Win a chess book from Lauren Goodkind


UPDATED: Lauren chose the winner! See the bottom of the post for the lucky one!

50 Poison Pieces

Read an excerpt from a book-in-progress and then vote on a name for that book. The author of the book-in-progress, Lauren Goodkind, will pick one winner from the comments. That winner will receive a copy of her previous book 50 Poison Pieces: Solve 50 Puzzles Where the Unprotected Piece is Toxic.

About Lauren

Lauren Goodkind began playing US Chess-rated tournaments at age 15. For the past 12 years, her rating has hovered around 1900. With that 1900 rating, Lauren is in the top 6% of the 68,593 US Chess-rated players. She is also ranked in the top 2% of the 10,243 female US Chess-rated players. Lauren’s goal as a chess teacher is to raise that last number. That is, she wants more girls and women to play chess. The chair of the US Chess Women’s Committee, Maureen Grimaud, emailed me that one of her committee’s goals is for there to be the same number of female players as male players. Using current numbers, more than 48,000 additional girls and women would need to start participating in US Chess to meet that goal.

Lauren Goodkind
Lauren Goodkind
WIM Alexey Root in a simultaneous exhibition
WIM Alexey Root in a simultaneous exhibition

Lauren is committed to encouraging new players, especially girls and women, to join chess. For example, she is offering free chess classes at her local library in Palo Alto, California. If you are in Texas instead of California, come instead to my free library chess event on January 26.

Lauren also networks with women already in the chess world. When she was searching for an editor for her book-in-progress, she asked Maureen Grimaud and Renate Otterbach, chair of the Chess in Education Committee for US Chess, if there were any women chess masters with editing skills. Via email, Renate put me in touch with Lauren. Lauren hired me to edit her current book-in-progress. Lauren was a pleasure to work for, so I’m delighted to help her with her next task, naming her book-in-progress.

Naming Lauren’s new book

The premise of Lauren’s book is that you, the reader, play a chess game against a fictional girl beginner, Sophia. For each move in the game, you choose among three moves to play against Sophia. After you have chosen your move, Lauren provides explanations of the three move choices.

Lauren is considering the following two titles (A & B below) but is also eager to read the titles that you come up with (C below):

A. Chess Game in a Book

B. Sophia’s Chess Adventure

C. Write-in Your Title ___________________

To help you decide on a book title, what follows is an excerpt from Lauren’s book.

Let’s turn the page to see how Sophia responds to our 11. Nxc6+ move.

chess diagram

Sophia moved her king to e8 to get out of check from our knight on c6. In other words, 11…Ke8.

How should we respond against Sophia’s 11…Ke8? Our choices are 12. b3, 12. Nxa5, or 12. Nd5. Turn the page to learn more about these three choices.

chess diagram

12. b3 is not a good move. What are the reasons for this move? The pawn is now controlling the squares a4 and c4. This move also gives space for our king to move—Kb2 for example. However, the b3-pawn is no longer controlling the a3-square. On the next move, Sophia can develop her bishop to a3 with check. Also notice that after we move the pawn to b3, our knight on c3 is no longer protected by our b-pawn.

chess diagram

12. Nxa5 is an okay move. What are the reasons for this move? We can safely capture Sophia’s pawn on a5 for free. However, our knight on a5 is on the side of the board so this piece has limited mobility now.

chess diagram

12. Nd5 is the best move. What are the reasons for this move? Now the knight is closer to Sophia’s king, and we are actually threatening checkmate by Nc7! Notice that Sophia’s king cannot move anywhere. Her king cannot move to the d8 and e7 squares due to our knights on c6 and d5. If your opponent’s king cannot move anywhere, look for ways to threaten checkmate.

Now that you have read the excerpt, and know that Lauren’s goal is to encourage girls and women to play chess, what do you think the title should be for this book-in-progress? A, B, and C (“C” is you writing in a new title that you created) are all options:

A. Chess Game in a Book

B. Sophia’s Chess Adventure

C. Write-in Your Title ___________________

In your comment, put either “A” or “B,” or put “C” followed by the title you come up with for Lauren’s book. Via email, Lauren will contact one person who commented. After Lauren looks through all the comments (your comment deadline is Galentine’s Day, Wednesday, February 13, 2019), Lauren will mail one person who commented a free copy of her previous book 50 Poison Pieces: Solve 50 Puzzles Where the Unprotected Piece is Toxic.

Feb 14, 2019 UPDATE: Lauren Goodkind chose
Divya Rachakonda as the winner of the contest for her suggested title “Queen for a Day: The Girl’s Guide to Chess Mastery“. Laure will contact Divya directly for her prize. Thank you all for participating. Your enthusiasm on chess is extraordinary!

WIM Alexey Root, PhD

Alexey Root is a Woman International Master and the 1989 U.S. Women's chess champion. Her peak US Chess rating was 2260. She has a PhD in education from UCLA. You can find her books on chess on

About the players

17 Responses

  1. Divya Rachakonda
    Divya Rachakonda at

    Queen for a Day: The Girl’s Guide to Chess Mastery

  2. Allison Mintz
    Allison Mintz at

    Playing Chess with Sophia: a reader’s choice adventure.

  3. Lucy Miranda-Sanchez
    Lucy Miranda-Sanchez at

    C. Sophia’s Quest For Success

  4. James Walker
    James Walker at

    Sophia: Chess Her Best (for success).

  5. Jazmin Jamias
    Jazmin Jamias at

    Best Moves Practice: A chess adventure with Sophia!

  6. Marie Logan
    Marie Logan at

    C Make Your Move

  7. stephanie daddino
    stephanie daddino at

    Ladies’ Knight! : a beginner’s guide to becoming a chess queen

  8. Noa Feen
    Noa Feen at

    suggested title:
    “Go Girl Chess”

  9. Leo
    Leo at

    Sophia’s Castle

  10. Fausto D'Apuzzo
    Fausto D'Apuzzo at

    Exploring Chess with Sophia: an Interactive Guide of the Fundamentals

  11. Fausto D'Apuzzo
    Fausto D'Apuzzo at

    C. Sophia explores Chess: an Interactive Guide of the Fundamentals

  12. Renate
    Renate at

    Making wise choices
    Discovering the best move
    Sophia suggests: best moves in chess

  13. Fausto D'Apuzzo
    Fausto D'Apuzzo at

    Exploring Chess with Sophia: an Interactive guide to the Foundamentals

  14. Neeha
    Neeha at

    C. Good move or a Bad move – Let’s review with Lauren!!


    C. Good move or a Bad move – Let’s explore chess with Lauren!!

  15. Virginia Hoffmann
    Virginia Hoffmann at

    It’s Your Move! Play Chess against Sophia.

  16. Celia Tsao
    Celia Tsao at

    1. Choose Your Best Move: Join Sophia’s Chess Adventure
    2. A Girl’s Guide to Chess
    3. I also like B. Sophia’s Chess Adventure

  17. Christopher Johnson
    Christopher Johnson at

    C: Adventure of Chess: Choose moves against Sophia