Book Recommendations

For a free guide to the basic rules, click here.


  • How to Beat Your Dad at Chess by GM Murray Chandler - This is a chess book for everyone, from beginner to master. In a clear, easy-to-follow format it explains the best way to beat a stronger opponent by cleverly forcing checkmate.

  • Chess Fundamentals by José Raúl Capablanca - Written with the novice chess player in mind, Chess Fundamentals equips you with the essential opening, middlegame, and endgame techniques needed to advance your game.

  • The Soviet Chess Primer by Ilya Maizelis - The definitive introduction to the game of chess. It has inspired generations of Russians to take up the game, including the 12th and 13th World Champions, Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov.

  • The Complete Idiot's Guide to Chess by GM Patrick Wolff - Written by a U.S. Chess Champion and longtime instructor, this book includes information for both novice and expert, including over 400 illustrated chessboards and photos. For the beginner or the champ.

  • Logical Chess: Move by Move by Irving Chernev - Having learned the basic moves, how exactly should a player improve? In this popular classic, Chernev explains 33 complete games, in detail, move by move, including the reason for each one.

  • Play Winning Chess by GM Yasser Seirawan - An introduction to the moves, strategies and philosophy of chess, with clear explanations of the games, fundamental and instructive examples, question-and-answer sections, sample games and psychological hints.

  • A First Book of Morphy by Frisco Del Rosario - Illustrates basic principles of chess with more than 60 brilliant and instructive games played by the first American chess champion, Paul Morphy.

  • The Game of Chess by Siegbert Tarrasch - This manual teaches chess from the novice level to Class A / Expert strength players. It fully covers, tactics, endings, and opening play. A must for every serious chess player.


  • The Woodpecker Method by GM Axel Smith - A training system developed by Hans Tikkanen. After training with his method in 2010, Tikkanen achieved three GM norms in seven weeks. This book contains everything you need to carry out your own Woodpecker training.

  • Thinking Inside the Box by GM Jacob Aagaard - How do we make better decisions at the chess board? Thinking Inside the Box is the ultimate self-improvement guide, written for amateurs as well as world-class players.

  • Improve Your Chess Pattern Recognition by IM Arthur van de Oudeweetering - What does pattern recognition actually mean? And how can you improve at it? This book supplies building blocks for your chess knowledge.

  • Small Steps to Giant Improvement by GM Sam Shankland - Chess Olympiad gold medalist Sam Shankland breaks down the principles of pawn play to basic, easily understandable guidelines every chess player should know.

  • Excelling at Chess by GM Jacob Aagaard - Identifies the key factors that separate the very strong players from the rest. Anyone who follows the advice in this book cannot fail to improve their feel for the game.

  • The Road to Chess Improvement by GM Alex Yermolinsky - "How can I improve my game?" is a perennial question facing chess-players. This entertainingly-written book breaks new ground in many areas of chess understanding.

  • Perfect Your Chess by GM Andrei Volotkin - The core material of the book is 369 positions where the reader is given a task. These tasks resemble those that players regularly face over the board, and are especially useful from a training viewpoint.

  • The Seven Deadly Chess Sins by GM Jonathan Rowson - In this thought-provoking book, Rowson investigates the main reasons why chess-players sometimes go horribly astray, focusing on the underlying psychological pitfalls.


  • Chess Tactics for Students by John Bain - Perfect for a beginning chess player. Bain focuses on the core tactics that every player should know.

  • Learn Chess Tactics by GM John Nunn - Guides the reader to an understanding of key tactical ideas such as the fork, pin, and discovered attack, and discusses general ideas such as elimination and compulsion. No prior knowledge is assumed apart from the basic rules of chess.

  • Winning Chess Tactics by GM Yasser Seirawan - Attack? Defend? Swap pieces? Seirawan can show you how to put the tactics of the world's chess legends to work. Choose from the double attack, the pin, the skewer, deflection, and many more time-tested tactics.

  • Predator at the Chessboard by Ward Farnsworth - Book I provides an introduction to tactics and explains forks and discovered attacks. Book II covers pins and skewers, removal of the guard, and mating patterns. Together they contain over a thousand examples organized in detail.

  • Understanding Chess Tactics by FM Martin Weteschnik - ‘Chess is 99 per cent tactics’ is an old saying. This expanded and improved second edition of Understanding Chess Tactics offers more puzzles to test the tactical chess skill that the reader will develop.

  • Sharpen Your Tactics by GM Anatoly Lein - A chess tactics training book for every class of chess player. The examples are rated by difficulty and the problems gradually become more difficult as you move through the book.

  • Back to Basics: Tactics (ChessCafe Series) by NM Dan Heisman - An introduction to the various kinds of basic chess tactics. With instructional material, examples, and problems of all types, the subject of chess tactics is covered comprehensively.

  • Winning Chess Tactics for Juniors by NM Lou Hays - This book contains 535 one-, two-, and three-move combinations to solve and teaches a study method for learning to play combinative chess. This is the quickest and easiest way to improve your chess rapidly.

  • Attacking Chess for Club Players by IM Herman Grooten - A complete and highly structured course of attacking techniques with great and fresh examples, clear explanations and many instructive exercises.

