Good Chess Openings Books For Beginners and Beyond

Good Chess Openings Books For Beginners and Beyond

Jun 11, 2017, 3:41 PM |

Good Chess Openings Books For Beginners and Beyond

Here are what I consider to be a sample of good chess openings books, particularly suitable for the improving chess amateur - from beginner to expert.  If you are looking for an introductory, overview or survey of a specific opening beyond the books listed here, check  out the "Starting Out...", "...Move By Move" and "First Steps..." series of books published by Everyman Chess, as well as the "...Explained" series by Gambit Publications.  They can certainly get you started in the right direction. 

For the beginner-novice, I recommend to start with "Discovering Chess Openings..." by John Emms.  It focuses specifically on chess opening fundamental principles.

For beginners - a downloadable (pdf) introductory overview of the major openings...

You may also want to check out - an online publisher of the latest developments in chess opening theory.  Although it's a subscription site, there is some free content including the forums which can be read for free.

For some interesting opening repertoire suggestions (by GM Nigel Davies and IM Andrew Martin), see :

Finally, be sure to check out my list of good general chess books, which deal with additional chess topics (tactics, endgame, positional concepts, game collections, etc.) well as other articles in my blog....


Click on the titles for additional information, reader reviews, etc., of the book on Amazon.

Discovering Chess Openings: Building Opening Skills from Basic Principles

By John Emms.  This is a MUST READ for the beginner-novice.  Simply the best book to learn basic chess opening PRINCIPLES.  Be aware that this is not an openings reference or manual of opening variations; it is not intended to provide comprehensive coverage of specific openings. However, if you are uncertain about opening FUNDAMENTALS or what you should be thinking and doing during the opening, this book does an exceptional job of addressing and clarifying these issues.  See also "Chess Openings for Juniors" and "Winning In The Opening", both by J.N. (John) Walker.

Chess Openings

By Mike Basman.  A well-written, instructive book, targeted to the beginner-novice, focusing on the application of opening PRINCIPLES and techniques.  Does a better than average job explaining not only HOW to play the opening, but WHY moves are made.  Features tutorial overview chapters on the following openings: Giuoco Piano, Sicilian Dragon, Queen's Gambit, Nimzo-Indian Defence, and Morra Gambit.  This would be a good supplement-companion to the John Emms' "Discovering Chess Openings..." (above).

First Steps: 1 e4 e5

By John Emms.  Targeted to the beginner-novice, this provides an instructive introduction and overview of the ideas, plans, tactics and strategies of all the major double king pawn openings, including the Italian Game, Evans Gambit, Two Knights Defense, Ruy Lopez, Four Knights Game, Scotch Game and others.  Another fine effort by one of the better chess authors.  For a follow-on, in-depth introduction to these openings, see "Starting Out: Open Games" by Glenn Flear.

Back to Basics: Openings

By Carsten Hansen.  Provides an introductory overview of not only basic opening principles and theory, but a broad survey of essentially every chess opening.  While the treatment of each opening is cursory, it is helpful in gauging what the opening is about, providing perspective and sufficient exposure to be helpful in deciding which openings you might be interested in pursuing in more depth.  See also "Winning Chess Openings" by Yasser Seirawan.

Also, for those who have a penchant for chess history, and who do not mind dealing with "Descriptive" chess notation, I highly recommend the instructive (though necessarily dated, as it was orignally published in 1935) "How to Play the Chess Openings" by Eugene A. Znosko-Borovsky; the book is a treasure trove of pearls of chess opening wisdom, and a delight to read.

Openings for Amateurs

By Pete Tamburro.  An openings primer, with repertoire suggestions, for amateurs up to Expert level.  Lots of practical advice, do's and don'ts of opening play and recommendations on openings to play.  As the content of this book is relatively more advanced than that of the openings primers above, it would be more appropriate as a follow-on to them.

The Ideas Behind the Chess Openings

By Reuben Fine.  A classic. Focuses on explaining the underlying IDEAS behind all the major openings.  While some of Fine's analysis of specific lines may be challenged by recent opening theory, by focusing on the IDEAS discussed, your understanding of the openings will certainly improve.  For additional discourse and perspective on (1.d4) opening ideas, see "The System..." by Hans Berliner.

