Starting to take Chess seriously and want to get some books? You’re in the right place. This is the Chess library than contains the best Chess books for beginners, intermediates, advanced players and everything in between.
Last Updated: October 4th, 2021
Updated the non-fiction section to include more suggestions. Updated the table of contents to provide better navigation through the page.
This list is broken down into sections. This list of the best Books for beginners, intermediate, and advanced players with additional sections on topics like Puzzles, Attacking, Endgame, positional Chess, and more that are broken down into sections. Notice the table of contents that helps you see where you are on the page. You can also click on a section in the table of contents to be directed to that section.
Disclaimer: ChessJournal.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.
How Books Made The List
Seeing a massive list of books that you’ll get too sometime within the next two decades doesn’t help much. So I tried to include only the best books for each section, otherwise it would be easy to add over twenty books for every category. It’s important to know how we select the books that we included in this list, so here’s the criteria we use.
Written by authors who are skilled Chess players, many of them being Grandmasters.
Recommended by multiple players that have used the book and improved their level of skill.
Avoiding books that aren’t clearly laid out or explained in an easy to digest way.
About Chess NotationThe majority of the books we list below are published using Algebraic Notation to indicate the moves in the positions. However, many of the older books that were published before the 1980’s used Descriptive Notation to indicate the Chess moves. Although Descriptive Notation isn’t much more complicated than Algebraic Notation, if you’re not familiar with the language, there will be a learning curve. If you’re an intermediate player or more experienced, you’ll pick up the terms quicker. Keep in mind any older books published back then are included in this list because of the value the book still holds.
If You Only Buy a Few
If you decide to only get a few books, these would be the best ones to get. They are tailored to provide a ton of information on one large category of Chess like openings or the important information for a large number of topics.
Modern Chess Openings is a true classic in the world of chess. It was the first book I got when I decided to start learning an opening. When first playing Chess, you want to just play a couple hundred games. The next step is learning one opening until you memorize the main line, then learn another one. This is the book for doing just that.
Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess. The book by the man that needs no introduction, the one and only Bobby Fischer. If you’re completely new to chess, Bobby is arguably the best chess player in the history of the game. This is a must read for chess players of any level.
Chess Fundamentals. They say that 80% of results always come from the fundamentals, chess is no different. Mastering the fundamentals is crucial to advancing beyond being a beginner in chess. Chess Fundamentals written by Jose Raul Capablanca is one of the first books to go through once, and on an on going basis. Have it next to you as you’re playing.
Chess For Dummies. If you’re a fan of the Dummies books, then Chess for Dummies is for you. They do a good job at explaining everything about the subject from A, to Z.
Chess Tactics For Champions. This book is exactly what it says, tactics for champions, written by the legendary Susan Polgar, she goes through the tactics that the masters use to play and win the game.
You don’t need books or a book for that matter. Just keep playing and do puzzles online.
Books For Beginners (Below 1200)
These are the best books for beginner Chess players. They cover a wide range of topics and aspects of the game that are important to know first before trying to learn more advanced tactics and attacking strategies.
Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess written by arguable the greatest player who ever lived, which is why this is one of the first books you ever hear about when exploring Chess books. This is an excellent book to start with for learning Chess tactics.
Learn Chess by John Nunn. This is a second option along with the recommendation above. Learn Chess is a great introduction to the game of Chess for complete beginners.
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Chess written by Patrick Wolff. This guide is a great follow up to beginners who have already read a couple books and want to continue expanding their knowledge on the fundamentals.
Books For Intermediate Players (1200-1800)
These books are going to be the most helpful for intermediate players around the 1500 ELO range.
Tips for Young Players By Matthew Sadler. Don’t get hung up on the title, this book is not for 700 ELO 8 year old players. However, if you’re a newer intermediate player climbing the ladder past about 1200, this book will help you. Sadler goes further into depth on the fundamentals and helps clarify concepts for you.
The ABC’s of Chess by Bruce Pandolfini is a highly instructive guide on fundamental strategies and principles. You could have half of the game of Chess down, but if you lack the other ABC’s, the other half of the game will ruin your games and your progress. Don’t skip learning every single one of your ABC’s.
A to Z Chess Tactics: Every Chess Move Explained written by George Huczek. As the title suggests, George grabs you by the hand and walks you through 26 tactical themes in Chess and explains every detail about each one. All the tactics are categorized by theme in their own respective chapters. And to top it off at the end of the lessons are 400 puzzles on the themes you just learned that increase in difficulty.
Winning Chess Strategies by Yasser Seirawan. In this book, Yasser goes in-depth on strategic positions on the board. A must-read for players who want to expand their knowledge and skills on strategic concepts and tactics.
Chess Tactics for Champions by Susan Polgar. If you talk about Chess books on tactics in casual conversation, this book is likely to be mentioned. This book is popular for being a tactics workbook that is targeted to intermediate players and above. Or at least, that’s the word on the back-rank.
How to Reassess Your Chess: Chess Mastery Through Chess Imbalances. by Jeremy Silman. Jeremy suggests that this book is for players around 1400 elo. However, based on comments by other players, this book has proved to be slightly too complicated for a 1400-rated player. This book is better for higher rated intermediate players at least 1600.
