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"Must have" chess books

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  • "Must have" chess books

    After much painstaking research, we put together the definitive list of 'must have' chess books.
    Roger Coathup
    Author Chess Tales

  • #2
    These books would be pra download?

    Originally posted by aveumluhe View Post
    After much painstaking research, we put together the definitive list of 'must have' chess books.


    • #3
      A good list but I have some quibbles

      Endgame books. Fundamental Chess Endings by Karsten Muller and Frank Lamprecht can easily be swapped in favor of the book by Averbach.

      Middlegame Books. I would not recommend any of the books recommended by that author. The Middlegame-volumes 1 and 2 by Max Euwe is much better. If that is not your taste then Yermolinsky's Road to Chess Improvement and/or John Watson's Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy and Chess Strategy in Action are clearly superior.

      Game collections. These are fine. But it is a good idea to get a game collection from a master or GM whose opennings interest the player. If a player is an king pawn player, John Nunn's books are very useful. If the player likes queen pawn opennings then Shirov or Kasparov are very useful. If the player is more of a strategist then that book on Kramnick can be very useful.

      Oh yes, I would not get any of the And Because books. I have them, but I am underwhelmed.


      • #4
        Metabolico... what do you mean by 'pra download'?
        Roger Coathup
        Author Chess Tales


        • #5
          Hi Zatiochi... the list was compiled from a group of 1600-2400 players.

          I agree with you that an argument can be made for other books, e.g. the Muller / Lamprecht, but don't think you can make the statement that the middlegame books are clearly superior... it's a highly subjective topic.

          The games collections were deliberately chosen on the basis of being well annotated, instructional but also accessible and rounded, i.e. that they would help a player develop all aspects of their game.

          Please suggest some other 'and because' titles... they are there to help people appreciate the context of the game, rather than just for their quality chess content.

          The title of the list is somewhat 'tongue in cheek', with the intention that it would provoke debate, feedback and other great suggestions like yours.

          Best regards, Roger

          p.s. the Silman book has already been slated by one of the commentators
          Roger Coathup
          Author Chess Tales


          • #6
            Originally posted by aveumluhe View Post
            Please suggest some other 'and because' titles... they are there to help people appreciate the context of the game, rather than just for their quality chess content.
            Finding Bobby Fischer by Dirk Jan Ten Geuzendam gives a more useful broader context of the game. Searching for Bobby Fischer by Fred Waitzkin is a much more nuanced original that one found in the movie adaptation, that gives a view of children's and international chess in the 80s.

            Chess Companion by Irving Chernev does give the reader the feel of what chess was like in an earlier age.

            But if you really want context. It is hard to beat old chess magazines. They give the reader a flavor and sense as to what it was like to play chess years ago. I remember I got a friend a set of Chess Life bound magazines from the 50s. It was a snapshot in time regarding chess back in the day. I remember going through an old New York Times chess column by I.A. Horowitz from the 40s (Horowitz used to write chess columns every day for the times, until he died in the 70s) It was interesting as it was a point of view of a player who did not pay attention to chess ratings. Ratings were widely instituted in 1960.

            Although I cannot give a source, I remember reading that tournaments were largely round robin. For example, the US Open was a series of round robin tournaments before the advent of ratings.

            The reason why I did not originally put out a list of books that gave context is that there is no book that talks about what it was like to play chess in clubs, tournments and the like before Waitken's book. You get glimpses, but nothing else.


            • #7
              Hi Zatoichi,

              the difference between European chess heritage and US chess heritage is always enlightening. I do agree with you that the old magazines can be intriguing.. in our case it would be the British Chess Magazine, New in Chess or maybe Schach 64 I guess. I do some "chess in the attic" posts on Chess Tales where I blog interesting pages from the old magazines.

              Anyway, I've taken on board what you said about the Karsten Muller book, and blogged a short post about it: best endgame guide.

              All the best, Roger
              Roger Coathup
              Author Chess Tales


              • #8
                I don't know about you guys, but I think that here and here are pretty good lists of books you should have.



                • #9
                  "Must have" for whom?

