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Top 5 Best Chess Books For Beginners

Best chess books for beginners

Are you a beginner chess player? 

So, you have decided to learn chess seriously and you are wondering, out of thousands of books which book you should choose. 

let me eliminate your confusion and help you choose a book that will be most beneficial to you.

This article gives you a list of best chess books for beginners.


1. Play Winning chess

Author: Yasser Seirawan

I think this is one the best chess books for beginners.

This Book covers the following topics:

Chapter1: The evolution of chess

In this chapter, you will learn rules of the game- how to move the pieces, how to read and write chess notations, how to setup the chess board, what is check and checkmate.

This chapter is good  for complete beginners who does not even know how to move the pieces and rules of the game.

Chapter2: The first principle: Force

In this chapter, You will learn about Material advantage- what are numerical values of each piece, basic tactics that can be used to win material like pin and fork. You will also learn about checkmating opponents lone king using your queen & king and using your rook and king.

Chapter3: The second principle: Time

Time advantage means how quickly can you transfer your pieces from one side of the board to another side. Let’s say you want to attack on opponent’s kingside and if your opponent can not bring his pieces to kingside faster than you, then it means you have the time advantage and your attack will most likely succeed. 

Chapter4: The third principle: Space

Having more space means you can easily move your pieces. let’s say you are targeting two weakness on opposite side of the board and opponent is just holding on, if you have space advantage you can easily shift your pieces  from one weakness to another weakness and your opponent cannot do it because he has less space so your attack has better chances of success.

Chapter5: The fourth principle: Pawn Structure

” Pawns are the soul of chess- philidor “

Pawn structure decides the nature of the game. By analyzing the pawn’s structure, you can quickly come up with a plan. This chapter describes what is a weak pawn and how you can attack it, what is the nature of the game when center is closed or open. 

Chapter6: Annotated games

Author explains the game played by masters in the chapter and clearly explains the common mistakes made by beginner players. You will get a good idea of what not to do in your games.

Conclusion: This book is good for you if you are a complete beginner and you don’t know the fundamental principles of the game.

2. Chess Tactics for Champions

Author: Susan Polgar

When it comes to tactics, this is best chess books for beginners.

This books is divided in three sections.

Section 1: Tactical elements to win material or checkmate

In this section, you will learn about common tactical elements that regularly comes in your game. Tactical elements like fork, pin, skewer, discovered attack, double check, trapping pieces, decoys, intermediate moves, pawn promotion, deflection and back rank checkmate are covered in this section. Best thing about this book is that difficulty level of these puzzles are increased gradually so even if you are a complete beginner you can learn these ideas and improve your game.

Section 2: Tactics to save the game

Every now and then, you will yourself in difficult positions where you want to draw the game and avoid the pain of the loss. In such positions, you must know about tactical tools that may help you get the desired result.

Game saving combinations, perpetual check and stalemate are covered in this section. Using these idea, you can save your game from the losing position.

Section 3: Other ideas

In this section, you will learn about less common tactical ideas like traps and counter traps. In trap, you will learn how to trick your opponent and trap one of his pieces to get material advantage. You will also get 25 famous combinations in this section.

Conclusion: If words like fork, pin and skewer sounds new to you, I highly recommend this book. You will learn about all the common tactical ideas in this book.

3. Logical Chess Move by Move

Author: Irving Chernev

33 high quality chess games played by masters are analyzed in this book. This is an old book and most of the games were played in early 1900. Concept explained in this book are evergreen and they still apply in modern day. These games are divided in 3 sections.

Section 1: The kingside attack

First 16 games are categorized based on kingside attack. You will learn the attacking ideas used by greatest chess players of all the time. Every move is explained in easy to understand way which it idea book for beginners. Studying these games will definitely improve your attacking play.

Section 2:  The Queen’s Pawn opening

Next 7 games deals with Queen’s pawn opening. Queen’s pawn opening is an opening which is played by almost every top player in their career at least once. You will learn all the basic ideas of this opening and all the moves are clearly explained.

London system is one good opening for beginners. It starts with queen pawn.

Section 3: The chess master explains his ideas

Last 10 games in this book explains the thought process of a master. Author includes the comments made by the players in his explanation of the games. This gives you a feeling that player directly himself is explaining these games. Knowing the thought process of a strong player will help you improve your game.

Conclusion: If you are a beginner and if you have not read this book, I highly recommend this book. Every move is explained in detail.

4. Winning Chess Strategies

Author: Yasser Seirawan

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you don’t know what to do next? 

No matter how hard you try, you can not come up with a plan?

This book will help you solve this problem. This book is divided in 12 chapters.

Chapter 1-4: When you have material advantage, best strategy is to start exchanging pieces and go in the endgame where value of your material advantage will rise. When pieces are exchanged, opponent’s chances for counter are reduced and it becomes easier for you to win the game.

You will also learn how you can stop the enemy counter play and where you should put your pieces.

Chapter 5-8: In this section, you will learn when knight is better than bishop and when bishop is better than knight so you know whether you should keep the bishop or the knight.

Understanding the pawns and creating targets for attack is important part of making a long term strategical plan which you will learn in detail in this section of the book.

Chapter 9-12: Attack on the kingside is a powerful strategy which you should know when to implement. You can identify clues that will tell you that it is right time to start an attack.

You should also know which strategies are faulty so that you avoid them completely. These ideas are covered in this section.

Conclusion: This is an ideal book for you if you are just starting out and wants to learn about strategy of chess.

5. Discovering Chess Openings

Author: John Emms

When you are beginner you should not spend your time in memorizing opening lines but instead, you should understand the opening principles.

If you understand the opening principles, you can play any opening well because all the opening share some common principles. You will learn about these principles in this book.

Chapter 1: Controlling the center. Player who controls the center usually controls the game. When pieces are put in the center, they control more squares and their power increases.

Chapter 2: Development- Fast development is the key to successful opening play. This is the most important chapter for beginners players because this is where most of the beginners make mistake.

Chapter 3: King safety: Castle as soon as possible. When your king is the center, most of the time it will be an easy target for your opponent.

Chapter 4: Tempo- Moving the same piece twice in the opening, making useless pawn moves in the opening and developing your queen early in the opening leads to bad opening position.

Chapter 5: Pawn play- Not moving too many pawns in the opening means you have more moves to develop your pieces in the opening which means you can complete your development faster than opponent and start an attack!

Conclusion: This book covers essential opening principles and without following these principles your game will not improve.