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Book Advice

  • #1

    I played my first two OTB tournaments this summer and now have a 1700-1750 rating, which should improve a fair amount the coming year. I'm aiming for at least 2000 by the end of 2015, hopefully higher, by spending a fair amount of time studying chess somewhat seriously.

    I'm looking to get a few more books spread out over 2014 and 2015 and I was wondering if anyone has an opinion on books in several categories. I'm interested in proposed reading orders and recommended books.


    Opening with white: (I have read relevant parts of FCO by vdSterren)

    *Book on d3 systems in the Ruy for White*

    *Book on Bb5 systems in the Sicilian for White*

    *GM Repertoire: French, Caro & Philidor by Negi*

    (I assume that's enough for an 1. e4 rep, with some basic knowledge of other stuff through FCO)


    Opening with black: (I have read relevant parts of FCO by vdSterren)

    *Black Weapons in the Open Games by Bologan* (or another 1. e4 e5 non ruy book?)

    *A black Ruy repertoire book, haven't picked a specific line yet though (was considering the open)*

    *A black repertoire book against 1. Nf3 and 1. C4*

    (Will also need something for my d4 lines, but I need to pick an opening first..)


    Middlegame: (I have read HTRYC by Silman, am working through My System by Nimzo and have Art of Attack ready for reading after)

    *Pawn Structure Chess by Soltis (or do you think Kmoch is better?)*

    *Euwe's Judgement and Planning in Chess"


    Endgame: (I have read to about 1800 in Silman's endgame book.)

    *Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual*

    *A book on strategical endgames (which one?)*


    Workbooks: (I've worked through step 1,2,3 as a kid and was working on step-4 when I quit. I'm currently working through the first of Yusupov's books and Hort & Jansa's “The best move”)

    *Step 5 and 6*

    *The rest of Yusupov's 9 book series*


    Game Collections: (I have Tal's life and games, which was mainly meant for enjoyment)

    *Zurich 1953 by ?? (I've seen two versions, which do you prefer?)*

  • #2

    Would Silmans "complete book of chess strategy" be useful ,I find it a big help but your rating is a lot higher than mine so it may not be as advanced as you need,probably to general mate.

  • #3

    Thanks for the advices :). 


    Judging by reviews it doesn't really go into depth, and only briefly covers most subjects. I think HTRYC probably covers most of it better.



    That's certainly true, but some spaces in my list are still blank because I haven't found a good book yet (Bb5 Sicilians, d3 Ruy, Black vs Nf3/C4, Strategical Endgame book) and I was wondering if anyone had any experiences. 
    The second advice is often repeated, and justly so. Many people have a bunch of books but never really fully worked through any one multiple times. I'm doing the workbooks in order, and reviewing sections where I scored suboptimal (e.g. Yusupov's scoring is Excellent/Good/Pass/Fail. If I get Pass or Fail on a test I will review the entire chapter again at the end of the book). The endgame and middlegame books I play through an example/subject until I get it and feel like I am able to somewhat apply it. I try to repeat each lesson every few months until it feels too basic (like basic mates and basic KP endings). Working through a subject with different methods (e.g. Chess Mentor, Videos, 1 or 2 Books) also helps properly understanding it, imo.

  • #4

    for the d3 Ruy, there's a few chapters on it in "Dangerous Weapons : The Ruy Lopez" by Emms, Kosten and Cox (which should be a useful book for you overall, considering you play the Ruy with both colours)

    How to Beat The Sicilian Defense by Jones for the Bb5 Sicilians

    What you play against Nf3/c4 will presumably depend on what you intend to play against 1 d4...

  • #5

    Thanks, this was exactly what I was looking for :)!

    The Dangerous Weapons book seems really sweet since it appears to cover both sides, including the d3 systems for white. The sicilian book fits perfectly as well.

    Yeah, I'm really unsure about d4/c4/nf3 replies. I was considering the Grunfeld for a while, but now I'm leaning more towards positions that I can actually understand instead of 20 moves of theory and the dogmas "active piece play + play against their center". There is good material on the Grunfeld though if I do choose that (2 GM Rep books, Svidler video series). Plenty of other stuff to read before I make a choice on that anyways.

  • #6

    I don't know your study skills or time available, but be carefull with creating a large list of books and which order to read them etc. I did that myself and suddenly the list becomes a stressfactor and I was more focused on amount of pages that I read, than actually studying the content.

    The pawn structure chess book is great and I believe going through each game in detail will improve your skill by many points. Some even recommend studying it before starting to learn openings because your learn to play by the pawn structure no matter if it arises from english or sicilian etc.! And btw. chess.com has some video lectures by Daniel Rench where he explains the different structures and recommends combining his videolectures with the book.

    I highly recommend taking a look at the other book by Soltis called Studying Chess Made Easy. It did not make studying easy as the title says, but it i really helpful with good advice how learn openings, studying GM Games.

    Art of Attack is a great book, but I don't think this should be your "middlegame book". It is a bit more like a tactics book, but a great one. It has a lot of positions with complicated variations. I sometimes take an example from the book a setup my chessboard, trying to visualise all the combinations. Requires a lot of focus, patience and brainpower for a patzer like me. But I am sure Art of Attack could be like an endurance workout book for you, usefull for the OTB games with 2-4 hour time control.

    One of my favorite middlegame books is The Giants Of Chess Strategy. The book is split up into different topics. The games are of high quality and working through each game like it was a OTB game you play, can really improve your chess thinking skills.

    Btw. I have ELO 1750, just so you can compare my advices. I hope it was useful.

  • #7

    I don't think you need any more books, reread HTRYC and keep working with his endgame book, FCO is good enough for openings. Honestly I have a bookshelf of books, but have read nevermind deelpy study very few. My 2 cents.

  • #8

    If you just want to start a collection, my advise is to buy them as you need them. There are a lot of crappy books out there, i advise you don't accumulate openings for later reading since they become obsolete fast.

  • #9

    If you are really serious about getting stronger, buying one book at a time (and first finishing the ones you have!) is very good advice. There are no perfect books out there that will magically make you strong.  You will make more improvement from putting in the effort to read one good book carefully than buying a whole library of books and resolving to read them some day. 

    You already have some good books, enough to take you well above 2000 elo.  Finish them! (Except FCO, which you shouldn't study very hard at your level, where only basic opening knowledge is important.)  Especially finish your endgame book and read Art of the Attack.  It's a great book and maybe a little advanced for your level, but if you put the effort into it and really grasp at its secrets you might suddenly find yourself winning attacking games against 2000 elo players.  The Yusupov books are also supposed to be good but I haven't seen them.  If you have them, read them!

    Sorry, maybe I am being a bit too emphatic here.  But some others above have given you good advice, and it is very important to listen to them.  I have seen too many players buy too many chess books and never improve.  They say to themselves: "I will buy the perfect chess library to take me from 1600 to 2400 elo; then I will read them and become strong."  But you don't need a chess library to go from 1600 to 2400 elo; in fact, a library will not help you much. You need the right mindset of trying to figure things out for yourself and understand them, and sufficient interest to make you put in the effort to do so. The materials do not matter so much.  And all those books, with all those pages, become a bit daunting.  It is just too much for most players to contemplate finishing, and so they never even really begin....

    If you really want to get strong fast, play as many serious games (tournament or serious training games) as you can, this is at least 50% of the equation.  As for books, you need only a relatively few and you only need one a time.


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