Pawn Structure Chess

By Andrew Soltis.  A classic.  While not strictly an openings book per se, Soltis describes and analyzes the major pawn structures arising from the opening and their implications for how to plan.  See also "Chess Structures: A Grandmaster Guide" by Mauricio Flores Rios; "Chess Success: Planning After the Opening" by Neil McDonald.

FCO: Fundamental Chess Openings

By Paul van der Sterren.  Possibly the best single-volume openings reference.  Extremely well written.  Covers all the major openings.  For a good, but somewhat more succinct treatment see "Understanding the Chess Openings" by Sam Collins.

Chess Opening Essentials

By Stefan Djuric and Dimitry Komarov.  A four-volume series.  The entire series comprise a well executed survey of all the openings, targeted to the class-club level player. Well written, with instructive commentary.  Be sure to check out all four volumes.

Mastering the Chess Openings

By John Watson.  A four-volume series. A well written, comprehensive treatment of opening theory, principles, plans and themes for all the major openings. If one is seriously interested in understanding the openings, and opening theory in general, these are among the very best references for that purpose.  Kudos to IM Watson for this valuable addition to the chess opening literature.

Chess Openings: Traps And Zaps

By Bruce Pandolfini.  A two-volume series introducing the king pawn openings (those beginning with 1.e4). The books focus specifically on opening tactics and traps.  Every beginner should acquire some familiarity with typical opening mistakes and how to exploit and/or avoid them.  For additional instruction on opening tactics and attacking play see "The Winning Way" by Bruce Pandolfini and "Simple Attacking Plans" by Fred Wilson.

Alterman Gambit Guide: White Gambits

By Boris Alterman.  Playing gambits is fun, but most importantly in so doing you will hone your tactical and attacking skills, while learning the importance of seizing and maintaining the initiative.   This is a 3-volume series in which the author offers a select gambit repertoire for both White and Black.  The treatment of the gambits covered is quite instructive. The first volume covers White gambits (G.) as follows: Danish G., Urusov G., Cochran G., Evans G., Morra G., and the Milner-Barry G..  Several other openings are covered including the Morphy Attack vs the Two Knights Defense, the Max Lange Attack and the Panov-Botvinnik Attack.  The second volume features Black Gambits against 1.d4 and 1.c4, primarily the Benko G., Blumenfeld G. and Vaganian G..  The third volume continues with Black Gambits against 1.e4 and 1.f4 - The Marshall Attack, Hector G., Traxler Counterattack, Frankenstein-Dracula G., Falkbeer Counter G., and From's G.  See also "Open Gambits" by George Botterill.  A site devoted to gambits -

King's Gambit

By John Shaw.  The most comprehensive book on the King's Gambit.  If you want to play an exciting opening that emphasizes wide open positions, with highly tactical, attacking chess, play the KG!  See also "The Fascinating King's Gambit" by Thomas Johansson.

The Modern Vienna Game

By Ovetchkin & Soloviov.  An aggressive, attacking White opening which many consider to be an improved version of the King's Gambit.  The game begins 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 when White will soon deploy pawns on d3 and f4, with Bc4/Nf3.

Starting Out: The Scotch Game

by John Emms.  A solid opening for White starting with 1.e4.  This opening has been played at the highest levels, in particular by Kasparov in his World Championship match against Karpov.  Relatively easy to learn, interesting to play.    See also "The Scotch Gambit: An Energetic and Aggressive System for White" by Alex Fishbein; "Play The Ponziani" by Taylor & Hayward.  Note: Lev Alburt's opening repertoire book for White (below) features the Scotch GAMBIT as White's main opening.

Ruy Lopez: Move by Move

By Neil McDonald.  An instructive introduction to the "King of the Chess Openings"!  All chess players should eventually become acquainted with this opening (also known as the "Spanish Opening") - you will become a better chess player for it.  See also "Easy Guide To The Ruy Lopez" by John Emms; "Play The Ruy Lopez" by Andrew Greet; "Ruy Lopez Main Line" by Glenn Flear.

A Spanish Repertoire for Black

By Mihail Marin.  A repertoire for Black against the Spanish Game (aka The Ruy Lopez).  The primary variation recommended is the Chigorin.  A typically thorough and instructive work by GM Marin.