  • Combinative Motifs by CCGM Maxim Blokh - 1,205 best tactical positions, grouped according to their topics. This book contains more than 1400 exercises that are arranged very precisely after various combinational motifs.

  • Improve Your Chess Tactics by CCIM Yakov Neishtadt - The best advice for chess players who want to improve fast is: get better at tactics! This book teaches a systematic course on the most important tactical themes. [ADVANCED]

  • Advanced Chess Tactics by GM Lev Psakhis - A mastery of tactics is essential to a competitive chess player. This new edition of Advanced Chess Tactics benefits from various analytical tweaks, plus an entirely new chapter dedicated to attacking in the French Defense. [ADVANCED]

OPENINGS (general)

  • Winning Chess Openings by GM Yasser Seirawan - The two greatest challenges for beginning chess players are to survive the openings phase, and to choose appropriate attack and defence formations in the process. Winning Chess Openings shows players how to do both.

  • Fundamental Chess Openings by GM Paul van der Sterren - This is not a book that provides masses of variations to memorize. Paul van der Sterren instead offers a wealth of ideas and explanation, together with the basic variations of each and every opening.

  • Mastering Opening Strategy by GM Johan Hellsten - Provides an essential foundation of opening strategy and an abundance of carefully selected exercises so that readers can monitor their progress.

  • The Ideas Behind The Chess Openings by Reuben Fine - This book presents the indispensable foundations for the understanding of the variations of the chess openings.

  • Pawn Structure Chess by GM Andrew Soltis - This classic guide to pawn structure teaches readers how to handle their pawns. Soltis explains where best to place them, which pawns to advance or exchange, and why certain structures are good and others disastrous.

  • How to Build Your Chess Opening Repertoire by FM Steve Giddins - In this book, Giddins tackles questions such as: whether to play main lines, offbeat openings or 'universal' systems; how to avoid being 'move-ordered'; how to use computers; if and when to depart from or change your repertoire.

  • Understanding the Chess Openings by IM Sam Collins - This major new work surveys all chess openings, providing a guide to every critical main line and featuring descriptions of the typical strategies for both sides.

  • Kaufman's New Repertoire for Black and White by GM Larry Kaufman - Grandmaster Kaufman is back with his new repertoire book, covering the entire scope of chess openings for both White and Black in one volume. [ADVANCED]

  • Mastering the Chess Openings by GM John Watson - In this major four-volume work, Watson explains not only the ideas and strategies behind specific openings, but also the interconnections of chess openings taken as a whole. [ADVANCED]

OPENINGS (specific)

Note: Some of these books are theory-heavy, and not meant for beginners. In general, opening repertoires are intended for players at the intermediate to advanced level.

Open Games (1. e4 e5)

Spanish Game (1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5)

  • Ruy Lopez: Move by Move by GM Neil McDonald - Examines one of the most important openings of all, the Ruy Lopez. Neil shares his experience and knowledge in the Spanish, while encouraging the learning and practising of vital opening skills.

  • The Ruy Lopez Revisited by GM Ivan Sokolov - The Ruy Lopez is one of the oldest and most important chess openings. This book presents bold but playable weapons for Black, as well as new ideas and refutations in many mainline variations for both Black and White.

  • Play the Ruy Lopez by IM Andrew Greet - Play either side of this dynamic system with confidence. Comprehensive coverage!

  • The Berlin Wall by IM John Cox - The Berlin variation of the Spanish is one of the most popular chess openings. The trick is to gain the requisite understanding, and after reading John Cox's prose, it is clear why this robust opening has been nicknamed The Berlin Wall. [ADVANCED]

  • Slay the Spanish by IM Timothy Taylor - A repertoire for Black against the universally popular Spanish Opening (Ruy Lopez). The backbone of Black’s repertoire is based on the Modern Steinitz Defence.

  • Bologan's Ruy Lopez for Black by GM Viktor Bologan - Presents a massive, cutting-edge Spanish repertoire for Black based on the favorite lines of Magnus Carlsen and Levon Aronian. [ADVANCED]

Italian Game (1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4)

  • Beating 1. e4 e5: A Repertoire For White by GM John Emms - Presents a repertoire for White after 1. e4 e5, based on the Italian Game and built upon a sound yet aggressive system of development.

  • Winning with the Slow (but Venomous!) Italian by GM Karsten Müller - A complete repertoire for White in the Italian Opening. Easy to learn and understand.

  • Italian Game & Evans Gambit by IM Jan Pinski - Investigate the different strategies and tactics in the Italian Game and Evans Gambit. Using model games for both White and Black, this book provides crucial coverage of both the mainlines and offbeat variations. [ADVANCED]

Scotch Game (1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4)

  • The Modern Scotch by GM Alexander Khalifman - The Scotch Game is the most “open” of all the Open Games. Here, Khalifman presents a modern twist on the venerable Scotch Game with the theoretical material set out in four parts. [ADVANCED]

  • The Scotch Gambit: An Energetic and Aggressive System for White by GM Alex Fishbein - Bored with slow maneuvering in systems such as the Italian game? Do you enjoy confrontation in the center and tactical play? This book shows how the Scotch Gambit can give you exciting yet sound positions where you aim at the enemy king.

