the beginning of 2017 on the Travel Channel.

David Paulides, author of a number of books about these strange disappearances, apparently has not taken a stand on LUFC (or other explanations involving cryptozoology, as in Bigfoot), but he has noted a  number of similarities in many of these cases of missing persons:

  1. Dogs fail to track or refuse to track the missing person
  2. Some clothing, or one or both shoes, are missing from found person or body
  3. No sign of any struggle and no evidence the victim was dragged away
  4. Body (or living person) is found far from where it would be expected to be
  5. Body is found where searchers had already looked (not finding it before)

The above mysteries are explained below, under the heading “explanations.” Be aware that this is my own theory of LUFC and human disappearances: my own ideas.

Children who go missing

A disproportionately large number of these cases involve missing children. Especially vulnerable are the two-year olds, who are just beginning to become slightly independent.

I have gathered data from the book Missing 411 – Western United States & Canada, by Paulides. I found that small children (under the age of three years old), in these strange cases, are found an average of 7.2 miles from where they became lost. Keep in mind the overall tragedy: many of these little ones are not found and many of those who are found are no longer living.

Children aged three to eight, on the other hand, when they are found, are an average of 5.2 miles from where they became missing. Older children, teenagers, and adults are found at a similar distance away as the 3-8-year-olds.

Many of these areas are rugged wilderness areas, some of them difficult for even experienced adult hikers to get to. Obviously, the two-year-old kids are not just wandering off, hiking up steep mountainous terrain for miles.

Why is a body often found in water?

Mr. Paulides has found many reports in which a missing person’s body was discovered in a lake or other body of water. Coroners often fail to reach a conclusion on cause of death. In addition, much of the evidence shouts loudly at investigators: The missing person was dead before the body got into the water.

In those cases in which the person may have been carried away by a large flying creature, the explanation is not so strange. It has two parts:

  1. Bodies are easier to discover (by searchers) when they are in the water
  2. Large flying creatures are often near water, and they can tire and drop a human body.

Explanation

1. Dogs fail to track the scent on the ground because a large flying creature has carried the person up into the air.

2. We may have two reasons for missing clothing and shoes. While the person is being carried through the air, the LUFC’s grip may be more on the clothing or shoes. The victim can fall out of the clothing or shoes, leaving the predator flying away with a boot or jacket, etc. In addition, when the predator stops to eat the victim, it may remove clothing. The first explanation appears more reasonable, but some of the details in some cases—those point to the possibility of the second explanation for missing clothing or one or more missing shoes. In addition, the researcher Gerald McIsaac, in British Columbia, where large flying creatures are reported to attack animals and people, says that sometimes a human victim is partially dragged on the ground for a short distance, before being lifted up into the air, and that this causes one or more shoes to be pulled off sometimes.

3. The victim is probably overcome by a noxious mist or vapor used by the flying predator to subdue prey. This mist or vapor is debilitating to inhale. The person is unable to call for help or to struggle against a predator that very soon returns to find that the victim is in a weakened condition. (This may be more like seconds than minutes.) The person is then carried into the air, without leaving much of a drag mark on the ground, or at least for only a short distance.

4. The person is carried in the air towards a location, possibly a cave or other secluded area, where the predator usually takes prey. This is usually far from where a human hiker would be expected to end up.

5. The flying predator may loose track of where the person falls out of clothing. The animal may not be able to find the fallen victim for some time, after discovering that it is carrying only an article of clothing. It may take even more than one day for the flying predator to find the body that was dropped, killing the victim perhaps. The predator may take the victim up into the air again but only for a limited distance, as it stops to rest. Search parties may have already been organized, with many people looking where they would expect that the missing person might be. When they return from a particular search route, they may then find the person’s body at a place where they had already searched. While people are searching for the missing person, the predator may be in the process of moving that person, in degrees, and sometimes losing the intended prey temporarily (or permanently, if people find the person or body).

Report a sighting

If you, or someone you know, have seen a large featherless flying creature, please report the sighting to Jonathan Whitcomb. Thank you.

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The ropen and missing persons

A kind of unidentified flying creature has been suggested as the cause of a portion of the missing children cases, for two-year-olds who disappear in or near wilderness areas of the United States and Canada . . .

Two-Year-Old Children Missing

A kind of unidentified flying creature has been suggested as the cause of a portion of the missing children cases, for two-year-olds who disappear in or near wilderness areas of the United States and Canada . . .

Why the Ropen is a Modern Pterosaur

Eyewitnesses from around the world report a large featherless flying creature with a long tail. These reports of long tails outnumber reports of a lack of a long tail by 20-to-1 ratio: 41% to 2%, according to analysis of data compiled at the end of 2012. Those sightings come from eyewitnesses of various cultures . . .

Missing People and Pterosaurs

Some of the strangest missing-persons cases may relate to a few individual animals of one species of ropen in North America . . . When a person is alone in a wilderness area in the United States, a large hungry ropen may attack, subduing the human by a mist or vapor that is debilitating when inhaled by prey. This may explain why human victims, when found alive, are asleep or unconscious or in a state that rescuers may describe as “confused” or “disoriented.”

Flying creatures and missing persons

From reading only a few dozen pages, I noticed the possibility a rogue ropen may have attacked some persons, although this is still speculative, based upon a small percentage of the living-pterosaur sighting reports that I have received over the past eleven years. A few modern pterosaurs do seem to have gone bad, and an apparent ropen has been known to approach a human through a suspicious dive.

