Especially starting in the 1980s, Pandolfini identified and filled a role producing books for novice players. See the partial list of books below later in this article. His books were influential because along with Fred Reinfeld and I. A. Horowitz, they were the most likely to be stocked in aggregate by book stores on the chess shelf. Even later when he produced more advanced books, book stores stocked several of his efforts because they were steady sellers.
Pandolfini created and/or popularized several innovations in chess instructional writing of the time. For various publishing reasons it is common for chess authors to list several moves before they include a diagram. Pandolfini realized that beginning players struggle with that format, and most of his books include more and larger diagrams to help the beginning player orient.
Pandolfini also worked on summarizing chess principles into small phrases that could be studied at leisure, separate from a detailed presentation. For example, the book "Russian Chess" contains capsule quotes by famous players highlighting broad conceptual themes.
Pandolfini also realized that Garry Kasparov was an exciting personality to hold the title of World Chess Champion, and produced some books which drew upon that feel of freshness in the chess community. Examples are "Kasparov's Winning Chess Tactics", and "Kasparov and Deep Blue".
Pandolfini lives in New York and has coached many talented chess players, the most famous being Fabiano Caruana, the youngest Grandmaster in American history, Josh Waitzkin, the subject of the book and movie mentioned above, and chess prodigy Jeff Sarwer, who became the Under-10 champion in the first World Youth Chess Championship, when he was 8 years old. Pandolfini is popular with his students due to his easygoing attitude—a sharp contrast to the stern character Kingsley portrayed in the film.
He writes a monthly column for the magazine Chess Life titled "The ABC's of Chess". This column once featured monthly tutorials on openings, but it has since evolved into "Solitaire Chess" that invites the reader to guess the moves played in a single game.
Pandolfini appeared on the box of Mattel's "Computer Chess" and has a virtual chess school featured in the PlayStation 2 and PC game Chessmaster 9000. His tutorial contains extensive analysis of White's and Black's first four moves, tactics, positioning, and the endgame.
Books by Pandolfini
- The ABCs of Chess: Invaluable, Detailed Lessons for Players of All Levels
- Let's Play Chess!
- Principles of the New Chess: Superb New Techniques Developed in the USSR and the USA
- Russian Chess
- Square One: A Chess Drill Book for Children and Their Parents
- Beginning Chess
- Bobby Fischer's Outrageous Chess Moves
- Chess Doctor: Surefire Cures for What Ails Your Game
- Chess Openings: Traps and Zaps
- More Chess Openings: Traps and Zaps 2
- Chess Target Practice: Battle Tactics for Every Square on the Board
- Chess Thinking
- More Chessercizes: Checkmates: 300 Winning Strategies for Players of All Levels
- Kasparov and Deep Blue: The Historic Chess Match Between Man and Machine
- Kasparov's Winning Chess Tactics: How He Thinks, How He Chooses
- One-Move Chess by the Champions
- Pandolfini's Chess Complete
- Pandolfini's Chess Challenges: 111 Winning Endgames
- Pandolfini's Endgame Course
- Pandolfini's Ultimate Guide to Chess
- Power Mates: Essential Checkmating Strategies and Techniques
- Weapons of Chess: An Omnibus of Chess Strategy
- Kempley, Rita. "'Searching for Bobby Fischer' (PG)" (Review). Washington Post, August 11, 1993. Retrieved on May 4, 2013.
- Fabiano Caruana – youngest US and Italian GM in history, ChessBase News, July 20, 2007, retrieved 2009-03-01