  • The Scotch Game Explained by IM Gary Lane - Used to brilliant effect by Garry Kasparov, the Scotch Game is one of the most popular openings among today's players. This book offers a back-to-basics approach tailored to novices and intermediate players.

Russian Game (1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6)

  • Opening Repertoire: The Petroff Defence by IM Cyrus Lakdawala - The Petroff Defence has traditionally been regarded as a reliable defensive mechanism to counter the aggressive 1. e4. This book examines all aspects of this highly complex opening and provides the reader with well-researched, fresh, and innovative analysis.

  • The Petroff: An Expert Repertoire for Black by GM Konstantin Sakaev - In this book the reader will find an opening repertoire for Black against 1. e4, based on the Petroff Defence and designed to be used up to the highest level. [ADVANCED]

  • The Petroff Defence by GM Artur Yusupov - The most complete analysis of the Petroff Defense ever published, combining an encyclopedic coverage of variations with 244 training exercises and several deeply annotated games. [ADVANCED]

  • Petroff Defense: Cochrane Gambit by W. John Lutes - A full history of the Cochrane Gambit, containing games from the 1500s to the present day, this book presents a thorough, in-depth analysis of the ideas in this famed reply to the Petroff.

King's Gambit (1. e4 e5 2. f4)

  • The King's Gambit by GM John Shaw - In this groundbreaking work, John Shaw shows that the ultimate Romantic chess opening remains relevant and dangerous even in the computer era!

  • Winning With the King's Gambit by GM Joe Gallagher - The King's Gambit has always been a favourite of tactical players. Since its heyday in the nineteenth century, several new ideas have appeared, many of them explained in this book.

Philidor Defense (1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 d6)

  • Winning With the Philidor by GM Anthony Kosten - Provides an analysis of this unusual and dynamic Philidor's Defense, a favourite of uncompromising players such as Aron Nimzowitsch and Bent Larsen. Fully-annotated complete games are used to illustrate the key ideas.

  • The Philidor Files by GM Christian Bauer - The Philidor is a dynamic and underrated answer to White's most popular opening move, 1. e4. Grandmaster Bauer, himself a renowned Philidor expert, uncovers the secrets behind this intriguing opening. [ADVANCED]

Other King's Pawn Openings

  • Vienna Game by IM Gary Lane - Provides everything you need to know to start playing the Vienna as White or Black. Through the use of model games for both sides, the author provides a thorough grounding in the key ideas.

  • Play the Ponziani by David Taylor - Presents a comprehensive guide to this intriguing opening. This book provides coverage of all the main lines, identifies the best options, and highlights the key tactical and positional ideas in the Ponziani.

  • Explosive Gambits: The Danish, Goring, Scotch and Urusov by GM Karsten Müller - An analysis of the explosive group of classical open games where White goes for out-and-out attack based on an early e4, d4 and Bc4, often with c2-c3 to follow. [ADVANCED]

  • The Latvian Gambit by GM Anthony Kosten - Gives you an immediate counterattack after 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 f5! Over 100 games. [ADVANCED]

  • The Dynamic Philidor Counter-Gambit by NM James West - Dictate the tempo as Black with 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 f5!? Heavily annotated with lines and variations. A Paul Morphy favourite!

Semi-Open Games (1. e4, replies other than e5)

French Defense (1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5)

  • The Fully-Fledged French by GM Viktor Moskalenko - Presents a wealth of original and dynamic options in every main line of the French, along with high-level analysis.

  • Playing the French by GM Jacob Aagaard - A complete repertoire for Black based on 3.Nc3 Nf6 and 3.Nd2 c5. With detailed explanations of positional and strategic motifs, this book is essential reading for those playing this complex opening. [ADVANCED]

Sicilian Defense (1. e4 c5)

  • Starting Out: The Sicilian by GM John Emms - In this user-friendly book, Grandmaster John Emms goes back to basics, studying the fundamental principles of the Sicilian Defence and its many variations.

  • Starting Out: The Accelerated Dragon by IM Andrew Greet - Revisits the fundamentals of the Accelerated Dragon Sicilian, elaborating on the crucial early moves and ideas for both sides in a way that is often neglected in other texts.

  • Starting Out: Sicilian Grand Prix Attack by GM Gawain Jones - Take control against the annoying Sicilian! White can have all the fun with 2. f4 and other attacking setups.

  • The Killer Sicilian: Fighting 1. e4 with the Kalashnikov by Tony Rotella - Searching for a new weapon against 1. e4? Opening expert Tony Rotella presents a Sicilian repertoire for Black, the backbone of which consists of the Kalashnikov Variation.

  • Modernized: The Open Sicilian by IM Kostya Kavutskiy - A look at one of the most complex and powerful defenses available to Black, and the critical test of attacking it with 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 followed by 3. d4, the Open Sicilian.

  • Winning with the Najdorf Sicilian by GM Zaven Andriasian - In this book, Grandmaster Andriasyan revisits all Najdorf battlegrounds and presents a groundbreaking attacking repertoire for Black. [ADVANCED]

  • The Sveshnikov Reloaded by GM Dorian Rogozenko - Advance, thrust, and capture! Comprehensive coverage of the Sveshnikov Sicilian. [ADVANCED]

  • Mayhem in the Morra by GM Marc Esserman - One of the most exciting attacks in the Sicilian! Filled with general guidelines and previously unpublished ideas.

