Reading chess books is one of the primary ways a chess player acquires knowledge. However, the most instructive and suitable chess books for beginners to advanced players are frequently debated.
Readers are often confused by the variety of available chess books and are not sure of which to study for their respective levels, particularly for beginner and intermediate players.
As a result, beginners make the usual mistake of starting their chess study with intermediate-level books, while intermediate players study advanced-level books.
While these books may be of little help (if you don’t get tired of them), there are several enjoyable books to help you get the most out of your learning experience.
Continue reading to discover the best chess books you should study as
- a beginner-level chess player
- an intermediate chess player
- an advanced chess player
Best Chess Books for Beginners
The Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, coupled with the Netflix series Queen’s Gambit, sparked a lot of interest in chess between 2019 and 2022.
Recent stats indicate that more people have developed an interest in chess and are starting to learn the popular game.
If you fall into this category, we’ve curated some of the best chess books to help you learn chess as a beginner.
Chess Fundamentals by Jose Raul Capablanca
J.R. Capablanca was a World Chess Champion and one of the greatest players in chess history. Capablanca, in his book, discussed concepts around:
- how to obtain and nurture a passed pawn
- how to get and keep the initiative
- cardinal rules for rook and pawn endings
- how to attack using a knight as the main force, and
- how to cut off enemy pieces.
Chess Fundamentals is one of the jewels of chess literature. This book will greatly benefit beginner-level chess players.
It’s also a book intermediate and advanced players can get their hands on to solidify their knowledge of the basics of chess.
Grandmaster Emanuel Lasker said, “I have known many chess players, but only one chess genius: Capablanca.”
This book is worth looking into for all beginner-level chess players, and you can get it here.
Fundamental Chess Endings by Mueller and Lamprecht
Two German endgame specialists have created a masterful one-volume encyclopedia covering all major endgames. Fundamental Chess Endings is an encyclopedia that heavily relies on endgame tablebases and their analytical engines.
A beginner chess player must understand the key endgame concepts to win chess games. Therefore, you should get this book as it provides learners with comprehensive endgame study assistance to understand these concepts.
The Complete Book of Chess Strategy by Jeremy Silman
The Complete Book of Chess Strategy is an excellent book for learning the basics of chess. It’s the first of its kind, a comprehensive guide in dictionary form that makes all aspects of chess strategy quick and painless for chess beginners.
Each strategic chess concept is listed alphabetically, followed by a clear, easy-to-understand explanation and examples of how this strategy is used in practice—a must-read to know how to win at chess.
Everyone’s First Chess Workbook: Fundamental Tactics and Checkmates for Improvers by Peter Giannatos
Perhaps you’ve been checkmated in two moves once or twice as a chess beginner. We can all relate to that awful feeling, but you don’t have to keep falling for such traps.
Everyone’s First Chess Workbook contains basic tactics, checkmate patterns, exercises, hints, and solutions.
Peter Giannatos chose 738 exercises based on his ten years teaching thousands of students at the award-winning Charlotte Chess Center. All problems are clean, with no extraneous fluff that takes away their instructive value.
The workbook explores several chess tactics and patterns, like the two-bishop checkmate, queen and king checkmate, and several other mating patterns that will help you win more games as a beginner. In addition, the book improves your pattern recognition and ability to capitalize on opportunities created by your opponent’s mistakes.
Everyone’s First Chess Workbook is a treasure trove of chess resources for beginners, and you should get yours here.
How to Beat Your Dad at Chess by Murray Chandler
‘How to Beat Your Dad at Chess’ is a book every beginner must get. It teaches 50 deadly checkmates and basic attacking patterns frequently appearing in chess games.
Each mating motif is explained thoroughly, with several illustrative examples provided. A final test allows the reader to assess his pattern recognition skills, and the final chapter explains what to do if your father was Garry Kasparov.
It’s entertaining, educational, and guaranteed to improve your game.
Learning how to Beat Your Dad at Chess will give you helpful explanations and practical advice on confidently approaching chess games.
Discovering Chess Openings- Building Opening Skills from Basic Principles by John Emms
There’s no denying that for newcomers, the chess opening is one of the most intimidating phases of the game.
There are hundreds of different opening lines, many of which have unusual names. Some of these have up to twenty or so theory moves.
Discovering Chess Openings makes studying chess openings both enjoyable and educational.
Best Chess Books for Intermediate Players
A large percentage of chess players become stuck at the intermediate level because they don’t know how to effectively implement chess theories in their games.
