My 10 Favorite Chess Books.

My 10 Favorite Chess Books.


Yep, used the American spelling!!

Working on another project, I have had my head stuck in one of my favorite books, which popped the old chestnut of favorite books into my head, so will give a quick 'top 10', before another dozen fight for the space!!

I give them in no particular order, just as I scribbled them down. ( No, I am not well organised!!)

Goldene Schachzeiten. Milan Vidmar.

nullIf there is one book that i would love to see translated into English, this is it, and it is the one behind this little post. Vidmar's wanderings through his chess life and thoughts are the most joyous thing in the chess world!! I will admit that it is hard work for me to translate properly, but worth all the effort, and then some.

There is a musician called 'Rambling Jack Elliott' who seems to use performing a song as an excuse to regale the audience with magical stories from his past, and Vidmar uses a few of his chess games in the same way. 

L'Analyse Des Echecs: Philidor.

nullIf anyone in the history of chess deserves to be described as a genius, it was Philidor. What he achieved in his famous work was staggering. It contains ideas that were - literally - 200 years ahead of their time, and endgame analysis that stands up to scrutiny by modern tablebase technology. The book,( and, consequently, Phildor himself) has been misunderstood, both in his own time and ever since, despite his efforts to point out in the introduction what it was that he was trying to do. For someone to have written it in 1747 is beyond comprehension.

This is the edition I have, from 1803.


Best games. Vladimir Simagin.


 This unpretentious little book changed my entire understanding and conception of chess, and that is not an exagerration. Like most players outside of Russia in those days ( luckily, many Soviet players of his time have more recently been able to write books, and many of them express their writer's admiration for Simagin ) I was only really aware of Simagin through a couple of well known games that he had lost, and his being mentioned in connection with various opening lines. Never has a chess book so amazed me, or shaken my naive belief that I knew or understood anything about chess.

Amos Burn. A Chess Biography. Richard Forster.

nullI grew up in an era of incredibly badly written books on 'chess history'. The writers would churn out the same old collection of 'facts', 'it is saids', ignorant misconceptions and misinterpretations, gleaned from other, equally ill informed writers. Forster's book changed all that, and became the absolute benchmark for how the subject of chess history should be treated. It is a phenomenal effort of research - particularly for the time, as well as being both sympathetically, but objectively written. A turning point in chess liturature, for which I am both grateful and filled with admiration.

Masters of the Chessboard. Reti.

nullI was very lucky that this was one of the very first chess books that I found in the local library. As with Philidor, the introduction explains the purpose of the book, but it has still been misunderstood by many, and used as a template for characterising -often incorrectly- the players involved. The concept of chess as an evolutionary process attracted me at once, and in terms of teaching the reader to understand something of chess ideas, it certainly worrked in my case. It also inspired me to study chess history, and the players of the past, and to find out for myself how chess evolution, and the players involved, actually worked.

Weltgeschichte des Schachs. 11. Lasker. Various.

nullInspired by Reti, I started to study and properly analyse lasker. His games, over 40 years on,  still hold a huge fascination for me. This book is still one of my constant travelling companions. It contains all the games of Lasker that could be found at the time, with a diagram after every 5 moves. A wonderful idea.

Alexander Alekhine's Chess Games. 1902-1946. Skinner and Verhoeven.


If there is a single player in history who I would class as essential study material, it is Alekhine, and I am sure he would be in most player's 10 favorites. This mammoth book puts together all the games that could be found, with notes, source references, cross tables and snippets of information on the various events. A true chess lovers banquet! 

The Sorcerer's Apprentice. Bronstein and Furstenburg.


What can I say? I just adore the great David Bronstein. Everything he writes sparkles with life, and his chess is, well, sorcery! Pick any page of this book at random, and there is something to delight. Always puts a smile on my face.

Oxford Encyclopedia of Chess Games. Levy and O'Connell.


 As a young man, I had to save for weeks to afford this one! One of the first major chess history research projects, it is still the first thing I turn to when studying anything to do with chess up to 1866. Perhaps the modern world of internet, databases and so on put this huge work into the 'relic' catagory, but I wouldn't be without it.

Der Internationale Schach Kongres des Barmer Schachvereins. 1905. Marco and others.


Just WOW!!!!! I have commented on this book and the congress in my post on one of the haupturniers of the event.  

The book is just insane. Truly a magnificent acheivement by Marco and his co-workers, this is a book that goes beyond praise.