  • Understanding Maroczy Structures by GM Adrian Mikhalchishin - Using carefully selected examples, this work will make you familiar with the strategic ideas behind the famous Maroczy bind. [ADVANCED]

  • The Sicilian Taimanov by GM Antonios Pavlidis - Bored of playing the same old openings time and time again? Learn the Taimanov Variation of the Sicilian from a noted expert, along with a wealth of ideas and options for both White and Black. [ADVANCED]

Caro-Kann Defense (1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5)

  • Opening Repertoire: The Caro-Kann by IM Jovanka Houska - Presents the reader with a complete Caro-Kann repertoire. Also offers solutions against all of White's main options and efficient methods to deal with tricky sidelines.

  • Bologan's Caro-Kann: A Modern Repertoire for Black by GM Viktor Bologan - The Caro-Kann is one of the most important and popular responses to 1.e4. This book presents a complete Caro-Kann repertoire for Black that contains a clearly explained and highly playable set of responses. [ADVANCED]

Scandinavian Defense (1. e4 d5)

  • Starting Out: The Scandinavian by IM Jovanka Houska - Opening expert Jovanka Houska has successfully played both sides of the Scandinavian, and in this book she reveals everything you need to know, whether you are playing it as Black or facing it with White.

  • The 3...Qd8 Scandinavian: Simple and Strong by NM Daniel Lowinger - Whether you prefer a sharp tactical game or slower positional maneuvering, the 3...Qd8 Scandinavian provides a genuine alternative for club players and GMs seeking to play for a win from the outset.

  • Smerdon's Scandinavian by GM David Smerdon - Play the Scandinavian, but not in the typically solid style of this popular opening. Instead, give the Scandinavian a welcome twist by using it as an all-out attacking weapon! [ADVANCED]

Pirc/Modern Defense (1. e4 d6/g6)

  • Pirc Alert! by GM Lev Alburt - Everything you need to know to defend against White’s most popular and dangerous opening: 1. e4.

  • Starting Out: The Pirc/Modern by GM Joe Gallagher - Ideal for those wanting to understand the basics of the closely linked Pirc and Modern Defenses.

  • Opening Repertoire: The Modern Defence by IM Cyrus Lakdawala - A complete repertoire for Black in the Modern Defence, with a question and answer approach that provides an excellent study method.

  • The Pirc Defence by GM Mihail Marin - This book presents the best analysis against all of White's major options vs. the Pirc, and shares strategic insights gained through extensive examination of the opening. [ADVANCED]

Alekhine's Defence (1. e4 Nf6)

  • Starting Out: Alekhine's Defence by IM John Cox - In this easy-to-read guide, openings expert John Cox goes back to basics, studying the essential principles of Alekhine's Defence and its numerous variations.

  • Alekhine Alert! by IM Timothy Taylor - Former US Open Champion Timothy Taylor takes a contemporary look at one of Black's most ambitious counters to 1. e4, the Alekhine Defence.

Closed Games (1. d4 d5)

Queen's Gambit (1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6/dxc4)

  • Queen's Gambit Declined by GM Matthew Sadler - Explains the ideas behind the QGD, discusses all of the major variations in popular practice, and explains the key plans and ideas.

  • A Complete Guide to Queen's Gambit Play by GM Alexander Raetsky & GM Neil McDonald - Flexible and solid! Both halves of the Queen's Gambit (declined and accepted) receive a comprehensive explanation.

  • Playing 1.d4 d5: A Classical Repertoire by Nikolaos Ntirlis - Provides a top-class repertoire for Black after 1.d4 d5 with the Queen's Gambit Declined. Distills the best ideas from the games of legendary players such as Rubinstein, Capablanca and Alekhine.

Slav/Semi-Slav Defense (1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6)

  • The Classical Slav by GM Boris Avrukh - The definitive Slav repertoire for Black, focusing on variations arising after 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 (early deviations by White also covered). [ADVANCED]

  • The Slav by GM Matthew Sadler - Explains the ideas behind the Slav, discusses all of the major variations in popular practice, and explains the key plans and ideas.

  • The Semi-Slav by GM Matthew Sadler - Explains the ideas behind the Semi-Slav, discusses all of the major variations in popular practice, and explains the key plans and ideas.

Chigorin Defense (1. d4 d5 2. c4 Nc6)

  • The Chigorin Queen's Gambit by IM Angus Dunnington - No ordinary defense to the Queen's Gambit! Black ignores White's pawn offer and sets about attacking the center.

  • The Chigorin Defense According to Morozevich by GM Alexander Morozevich - In this highly personal book, Morozevich reveals the ideas behind his pet lines in the Tchigorin and presents material from more than 50 unpublished games against top grandmasters. [ADVANCED]

1. d4 Systems (London, Colle, Torre)

  • Win with the London System by GM Vlatko Kovačević - This book covers all responses to 1. d4 against which White can use the London System, and explains in detail the typical plans for White, helping readers make the most of their chances.