 How to Play Against 1 e4

By Neil McDonald.  An excellent introduction to the French Defense for the beginner-intemediate player.  Also instructive are "First Steps: The French" By Cyrus Lakdawala, and "Mastering the French" by Neil McDonald.  See also "Chess Explained - The French" by Eingorn & Bogdanov; "Play the French" by John Watson; "The Even More Flexible French..." by Viktor Moskalenko; "Attacking Chess The French" by Simon Williams.

Starting Out: The Caro-Kann

by Joe Gallagher. An introduction to the solid Caro-Kann defense to 1.e4.  See also "Main Line Caro-Kann" by Neil McDonald; "Opening Repertoire: The Caro-Kann" by Jovanka Houska.

Understanding the Scandinavian

By Sergey Kasparov.  A defense (1.e4 d5) which allows Black to dictate the course of the opening from his first move.  With the move 1...d5 Black avoids all of the popular King-pawn openings White can employ, and forces White to play the opening on Black's terms!  See also "The Scandinavian" by John Emms and "Starting Out: The Scandinavian" by Jovanka Houska.  All three books above cover all variations of the Scandinavian.  "The Modern Scandinavian" by Wahls, Muller & Langrock which covers only the 3...Qa5 variation is probably the most comprehensive book on this particular variation.   For books dealing exclusively with the 3...Qd6 variation see "Scandinavian Defense: The Dynamic 3... Qd6" by Michael Melts, "The Scandinavian: Move By Move" by Cyrus Lakdawala, and "The Safest Scandinavian" by Vassilios Kotronias.  For those who prefer a sharp, counter-attacking style (i.e., where tactics dominate) in the opening, see "Smerdon's Scandinavian" by David Smerdon, which features the Portuguese and Icelandic Gambit variations.  For a very solid, albeit slightly more passive setup, see "The 3...Qd8 Scandinavian: Simple and Strong" by Daniel Lowinger.

Starting Out: Alekhine's Defense

By John Cox.  The Alekhine is a sharp, counter-attacking defense (1.e4 Nf6) for Black that typically leads quickly to a highly tactical style of play.  The defense tends to appeal to the second player who seeks to dictate the course of the opening from the outset, obviating White's opening preparation.   See also Alekhine's Defense by Nigel Davies and Alekhine Alert! by Timothy Taylor.

The Philidor Files

By Christian Bauer.  The Philidor Defense is a response to 1.e4, where Black plays ...d6/...Nf6/...e5 typically within the first three moves.  It can be played in a strategic, positional or a sharp, tactical manner.  Bauer's book strives to provide definitive coverage of this solid defense.  Also dealing exclusively with the Philidor is "A Cunning Chess Opening For Black" by Sergey Kasparov.

Starting Out: The Sicilian

By John Emms.  A comprehensive survey/overview of all variations of the most popular of Black's defenses to 1.e4 - The Sicilian Defense (1.e4 c5).  This book will help you decide if the Sicilian is for you. See also  "Mastering The Sicilian Defense" by Danny Kopec and the instructive "How To Play The Sicilian Defense" by Levy & O'Connell - MacMillan Chess Library publisher.

Starting Out: The Sicilian Dragon

By Andrew Martin.  Some introductory books on specific Sicilian Defense variations to get you started:  "The Sicilian Dragon: Move by Move" by Carsten Hansen; "Play the Sicilian Dragon" by Edward Dearing; "Starting Out: The Accelerated Dragon" by Andrew Greet; "The Sicilian Scheveningen Move By Move" by Lorin D'costa;  "Easy Guide to the Sicilian Scheveningen" by Steffen Pedersen; "Starting Out: Sicilian Najdorf" by Richard Palliser; "Easy Guide to the Najdorf" by Tony Kosten; "Play the Najdorf Scheveningen Style" by John Emms; "Sicilian Taimanov Move by Move" by John Emms; "Starting Out: Sicilian Sveshnikov" by John Cox;  "The Killer Sicilian: Fighting 1e4 with the Kalashnikov" by Tony Rotella; "Meeting 1e4" by Alexander Raetsky; "The Lazy Man's Sicilian" by Valeri Bronznik & Steve Giddins.

Experts on the Anti-Sicilian

By Jacob Asgaard and John Shaw.  A Sicilian repertoire for Black against most of the standard anti-Sicilian weapons White can employ, including the c3, Grand Prix Attack, Closed, King's Indian Attack, Bb5 systems, Morra Gambit and others.  Each chapter is written by an expert on that particular variation. See also "Fighting the Anti-Sicilians" by Richard Palliser, "Anti-Sicilians A Guide for Black" by D.Rogozenko and "Beating the Anti-Sicilians" by Vassilios Kotronias.

