Chess Tactics eBook Design Competition Results!

Wow, we got a ton of GREAT responses from people who voted in our poll for chess book designs!

Thank you so much for taking the time to look at these, and help us to choose! We really appreciate that, and are grateful.

Over 150 people voted and left comments!

Chess players love their chess books, and had a lot of great thoughts. 

People had a lot of great comments about the fonts, graphics, colors, symbolism, what the pieces were doing, comparisons with existing chess books, wording, shading, and all sorts of things that I never would have thought of.

For example, several of the covers featured the chessmen in their starting opening position, which several people pointed out didn’t really make sense for a tactics book.

In the end there was a pretty clear winner, which is what we will go with. 

We are going to slightly change the wording, and get rid of the exclamation marks, but the design is basically going to stay the same.

Some of the other covers, such as the orange one with army men were polarizing, which hurt their scores.  Some people loved it, but others didn’t care for it all.

Here is a sample of the feedback that we got for each other covers.

I like the perspective shot of the dead king.

Good use of color. Pieces look like the result of tactics! Angle indicates action!

Nice colours and well-balance layout

The color helps and I get the idea from the black queen that it was her army’s tactics that clobbered the white king!

I like this one! It’s more dynamic, which catches the eye. We can imagine the queen just knocked the king over. A chessplayer might exclaim: “Checkmate!” upon seing this.!

This is the best image. Tactics are about action and happen in the middle game when pieces are in movement. This photo shows the action and ultimate goal of actions—a captured king.

love the symbolism…my wife and sister would also! colors well done like other one

Dynamic, eye catching, and good colors that are not stark to look at. If I saw all of these covers in a row, I would pick this one up first. The fallen king shows the result of good tactics and thus the effect this book will have. Also the most “fun” cover.

I like this because its the idea of the pieces in motion plus checkmate.
It has strong focus and visual image. You know why you are buying the book.

I really like the toppled king. That’s the goal of the book right? To help you win. Nice colors. Words are simple and easy to read, but still interesting.

Pretty nice overall, nice color coordination and catchy design. This one edges the others out fro overall best in my opinion.

Visually, the most appealing to me.

This also is a cover that attracts me!.

Good, but average looking and common..

This is the best design of the set. The designer used solid design principles. Good symmetry and didn’t overdo the use of colours. The subheadline should be set in a san serif to stand out more. Something needs to be done for the title “tactics time!” to stand out a bit more. Either darken the background or lighten the text would allow for more contrast. Take a look at #4 for a better example (I would guess they are from the same designer).

I really like this one at first glance, but when I realize the pieces aren’t standing in their squares it suddenly seems sloppy. Not an impression I like for a book on tactics.

ok – I like the colors but picture does not represent much.

this one is the best of the covers i saw but not good enough. tactics is all about hidden relationships on the board, and this cover is close to that as far as i can have done a great job via your e mails…they bring fresh air.

Seen similar many times.

Chess pieces typically go on the center of the squares, don’t they? This is a j’doube nightmare.

This is the best in my mind. But I’d like to see a real position from a middle game.

I do not especially like computer design pieces (at least not such like this).

I like this one best because of the linearity, all pieces are straight and level view, plus the clear black-white division. For me, this one captures the essence best of chess. Good luck and cheers!.

Good use of space of print and images, and the colors are good.

nice, old fashioned with the lesser amount of color.

I like this idea but it would be far better if it used actual pieces instead of graphics. Good colors and composition.

I don’t care for the design of the pieces.

I quite like this one. The pieces seem to be showing off. For some reason it reminded me of the film “The Usual Suspects”.

Cover doesn’t really emphasis the concept of tactics.

The pieces aren’t really arranged in a way that makes sense.

This is the best looking one, the way the pieces are grouped together and the gradient design of the titles letters give it a classy look!

This shows some sort of real position.
Hope you sell a million + copies!!

It’s just ok. If I didn’t already know about Tactics Time, I think I would pass this one by.

I like seeing the pieces from the board level.


I like this one. The enemy is poised and ready to strike.

Didn’t like the soldiers

If I was to buy based on cover this would be it. Probably because it looks familiar, similar to other useful books I have bought in the past.

I think this one would be good if it just had chess pieces instead of army men on the board. I understand the connection, but still think it would be better with chess pieces. Also, the title font is a little plain.

The soldiers are really cool. This stands out from other chess books. The black subtitle has too little contrast with the background (especially on the left)

Army men is a little silly, but tie in well with the “tactics” theme. I think the background color and title font are by far the best on this cover.