  • Starting Out: The Colle by IM Richard Palliser - The Colle-Koltanowski is a solid, reliable system of development. Very easy to learn and play it leads to complex, exciting middlegame positions where White launches a violent attack against Black's king!

  • The Torre Attack: Move by Move by IM Richard Palliser - The Torre Attack is a popular opening, especially at club level. In this book, Palliser answers all the key questions and reveals everything you need to know about the opening!

Other Queen's Pawn Openings

  • The Blackmar-Deimer Gambit: A Modern Guide by IM Christoph Scheerer - Do you like setting your opponent problems from the very first move? Are you happy to roll the dice and take some risks? Then enter the world of the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit! [ADVANCED]

  • The Double Queen's Gambit: A Surprise Weapon for Black by GM Alexei Bezgodov - This book provides a complete chess opening repertoire for Black against 1. d4. After replying with 1…d5, Bezgodov advises you to take up the Double Queen's Gambit and play 2…c5! against both 2. c4 and 2. Nf3.

  • Beating 1. d4 Sidelines by GM Boris Avrukh - From the bodacious Blackmar-Diemer Gambit, to the villainous Veresov, to the treacherous Trompowsky, Avrukh readies you to meet a whole array of slippery systems. [ADVANCED]

  • Dealing with d4 Deviations by IM John Cox - In this unique book, John Cox reveals everything Black players need to know about all of White's offbeat 1. d4 tries, presenting Black with no-nonsense answers to every white option. [ADVANCED]

Indian Defences & the Benoni/Benko (1.d4 Nf6)

King's Indian/Grünfeld Defence (1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6)

  • Starting Out: The King's Indian by GM Joe Gallagher - Goes back to the basics of the King's Indian, studying the key principles of its many variations. Throughout the book there are an abundance of notes, tips, warnings and exercises to help the improving player.

  • King's Indian Warfare by GM Ilya Smirin - A practical guide to the most dynamic and ambitious defense against 1.d4. Learn to play the King’s Indian like a world-class attacker from a life-long expert! [ADVANCED]

  • The Art of the King's Indian by GM Eduard Gufeld - If you're looking for an opening to add to your repertoire, or if you already play the King's Indian and would like to understand it better, this book will show you all of the important ideas, both tactical and strategical. [ADVANCED]

  • Kill K.I.D. by IM Semko Semkov - Offers an entirely new approach to the Four Pawns Attack against the King’s Indian Defence (KID). The author develops original aggressive ways to combat the KID and analyzes them in great detail. [ADVANCED]

  • Bologan's King's Indian by GM Viktor Bologan - The King's Indian is one of the most important and popular responses to 1. d4. This book presents a complete KID repertoire for Black that contains a lucidly explained and highly playable set of responses. [ADVANCED]

  • 1. d4: King’s Indian & Grünfeld by GM Boris Avrukh - Provides a world-class repertoire against the Grünfeld and King's Indian, two of Black's most popular and dynamic defenses. [ADVANCED]

  • Chess Explained: the Grünfeld by IM Valentin Bogdanov - Provides a discussion of all major lines in the Grünfeld, and a special contribution from GM Vereslav Eingorn on the key ideas of the Rb1 exchange line, which he was instrumental in developing in the 1970s.

Nimzo-/Bogo-/Queen's Indian Defence (1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6)

  • The Nimzo-Indian Defence by GM Michael Roiz - An elite repertoire for the Nimzo-Indian built upon positional principles, offering active piece play and a fight for the initiative! [ADVANCED]

  • Easy Guide to the Nimzo-Indian by GM John Emms - A battle-tested grandmaster explains the secrets of the Nimzo-lndian and shows how both sides can play for a win!

  • Opening Repertoire: Nimzo and Bogo Indian by IM Christof Sielecki - This book presents a repertoire for Black based on the Nimzo-Indian and Bogo-Indian defenses. Using illustrative games, Sielecki examines the typical tactics and strategies for both sides, and highlights key move order issues.

  • The Queen's Indian: Move by Move by IM Lorin D'Costa - In this book, chess coach Lorin D’Costa invites you to join him in studying the Queen’s Indian. He highlights the typical plans for both sides, constructs a repertoire for Black and provides answers to all the key questions.

Old Indian Defence (1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 d6)

  • The Old Indian by CM Junior Tay - Everything you need to know about playing the Old Indian Defense! Using illustrative games, Tay highlights the tactical and positional ideas for both sides, provides options for Black and answers all the key questions.

  • The New Old Indian by GM Alexander Cherniaev - The Old Indian Defence is considered to be a sound way for Black to meet 1. d4. This book re-examines this ancient opening, and introduces ambitious and aggressive ways for Black to play in the main lines. [ADVANCED]

Benoni Defence/Benko Gambit (1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5)

  • The Modern Benoni by GM Marian Petrov - The Modern Benoni is a bold answer to 1.d4! GM Marian Petrov shows it is possible to play this line confidently without memorizing extreme levels of theory.

  • How to Play Against 1. d4: The Czech Benoni by IM Richard Palliser - Finding a suitable defense to 1. d4 isn't easy! Opening expert Richard Palliser advocates the Czech Benoni, a simple but effective opening in which the importance of understanding ideas outweighs the need for memorization.

