Thursday, 6 September 2018

Chess Knowledge - 57 Books to collect and study

Something I do a lot these days in chess is solving - which is basically solving composed chess studies. These essentially boil down to mate in x moves.

GM Andrew Soltis in “What it Takes to Become a Chess Master” says, “... Most players have an uneasy feeling about composed studies. They don’t like those ‘White to play-and-win’ positions they see in magazines because they seem artificial. Yes, most studies are artificial. But what amateurs might like about them is that the solution is usually 100 percent tactical. You don’t have to know esoteric, technical positions. Just work out the tactics. ”

“No one pretends that solving problems is going to help over-the-board play, but there is more to chess than going up (or down) a few rating points each year. Endgame studies are of help in improving tactical vision… (and) offer a painless way to learn some endgame theory.” (GM John Nunn – “Solving in Style”)

Solving helps train you to recognize patterns in real games and watch for pitfalls. However, for young players, alongside solving puzzles, a solid foundation of chess knowledge is required if they want to become any good and compete in pro tournaments.

Over the years of my studying chess, the approach to studying the game has changed a lot. Engines have become very common and a ton of DVDs are available that are excellent resources for young chess players.

I am of the firm belief that the traditional way of learning via books is still a valid method of gaining chess knowledge. I strongly believe if you digest good books by masters of chess,  you can significantly raise your ELO rating or your level of chess in general.

As part of my library, here are 57 amazing books I feel every chess player should in their lifetime, read, read again and finally chew, digest and in the end, once again read them. If the goal is to become a professional chess player, the sheer amount of amazing knowledge shared in these books is sufficient to build a good base on which new research can be added. Remember what they say about foundations - "You can't build a great building on a weak foundation. You must have a solid foundation if you're going to have a strong superstructure."

Over time in the club, I want to introduce some of these books to players as well. A few on the list are almost equivalent to chess versions of the Feynman Lectures on Physics. Most of these are probably required reading if you aspire to become a GM. Good news is, there are around 100 more books that you need to read, but I will not get into those at this moment.

I like to conceptually sort chess books under a few categories for self-study -

(1) Best Game Collections
(2) End Game Theory
(3) Tactics and Combinations
(4) Strategy and Middle Game patterns
(5) Opening Theory
(6) Philosophy of Chess

The following books fall under a few categories above but most importantly they introduce readers to the art of thinking. Not everybody will have time to read all of these, but you should pick a few to begin with (I have highlighted a dozen of my favs).

Ok enough talk, time for the list, in no particular order -


(1) The Test of Time by Garry Kasparov

(2) Move First, Think Later: Sense and Nonsense in Improving Your Chess by Wiley Hendriks

(3) Pal Benko: My Life, Games, and Compositions by Benko, Silman

(4) San Luis 2005 by Alik Gershon and Igor Nor

(5) Chess is my Life by Anatoly Karpov

(6) Tal's 100 Best Games by  Bernard Cafferty

(7) The Life & Games of Mikhail Tal by  Mikhail Tal

(8) The King: Chess Pieces by J. H. Donner

(9) From London to Elista by Bareev Evgeny and Ilya Levitov

(10) Python Strategy by Tigran Petrosian

(11) The Joys of Chess: Heroes, Battles and Brilliancies by Christian Hesse

(12) Chess Mind by Gerald Abraham

(13) Chess for Zebras: Thinking Differently about Black and White by Jonathan Rowson

(14) The Soviet Chess School by A Kotov, M Yudovich

(15) Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual by Mark Dvoretsky

(16) Practical Chess Endings by Paul Keres

(17) 100 Endgames you must know by Jesus De La Vila

(18) Endgame Strategy by Mikhail Shereshevsky

(19) Mastering the Endgame Vol 1 & 2 by MI Shereshevsky and LM Slutsky

(20) The Soviet Chess Conveyor by Mikhail Shereshevsky

(21) For Friends and Colleagues by Mark Dvoretsky

(22) Mikhail Chigorin - The Creative Genius by Jimmy Adams

(23) Capablanca by Edward Winter

(24) Lasker's Manual of Chess by Emanuel Laskar

(25) Grandmaster Chess Strategy by Jurgen Kaufeld and Guldo Kern

(26) The Stress of Chess and its infinite finesse by Walter Browne

(27) Profession Chessplayer Grandmaster at work by Vladimir Tukmakov

(28) Understanding Chess by William Lombardy

(29) Timman's Titans: My World Chess Champions by Jan Timman

(30) Creative Chess by Amatzia Avni

(31) School of Chess Excellence (Series of 4 volumes) by Mark Dvoretsky

(32) Dvoretsky's Analytical Manual by Mark Dvoretsky

(33) Pawn Structure Chess by Andrew Soltis

(34) Test and improve your chess by Lev Alburt

(35) Winning Pawn Structures by Alexander Baburin

(36) Winning Chess Middlegames by Ivan Sokolov

(37) Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy by John Watson

(38) Chess Strategy in Action by John Watson

(39) The Road to Chess Improvement by Alex Yermolinsky

Following are recommended By GM Rafael Leitão

(40) Test your chess IQ by A Livshitz

(41) Modern Chess Strategy by Ludek Pachman

(42) Test your Positional Play by Robert Bellin and Pietro Ponzetto

(43) An Opening Repertoire for White by Robert Keene

(44) Beating the Sicilian by John Nunn

(45) Najdorf for the Tournament Player by John Nunn

(46) Mastering the King's Indian Defence by Robert Bellin and Pietro Ponzetto

(47) Chess Informants by various authors

(48) My 60 memorable games by Bobby Fisher

(49) Alexander Alekhine's Best Games by Alexander Alekhine

(50) Zurich 1953 candidates tournament by David Bronstein

(51) Grandmaster Preparation by Lev Polugaevsky

(52) Secrets of Chess Training by Mark Dvoretsky

(52) Secrets of Chess Tactics by Mark Dvoretsky

(53) Think like a GrandMaster by Alexander Kotov

(54) Test your Endgame Ability by August Livshits and Jon Speelman

(55) Art of Chess Analysis by Jan Timman

(56) Secrets of Grandmaster play by John Nunn and Peter Griffiths

(57) Maneuvering The Art of Piece Play by Mark Dvoretsky


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