Mammoth Book of Chess by Graham Burgess is a giant book that’s great for intermediate players. The information is clearly explained and laid out while also being easy to digest.
Books For Advanced Players (Above 1800)
These books are tailored for players close to and above the 1800 ELO range.
Endgame Strategy written by Mikhail Shereshevsky is a masterpiece of endgame strategy. Most books just bombard you with complex variations one after the other, this book is different. Mikhail goes through the correct plan of action for the specific position, only then does he go through a complete analysis for the plan. Gold for the endgame.
Chess Training Pocket Book: 300 Most Important Positions and Ideas by Lev Alburt. This is a 2-volume series. This training book is just that, a real training book that’s full of tactical positions, scenarios, and motifs. All of which are instructional and presented in a puzzle format. Each scenario is it’s own mini-lesson, meaning you’ll learn something on every single puzzle.
Mating the Castled King written by Danny Gormally. Knowing how to launch strategic attacks to checkmate your opponent King becomes increasingly difficult after castling. This book shows you how to remove the defenders and mate the King.
Winning Chess Combinations by Yasser Seirawan. One of many books on this list by Yasser. This book walks you through combinations in Chess. What they are, how they work, and how to do make them work in your games.
The Middlegame is full of tactics, attacks, and captures. It’s not uncommon for complete chaos to erupt in this part of the game. These books will help you become a better attacker and strategic
The Middlegame in Chess written by Rueben Fine is strongly recommended for improving your middlegame strategy. Rueben lays out a lot of examples clearly so they’re easy to understand. It’s not suggested for complete beginners, but upper beginner to intermediate players, this book will be beneficial.
Chess Middlegames written by Laszlo Polgar is tailored for seasoned players that are close to becoming a Chess master. It contains a colossal 4158 positions that are categorized into separate themes. Such as the 168 positions of just isolated Queen pawn positions.
Soviet Middlegame Technique written by Peter Romanovsky is a classic in Soviet Chess texts. First published in 1929, it’s stood the test of time by being one of the few pieces of literature to stay in the “best Chess books” conversation for nearly a century now. It’s known by Grandmasters as one of the best books for Chess players.
Endgame is often referenced as the most complicated part of the game. These are the best endgame books on Chess that will likely have the most impact on the outcome of your games.
Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual written by Mark Dvoretsky, it was immediately recognized by Chess masters as one of the best endgame books ever published when it first came out in 2003. Even one of the best Grandmasters ever in history of Chess has a forward in the fifth edition saying, “…an absolute must for every Chess professional”.
100 Endgames You Must Know: Vital Lessons for Every Chess Player by by Jesus de la Villa. This book is commonly one of the first to be mentioned in talks of Endgame books. 100 Endgames You Must Know focuses on just that, the most common endgame positions and walks you through all of them. A must-read for endgame strategy.
Chess Endings is written by Yuri Averbakh. Yuri, who is a Grandmaster from Russia, is one of the best endgame players and graciously published a book on his best lessons for the endgame. It’s common to hear players say that this book helped a great deal in improving their endgame strategy.
Knowing how to checkmate is crucial. If you learn and practice different ways to mate an opponent, your rating will take a jump just from that. You don’t have to memorize hundreds of checkmate patterns, but the more you learn, the more ways you’ll be able to win games.
Simple Checkmates is the book that will teach you more than 400 ways to checkmate your opponent. Written by A.J. Gillam, he focuses on showing you the vast variety in which you can win games.
Attacking is half the battle in Chess, with the other half being defending. You could sum up Chess in attacking and defending. These books will help you master the art of tactical combinations of attacking in Chess.
The Art of Attack by Vukovic. This book is more advanced on attacking, so if you’re a beginner, you might want to put this book off until you’re an intermediate. If you’re ready to expand on your basic attacks like forks and skewers, check this book out.
5334 Chess Problems, Combinations, and Games By L. Polgar. This book contains a whopping 600 miniature games with attacking strategies on the castled King. Both players castle in the majority of games played, so the more weapons you have to use for attacking a castled King, the more dangerous you’ll be.
The Chess Attacker’s Handbook by Michael Song and Razvan Preotu. These authors are good at being highly instructive when they teach Chess, specifically on attacking in Chess. This book is exceptional at teaching you advanced attacking strategies.
Chess For Hawks written by Cyrus Lakdawala. The title is an analogy for being a hawk vs a dove. Most players attack in Chess like a dove. This book transforms you dove-like attacks into sharp, devastating blows to your opponent that they can’t just shrug off.
Attacking Manual (Volume 1). Written by Jacob Aagaard, the Attacking Manual volumes 1 and 2 are award-winning guides on how to attack in Chess. Both are must-reads and are go to books when a player wants to sharpen their attacks.
Puzzles matter. Getting good at puzzles makes a huge different in skill level.
The Chess Cafe Puzzle Book. Chess Cafe is an established publisher in the Chess world. They published a few books with puzzles that are worth getting. They have four books total full of puzzles to practice with.
These Books will help you understand how to gain an advantage on the board by developing positions that work for you and against your opponent. Positional theory is one of the more complex and advanced fields of the game, but having a slight edge in position is often times all it takes to take the win.
This section will seem a bit ironic because even though these books are tailored more for “kids”, kids are also some of the best players in the world with many Grandmasters becoming a GM in their early teens.