Instant Chess

Edward Winter


instant chess

The penultimate page of Instant Chess by David Levy and Kevin O’Connell (Oxford, 1984) contains the following observation:

‘Many books, to be blunt, are mediocre or downright bad.’

Nobody who has struggled through the preceding 74 pages will be in any mood to argue.

Pity the poor beginner who tries to pick up the game from this truly awful work. Vital matters are never mentioned at all: that White moves first, that the players move alternately, what the pieces look like ‘in the flesh’, what perpetual check is, what is scored for a draw, etc. The following list of other complaints is far from exhaustive.

instant chess

It is scarcely credible that two prominent chess writers could dare place before the public such a pathetic book. How did they manage to take Pergamon Press in?


Our criticisms of Instant Chess (C.N. 926) have met with a certain amount of resistance from Pergamon Press, and we have suggested that if doubt exists they should be submitted to a third-party expert of the company’s own choice. There has not been any reaction to that, just as none of the specific criticisms we made has been contradicted by Pergamon or anyone else. The Press’s main reason for querying our misgivings is that other writers have not given Instant Chess poor reviews.


C.N. 1559 described Instant Chess as ‘one of the least impressive beginners’ books ever published’ and noted that a German edition had just been published by Walter Rau Verlag under the title Blitzschnell Schach gelernt – and with a flamboyant strip on the front cover proclaiming ‘Recommended by Garry Kasparov’.

instant chess

Latest update: 25 July 2023.

To the Chess Notes main page.

To the Archives for other feature articles.

Copyright: Edward Winter. All rights reserved.