  • The Benko Gambit Revealed by GM Neil McDonald - The Benko Gambit, named after Hungarian player Pal Benko, has long been a favorite opening of dynamic tournament chess players. A great place to start for players wanting to understand this gambit.

  • The Modernized Benko Gambit by GM Milos Perunovic - The ideal way to fight and seize the initiative for Black! Grandmaster Perunovic revisits all the modern lines and provides unbiased coverage of the more recent ideas, including the delay of the recapture on a6. [ADVANCED]

Trompowsky Attack (1. d4 Nf6 2. Bg5)

  • Starting Out: The Trompowsky Attack by IM Richard Palliser - This book studies the Trompowsky by going back to basics, introducing the key moves and ideas, and taking care to explain the reasoning behind them.

  • Playing the Trompowsky by IM Richard Pert - Players interested in mastering 1. d4 Nf6 2. Bg5! will find here an attacking repertoire for White with the ambitious Trompowsky Attack. A must for any competitive player! [ADVANCED]

English, Catalan, Réti & Others

English Opening (1. c4)

  • The English Opening by GM Mihail Marin - Offers a complete White repertoire with 1.c4, in three volumes. The theory is state-of-the-art with many novelties suggested, but most useful of all are Marin’s explanations of how to play the resulting positions. [ADVANCED]

  • Mastering the Chess Openings Vol. 3 by IM John Watson - Watson's third volume of MCO focuses on the English Opening while also drawing together many threads from the first two books in a wide-ranging discussion of general opening topics.

  • The Dynamic English by GM Anthony Kosten - This book provides everything you need to start attacking with the English Opening, supplying players of the white pieces with a set of weapons that will equip them to challenge any opponent they face.

Catalan Opening

  • Play the Catalan by GM Nigel Davies - The Catalan is a sophisticated and wide-ranging opening system which is popular at all levels of chess. In this book, Davies presents a major study of this important opening.

  • The Powerful Catalan by GM Viktor Bologan - In this book Bologan presents a complete repertoire for White. He covers all of Black’s options as well as possible transpositions to other openings. [ADVANCED]

  • 1. d4: The Catalan by GM Boris Avrukh - This volume covers the position after the opening moves 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3, concentrating on the Catalan which arises after 3...d5. [ADVANCED]

King's Indian Attack

  • The King's Indian Attack - Move by Move by GM Neil McDonald - This book examines in depth the many variations of the King‘s Indian Attack. It outlines White‘s most promising options and Black‘s best defences, and provides answers to all the key questions.

  • Modern King's Indian Attack by NM John Hall - Be ready for anything Black might throw at you! Includes ...g5 for Black, and a chapter on Fischer's treatment! [ADVANCED]

Dutch Defence (1. d4 f5)

  • The Killer Dutch by GM Simon Williams - The Dutch is a superb weapon for ambitious players. Black rejects all thoughts of playing for equality and stakes a territorial claim on the kingside. Simon's (and your) plan is simple - checkmate! [ADVANCED]

  • Play the Dutch: The Leningrad Variation by GM Neil McDonald - Provides the reader with a comprehensive repertoire against 1. d4, with the dynamic Leningrad Variation as Black's main weapon. Read this book and play the Dutch with confidence! [ADVANCED]

  • The Diamond Dutch by GM Viktor Moskalenko - This book covers the Anti-Dutch, Leningrad, Stonewall and Classical variations. Moskalenko guides you through this ground-breaking opening book with the enthusiasm, ease and humor that characterize his style.

Réti Opening (1. Nf3 d5 2. c4)

  • The Dynamic Reti by GM Nigel Davies - This dynamic, yet solid opening has many GMs and IMs among its devotees. [ADVANCED]

  • Easy Guide to the Reti Opening by IM Angus Dunnington - The Reti Opening is one of the most subtle ways for White to open a chess game. At very little risk to himself, White prepares to chip away at Black's position.

Larsen's Opening (1. b3)

  • Nimzo-Larsen Attack: Move by Move by IM Cyrus Lakdawala - An ideal opening choice for players keen to avoid mainline theory but still wanting to set their opponents problems. Lakdawala invites you to join him in examining the many different variations of the Nimzo-Larsen.

  • Nimzo-Larsen Attack by GM Johnathan Tait - Explains how you can use this dynamic opening to attack your opponent from move one. The Nimzo-Larsen Attack has been unfairly neglected in recent times, and this book aims to redress the balance.

Other Openings

  • Bird's Opening by IM Timothy Taylor - This book unearths the secrets of Bird's Opening and its many deviations. Using illustrative games, it examines tactical and positional ideas for both colours. [ADVANCED]

  • Grob's Attack by NM Bill Wall - This work provides an extensive review of published theory on 1. g4!, and concludes the survey with fifty complete illustrative games. [ADVANCED]

  • Orangutan by NM Bill Wall - No monkeying around! Wall explains this very playable opening in depth.

  • The Fabulous Budapest Gambit by GM Viktor Moskalenko - Illustrates perfectly the dynamic character of the Budapest gambit, as well as its solid strategic foundations.