Experts vs. the Sicilian

By Jacob Aagaard and John Shaw.  A repertoire for White in the open Sicilian. Chapters covering each variation are written by different authors - experts on that particular variation.  See also "Dismantling the Sicilian" by Jesus de la Villa; "Sicilian Attacks" by Yuri Yakovic; "Modernized: The Open Sicilian" by Amanov & Kavutskly.

Starting Out: The c3 Sicilian

By John Emms.  An anti-Sicilian weapon for White. Avoid the Open Sicilian variations that Black is hoping to play!

How to Beat the Sicilian Defence: An Anti-Sicilian Repertoire For White

By Gawain Jones.  An anti-Sicilian repertoire for White based around 2.Nf3 and 3.Bb5.  Also covers the King's Indian Attack if Black plays 2...e6.  See also "The Bb5 Sicilian" by Richard Palliser.

Starting Out: Sicilian Grand Prix Attack

By Gawain Jones.  An anti-Sicilian weapon for White based around either 2.f4, or 2.Nc3 followed by 3.f4.  See also "The Grand Prix Attack..." By Evgeny Sveshnikov.

Starting Out: Closed Sicilian

By Richard Palliser.  An anti-Sicilian weapon for White.  Prevent Black from playing his favorite open Sicilian variation by playing the Closed Sicilian with the setup 1.e4 - 2.Nc3 - 3. g3 - 4. Bg2 - 5.d3.  Note the similarities between White's initial pawn placement in the Closed Sicilian and in the King's Indian Attack (below).

The King's Indian Attack: Move By Move

By Neil McDonald.  A universal system of opening development for White which can be played against virtually any Black defense including 1...e4, 1...c6, 1...e6, 1...c5, 1...d5, 1...Nf6, and 1...f5.  As such it can be employed as a "one stop shopping" opening repertoire for the White player.  White's initial setup features the moves: Nf3 - g3 - Bg2 - d3 - O-O - Nbd2 - e4.  The move order will vary depending on how Black responds.  Thus it is relatively easy to learn White's basic setup and plans.  See also "Starting Out: King's Indian Attack" by John Emms.

Starting Out: The Colle

By Richard Palliser.  A queen pawn opening system for White beginning with 1.d4.  There are two primary variants of the Colle.  This volume is focused on the Colle-Koltanowski setup.  For the other main variant, see Palliser's "Starting Out: d-pawn Attacks: The Colle-Zukertort, Barry and 150 Attacks".  See also "A Killer Chess Opening Repertoire (2010 ed.)" by Aaron Summerscale & Sverre Johnsen which features the Colle-Zukertort for White.  

Win with the London System

By Johnsen & Kovacevic.  Thorough coverage of The London System, a queen pawn (1.d4) opening system for White featuring an early Bf4, and a setup which is designed to generate kingside attacking chances. A relatively "easy" opening system for White to learn, while not particularly pleasant for Black to defend against!  See also "The Agile London System" by Romero & De Prado; "Winning With the Modern London System" (2 volumes) by Nikola Sedlak; "The London System - Properly Played" by Marcus Schmucker;  "Play the London System" by Cyrus Lakdawala.  For beginners, there is also an excellent London System introductory tutorial (pp.71-103) in "Tips For Young Players" by Matthew Sadler.

Queen's Gambit Declined

By Matthew Sadler.  A defense for Black against the Queen's Gambit (1.d4 d5 2.c4); this is a very instructive introduction to the QGD.  See also "First Steps: The Queen's Gambit" by Andrew Martin; "Starting Out: Queen's Gambit Declined" by Neil McDonald; "Starting Out: 1 d4!" by John Cox; "Declining the Queen's Gambit" by John Cox; “Chess Explained: Queen’s Gambit Declined” by James Rizzitano: and "How To Beat 1.d4", by James Rizzitano, which covers the Queen's Gambit ACCEPTED.  Also, "Starting Out: The Slav and Semi-Slav" by Glenn Flear; "The Slav" by Matthew Sadler;  "Play the Slav" by James Vigus.

