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Best books to improve positional understanding

  • #1


    What books helped you the most in gaining positional understanding?  My son is USCF 1800.  His openings and tactics are ok, but he seems to have a hard time understanding planning and positional concepts.  He'll say 'I didn't know what to do' when he gets to the middlegame (i.e. I didn't have a plan) or he had a plan, but it was not the right plan based on the pawn formation.

  • #2

    I would highly recommend books by Jeremy Silman.  He says to identify the imbalances in the position and how to concentrate on planning to make the imbalances favorable to you.

  • #3

    Winning Chess Stratagies, by Yasser Sierawan is another.  I believe that Silman contributed to this volume as well.  (Sierawan and Silman have a certain working relationship).  

    It presents many of the same lessons as in Silman's works but in a bit easier-to-follow way.

  • #4

    i think for an 1800 usf, "simple chess-Michael STEAN" is more suitable

  • #5
  • #6
    hakim2005 wrote:

    i think for an 1800 usf, "simple chess-Michael STEAN" is more suitable

    I went through this book with him before.  Maybe he should go through it again.  :)

  • #7

    What about the chess.com videos? Get positional concepts from top GMs Smile

  • #8

    Silman's Reassess.

  • #9

    Chess strategy for club players (Grooten)

    Secrets of positional playing (dvoretskey)

    Art of positional chess

  • #10

    Pawn Power in Chess by Hans Kmoch.

  • #11

    Good call on the Pawn Power in Chess book.  I have an old musty copy myself.  Question is, the OP said these were supposed to be recommendations for a scholastic player.  Do you think a student (minor) would wanna read that book?  Or just toss it as some impenetrable old-fogey stuff?

  • #12

    Like Nimzovich's My System, it's a book that will teach you something every time you read it. A scholastic player might only absorb 5% of it the first time through... but that just means that he should re-read it nineteen more times.

  • #13

    No doubt all these books are good and will help him improve his understanding. BUT improving his actual skills are another matter. There is a difference between knowledge and skill which is the reason so many of us fail to improve despite reading tons of books. If you want him to improve his game you should look for books with focus on exercises e.g. "guess the move books" like Zenon Franco Chess self-improvement or other books which will make him work. 

  • #14

    Chess strategy for club players (Grooten). Simple Chess is a good book too,but the book by Silman(Reasses Your Chess book) or Grooten covers more topics

  • #15
    blueemu wrote:

    Pawn Power in Chess by Hans Kmoch.

    eek!  Pawn Structure Chess by Andrew Soltis much better choice.

    And I don't like My System much either.

  • #16

    Depending on his nature and opening repertoire, look for similar-famous-players' compilation games, and analyze them till the end.

    I assume he knows already some typical tactical motives and endgame positions.

  • #17
    AndyClifton wrote:

    And I don't like My System much either.

    Try reading it nineteen more times.

  • #18

    Thanks everyone for the comments.  We already have some of the books that were recommended, so we'll probably start from there or have him re-read the 'Simple Chess' book first.

  • #19


    Winning chess strategy for kids. Don't let the kids part fool you. Dan Heisman says Coakley writes very good books and recommends his books


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