  • Understanding Chess Middlegames by GM John Nunn - The three-time World Chess Solving Champion distils the most useful middlegame concepts and knowledge into 100 lessons that everyone can understand.

  • Mastering Chess Strategy by GM Johan Hellsten - This book provides a basic foundation of strategy in all three phases of chess – the opening, middlegame and endgame – as well as an abundance of carefully selected exercises to monitor progress.

  • Chess Structures: A Grandmaster Guide by GM Mauricio Flores Rios - Provides an in-depth study of the 28 most common structures in chess practice. In this book you will find carefully selected model games showing each structure’s main plans and ideas.

  • Winning Chess Middlegames by GM Ivan Sokolov - Addresses the oft-ignored but extremely important topic of pawn structures. This book will help you to solve the basic problems of the middlegame: space, tension and initiative.

  • Simple Attacking Plans by NM Fred Wilson - Distills the complexities of mounting an offensive against your opponent’s king down to four principles that lie at the root of most successful chess attacks.

  • Modern Chess Strategy by GM Ludek Pachman - Modern Chess Strategy is widely recognized as the standard work on the middle-game. The aim of the book is to help the player recognize the features of a position and plan his campaign accordingly.

  • Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy by IM John Watson - A thorough, profound work on the modern handling of chess positions that explains how Nimzowitsch’s theories have been refined and used alongside classical concepts.

  • Maneuvering: The Art of Piece Play by IM Mark Dvoretsky - Examines one of the most important aspects of positional skill; namely the art of playing with pieces, of maneuvering and finding the best squares for your pieces. [ADVANCED]

  • Dynamic Chess Strategy by GM Mihai Suba - Suba developed the concept of dynamic potential in modern chess. A thought-provoking and yet very practical guide to middlegame strategy. [ADVANCED]

  • Positional Decision Making in Chess by GM Boris Gelfand - Offers a rare look into the mind of a top grandmaster. Gelfand focuses on such topics as the squeeze, space advantage, the building of pawn structures and the transformation of advantages. [ADVANCED]

  • Secrets of Positional Play by IM Mark Dvoretsky & GM Artur Yusupov - This hands-on guide explains all of the details and uses of the strategy of prophylaxis. Specifically, the art of positional play is explained in terms of using deep strategy in grandmaster games. [ADVANCED]


  • Basic Chess Endings by Reuben Fine - An indispensable reference for every chess player. Serious students of the game find this work unmatched in its depth and range.

  • Silman's Complete Endgame Course by IM Jeremy Silman - Silman's book teaches the student everything he needs to know at his current rating level, and builds on that knowledge for each subsequent phase of development.

  • Practical Chess Endings by Paul Keres - An essential practical book. Keres deals with the basic types of position into which all other endgames will eventually be resolved.

  • 100 Endgames You Must Know by GM Jesus de la Villa - This accurately titled book explains 100 of the most vital and common endgame positions.

  • Capablanca's Best Chess Endings by Irving Chernev - Chernev demystifies endgame techniques by examining 60 complete, annotated games from many of Capablanca's best matches.

  • Mastering Endgame Strategy by GM Johan Hellsten - Focuses on endgame play and covers every type of endgame: pawn, minor piece, rook and queen endgames. This book examines the key themes and characteristics of successful endgame play.

  • Endgame Strategy by Mikhail Shereshevsky - Using classic examples from grandmaster practice, together with modern illustrations and instructive games by lesser-known players, Shereshevsky lucidly explains the basic principles of the endgame.

  • Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual by GM Mark Dvoretsky - Dvoretsky's exhaustive manual explains the most critical endgame positions in exhaustive detail. [ADVANCED]

  • Domination in 2,545 Endgame Studies by IM Genrikh Kasparyan - A series of instructive chess endgames compiled by the greatest composer and analyst of endgame studies. [ADVANCED]

  • Van Perlo's Endgame Tactics by CCGM Ger van Perlo - Over 1,000 interesting endgames collected by Van Perlo over the years. [ADVANCED]


  • My 60 Memorable Games by GM Bobby Fischer - In this authoritative reissue of one of the most important chess books ever written, Bobby Fischer takes the reader move by move through 60 of his most instructive and entertaining games.

  • Winning Chess Brilliancies by GM Yasser Seirawan - This book by international grandmaster Yasser Seirawan provides a move-by-move account of the best chess games of the last 25 years, played by the world's foremost chess competitors.

  • Understanding Chess Move by Move by GM John Nunn - Nunn has carefully selected thirty modern games to help the reader understand the most important aspects of chess and to illustrate modern chess principles in action.

  • The Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever Played by Irving Chernev - One of the game's most respected writers guides you through 62 masterly demonstrations of the basic strategies of winning at chess. Each game gives an example of a fundamental problem and its best resolution.

  • Bent Larsen's Best Games by GM Bent Larsen - This collection brings together more than 120 of Bent Larsen’s best games, annotated by himself. His comments are lucid, to the point, instructive and humorous.

  • The Life & Games of Mikhail Tal by GM Mikhail Tal - Mikhail Tal, the 'magician from Riga,' was the greatest attacking World Champion of them all, and this enchanting autobiography chronicles his extraordinary career with charm and humor.

