Books on Chess?
August 14, 2005 11:32 AM   Subscribe

What are some good books for me to get better at playing chess?

I'd qualify myself as a casual player who wants to improve their skills beyond trying to think a few moves ahead. I don't want something very technical, just a book which will provide that extra nudge to the next level of developing a coherent strategy for a match.
posted by whatitis to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
There are hundreds of chess books. "Good" is going to be highly subjective.

That being said, based on the information you provided, I would recommend Yasser Seirawan's books: Winning Chess Strategies, Winning Chess Tactics, etc. Seirawan provides a lot of practical advice and concrete play examples.

Really, though, the best thing you could possibly do is go to your public library and spend half an hour sifting through their selection of chess books. (They're sure to have many.) Find one that's suitable to your situation.

Good luck!
posted by jdroth at 2:00 PM on August 14, 2005

I second Yasser Seirawan's books, specifically the two mentioned by jdroth. You can skip 'Play Winning Chess', as it's written for someone who has never played before and needs to learn the rules.

Another good book is How to Reassess Your Chess: The Complete Chess-Mastery Course by Jeremy Silman.

Have fun!
posted by cactus at 4:45 PM on August 14, 2005

My System. It's a classic.
posted by funkbrain at 5:07 PM on August 14, 2005

I'll second 'How To Reassess Your Chess' by Silman. I've got one of the Sierewan "Winning" series, and I like it, but the Silman book will improve your game faster. You ask about 'developing a coherent strategy' - I found the Silman book great for helping find small goals to aim toward for all those times where there is no mate-in-two waiting to be discovered.

If you are about to start picking up a chess book or two from a casual level, I'd warn you not to get sucked in to reading about too many openings - you'll get far more real-world improvement learning about endgames.
posted by pompomtom at 5:24 PM on August 14, 2005

A third vote for Silman. For tactics, get Fred Reinfeld's 1001 Winning Chess Sacrifices and Combinations. Silman will teach you how to get a superior position; Reinfeld will teach you how to convert it to a win.
posted by futility closet at 7:31 PM on August 14, 2005

4th Silman. Nimzovitch is too advanced.
posted by callmejay at 8:02 PM on August 14, 2005

Dude, there's too much out there. Hit a good chess shop and browse their wall. Then you'll see that you're probably going to pick up a book on a particular aspect -- openings (if even that broad), endgame, attacks, avoiding traps, etc.

I recommend getting a mainly-theory book (with a few games) and a mainly-exercise book (full of games illustrating principles) and perhaps a book on a particular opening you want to study just to give you some different mental content to return to. And if you want to get good, you can't avoid end-game study and practice, though it can be a tad boring.

Simon and Schuster pocket book of chess is a nice beginner. Good illustrations and explanations.

I like Pandolfini's Traps and Zaps for technique.

Just getting into Vukovic's Art of Attack in Chess but it looks valuable so far.

But do yourself a favour and get yourself a good piece of chess software. They're pretty cheap, and a good one will explain to you why a good move is a good move. These days I'm hacking away at the Chessmaster 9000 -- hardly an elite program -- but it's very helpful when an appropriate opponent is not at hand.
posted by dreamsign at 8:50 PM on August 14, 2005

I'd recommend "Best Lessons of a Chess Coach" by Sunil Weeramantry and "Comprehensive Chess Course" by Lev Alburt.
posted by gyc at 9:20 AM on August 15, 2005

Fifth for Silman. In addition to Re-assess Your Chess, his The Amateur's Mind: Turning Chess Misconceptions into Chess Mastery is also good.

Endgames are not to be ignored. Many, many decisions in the late middlegame come down to "if I simplify to such-and-such an endgame, will I be able to win [or draw]? I like Pandolfini's Endgame Course myself (although it does have some mistakes in it), but I don't know where you are as far as endgame technique, and it might not be advanced enough for you.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:41 AM on August 15, 2005

sorry, close quote after "win [or draw]?"
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:42 AM on August 15, 2005

I'll third the recommendations for Yasser Seirawan's books.
posted by tdismukes at 12:27 PM on August 15, 2005

I'm not sure I'd recommend Silman's book. The OP didn't want something very technical and while Silman does give some great explanations I'm worried that it might still be a bit too technical for the OP.

Instead, I'd recommend the Winning Chess Strategies book by Seirawan and Silman, since it includes a lot of the good stuff in the Reassess Your Chess book.
posted by gyc at 2:16 PM on August 15, 2005

Second on Best Lessons of a Chess Coach
posted by quiet at 4:36 PM on August 15, 2005

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