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The Best Chess Books Every Chess Player Should Read

The very first written record of chess is found in a text called The Karnamak-i-Artakhshatr-i-Papakan (The Records of Ardashir, son of Papak), where the author mentions that Ardashir(Artaxerxes), the founder of the Sassanid Kingdom was skilled at Chatrang. Following this text, which dates back to 600, there are a number of other sources that briefly mention chess. The very first book that is entirely about chess was written in 840 by  al-Adli ar Rumi and it was called “Kitab ash-shatranj” (Book of the chess). This manuscript is lost, but is referenced in later works. From the references which cite some of its text and chess problems, we can assume that “Kitab ash-shatranj” was the first comprehensive book dealing with chess. 

Centuries and even millennia have passed since the writing of  “Kitab ash-shatranj,” and now, we have a huge literature on chess. There are books that cover all aspects of chess from history to game tactics and biographies of famous players. In this article, we have highlighted some of the best chess books to study whether you are a professional player or simply, an enthusiast. 

Best chess books for beginner

Chess 101 by Dave Schloss 

If you are looking for the best books to learn chess then you have to start with Dave Schloss’ Chess 101. It is a detailed beginner’s chess course that teaches everything a beginner needs to know to play the game. The book covers basics such as the board and pieces, structure and rules of chess tournaments. You can also find chapters on how to study chess and tips for winning your first games. It is an excellent choice for beginners entering the magical yet complex world of chess. 

The Steps Method by Rob Brunia and Cor van Wijgerden

The Steps Method is a compilation of 6 training manuals and 20 workbooks developed by two Dutch chess teachers. “The Steps Method” is largely used in Europe to teach children to play but after its translation into English, the book has gained international fame. As the name suggests, the book and the course entail a step-by-step program to build one level of chess learning on previously mastered material. 

Best chess opening books

Mastering the Chess Openings by John L. Watson

One of the best chess opening books that you can find is John Watson’s “Mastering The Chess Openings: Unlocking The Mysteries Of The Modern Chess Openings.It has two volumes: the first one includes sections on King’s Pawn openings and the second volume is mainly about Queen’s Pawn openings. This book is a must for all beginners who will learn not only about opening tactics but also how to play for the center, develop pieces as quickly as possible, take towards the center, and so on. The most valuable information is found in the first 86 pages of the book but both volumes are worth the investment.

Modern Chess Openings by Richard Griffith and Walter Korn

Don’t let the name mislead you. Modern Chess Openings was published in 1911 by British players Richard Clewin Griffith and John Herbert White. Even though it is more than a century old, it is still very much relevant. The latest editions have some updates to it, but the general principles are the same as written by Griffith and Korn. If you are on a quest to find the best chess opening books then consider it over. Purchase the latest edition of “Modern Chess Openings,” and you will learn all that is to know about chess openings

Best chess tactics books for advanced players

Looking for Trouble by Dan Heisman 

It is very hard for advanced players to find chess tactics books that haven’t gone mainstream. Most good chess books are usually read when players are on a beginner level. So if you’re an advanced player in need of improving your tactics then Looking for Troublehas a lot to offer you. It is written in an unconventional way and instead of asking you to find the winning move, it helps you find the opponent’s threat (or threats) and counter them before it is too late. It helps you develop counter attacks and use them in real chess games. 

Logical Chess: Move by Move by Irving Chernev

Logical Chess is a true classic in chess literature and one of the best chess tactic books that has ever been written. Chernev’s book explains 33 master games in full detail from the very first move of the game. The book highlights the reasoning behind each move and the cause/consequence of each mistake. It is an excellent choice for advanced players, who want to study chess games further. 

Honorable mentions 

My Great Predecessors (series) by Garry Kasparov

Garry Kasparov is a living chess legend, so it is logical that his work is one of the best chess books. His five-volume set called My Great Predecessorsis an analysis of games and background on chess history, starting from the first world champion. In the books, Kasparov discusses every world champion and their opponents, and gives his perspective on classic games. It is not a tactics book nor is it a guide. It is suited for both beginners and professional players. Kasparov goes back to chess history and presents it in such an engaging way that you can sit back and simply read. 

Life and Games of Mikhail Tal by Mikhail Tal

Another giant of chess whose books is certainly one of the all time best chess books. Life and Games of Mikhail Tal” is about the player’s life and his passion towards chess. It is an autobiographical piece, so you get to experience a different side of Tal. It is a very funny, engaging and informative book that is both entertaining and valuable in terms of fame tactics and strategies. Tal is famous for sharp attacks and it really comes across in the book. So, if you are looking to improve your attacks then Tal’s book won’t disappoint. 

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