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There are some excellent chess books that seem to receive little recognition from the chess community. The spotlight is definitely on the bestsellers, such as My System, Reassess Your Chess, Logical Chess Move By Move, etc. Nothing unusual, but there are some wonderful books that are hardly ever mentioned on the forums. Here are some examples:
1. The Chess Analyst by Jon Edwards. Edwards is a US Correspondence Champion, and the book is a collection of his games. The book was published in 1998, so it is a bit dated in terms of opening theory, yet it is still a great read due to the clarity of the author's annotations. This is not a book of endless variations, but a clear commentary on the game:
2. My Most Memorable Games by Boris Gelfand. Gelfand is scheduled to play Vishy Anand for the WCC title, and for middlegame/late opening analysis, this book is a standout. Unlike in Edward's book, you will find extremely detailed analysis here, plus a bonus section on a Grunfeld variation in which Boris is a specialist.
3. Wonderboy by Simen Agdestein. A somewhat overlooked account of Magnus Carlsen's rise to the chess elite. The book was written in 2008, and obviously does not cover some of Magnus' more spectacular wins in London or Wijk aan Zee . In fact, Carlsen was not yet ranked in the top 10 when the book was published. Nevertheless, the quality of the games played and the story behind his rise is well worth reading. There is not as much game analysis here as in Gelfand's book; it is the story of the prodigy that is the focus.
I would nominate:
How to Play Good Opening Moves, by Edmar Mednis:
The best discussion on the opening for beginners that I read. However, it has an UNBELIEVABLE amount of typos! But is is cheap.
Victor Bologan, Selected Games: 1985-2004, by Victor Bologan:
This is a WONDERFUL game collection! GM Bologan gives us a great selection of his games in many openings. He annotates them with an eye towards the edification of his readers!! Always gives a few lessons to be learned from each game, AND gives a nice account of his rise in the chess world. He also gives us a few thoughts on how the super tournaments are run. One of THE best game collections I have ever read.
A terrific instruction book, which has probably gone out of print, is "New Ideas in Chess" by the late Larry Evans
Jon Speelman's Best Games by Jon Speelman
The author played in two Candidates tournaments. In the 1989-90 cycle, he defeated Yasser Seirawan and Nigel Short before succumbing to Jan Timman in the Semifinal. In the next 1990-93 cycle, he lost to Nigel in the first round. Jon "the specimen" Speelman is considered to be one of the strongest British players ever.
The book is written with passion. Here is an excerpt from a game where Jon uncorks 10.0-0-0 !? on Nigel Short in 5.Bf4 Variation of the QGD:
500 Master Games of Chess (Tartakover& DuMont)
Perhaps little known now as it's written only in descriptive, it was once a premiere game collection.
I'd say it still is. >600 games including ones found in the notes, an entertainingly annotated hunk of classic games from pre-Morphy to just before WW2.
In the days before databases this book was a gold mine.
I think we've agreed on this before :)
Here's some obscure(?) mostly if not totally OP (out-of-print) books I'm glad I bought while they were still available new and cheap:
1234 Modern End-Game Studies compiled by M.A. Sutherland & H. M. Lommer, Dover 1968 reprint of 1938 original book, one of the first chessbooks in algebraic and a great collection of endgame studies, with the solutions in the back of the book so you can try solving them on your own.
Black & White Passion by Catherine Jaeg ISBN 90-9004112-5. Over 100 great B&W pictures of world-class GMs, a few amateurs and one cat.
Chess to Enjoy and Karl Marx Plays Chess by GM Soltis. Both books are full of fascinating anecdotes, stories, combos & games.
The Best in Chess by I.A. Horowitz & Jack S Battell; E.P. Dutton & Co Inc. 1965. A great collection of games, stories, puzzles, quizes and articles from the long-since defunct Chess Review magazine. (It merged with Chess Life back in the 1960's)
Aidin: I've searched for The Road To Chess Mastery for years and finally nailed a used version in Boston. Identical in format to Chess Master vs Chess Amateur.
NimzoRoy: The Soltis books look promising, he has a very entertaining writing style.
My favourite tactics book:
Tal's winning chess combinations, by Mikhail Tal & Victor Khenkin
I think only in descriptive notation
Since trivia was mentioned, Kings, Commoners and Knaves by Edward Winter is a great read.
Of course, in this category The Oxford Companion to Chess is great, although I wouldn't call it 'little known', it gets quoted quite frequently here.
Capablanca's "Last Lectures" a great book on the end game and little known
I long for an updated version of The Penguin Book Of Chess Openings by Hartston, a very handy, paperback compendium of all major openings...
one of my favorite books, I am going through it again atm to be honest.
One of my alltime favorites would have to be Fireside Book of Chess by Reinfield and Chernov. It is hard to know what is a little known book but I doubt that is one of them.
Chess Traps, Pitfalls, and Swindles by Horowitz and Fine was a book that improved my game for life. (Not that that is a huge challenge).
One book that might be overlooked is Fines' "Worlds Greatest Chess Games". Very readable and a good companion to "500 Master Games of Chess".
Nice to read everyones' comments and I will be on the lookout for the books mentioned, thx. (I already have the Larry Evans book tho, one day I may actually read it).
Yeah, I've got that book. Lots and lots of games, something for everyone!
Back when all we had was books and mags, pulling great matchups out of there from the past greats was about as good as it got.
But something for everyone? Almost. One time I had brought 500 Master Games along for a chess session with a decent player, class A, and I said to him, laying my hand on the book, Name two great players and I'll pull a game out between them, thinking of something like Rubinstein and Tarrasch.
His eyes got big and he said Capablanca and Morphy!
The guy had no sense of chess history. At least he didn't say Philidor and Botvinnik.
or Fischer Karpov
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