Starting Out: The King's Indian

By Joe Gallagher.  The King's Indian Defense has historically been one of the most popular, as well as most aggressive, of Black's responses to White's opening sequence 1.d4/2.c4.  The opening typically begins - 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6.  Other introductory KID books featuring instructive discussions of themes and plans, are "Secrets of the King's Indian" by Eduard Gufeld & Eric Schiller and "The Art of the King's Indian" by Eduard Gufeld.  Also recommended are "Modernized The King's Indian Defense" by Dejan Bojkov, "Bologan's King's Indian" by Victor Bologan, "Play the King's Indian" by Joe Gallagher and "Understanding the King's Indian" by Mikhail Golubev.

The Nimzo-Indian: Move by Move

By John Emms.  The Nimzo-Indian is one of the most solid and popular defenses for Black against The Queen's Gambit.  The Nimzo-Indian Defense begins 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4.  See also "Startng Out: The Nimzo-Indian" by Chris Ward; "Easy Guide To The Nimzo-Indian" by John Emms; "Mastering the Nimzo-Indian" by Tony Kosten; "Play The Nimzo-Indian" by Edward Dearing; "Opening Repertoire: Nimzo and Bogo Indian" by Christof Sielecki.  As an alternative to the Bogo-Indian and Queen's Indian defenses (when White plays 3.Nf3 instead of 3.Nc3) for those preferring to play more in the style of the Nimzo-Indian (i.e., with an early ...Bb4), see "The Ragozin Complex" by Vladimir Barsky, and "Playing the Ragozin" by Richard Pert.

Starting Out: The Queen's Indian

By John Emms.  A Black defense to the Queen's Gambit typically employed when White attempts to avoid the Nimzo-Indian Defense by playing an early Nf3 instead of Nc3.  The QID begins 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6.  See also "Chess Explained: The Queen's Indian" by Peter Wells. 

Starting Out: The Dutch Defence

By Neil McDonald.  Introduction to a defense against the Queen Pawn game where Black responds 1.d4 f5!  Black plays the opening on his terms right from the start!  There are three primary variations allowing for a spectrum of playing styles.  The Leningrad Variation is the most aggressive, allowing for fighting, counter-attacking chess right from the start.  The Stonewall is more solid, positional, but also with attacking intentions.  The Classical Variation takes the middle ground, with maximum flexibility. See also "Play the Dutch" by Neil McDonald, which covers the Leningrad Variation; "Leningrad System: A Complete Weapon Against 1 d4" by Stefan Kindermann"; "Win With the Stonewall Dutch" by Sverre Johnsen & Ivar Bern; "Dutch Stonewall" by Jacob Aagaard; "The Killer Dutch" by Simon Williams, which treats exclusively the Classical Variation, and "The Diamond Dutch" by Viktor Moskalenko, covering all variations.

My First Chess Opening Repertoire for White

By Vincent Moret.  Here is a dynamic opening repertoire for White based on 1.e4, targeted to the beginner-intermediate player.  The approach is somewhat different from most repertoire books.  The author's stated intention is to present a reliable and efficient, yet aggressive set of openings which can be learned with "minimal" study.  That is, he has purposefully restricted the amount of material to that which is sufficient to understand the main themes of the recommended variations.  The presentation is focused on select variations that have a higher probability of actually being able to be played by the White player, while eschewing the myriad lines which have less likelihood.  This cuts down significantly on the amount of material to be studied.  If you require more information related to the openings he presents, you should consult resources which treat them more comprehensively.  But the author's intent is to get you started playing the recommended lines as quickly as possible by learning themes and plans, as opposed to memorizing lots of "theory".

The author also does a better than average job of explaining not only WHAT you should be trying to do in each line (the themes), but also takes time to clarify WHY you are making the recommended moves (as opposed to other, alternative moves), and in many cases lays out the procedure for HOW you should go about playing the lines.  Many authors don't go to the same lengths to explain things as thoroughly.

Which lines are covered in the book?

White's main line in the open game will be the Italian Game - Giuoco Piano - 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5.  Also presented is a response to The Two Knights Defense (3...Nf6), when White will respond with 4.Ng5.

Against the Sicilian Defense, White will head for the Grand Prix Attack - 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 - following up with a quick f2-f4.

Against the French Defense - 1.e4 e6 - White responds with the King's Indian Attack.

Against the Caro Kann Defense, White will play the Advance Variation  - 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 looking to follow with e6 and the so-called Night Attack.