                  If I were making a list of the "must own" books, I'd probably be focusing on what will help rank novices reach expert/master level, so I'd start with "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Chess", Chernev's "Logical Chess: Move by Move", and 3 or 4 tactical puzzle books, in increasing order of difficulty, followed by an endgame book for beginners. Only after mastering that material should anyone move on to most of the books on your list.

                  As for your opening suggestions, I have one disagreement there, too. I truly believe that EVERY player with a 4 digit rating should own either MCO or NCO. It shouldn't be read and studied, but use it as a reference when analyzing your own games, to see how you could have played better. Find out exactly where you (or your opponent) got out of book and see what it says you should have done. This is especially true if you don't have a forcing opening repertoire, where books on the specific openings you play are all that you need. I play 1. e4 and usually respond to 1. e4 with e5 as black (unless I feel like playing the French that day). I look up my games in MCO afterwards, so I learn a little bit more about a different king's pawn opening with every game I play.

                  Just my two pawns worth...


                  "Don't be afraid of ghosts! Always play the moves you want to play unless you see a genuine tactical drawback." --Grandmaster Neil McDonald


                  • #10
                    "The 'must have' for whom?" question was defined in the post:

                    "for aspiring club players"

                    On openings:

                    MCO and NCO have long since had their day (are they still in print?)... for that sort of opening reference nowadays, you can flick through the opening book / key in Fritz / Chessbase, or search a database for the novelty in your game.

                    Well written guides to the concepts, ideas in an opening coupled with a few key games (giving you insight into strategic, positional and even tactical themes in the opening) provide much more value to both novices, club players and masters alike.
                    Roger Coathup
                    Author Chess Tales


                    • #11
                      hmm of hand:-

                      Think like a grandmaster
                      The King Hunt
                      The art of attack in chess
                      My system
                      Reassess your chess

                      there are ALOT more!
                      Even bullets fear the brave


                      • #12
                        I included Think Like a Grandmaster and Reassess Your Chess (although that seems to enjoy a love-hate relationship with different readers). My System got a nostalgic mention (problem is that some of the guidance no longer holds up). Yes, Art of Attack wasn't in there, but could have been.

                        Did you see my original list?

                        Keep up the great suggestions
                        Roger Coathup
                        Author Chess Tales


                        • #13
                          It also depends on what level of interest and what is one's focus.

                          To get better, there have been more than enough userful comments.

                          But there are some books that are more germaine to what one can call "aquired tastes".

                          I have a pretty large collection. It exceeds four hundred books. Mostly books that I consider of lasting value. Less emphasis on openning books. Much more emphasis on game collections, middlegame books, chess biographies and tournament books. A fair number of endgame books as well.

                          My favorites in my library include (in no particular order and not exhaustive):

                          My 60 Most Memorable Games by Bobby Fischer.
                          Fundamental Chess Endings Lamprecht and Muller.
                          Selected Games by Bent Larsen
                          My Great Predicessors vols. 1-5 By Garry Kasparov
                          The Open Game, Semi Open Game, Semi Closed Game, Closed Game By Anatoly Karpov
                          My Best Games as Black, My Best Games as White by Victor Korchnoi
                          Secrets of Chess Strategy and Chess Strategy in Action by John Watson.
                          Modern Chess Series Part 1 by Garry Kasparov
                          Pal Benko: My Life, Games and Composition by Benko
                          Anthology of Chess Beauty-this is out of print and most remarkable.
                          New York 1924
                          Zurich 1953
                          Candidates 1971

                          These are just a few of my treasured books. For these are some of my must have books.
                          Last edited by zatoichi; 06-12-2007, 05:45 AM. Reason: no italics


                          • #14
                            What about Jeremy Silman's latest book on chess endings? It's called Silman's Complete Endgame Course: From Beginner To Master and I've heard some good things about it.
                            Also, completely unrelated, this is my very first post here so three cheers for me!!


                            • #15
                              Hi Tommetje,

                              3 cheers for your first post!

                              I have one Silman book on the original list, but it seems to completely divide readers into the love it or loathe it camps.

                              Best regards, Roger
                              Roger Coathup
                              Author Chess Tales