This is why, when compared to the overall population of chess players, only a small number of players achieve chess mastery.
To help you improve, we’ve also compiled some of the best chess books for intermediate players in this article to help you improve.
Best Chess: Logical Chess: Move by Move: Every Move Explained by Irving Chernev
How should a player improve after learning the fundamentals? The author of Logical Chess explains 33 complete games in detail, move by move, including the reasoning behind each one.
Playing through these games and explanations provides valuable insight into the power of the pieces and how to maximize their use.
How to Reassess Your Chess by Jeremy Silman
‘How to Reassess Your Chess’ by Jeremy Silman presents a system that simplifies advanced strategies and makes them clear and logical.
It offers invaluable knowledge and insight and discusses ideas and issues you may encounter in your games. It also allows you to experiment with new ideas, practice them, and incorporate them into your games.
This book will help you know how to place and use your chess pieces and tie them all to a great plan. It’s a fantastic addition to any chess player’s library; you should add it to yours too.
Chess: 5334 Problems, Combinations, and Games by Laszlo Polgar
One of the world’s leading chess teachers presents the world’s most comprehensive collection of chess problems.
This book teaches intermediate chess players how to take their game to the next level with clever strategies for 5000+ situations shown with clear diagrams.
Chess chapters are organized by problem type. Each problem, combination, and game is linked to a simple solution at the back of the book, allowing readers to learn as they go.
The book also includes the basic rules of the game as well as an international bibliography. It’s a must-read.
Silman’s Complete Endgame Course by IM Jeremy Silman
Silman’s Complete Endgame Course is a richly instructive endgame book that you’ll need as you move up the ladder from intermediate to tournament player and master.
Silman’s book has this ‘conversational feel’ that teaches students everything they need to know at their current rating level and subsequent phases.
All basic checkmates are clearly explained, after which the critical building blocks that form the endgame foundation for all tournament hopefuls and experienced tournament competitors are explored in detail.
Studying endgames can be tedious. However, the explanations in this book make the task really fun.
Best Chess Books for Advanced Players
Advanced players are chess professionals, and if you’re looking to play chess at the highest level, check out our recommendations.
Best for Grandmasters: Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual
When you become serious about taking your chess skills to the next level, it’s time for Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual.
Mark Dvoretsky, one of the best-known and respected instructors of world-class chess players, has produced a comprehensive work on the endgame that will reward players of all strengths. No better manual may be available today for those ready to immerse themselves in endgame theory.
Even if you are not a master player, the book has been created to aid your endgame.
This book has received great reviews from some of the world’s strongest players, like Vladimir Kramnik, Anish Giri, Viswanathan Anand, Ian Nepomniachtchi, and many more.
Perhaps, you will become a great grandmaster someday like these names after you get your copy of this book here.
Modern Chess Openings by Nick de Firmian
Modern Chess Openings is one of the most trusted books for serious chess players on the market. First published over a half-century ago, a revised and updated edition has been the standard English language reference on chess openings.
In addition, this book is an invaluable resource for club and tournament players.
Bobby Fischer’s biographer, Frank Brady, relates an occasion when he asked Fisher to tutor him in chess. ‘For your first lesson,’ Fischer supposedly told him, ‘I want you to play through every column in Modern Chess Openings, including footnotes.
For your second lesson, I want you to do it again.’ It is a telling anecdote that illustrates the high regard held by Modern Chess Openings.
Modern Chess Opening provides in-depth knowledge about openings and will be a great tool to improve your repertoire.
My 60 Memorable Games by Bobby Fischer
In this book, published by Simon and Schuster in 1969, Bobby Fischer analyzes his most important games.
He shows the strategic considerations, the tactics, and sometimes the blunders that occur during the pressure of tournament play. He assesses his opponents’ thinking as well.
Except for the conversion from English descriptive to algebraic notation, this is an unaltered reissue of Bobby Fischer’s classic games collection, originally published in 1969.
Naturally enough, it is a work of genius that hardly requires your reviewer’s recommendation. The games in this book represent Fischer’s main piece of writing on chess.
My 60 Memorable games consist of a deep analysis of Fisher’s games with the world’s top players of his time. It’s also a pleasurable read.
Secrets of Grandmaster Play by Nunn
Nunn is one of the greatest chess players because of his games and analytical approach to chess parties. This book teaches the readers how to understand, plan, and implement personal chess improvement.
To get the best out of this book, you should have good knowledge about a certain chess variation regarding middle-game strategy and tactical base, or you should have at least a +2000 ELO rating.