Against The Pirc/Modern Defenses - 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 - White will head for the St.George Attack/Yugoslav Attack.

He briefly covers other responses by Black as well, for example The Scandinavian Defense, Philidor's Defense and Petroff Defense.

Overall this is a fun, yet effective White opening repertoire, instructively presented, which the intended audience can quickly get up to speed playing, with "minimal" study required.

For online learning using this book, check out Chessable....

Similarly, from the Black perspective, see Vincent Moret's "My First Chess Opening Repertoire for Black".  Against 1.e4, Black's repertoire features the Scandinavian Defense, Portuguese Variation; against 1.d4, the Albin Countergambit and the Stonewall Dutch Defense are featured, depending on how White responds.  In all lines, the intent is to promote interesting, dynamic and aggressive play for Black.

Immediately following are several, what I consider to be good opening repertoire books, featuring king pawn openings (beginning 1.e4) for both White and Black, targeted to beginner-intermediate players:

Chess Openings for Black, Explained: A Complete Repertoire

By Lev Alburt et al.  This is volume 2 of a two-volume series, which together with its companion volume 1, "Chess Openings for White Explained", comprise a complete opening repertoire targeted to the beginner-intermediate player.  

For Lev Alburt's Black repertoire (Vol. 2), the main line against 1.e4 is the Sicilian Defense - Accelerated Dragon, and against 1.d4, Black will play the Nimzo-Indian Defense, if given the opportunity.

Also from Black's perspective -  in the "Open" game (1.e4 e5) see  "Play the Open Games As Black" by John Emms; "Beating the Open Games, 2nd Ed." by Mihail Marin; "How to Beat the Open Games" by Sverre Johnsen; "Opening Repertoire: The Open Games with Black" by Martin Lokander; "Bologan's Black Weapons In The Open Games..." by Victor Bologan;  "Play 1 e4 e5: A Complete Repertoire for Black in the Open Games" by Nigel Davies.

For Lev Alburt's White repertoire (Vol. 1), the main line in the open game (1.e4 e5) features either of the Scotch Gambit, Italian Game/Giuoco Piano, or Two Knights Defense, depending on how Black responds; Against the Sicilian Defense, White plays the Grand Prix Attack (1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 - with f2-f4 soon to follow); against the Caro-Kann Defense, White plays the Exchange Variation (1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5); against the French Defense (1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5) White responds with 3.Nc3.

Also from the White perspective - with 1.e4 see "Beating 1 e4 e5: A Repertoire for White in the Open Games" and "Attacking With 1 e4", both by John Emms; "Winning With the Slow (but Venomous!) Italian" by Muller & Souleidis; "Beating Unusual Defenses 1 e4" by Andrew Greet.

Better Chess Openings

By J.E.F. Kaan.  An opening repertoire for both White and Black targeted to the beginner thru intermediate player.  For White, repertoires based on 1.e4 (featuring the Ruy Lopez) and on 1.d4 are offered.  In addition, a gambit repertoire for White is also presented.  (So you have a variety of choices!)  For Black, against 1.e4 the repertoire recommends 1...e5  for beginners and 1...e6 (French Defense) for intermediate players; against 1.d4, 1...Nf6 (Queen's Gambit and Indian Defenses) are featured.  Overall, a comprehensive and sound opening repertoire is provided.   The Amazon Kindle eBook edition has the title "Learning The Chess Openings" by the same author.

 A Strategic Chess Opening Repertoire for White

By John Watson.  An opening repertoire for White based around 1.d4/2.c4 Queen's Gambit lines, targeted to the advanced player. 

A Cunning Chess Opening Repertoire for White

By Graham Burgess.  For the advanced, intermediate and above player.  Burgess presents a flexible opening repertoire for White based on 1.d4/2.Nf3 and continuing with a choice of three systems of development - depending on how Black responds - either an early 1) Bf4 (hybrid Queen's Gambit/London System setup), or 2) Bg5 (Torre Attack), or 3) White kingside fianchetto setup against the King's Indian, Grunfeld and related Black defenses.  Also see "The Gambit Guide to the Torre Attack" by Graham Burgess, and “Starting Out: The Trompowsky Attack” by Richard Palliser, both of which feature an early Bg5 by White.