Don’t like the soldiers

Immediately this book tells me about the scope of the book. Chess is a fight, a war, a battle….The cover tells me this and also says if you want to win, then tactics on the checkered field of battle is a must!

Like the action figures.

I like the color scheme of this one but the army men don’t do a lot for me.

Imaginative use of the lead soldiers. Pretty cool cover!

Soldiers vs pieces of chess.. It looks like a war magazine. Please, choose the white king resign.

Very original. This one might appeal to children as well as adults.

Clever with the soldiers.

kinda cute with soilder figures but detest the war machine and the rich scum who wage it for money and power for themselves!

Clever. Liking this one.

do not like the toy soldiers

the little army men pieces would need a lot of explanation.

National Geographic always had someone dressed in red standing in a landscape to give it scale and draw the eye. And this is red!

Different, and I like it.

I do not connect it with chess tactics

Don’t like the non-chess pieces

Its a good cover, but not the best.

I don’t like the little soldiers :-)

Can’t go wrong with Army Men!

The color catches my eye

Interesting adding army men to emphasize tactics, but a bit out of place for a chess book. The red cover is not bad, but lacks contrast and the elements blend together a bit too much.

I like the concept of the toy soldiers attacking the King, but the black text on the dark orange background is hard to read.

Kind of neat, but more dumb than neat.

I don’t like the plastic army man.

Different and catches the eye. Perhaps the chess piece ought to be a white king though?

tells a story

Little plastic Army soldiers look out of place. Design is kinda generic, that is it looks like a lot of other chess books on the shelf.

I like the war imagery, but don’t know if it works for everyone.

Safer to go with all chess pieces I think

I like this design the best because of the little Army men that strongly suggest attack – they have to get in tactical positons all the time to prepare an attack. Too, I think it might appeal to a broad base of chess players looking for a tactics book. The red/orange background also reinforces attack.

I like orange

This one is my favorite.

I don’t love the toy soldiers. I get the idea, but I just don’t like it.

I like the orange-red color, it gets your attention.

Not a toy soldier game.

Original, but I don’t like the distraction

Like the colors and font.

This looks really professional

I like it but it looks too much like Silman’s endgame book.


The reflection is cool.

There is no conflict on the cover. It only shows the one side. It is a passive cover.

Like the white on white with the reflection of the pieces on the bottom

too empty, no colours

Clear message and looks pro. I would consider buing a book with this cover

Cover is ok, but you need some color to bring you in and check the inside of the book. Sometimes the title needs a little help from colors.

Pretty simply with so much white but I like what was done with the pieces.

Classic. To be expected from a chess book. It’s a good, solid design, but it won’t really set you apart from the rest.

Too bright.

The reflection in this on is cool.

Okay.. my least favorite -..for those who don’t care what the cover looks like.
Too much white space.

This would be my favorite if the squares of the chess board were visible left of the pieces.

the classic use of black and white is very subtle and beautiful…well done

ok – but perhaps not colorful enough

If this one had the pieces in any position other than at start, I’d probably pick this one. Also, for whatever reason the font works better in black than for #s 9 and 16.

I like this more than the others. It is clear and easy to the eye.

Nice clean pic

Nice board, the text close to the pieces should be smaller.

Kinda pedestrian.

Very clean, but imho it is misssing some tactics element – it is more like “opening repertoire for white”

Too much light…. washed out.

not visually appealing to me.

Simple and to the point. Uses the colors of chess, black and white, to good effect. A bit plain but solid and easy to understand.

I like the reflection of the pieces on the board and the contrast of black text on white background. That’s the easiest to read. I also think this design would look better against a black background.

Would be better if one could see the pattern of the board.

Bright but a little boring. Starting position != tactics for me.

Because of perspective, it looks like White is missing a pawn in front of the rook.

I like the reflections but it would make me think of opening strategy book


great constrast and easier to read than the others


This one is OK.

Nice simple design – it works.

too aggressive and attention-seeking colours + title is too fat (bold)

great photo and very nice view – good job !!!

I don’t like the texture on the title, and the photo is too static.

Pieces not dramatic enough

Cover is good, got my curiosity – I think the phrase (Like You!) along with the color would boost this cover.

I love the whole board presentation but the rest of the design not so good.

This one looks like it’s trying a little too hard to get people’s attention, because the title sticks out a little too much. I don’t like the title design that much on this one.

Too many “billboards”.

Great modern design.. like the earth tones and the lettering jumps out!

