Saturday, June 2, 2007

Chess Books

I believe that it is a mistake to buy too many books and software. It is better to have a smaller library and to know it well, then it is to know a lot of books superficially. Here are the one's that have helped me. I notice that after compiling this list, I need to go over everything again. I won't be buying more products.

Books for Beginners

STILL the best book on how to open a chess game out there. Trouble is that it is badly out of date. For example, the Sicilian is badly underwritten. Important lines aren't covered at all because they weren't invented yet when it was written. I've been waiting 30 years for someone to write a book as understandable and as comprehensive as this one. I'm still waiting.

Another Oldie. This book introduces the concepts of chess strategy using a method that anybody can grasp. This book will have you identifying all the attributes of a position and assigning points to them. The more points in your favor, the more you are winning.
Top players will look down their nose at this. Still, for beginners, this system will take them to the next level. Later, they can move beyond this and refine their positional skills further. Most can have a successful tournament career at the C and B levels with the system advocated by this book.
For Strategy buy the above book OR the below one

Okay, this is easy for me to follow now but back when I was reading Point Count Chess, I might have found this book to be harder. On the other hand, this book goes deeper into strategy than the other and is up to date, too.
My thing is that the beginner just needs to get to the next level. Really working on either one of these will do the job.

This is a must buy. Best Endgame book written period. Read the first chapters when you're a beginner. As you progress, read succeeding chapters. He lays it all out for you, class by class until you're a master. I love this book!!

This was very bad marketing. Polgar wrote a book that was extra thick and heavy. This is a book for beginners, yet most beginners will take one look at the sheer size of it and decide that it must be "too hard" for them. In fact, Polgar just crammed in the value into this book. 5,334 tactical puzzles, combinations and games worth of value. - But the beginner wants a thin, easy on the eye book, says the marketing expert. Trouble is, Polgar just wasn't interested in marketing.
The biggest need beginners right up through the A Classes need is practice in analysis. This book gives thousands of chess positions to analyze. More advanced players (Class C and above) will need to graduate to more advanced books. For children and adult beginners, this may be the foundation of their chess training programs.

Books for Class C and B Players


Chess Tactics remains important through the intermediate levels. In fact the one big difference between the advanced and the beginner player, is that the advanced player analyzes positions while the beginner relys on "intuition" to get through. Analysis takes practice. That's why books like these are so important. These are a couple of oldies but goodies. Also, note they're cheap.


These books take strategic concepts to the next level. I like the workbook approach here. You got the concepts in books like Point Count Chess above. Now, here the author works on making you think about strategic concepts while playing a game of chess. That's harder to do than it sounds.
The author's concept is to look at the parts of the a position which differ from the opponents'. For example, if your have 2 bishops and the other guy has a knight and a bishop, then that's a difference. Your job is to arrive at positions where your 2 B's are superior to his B + N.
In other words, not too far from Point Count but still more advanced.

This may be the only game collection book anybody will ever need. Admit it. Have you ever played over 500 games. For real? Studied them as they ought.
These aren't the most in depth explanations for the game but they are deep enough. If anybody were to play over these games at the depth of the author's commentary, then they will be doing really well. Far better than buying a bunch of other books.
This book takes awhile to go through. There's a reason it is still listed on my sidebar as still reading after all this time.


Finally, these two books on the openings. Between the two of them, they are more advanced than Fine's but sadly, they leave large holes. First, they cover only King Pawn and Queen Pawn Openings. Any other opening, (English anybody) and you're just out of luck. Second, even within these two openings, major systems aren't covered. Alekhine's Defense, for example. Time after time, the author will just say he's just not going to cover some important variation, for some reason.
You'd think with all that wrong with these books, you'd want to stay away from them. Trouble is, that when the author DOES decide to cover something, he does such a good job of it. Unlike Fine, he gives complete games so that the reader can see how the particular opening plays out.
These books will do what I want opening books to do for an intermediate player; they will take him to the next level. If only they were each 100 pages more and there was a volume 3.

There are many, many worthwhile chess books out there. I just feel that fewer is better. If anybody were to have mastered the material in the books in this list, they would be successful tournament players.
Don't forget that you don't have to buy books in order to read them. Check with your library. If your library doesn't have them, ask about inter-library loans. One caveat here. The thing with chess books unlike most over books is that they need to be gone over again and again.

Disclaimer: This gives you a picture of the book and an idea of what it costs. The fact that I will be compensated if you click on the link and buy the book turns this post into a semi-advertisement. I only will link to for books I actually liked.