There are only two ways to get better at chess – playing and studying. The first part is easy. The second part is a challenge. Are there three favorite chess books every player should read? Yes! Before I tell you which ones, let’s talk about study in general.
Chess study consists of two parts. The first is the studying of your own games. The second is studying high quality grandmaster games. All chess players develop a playing style based on the games that they study. Anatoly Karpov said that the games of Jose Capablanca resonated with him. This is why Karpov’s meticulous playing style so closely resembles the Cuban grandmaster. Before you can develop a playing style, you will need to review games played between top-level players. This requires more than just playing over the moves though. You need to concentrate and put yourself in the shoes of the player you are analyzing.
In this post I recommend three favorite chess books that you should consider purchasing to start your chess studies. I understand that there are so many good books to recommend it’s hard to limit the choices to just three. But let’s keep in mind that new players need chess presented to them in a clear and insightful manner. Concepts and principles are preferred over theory and playing style. That comes later Many players have strong emotions on what and what not to buy. Please feel free to leave your feedback below.
Here are three favorite chess books I recommend:
- How to Reassess Your Chess. This is a modern masterpiece authored by International Master Jeremy Silman. The book takes a comprehensive approach in walking the student through each phase of the game. Silman writes in a clear, concise manner that resonates with beginners. Some of the things will learn:
- The importance of imbalances and how to create them.
- Seizing the initiative from your opponent.
- Using minor pieces to your advantage .
- The bishop pair and how to use them.
- Planning your attack. Deciding on where to concentrate your forces.
Above all, this book changes how you look at chess and lays a foundation for your future improvement. If there is a single book you should purchase, this is it. Once you finish reading this book, you will see the game of chess in a completely new light. Concepts that were confusing and intimidating become simple and inviting.
- Ideas Behind the Chess Openings. A classic work by grandmaster Reuben Fine that is now available in algebraic notation. This is an important book for the beginner to own because it focuses the reader on concepts rather than just moves. This is important for beginners who like to memorize long variations instead of trying to understand the reason for why they are played. The book is under 200 pages but there is a lot of text to read. Remember, the author is teaching you the “ideas” behind the chess openings. He isn’t diving into the latest opening theory. His coverage focuses on the classical e-pawn, and d-pawn symmetrical openings. Flank and irregular openings are discussed in a few pages but this is more for completeness than anything else.
- Winning Chess Brilliancies. Yasser Seirawan is an American chess grandmaster and author. In this book he reviews 12 games played by some of the strongest players in the world. Rather than inundate the reader with complex variations, Yasser explains in simple terms the ideas behind each move. These are some of the best game annotations you will ever find.
If you want to learn about chess book collecting, join the Chess Book Collectors group on Facebook. They can answer your questions on what chess books are better than others and can steer you in the right direction for future purchases.
What are your three favorite chess books? List them below!