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Nonfiction cryptozoology book on non-extinct pterosaurs

Fourth edition of the nonfiction cryptozoology book

Searching for Ropens and Finding God – by Jonathan Whitcomb

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Three books for chess players

Buying a Chess Book for a Gift

Hundreds of thousands of books may have been written about chess, over the past three centuries, perhaps more books about the royal game than all sports-books combined. Making a good buying decision for a chess book to be used as a gift, however—that requires care.

What is the chess-skill level of the gift recipient? That’s the big question. Is it a child who has already learned the rules but wants to win a game or two? Beat That Kid in Chess may be the best chess book for that child. Is it a club player who wins about half the time but needs to know a broad range of combinations that lead to checkmate? That intermediate-level player could benefit from the book How to Beat Your Dad at Chess. (By the way, both of those chess books are for a wide range of reader ages, not just for children.)

Three books for chess players

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We now look at three very different chess books, for different gift recipients.

Chess for Children

This is not for older children, but it could be delightful for small kids who have adults who’ll read it to them or for second graders. Much of it is devoted to the rules of the game. Here’s one reader-review:

I bought this book for my children’s school library. I am the chess coach at their school and have been making efforts to increase the library’s collection of chess books for children. This book is a fine addition to the collection. As I read through it I thought that my K-2 crew would probably enjoy it more than my 3-5 crew, but so be it. [four stars out of five]

Beat That Kid in Chess

The title was chosen for marketing purposes, for it’s not actually about defeating a child in a chess game: It matters not the age of your opponent.

This chess book is for a wide range of readers: older children, teenagers, and adults. It assumes the reader already knows the rules of chess but not much about how to actually win a game. Here’s part of a reader-review for Beat That Kid in Chess:

Studies show that the study of chess increases your IQ, prevents Alzheimer’s, exercises both sides of the brain, increases your creativity, improves memory, increases problem-solving and reading skills, improves concentration, teaches planning and foresight, and more. Who doesn’t want that for themselves and their loved ones? This book is perfect for someone who knows the basic rules of chess but needs additional help to actually win. . . .

Chess Tactics for Kids

This book is for the third-level of chess skill: the intermediate player who already has the ability to look ahead in a game. Chess Tactics for Kids is not for the real beginner, the person who knows little more than the rules and has had very little over-the-board experience.

Like Beat That Kid in Chess, however, this book is for a wide range of reader-ages. Here’s one of the more-positive reviews for Chess Tactics for Kids:

I found this book a revealing guide to the way top players find chess combinations. Of course there are many books on tactics – one reason this one stands head and shoulders above the rest is because of the quality of the examples, and the logical presentation.

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How to Beat Your Dad at Chess

This chess book is extremely popular on Amazon, yet combining the two-star and one-star customer reviews makes 9%, which can be a warning flag if you’re to purchase a book to be used as a gift . . . “This was Not the book I needed to help my 9-yr old grandson advance from the beginning level of chess playing. It is much too complex . . .”

Chess Books – for early beginner and post-beginner

Beat That Kid in Chess may be the best book for . . . the player who knows the rules but not much  else. The concepts taught with large chess diagrams can be understood and enjoyed by readers of a large range of ages . . .

Chess Books – Reviews

This is a set of short book reviews for the following:
* How to Beat Your Dad at Chess
* Chess: 5334 Problems, Combinations and Games
* Beat That Kid in Chess

New Chess Book Uses a New Teaching Method

The new paperback Beat That Kid in Chess may be the first publication to systematically use the teaching method called “nearly-identical positions” (PIN). It was also written especially with the “early” beginner in mind.

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"Beat That Kid in Chess" back cover

More About “Beat That Kid in Chess”

This book for early beginners in chess—it actually has few competitors, for the vast majority of chess books fit into one of the following two categories:

  1. For tournament competitors (many thousands of books)
  2. For mid-level or advanced beginners (at least many hundreds of books)

Beat That Kid in Chess is for the “raw beginner,” who has little, if any, experience winning a game of chess. It fits into neither of the above two categories. The reading level of the text is teenager-adult, but some older children will have no problem with it. The concepts are presented simply and can be easily assimilated by readers of a wide range of ages, including many children.

From the second page of the introduction:

Trust me. Start at the beginning of the first chapter and progress from page to page. There is no magic formula at the end of the book; don’t bother looking ahead. Well . . . actually, if you’re thirty minutes away from starting a chess battle with that kid, and you have a little experience with checkmates and tactics, you can skip to the exercises at the end. That’s temporary. Otherwise I recommend taking the lessons in order.

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white to move and mate in one

White to move (from the first page of the first chapter of the book; the actual diagrams in the book have letters and numerals running along the ranks and files, for clarity and chess notation)

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Notice the above diagram, taken from Beat That Kid in Chess. For those acquainted with back-rank mates, moving the queen up to the top of the board might come to mind. The black king, however, would then escape to the nearby white square (it would not be checkmate).

The checkmate pattern taught in this diagram, however, is that the white queen can capture the pawn that’s directly in front of the black king, and that’s checkmate. The book explains:

Were it not for the white bishop, the black king would simply capture the white queen. As it is, this move is checkmate . . .

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"Beat That Kid in Chess" back cover

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For the Early Beginner, a New Chess Book

‘Beat That Kid in Chess’ may be the best book for the early beginner, the player who knows the rules but not much  else.

Two Great Chess Books, one for Beginners

Both emphasize the importance of tactics in winning chess games. Both are extremely practical, preparing their readers to beat their opponents by checkmate.

New Chess Book for Beginners

Do you know the rules but almost nothing more about chess? This is the best book for the early beginner.

Nearly-Identical Positions in Chess

Why use the NIP method of chess training? . . . students learn to look at a chess position more like a grandmaster would.

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