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The new Chess fiction is here! - ALMA and the Dark Dominion review

by Avathanshu Bhat - 29/02/2020

If you are into Fantasy, and you are into chess, then this book is exactly right for you! The story is about four friends that are transported to another world, which shares many parallels to chess, and must defeat the ruler by solving all the tricky problems with logic and chess to return home. ALMA perfectly minces both of these together to create a unique and original idea. The two combined abilities of Judit Berg, the award-winning children's author from Hungary and Judit Polgar, the best female chess player of all time, turn these into a fun read on a nice afternoon. Read on for an exciting review on the reason why this book is absolutely incredible!

ALMA and the Dark Dominion is a fiction written by Judit Berg and contributed by Judit Polgar, which revolves around chess! There are very few chess fictions out there, so this was an absolute must to review!

The front cover of the book

It is very rare to see a chess book under a category other than improvement!

The plot follows the stories of four would-be friends – Alma, the chess enthusiast, Felix, the sporty player, Drifter, the logical brain, and Bella, the youngest of them all. Through a rapid series of events, they all accidentally enter another world. Already confused and seeking to find an exit back to their home, they stumble upon a village where they make a friend called Katalina, whose grandfather is slowly dying from multiple bee stings. All the villagers advise them to enter the depths of the ruler Lord Dharma’s castle, which is full of twists and turns and problems that can only be solved with a strong resolve. A heavy theme in the book is “Chess is like life, and life imitates chess,” and hence most problems are chess related. And just like the game, once you commit to something you cannot turn back…

The characters and their contrasting personalities are brought to life in these amazing illustrations!

The best thing about ALMA and the Dark Dominion is how well Berg's writing and Polgar's chess knowledge merge to create something filled with chess and make it light and fun for people who barely understand the game. The character's thoughts whenever a position comes in their way are echoed for the reader, and this serves multipurpose for both the story and as explanation for the answer. No matter how easy the positions were, I would always consciously stop reading at a point, find the answer to a position, and then move on. This becomes interactive in a way; you need to actually apply your own thinking rather than just blindly reading through. I just couldn't put down this book because of this appeal, and plowed through the night to finish it!

I realized that some sacrifices are worth making just like in I sacrificed my sleep to read on! Totally worth it!

Overall, it is very well written, with each of the characters given their special moments to shine through. Chess is of course very much a core part of the book, and simple mate-in-ones are scattered across and presented as a challenge for the characters . I will not spoil anything, but it is worth mentioning that it even takes the reader through one of Polgar’s own game with colorful illustrations and explanations at the appendix. With the simple and easy to understand chess themes, I would say that this book can be enjoyed best by those who love fiction and chess! The style of writing appeals to all and for that reason can be enjoyed by everyone!


Happy Reading!


Alma and the Dark Dominion excerpt

Buy Alma and the Dark Dominion from the Quality Chess website

The book will be available on ChessBase India soon

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