The Best Chess Books Ever Part 1

FM TheDragon2000
This is a huge chess topic. Almost everyone has an opinion on this, and below is mine.


  1. My System - Nimzowitsch This is most definitely not an unpopular choice. It is hailed by many as the greatest and most influential chess book of all time and certainly has good reason to be. Clear examples combined with detailed and lucid explanations make this book special. Not to mention that it completely revolutionised positional chess and chess in general. The positional principles which Nimzowitsch introduced have stood the test of time and remain massively relevant in modern games of all levels. 
  2. Zurich 1953 - Bronstein This book has to come second after My System. It was first introduced to me by IM Henry Steel who holds it in very high regard, together with the majority of strong players. Many games in that book are masterpieces of the highest level and have taught me some not-so-well-known concepts and ideas. One thing which I noticed is the frequent use of the pawn sacrifice, which I have been trying to implement in my games. Minor problems are some outdated opening variations, although most lines are still recognizable. Another thing which I find mildly irritating is the inclusion of games which have either a quick draw or bad blunders early on. I understand that it is not a 'Best Games' book but I think that it would have been better to add a short description instead. There is another book about the same tournament by Najdorf which was recently translated into English. It is a good book too, but I tend to prefer Bronstein.
  3. Endgame Strategy - Shereshevsky  I hyped this book up in my review. I truly think that it is a great book for learning all the principles of endings which are not yet concrete. The games are great and the annotations are full of useful information.
  4. Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual - Dvoretsky  As far as I am concerned, this is the definitive endgame book on theoretical endgames. Instead of giving a huge amount of endgames which are of little use, he makes it abundantly clear that some positions are must-know. These are printed as a larger diagram. He also includes exercises and other examples of the endgame idea/type. Dvoretsky is also regarded as one of the best chess coaches in the world. Designed for a lower rating range is 100 Endgames You Must Know - de la Villa.
  5. Grandmaster Preparation Series - Aagaard  I have bent the rules by putting a series of books here, but the quality of them justifies it. Aagaard's books are fantastic. They are primarily workbooks but also include a primer at the start of each chapter on the topic in question. The puzzles are of an amazing quality. Almost all are taken from actual games and they demonstrate the theme brilliantly. For me, they are challenging, but manageable. The series consists of: 'Calculation' (challenging), 'Positional Play' (the easiest in the series), 'Strategic Play' (a much harder version of 'Positional Play'), 'Attack and Defence' (almost like a 'Calculation 2') and Endgame Play (difficult). A further book is planned called 'Thinking Inside the Box'. The brain works like a muscle and there is no better way to train it than puzzles. And I believe the best puzzle books are undoubtedly Aagaard's.
  6. My Great Predecessors -  Kasparov I cheat again by using a series, but this place is definitely deserved. One of the greatest chess players ever writes about other chess legends! How can it get better? Well, like this: deep analysis with detailed comments combined with a brief history of the chess player! In a way, it is a much more detailed version of the book in 7th place. Marin takes the vital lessons from a selection of champions while Kasparov has a much more thorough approach. Both have their advantages.
  7. Learn from the Legends - Marin   Learn from the Legends is a book about great chess players, as this title suggests. What makes this book unique is that Marin takes the best feature out of each chess champion and uses his games to teach about that topic. An example is Fischer and his love of bishops and another is Rubinstein and his rook endgame proficiency. Marin is nowadays thought of as one of the best modern authors and I think that this book definitely helped him build his reputation.
  8. Chess Tactics from Scratch - Weteschnik  Everyone knows that tactics are an extremely important part of chess. The most important thing besides regularly drilling puzzles is knowing and understanding different tactical motifs. This book teaches you just that. Importantly, do not be misled by the title: just because it says that it starts from scratch does not mean it is just for novices! The difficulty of the book escalates quickly. The best way to train tactics is using CT-Art - a chess program - but that is another story.
  9. The Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever Played - Chernev   I chose this game collection because it has brilliant explanations for weaker players. I have attempted to keep this list as all-round as possible, with tactics, endgames, history of chess players, puzzles and positional chess. This book fills the role of the book you get after you have learned to move the pieces, basic tactics and simple endgames. The commentary is great but at a certain rating it becomes less instructive and more boring.
  10. The Kaufman Repertoire for Black and White - Kaufman  I felt obliged to end off this list of the greatest books in each subject with one in the opening. This book is unique in the fact that it is a single book which covers all you need. It also goes into a fair amount of detail and more than enough for you to be able to hold your own with ease. Kaufman uses computer engines (Komodo, primarily) extensively in his analysis (maybe a bit too much).

So, that's my list! That is not the end though, because there are many other great books which I have not mentioned here. Runner-ups will be listed in Part 2.

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