I’ve heard and read this questions countless times:
“How do I start playing chess?” Or “How do I improve my game?” from aspiring and advanced gamers.
My stock answer:
Grab a quality chess book and read it line by line. Period! I’ve never seen another medium with so clear and easy to understand illustrations and examples of this ancient game than the books.
There are countless chess books out there- and more are being published every year- so you’re spoilt for choices already.
But I understand you can’t read all these books, so allow me to recommend you my collection of the 10 best chess books that you start with…
Best Chess Book Reviews:
1. Logical Chess: Move By Move: Every Move Explained Review:
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First up is the Logical Chess: Move By Move: Every Move Explained, a book I’ll urge you to grab right way if you’re looking to improve your chess game. That is- after you’ve learned the basics of chess.
This timeless, popular classic has won many hearts due to the content and value it gives you. It contains a total of 33 complete games- fully illustrated and explained Move by Move.
What’s more, the author goes the extra step to explain to you why you’ve to take every move- something that doesn’t come easily in other books.
By taking your time to read this book, I can assure you that you’ll get new insights on the power of pieces and how you can post them effectively!
2. Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess Review:
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Having gone through this book, I can personally assure you that it’s the fastest, most enjoyable chess book that ever hit the book stores!
It’s just crafted to give you the real results! As you start reading this book, it will take you through some basics, and as you continue, you learn Bobby Fischer key chess principals and secrets that will get you to the top.
For those who don’t have an idea who Bobby Fischer is, he’s one of the pro chess players ever known.
Born in Chicago, Illinois back in 1943, he played his first game at age 6. In his teen years, he rose to international prominence by consistently winning the United States Chess Competition for 4 straight years without losing a single game! As far as chess history is concerned, he was the youngest International Grandmaster!
While I don’t promise you to beat the top chess player immediately after reading this book, I can guarantee you that if you put the new concepts and ideas to action, you’ll truly leave a mark in the chess arena.
3. Chess: 5334 Problems, Combinations and Games:
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Chess: 5334 Problems, Combinations and Games is another chess teaching machine you wouldn’t want to miss. In my honest opinion, this is one of the most complete collections of chess problems ever- comprising a total of 5,334 instructional situations clearly illustrated by the world’s top chess teacher.
It’s important to note most of the 5000plus games you’ll get inside the book are taken from real-life matches- including 128 tournament game combinations, 144 simple endgames, 600 miniature games, 744 mates in three moves, 3,412 problems for mates in two moves, and 306 for checkmate in one move.
All the chapters are arranged by the type of problem…And each problem, combinations comes keyed in an incredibly easy to comprehend method at the back of this book. This makes the learning process even more easier for you. Above all this, you’ll get a set of the basic chess rules as well as an international bibliography.
Without a single doubt, Chess is the ultimate book for both the aspiring and advanced gamers who wanna become winners!
4. My System by Aron Nimzowitsch:
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Old is gold, they say. My System, written by Aron Nimzowitsch, is one book that continues to enjoy massive reads from all players who want to learn the secrets of winning the game. It has been ranked as one of the 3-4 best-selling chess books of all time, a clear indication of the value it comes with.
So, what’s in this classic? Well, you’ll be pleased to note that it comes with a total of 419 diagrams, all of which will teach you the deep theories of the positional chess and help you improve your game in no time.
The fact that it has been revised into an algebraic notion and updated with the modern English makes it real easy to understand from the word go.
The author of this book was nicknamed the “Stormy Petrel” of chess game due to his mastery of the game! In reading this book, therefore, rest assured that you’ll absorb useful knowledge from a chess genius.
And oh! Don’t forget that this book has enjoyed recommendations from grandmasters- the likes of Raymond Keene and John Watson- for a total of 75 years!!
5. Art of Attack in Chess:
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Many chess books have been written, but none of them can take the place of Vladimir Vukovic’s Art of Attack in Chess. Though it was first published back in 1965, the book has beat all the odds to remain at the top and become a timeless classic. It has been revised into modern algebraic notion for easy understanding by the current generation.
What’s inside this book? Its title says it all; it teaches you the effective ways of attacking your opponent’s King while attempting to checkmate it.
It comprises a total of 12 chapters, with each chapter focusing on various aspects of the hunting stages. A good example is chapter 7, where you’ll learn how to execute the classic bishop sacrifice easily.
As I’ve already stated, this book was transcribed into the algebraic notion. To make the new layout even more clear and easy to understand, it comes with footnotes that offer you corrections to variations as well as other mistakes.
The Art of Attack in Chess is an ocean of wealth for all experienced chess players who want to advance their skills.
6. My 60 Memorable Games: chess tactics, chess strategies with Bobby Fischer:
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Get ready for another quality-packed chess book from Bobby Fischer- the first and the only American who ever won the official World Chess Championship. Up until now, he’s still considered one of the greatest figures of all times in chess.
In this particular book, the American chess genius takes you through 60 of his most memorable real-life games he ever played.
All through these games, he’ll give you full descriptions of his thoughts when he was playing the games, the intricacies fueling him and his opponents’ strategies, the tactical justification of each move, and the physiological battle in each. So much to learn in a single book!
I also came to discover that Fischer played almost all the featured games when he was a grandmaster which makes me believe he gave them his highest level of geniality.
All players- from enthusiasts to competitors and professionals- will learn tons from the beautifully simple, breath-taking play combinations in this book.
7. The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal:
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Sometimes learning from the autobiographies of world chess champions can go a long way in motivating you to keep trying, leave alone improving your gaming skill. The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal is one excellent example of such a book.