In this tremendously instructive and entertaining work, John Nunn selects 125 of the modern era’s finest short decisive grandmaster games.
For a grandmaster to lose a game in 25 moves or fewer takes something special, and club players can learn a great deal from studying these miniatures.
Each game is a true battle, with the result often in doubt until the end of the struggle.
There is no doubt that you should get a copy of this book.
Candidates Tournament – Zurich 1953 by David Bronstein
This legendary tournament features 210 hotly contested games, many of them masterpieces of the first rank.
The first authoritative English translation from Russian, this volume was written by one of the leading competitors. Its perceptive coverage includes games by Smyslov, Keres, Reshevsky, Petrosian, and 11 others.
Whenever a chess grandmaster is asked, “Which chess book helped you the most” or “To what book do you most attribute your success,” the answer is almost always the same.
All grandmasters agree that Zurich 1953 by David Bronstein stands above all others in terms of leading to overall success.
This book talks about the games played among 15 players who were absolutely the strongest in the world, except the world champion Botvinnik. As a double round-robin, every player played 28 games for a total of 210 games.
What is it that makes this book so much better than the others? The deep analysis and explanation of the ideas or the author’s personality in his exuberant explanations of how the struggle creates art.
Only when you get this book will you be able to find out more.
Yusupov Collection (Build / Boost / Chess Evolution)
Yusupov guides the reader towards a higher level of chess understanding using carefully selected positions and advice.
Artur Yusupov was ranked No. 3 worldwide from 1986 to 1992, just behind the legendary Karpov and Kasparov. He has won everything there is to win in chess except for the World Championship.
In recent years he has mainly worked as a chess trainer with players ranging from World Champion Anand to local amateurs in Germany, where he resides.
The collection won the 2009 Boleslavsky medal from FIDE as the best instructional chess book in which the instructional values were remarkable.
This book deserves to win a spot on every chess player’s bookshelf, so you should get yours too.
The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal by Mikail Tal
Mikhail Tal, the Magician from Riga, was the greatest attacking World Champion of them all. This enchanting autobiography chronicles his extraordinary career with charm and charm humor.
Dazzling games are interspersed throughout with anecdotes and witty self-interviews, and he related both the ups and downs of his encounters in his typical objective manner.
Hospitalizations punctuated Tal’s life on the circuit for kidney problems, but nothing could dull his love for chess and his sheer genius on the chessboard.
His outstanding tournament record is included here until he died in 1992, along with 100 complete games and nearly as many positions.
The annotations in this book by Tal stand apart from ordinary game collections.
No reader can resist his enthusiasm and vitality as he sets the stage for an encounter and then recounts every psychological twist and turn.
Grandmaster Preparation by Polugaevsky
In this remarkable book, Soviet grandmaster Lev Polugayevsky, one of the world’s leading players over the past two decades, describes his highly personal approach to chess based on meticulous practice.
Constantly trying to surprise his opponents in the opening, this led to him developing one of the sharpest lines in the Sicilian Defense, which has rightfully become known as the Polugaevsky Variation.
Polugayevsky shares his joys and disappointments in his attempts over many years with his variation. He then delves into the technique of analyzing adjourned positions, illustrating this with several fascinating examples from his games.
The final chapter describes how he prepares for decisive encounters where everything is on the line, both technically and psychologically. He illustrates this with games against many leading grandmasters, including seven World Champions.
Do you struggle in preparing for tournaments? If yes, then you should get a copy of Polugaevsky’s book.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the best chess book for beginners?
What books should I read to improve my chess?
Depending on your level of expertise, you should concentrate on books that analyze the chess openings with a beginner mindset.
Advanced players are advised to read books that concentrate on the psychological aspect of the game while intermediate players should concentrate on books that focus on complicated tactical and strategic analyses.
What books do chess grandmasters read?
Grandmasters become who they are because they dedicate lots of time to studying a mix of chess books that touch strategy, tactics, calculation, positional chess, and more.
Should you read chess books?
Yes, you should. Reading chess books can teach you a lot, but you must choose a book that is appropriate for your level of chess knowledge.
How long does it take to go through a chess book?
You can read one hundred pages of a random book per day. In contrast, a chess book would need to be read ten times slower for the concepts and ideas to sink in.
How do you read a chess book?
Try visualizing as many moves as possible when reading a book without moving the chess pieces. To be able to read a chess book, you must be familiar with chess notations.
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