New chess players know how much concentration is required when making all the important opening moves. You might also notice that other, more experienced players don’t pay as much attention to their openings as they would expect. Why? Most likely because they are following a strategy that they have studied for hours and tested over and over again on the board.
In chess, opening moves are crucial, but there are also some golden rules and secrets that, once followed, can make you a much better competitor. Chess players need to come up with an attacking strategy and focus on defending their pieces and not making mistakes that cause them to lose their big pieces.
If you don’t have a chess book (or mentor) to teach you these things, then you won’t be able to take your chess playing skills to the next level, even if you’re already an advanced social chess player. Picking up a good chess book will help you unlock new levels and progress faster by breaking down some strategies and teaching you the tricks and tips you need to know if you want to master the game.
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How to choose the best chess book?
When choosing the best chess book, there are two main things you should consider; Your current chess knowledge and preferred learning style.
What level of chess player are you?
The goal of a chess book is to teach you some new tricks, so you need to buy a book that is appropriate for your learning needs and current level. There’s no point getting a book aimed at absolute beginners if you’ve been playing chess for many years.
Most chess books are aimed at a certain level of chess player and it’s pretty clear if a particular book would be right for you. Levels can range from absolute beginner to advanced player, and some books even state which chess rankings readers should ideally have in order to fully grasp the information in a particular book. Therefore, when buying a chess book, it is important to first assess your skill level.
Chess is quite a complex game, but reading about it can sometimes feel even more complicated. Many chess books use chess notation to explain strategy and theory, so it would be wise to familiarize yourself with it before delving into a theory book. A chess book is meant to help you, not overwhelm you, so it’s always good to be honest with yourself about your level and maybe aim for a beginner’s book if you’d rather break it down in layman’s terms.
Which learning style suits you best?
Another thing to consider before picking up any of these books is what learning style suits you best. A book written for a child, for example, will be worded very differently than a book intended for adults. Chess can be quite difficult to learn from a book for those who learn more visually, and in those cases a chess puzzle book with tons of diagrams and examples would probably be best.
Others learn effectively by reading a lot of theory texts, and will therefore do well with some of the strategy-only books and delve into the thought processes of world-famous chess players.
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The best chess book you can buy in 2022
1. Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess by Bobby Fischer: The best chess book overall
Price: From £6 | Buy now on Amazon
This chess book was not only written by a grandmaster and 11th world chess champion, but by a true teacher. Bobby Fischer, a chess prodigy at just 14 years old, wrote this book with the learner in mind. He has made sure that whatever the reader picks up can be easily assimilated and put into practice using a learning technique called “programmed instruction”.
The book takes the reader step-by-step through small bits of information and questions called “frames.” These frames require the reader to give a yes or no answer, which can then be compared to the answers. At the end, readers can turn the book over and work backwards, discovering some entirely new checkmate moves to use in their next game. The book is very well thought out and perfect for those who want to improve their level.
Key Specifications – Format: paperback, library binding; publisher: dwarf United States; number of pages: 179
2. How to Reevaluate Your Chess: Chess Mastery Through Imbalances by Jeremy Silman: The Best Alternative Chess Book
Price: £24 | Buy now on Amazon
Jeremy Silman, another well-known international chess champion, designed this book to help avid chess players finally reach master level. Considered a modern classic, it is recommended for intermediate and advanced players (a beginner would probably find it difficult to follow). It is primarily intended for those who already have a good understanding of chess fundamentals and understand all three phases of the game: beginning, middlegame and endgame.
In this book, Silman focuses primarily on his concept of “chess imbalances,” often referred to as the “Silman thinking technique.” He explains in detail the basics of imbalances and ensures that every aspect of it is learned by the reader which will help take it to the next level. It’s always nice when teachers add a little fun to their lessons, and How to Reassess Your Chess is written with humor and educational language, making it an easy to understand and informative read.
Key Specifications – Format: Paperback; publisher: Silman James Press; number of pages: 658
3. Disasters & Tactics in the Chess Opening by Carsten Hansen: The best chess book for quick wins
Price: From £2 | Buy now on Amazon
If you’re an avid gamer looking to advance quickly, this book may be the best tool to get you there. In Catastrophe & Tactics, Hansen guides the reader through the many tactics that could help you win a game of chess very quickly. In just 15 moves or less, you can learn how to checkmate your opponent with Author’s Secrets. Winning a game of chess right at the start can certainly create a wow factor – and this book will show you how many of the best players of the last 150 years have done so.
Hansen guides the reader through seven different openings and defensive strategies, looking at a collection of games that were all over in just 15 moves. The blunders, mistakes and good chess tactics are analyzed in each game. The book is intended for those who already have a good knowledge and solid understanding of chess notation. To get the most out of this book, it is helpful to play some of the games on a physical chessboard.
Key Specifications – Format: Paperback, Kindle; Publisher: Independently published; number of pages: 178
4. Chess for Kids: How to Play and Win by Richard James: The Best Chess Book for Kids
Price: £4 | Buy now on Amazon
If your child is interested in chess, then chances are you have a little genius in the making. Chess is a fantastic way to develop a child’s brain, boosting their memory and concentration. It is also a good way to help them solve problems, which will come in handy later in life. This chess book could be the perfect gift for their next birthday and even inspire them or give them the confidence to compete and develop their hobby.
Author Richard James has been teaching chess to children since the 1970’s and has written this book specifically for children (recommended for ages 7+). It first explains the basic rules of the game, which is always useful for beginners, and then makes learning strategies fun and engaging through the use of two fictional characters fighting aliens in a chess game.
Key Specifications – Format: Paperback, Kindle; Publisher: Right way; number of pages: 192
5. The Ultimate Chess Puzzle Book by John Emms: The best chess puzzle book
Price: From £6 | Buy now on Amazon
If you’re more of a visual learner, this puzzle book is the perfect chess learning book for you. Sometimes there’s no better way to learn than to actually visualize what you’re reading about — and, more importantly, practice. This book contains 200 puzzles with diagrams of chessboards at different points in a game and challenges the reader to solve the puzzle by figuring out which would be the more favorable or “correct” move according to the theories and strategies discussed at the beginning of the book.
It is suitable for both beginners and advanced chess players as the first 100 puzzles are relatively easy. The next 100 are extremely difficult and would challenge even the best chess players. The author, John Emms, is an experienced chess coach and grandmaster, so a few lessons from him would certainly help you and prepare you for your next chess game or tournament.
Key Specifications – Format: Paperback, Kindle; Publisher: Gambit Publications LTD; number of pages: 240