Buying chess books is an addiction. There is no magic bullet for
improvement - only study, practice & playing. So, buy what you will
read and read what you buy.
A good chess book will be read more than once and will have a positive
affect on your playing skills. These are the books that have helped
me the most (your mileage may vary).
- Teach Yourself Chess by William Hartston
- (beginner) Provides a complete introduction to the game, with major
sections on rules, endgames, tactics, principles of opening play, endgame
strategy, strategic planning and a quick look at some standard openings.
This may be the best chess introduction for a serious adult.
- Better Chess for Average Players by Tim Harding
- (beginner) Covers I.Basics, II.Attack, III.Sacrifices, IV.Defence,
V.Positional Play, VI.Choosing a Move and VII.Endgames. This book is can
be read without a board, so it is ideal for lunchtime reading or other places
where a board is impractical. It's example games are from caricatures,
like Harry Hacker and Johnny Brain, from the mythical Midlington Chess
- Chess Exam and Training Guide by Igor Khmelnitsky -
(Assessment) This book has 2 questions for each of 100
positions. Results are evaluated and ratings are assigned to 12 distinct
categories: Opening, Middlegame, Endgame, Attack, Defense, Counterattack,
Tactics, Strategy, Calculations, Standard Endgame Positions, Sacrifices, and
Threat Recognition. By answering these 200 questions, strengths &
weaknesses are identified and show where further study & practice are
- Win at Chess by Ron Curry - (intermediate) May be one of
the best chess books that I have ever read. Within the first chapter it
explained why I have been stuck at my current rating plateau.
- Understanding the Chess Openings by Sam Collins
- (beginner) Gives a good overview and with enough depth to
become familiar with most of the common openings. Use this book to
explore and choose an opening repertoire.
- Winning Chess Tactics by Yasser
Seirawan - (beginner) Explains tactics in a way that is easy to
understand and put into practice. The chess student needs to see tactics
as both offensive, to take advantage opponents mistakes, and defensive,
to prevent opponent's opportunities.
- Looking for Trouble by Dan Heisman - (beginner) This
is a remarkable book. After doing the studies, you start looking at your
opponents previous moves with a new perspective. It teaches you how to
see and respond to threats.
- Winning Chess How to See Three Moves Ahead by Irving
Chernev & Fred Reinfeld - (intermediate) Teaches how to see and
- Understanding Chess Tactics by Martin Weteschnik -
(intermediate) This is not a puzzle book! It explains the building
blocks of tactics for the adult trying to improve his tactical
- Pandolfini's Endgame Course by Bruce Pandolfini
- (beginner) Provides elementary endgame positions
and explains how they are solved. I used this book in
conjunction with a pgn file of the positions to play against my chess engine
set at full strength. If you can successfully solve each endgame in the
book, you are assured that you understand the principle being taught.
Master Game Collections:
- Logical Chess Move by Move by Irving Chernev
- (beginner) Shows how to approach the game and explains why moves are
- The Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever Played by Irving
Chernev - (intermediate) A collection of 62 masterpieces of chess
strategy annotated by one of my favorite chess authors.
- Chess: the Art of Logical Thinking by Neil McDonald -
(intermediate) It explains the logic behind moves made in
grandmaster games that is appropriate for Class D players.