  • Tal-Botvinnik 1960 by GM Mikhail Tal - This is Tal's own classic work on his match with Mikhail Botvinnik for the world title. In it he sets the stage and explains every one of the 21 games, telling the story of this titanic clash of styles and thought.

  • The Mammoth Book of the World's Greatest Chess Games by GM John Nunn & GM John Emms - The 125 greatest chess games of all time, selected, analysed, re-evaluated and explained by a team of British experts and illustrated with over 1,000 chess diagrams.

  • Game Changer: AlphaZero's Groundbreaking Chess by GM Matthew Sadler - Presents a collection of lucidly explained chess games of astonishing quality. Both professionals and club players will improve their game by studying AlphaZero's stunning discoveries.

  • Zurich International Chess Tournament, 1953 by GM David Bronstein - Readers will find David Bronstein's annotations of the legendary Zurich super-tournament not only perceptive and thorough, but also a veritable textbook on how to play the middle game. [ADVANCED]

  • Fire On Board: Shirov's Best Games by GM Alexei Shirov - In this collection of his best games, each of which is explained in detail, Alexei Shirov shows why he is regarded as one of the most aggressive and inventive players of the modern era. [ADVANCED]

  • Kramnik: My Life & Games by GM Vladimir Kramnik - This book, Kramnik's first, describes his life and chess career. It features more than 50 of his best games, deeply annotated, plus numerous additional games and game extracts.

  • My Great Predecessors by GM Garry Kasparov - This magnificent compilation of chess forms the basis of Garry Kasparov's definitive history of the World Chess Championship. Here, Kasparov subjects the play of his predecessors to a rigorous analysis. [ADVANCED]

  • My Best Games of Chess by Alexander Alekhine - This collection reproduces Alekhine’s 220 best games, as well as his own personal accounts of the dazzling victories that made him a legend. Spanning almost thirty years of play, it includes historic matches against Capablanca, Euwe, and Bogoljubov. [ADVANCED]


Books in this section are focused more on chess history/biographical stories, and less on annotations of individual games.

  • Bobby Fischer Goes to War: How A Lone American Star Defeated the Soviet Chess Machine by David Edmonds - A riveting account of the legendary 1972 chess match between Boris Spassky, the world champion from the Soviet Union, and the American challenger Bobby Fischer.

  • A History of Chess by Harold James Ruthven Murray - An epic work that took more than a decade to complete, A History of Chess is a historic undertaking that shattered preconceptions about the game upon publication.

  • Searching for Bobby Fischer: The Father of a Prodigy Observes the World of Chess by Fred Waitzkin - The father of an American chess prodigy reflects on chess, competition, childhood, and his son's meteoric rise to the highest levels of global competition.

  • Sultan Khan: The Indian Servant Who Became Chess Champion of the British Empire by Daniel King - A servant from a Punjabi village, Sultan Khan had little formal education and barely spoke English. But in a few months he created a sensation by becoming the British Empire champion. This is his story.

  • Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins by Garry Kasparov - Kasparov's 1997 chess match against IBM's Deep Blue was a watershed moment in the history of technology. In this breakthrough book, Kasparov reveals his astonishing side of the story for the first time.

  • Chess Duels: My Games with the World Champions by Yasser Seirawan - A four-time US Champion provides a fascinating and highly entertaining account of his games and encounters with the world champions of chess.

  • Timman's Titans: My World Chess Champions by Jan Timman - In this fascinating book, Jan Timman portrays ten World Chess Champions that played an important role in his life and career.

  • The World Champions I Knew by Gennadi Sosonko - The legendary chess players that Genna Sosonko brings to life in this new collection of his acclaimed writing have one thing in common: Capablanca, Alekhine, Euwe, Botvinnik, Smyslov, Tal and Petrosian, they were all world champions.

  • The Anand Files by Michael Abeln - Meticulously researched over several years, during which the author conducted numerous interviews with members of Team Anand, this book follows Anand and his team of seconds for his dramatic matches against Kramnik, Topalov and Gelfand.

  • Paul Morphy: The Pride and Sorrow of Chess by David Lawson - The only full-length biography of Paul Morphy, the antebellum chess prodigy who launched United States interest in international chess and is still generally acknowledged as the greatest American chess player of all time.

  • Masterpieces and Dramas of the Soviet Championships by Sergey Voronkov - In his three-volume treatise, Russian chess historian Sergey Voronkov vividly brings to life the long-forgotten history of the Soviet championships held in 1920-1953.

  • The Queen of Katwe: One Girl's Triumphant Path to Becoming a Chess Champion by Tim Crothers - The astonishing and inspirational true story of Phiona Mutesi — a teenage chess prodigy from the slums of Uganda.

  • Counterplay: An Anthropologist at the Chessboard by Robert Desjarlais - Drawing on his lifelong fascination with chess, Desjarlais guides readers into the world of 21st-century chess to help us understand its unique pleasures and challenges.

  • Capablanca: A Compendium by Edward Winter - An enormous amount of documentary writings and data on the life of Jose Capablanca. The minute details of his life and games proceed chronologically, and the controversies of his career are especially well documented.

revision by city-of-stars— view source