It represents you with the autobiography of Mikhail Tal (popularly known as the magician from Riga) – one of the ‘bestest’ attacking World Champion.
This enchanting autobiography takes you through his extraordinary chess career with humor and charm. It comes with dazzling games throughout, coupled with witty self-interviews and anecdotes.
These will give you a new way of learning chess as you get to know the ups and downs of his entire career.
The fact that he didn’t give up chess despite his health (kidney) issues will inspire you to greater heights.
His entire illustrious tournament record (up until his demise in 19920, along with his best 100 complete games plus nearly as many positions are included in this book. You’ll indeed be swept by Tal’s passion and vitality for the game as you read through the chapters of this remarkable book!
8. How to Reassess Your Chess: Chess Mastery Through Chess Imbalances:
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How to Reassess Your Chess takes a whole new approach on how to improve your game. Compiled by Jeremy Silman, an international master, the book is more like a step-by-step course that results in a notable improvement in every player’s game.
One thing I love about this book is how the author makes learning chess look so simple.
He uses clear, direct language to teach you exactly how you can dissect any position, recognize its different parts, and eventually settle on the right move that matches the need of the situation at hand.
Thumbs up, Silman!
By explaining the thought process of a master that helps make the perfect move, Silman is simply giving you a system of ideas that will contribute to making your advanced strategies seem clearer, logical, (and at times) obvious!
How to Reassess Your Chess presents you with invaluable knowledge and instinct missing in most chess books out there.
9. Tactics Time! 1001 Chess Tactics from the Games of Everyday Chess Players:
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Learning the basic rules and moves of chess is just beginning- and a good start for folks who play chess for entertainment only.
But when it comes to players who have dreams of taking their game to the next level, you’ll need to enhance your problem-solving skill which equates to learning new chess strategies.
And the Tactics Time! Chess book gives you the chance to learn from the chess experts- Tim and Anthea.
The duo helps you improve your chess game by using their specially designed chess tactics. One big reason to believe in their tactics is that they’ve spent time learning from the mistakes of other chess tactics authors to give you a perfect copy.
In other words, this book contains 100% original, new tactics, it comes Error-free and double-checked, and has tactics drawn from expert gamers.
Another interesting fact about this book is that it’s easy to read and does not come with unnecessary fluff and page fillers like other books. Its clear layout speaks for itself: a single chess problem on one page and a detailed solution on the following page.
Bottom line: This book will improve your gaming significantly, one tactic at a time!
10. Think Like a Grandmaster:
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Bringing an end to our list of the best chess books is another classic- the Think Like a Grandmaster- that has also been published in the modern algebraic notion to facilitate natural learning. The book has brought real impact into the chess world since its publication.
In fact, its first edition sold in months. This led to the book being recognized as a chess masterpiece, and 20 years later, it’s still among the best-selling books in its field.
As the titles suggest, this practical chess teaching manual encourages you to learn how the grandmaster thinks and all his secrets to consistent wins.
The author, Kotov, focuses on fundamental issues like learning how/when to analyze, analysis tree, a handy selection of candidate moves, and essential tips for the ultimate success.
By the time you finish this book, you’ll have gained a lot of knowledge on thematic ideas and positional assessments, and you’ll be ready to take your game to the next level.
How To Practice Chess by Reading The Books?
Don’t just read your chess book as you’d do with a romantic or fiction novel. You’ll need to devise a way to help you get the most out of your book and retain it months or years later.
I’ve got a personal reading technique that I once applied when reading a programming book. It worked miracles, and I believe it will do the trick for all your chess books.
Let’s take a closer look at this method:
- The first step is to secure yourself a notebook and 2-3 pencils. I know you own the book, but you’ll still need to take jot down some key notes as you continue reading it. This helps you retrieve the information much faster in future as opposed to find it in the book. Besides, writing down your point helps implant them in your memory.
Above all, keying down ideas from different books in a single notebook will make it a powerful resources and reference for your chess game (just remember to indicate the title and author of each book).
- The next step (and most always folks ignore this one) is having a chess set by your side. Believe it or not, if you try to read a chess book without the board and pieces, you won’t retain much info. As you read and make the indicated moves physically on the board, the new tactics you learn will get cemented in your memory faster.
What if you’re reading your book on a tablet?
In such cases, you’d want to install the chess book reader app which provides you with a side (small) screen with virtual chess set where you can put the examples, concepts and moves learned into play.
Ensure you practice every single example given in your book, no matter how long it takes or hard it looks.
- Once you’re done reading one paragraph, don’t hop into the next without asking yourself this question:
“What have I learned in the last paragraph?”
If you can’t recall anything, do yourself a favor and go through the section again- I’m not saying you try to memorize every paragraph- just understand the fundamental concepts.
Also, remember to take down key points, if any, in each paragraph.
If you do this, you’ll have retained massive amounts of info by the time you finish reading the book.
- When you take a chapter down, go through the notes you jotted down and see if you can understand all the concepts you’ve just learned.
Where possible, grab your chess set and practice the examples without referring to the book.
- Let me leave this here for absolute beginners. As you read through your book, you’ll probably come across many foreign terms, and it’s important that you understand them as you’ll be using them through your chess career.
Gladly, many authors recognize this fact and put down the meaning of these terms- either at the footnotes or the back of the book.
Always jot down the foreign words as well, and if your book does not give the meaning of a particular term, Google knows better.
There has never been a better way to learn or improve any skill than learning a book about it, and chess isn’t an exception. By grabbing the best chess books, written by expert players, you’ll learn a lot and significantly improve your game.