Good colours and best typography for the subheadline. The subheadline is well written and is what will sell the book so it’s important to get that right. The addition use of chess pieces in the title is unnecessary. I would say this is the strongest cover of the bunch, but I would rather see a game in progress or pieces moving rather than the static opening set-up.

I like the photography on this one, but the background behind the title text just feels out of place to me for some reason.

too stuffy dusty librarish, set kinda lame, the cover sorta reeks of chess as a study and not a game

I like this very much – colorful and pleasing to the eye

The box around the subtitle makes it look too busy/cluttered.

Title is separated from body. Does have a consistent theme


Looks like a war zine.

Board set up wrong.

I like this stands out very much!

I love the colors and how the space is used effectively with the image and print.

I don’t like the use of two different backgrounds – one for the board and one for the title.

This one looks really old fashioned.

Looks like opening strategy book


This one is good.

Too busy.

Not bad.

Too busy

I like the look of the other pieces surrounding the king.

Too dull.

My least favorite. Don’t like the fading. Tactics don’t fade, they bolden.

I don’t lilke the metallic lay-out of the title. it doesn’t match with the chessboard

interesting but not very convinient

I don’t think the gradient on the title fits very well, but I think there are some OK things about this one. There are clearly better ones though.

Like seeing the king down, but not keen on the color, or lack of

Cover is good. Again, would like to see some color.

An ok design.

A little too vague. There isn’t much going here. A somewhat boring cover.

Title seems faded.

Okay.. 2 1/2 stars! Fair looking, but has an intriguing cover style.

I like the perspective.

I like the concept here

very interesting..reminds me of Iceland in the winter!

reasonable concept – but could be better

The title color washes out a bit against the light background.



Quite good one, but the bottom part of the pieces in likely visible.

Don’t like the fallen king

I like it…

Good but nothing special. The least eye catching of all the covers.

the photo is a little ‘blah’ – just black and white – no effects – and I’m not crazy about the gradient in the font.

Cool Picture, I like the basic color palette. But it’s somewhat boring, looks like every other chess book.

The colours are quite classy looking, but as a chess player the position doesn’t look like a real one.

washed out

I don’t like the image being so soft lit or out of focus – i feel like there is nothing for the eye to settle on

hard to see photo

You see empty squares, not tactics.

I like the toppled king again but the position on the board doesn’t look legal.


Gold lettering helps. Remains too discreet for my taste.

There is no conflict on the cover. It only shows the one side. It is a passive cover.

Too Dark. Not a bad look, just not special.

I don’t lilke the metallic lay-out of the title. it doesn’t match with the chessboard
nice background but to dark in my opinion

Not sure I like the color

I don’t care for this one. just doesn’t pull you in.

Very good, 3 1/2 stars! Nice classical style. Has a suspenseful cover design.

like the classic black look..really good

too plain

Nice, but I wouldn’t use a picture with the pieces in their starting positions. Implies openings.

Subject matter (pieces) doesn’t stand out


Quite nice if the book’s title is “repertoire for black”, but not for tactcis book (too dark)

Color is fine, but the space is not wisely used.

A bit dark and lacking contrast among the pieces. Other than that this is a very good cover and gives an impression of professionalism.

pieces are a little blah

Color scheme is good, all black. Maybe the back can be all white with the white pieces. Looks like every other chess book.

Include both Black and White pieces.

Looks like opening strategy book

This one is cool too.

Boring. This would not catch my eye in a book shop

Too bland

The more simple the cover, the better.

Looks like a recipe book.


Great cover, has a collectable looking style.

This looks more like the cover of a novel than a chess book.

Too old fashioned

Sorry, I just don’t care for this one at all. Maybe it’s just too plain for my taste.

way too sterile, perfect for the book nerd though…

Looks rather amateurish..

Looks like it’s still in the mockup phase.

essential and easily readable.

The breaking up of the word chess is jarring and you probably don’t need the word “chess” on the front anyway…

Absolutely UGLY to me! Run away!

Too academic looking..

Its a bit too casual..

not enough color selections….

Love this cover–it looks polished and professional..

Looks old fashioned.

Doesn’t stand out..

The pieces within pieces just looks weird to me.


I don’t like the word Chess being split in half;

not modern enough

plain and simple.

Black and white give it an old flavor.

looks amateurish.

Looks like a older chess book I’m not keen on this.

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One thought on “Chess Tactics eBook Design Competition Results!

  1. I am glad I could help! I am waiting for the books! :). I swear – I will not be judging this book by the very nice cover! :).

    I like that the actual book’s cover wins the competition. Others was not as good as this one :).

    Keep going great work (Timmy and Anthea)

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