The Kaufman Repertoire for Black and White

By Larry Kaufman. A complete opening repertoire for both White and Black, targeted to the advanced player.  For White the primary opening is 1.d4 intending c4 next. For Black 1...e5 against 1.e4 - aiming for the Breyer Defense against the Ruy Lopez (Spanish Opening), and 1...d5 against 1.d4 - aiming for the Grunfeld Defense.  For aspiring masters, this may be the only openings book you need!

Play 1...d6 Against Everything

By Erik Zude & Jorg Hickl.  A complete Black repetoire featuring the Antoshin Variation of the Philidor Defense against 1.e4 and the Old Indian Defense against 1.d4.  The authors say that there are only a limited number of plans, ideas and structures that you need to learn.  See also "The Old Indian: Move by Move" by Junior Tay; "A Universal Weapon 1.d4 d6" by Vladimir Barsky; 

Play 1...Nc6!: A Complete Chess Opening Repertoire For Black

By Christoph Scheerer.  An opening repertoire for Black.  Features the Nimzowitsch Defense (1.e4 Nc6) and Chigorin Defense (1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nc6).   While considered somewhat offbeat, these defenses allow you to pull the rug out from under your opponent right from the start, and play the opening on your terms!  See also "The Dark Knight System: A repertoire with 1...Nc6" by James Schuyler; "The Chigorin Defense" by Valery Bronznik, and "The Chigorin Defence According to Morozevich" by A.Morozevich.

The Benko Gambit Move by Move

By Junior Tay.  An introduction to the Benko Gambit.  This is an aggressive, yet respected defense for Black against White's attempt to play the Queen's Gambit.  The opening begins 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5.  If you find other defenses to 1.d4 somewhat dull, tedious or otherwise uninspiring, you might find this to be your cup of tea.  According to GM Neil McDonald, "When you play the Benko Gambit, you set White the astonishingly difficult task of exploiting the extra pawn...the onus is therefore on White to 'do something'.  This is too much pressure for most players, even Grandmasters, and the thing they 'do' is often horrendous".  Accordingly, see the instructive "The Benko Gambit Revealed" by Neil McDonald.  See also the following by Aveskulov...

Attack with Black

By Valery Aveskulov.  It must be emphasized that the operative word here is ATTACK!  This provides a dynamic, yet sound gambit repertoire for Black against all of White's tries beginning with 1.d4.  The repertoire is based around the Blumenfeld, Vaganian and, primarily, the Benko, gambits. An excellent companion to this would be "The Alterman Gambit Guide - Black Gambits 1" by Boris Alterman, which instructively treats the same gambits.

Dealing with d4 Deviations: Fighting The Trompowsky, Torre, Blackmar-Diemer, Stonewall, Colle And Other Problem Openings

By John Cox.  Presents a coherent opening repertoire for Black against the so-called Queen's Pawn openings - the Colle, London, Trompowsky, Torre and Veresov sytems and the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit.  See also "Beating Unusual Chess Openings..." by Richard Palliser and "Beating 1.d4 Sidelines" by Boris Avrukh.  (At least one of these of books is almost essential for Black).   For White players of 1.d4, see "1.d4 - Beat The Guerillas!" by Valeri Bronznik.

A Chess Opening Repertoire for Blitz & Rapid

By Evgeny & Vladimir Sveshnikov.  The book's subtitle reads - "Sharp, Surpising and Forcing Lines for Black and White".  This is a repertoire for White and Black designed specifically for rapid games, against the opponent's major opening tries.  The White repertoire against 1.e4 e5 features the Vienna Game- 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3; against the Sicilian Defense - 1.e4 c5 2.b3; against the Caro Kann - 1.e4 c6 2.Nc3; against the French Defense - 1.e4 e6 2.Nf3.  The Black repertoire against 1.e4 features Alekhine's Defense - 1.e4 Nf6; against 1.d4 the Queen's Gambit Accepted - 1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4; against the English Opening - 1.c4 c5; against the Reti - 1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 d4 and 1.Nf3 d5 2.b3 Bg4.

How to Build Your Chess Opening Repertoire

By Steve Giddins.  A book to guide you in the considerations involved in choosing your openings - the title says it all. 

For some opening repertoire suggestions by GM Nigel Davies and IM Andrew Martin, see:

Martin's repertoire...(click the icons with downward pointing arrows to download the pgn files)...

Davies' repertoire...

Finally, the following articles relating to choosing an opening repertoire are interesting and informative...