You have it all wrong about books. IMHO

Getting a book and reading it doesn't make you any better.

Getting one book and actually PLAYING it, is much better.

Applying what the books suggest might improve you unless you aren't doing it correctly.

Most chess players that have many books aren't necessaryly good players or even improve to a certaind degree.

I have over 100 books. Mainly because I like to read about chess and other genre's, not to become a GM. I like to learn things that I might teach to beginners.

Most chess players buy books might read several chapters and skip around the book and find things that they might like, things that they understand Then they buy another book without playing or finishing the last one out, looking for the pot of gold.

I hear that chess is the genre that has the most books written about.

Many players aren't ready for books like MY SYSTEM, let alone understand what they were reading and then recommending it. Even if they read the whole thing it won't necessarily improve them.

That even includes myself. I never liked, finished reading nor applying the whole book. It was puzzling.

Just look at all those players that recommend the books, are they closer to GM's.

It isn't the books that make you better.

It's practicing and applying that makes perfect, unless you aren't practicing all the correct things that GM's use.


Updated Dec 26, 2011
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Added more Jan 14, 2011 below
I am just halway through a book:


    for the Gifted and Busy

by Grandmaster Lev Alburt and Al Lawrence

It is a short course for beginner to expert and cover all basis.


          Copyright is 2012  USA is under $20.00

I finding it repeats many of the thing I already knew, but it also covers many things I had omitted from other books that I have.

Like most people that buy books I used to skip and jump here and there missing things that I thought I would come back and get later, but I never have really finished one whole book.

With this book and the new year I made a new years re-solution that I would finish this book completelly. It is only 300 pages with larger print.

    It says right on the front cover that I will be an      EXPERT doesn't it?


IMHO a lot of us aren't likely to figure out basics like the square of the pawn, the Lucena Position, Philidor's Position, various opening traps etc without learning about these concepts from reading books. You could do a lot worse than reading My System, a few chapters may be too obtuse for beginners and tyros but overall I think it will help the vast majority of players rated under 1800 who read it to learn something useful if no

Getting one book and reading may or may not help, a lot depends on what book it is and how much of it the reader can retain and apply to their own games.

NimzoRoy wrote:


Getting one book and reading may or may not help, a lot depends on what book it is and how much of it the reader can retain and apply to their own games.

Hmmm . . . I think that is is in a nutshell . . .


I don't read many books on chess, they puzzle me, and I get confused by notations. But I do watch a lot of players, see how they play the opening and voila, I haven't improved at all. Hahaha. I tried playing with a computer, but human players, they move differently, and so I am left with nothing but back to my own basic moves. Sometimes I wanted to scold my opponent and say, that's not how you are suffuse to do this, here, according to this, you should move this as a response  (attempting humor, not working). So I definitely agree with your statement, its practice that would really make beginners (as myself) improve on my games. There are opponents who even share a point or two after our game, they we're incridibleSmile


The original post was honest; I like it.  


I enjoy chess books and am guilty of some of the same:  jumping here and there, but I also can settle down and work through something carefully and slowly, but it takes quite a bit of discipline. 

I also tend to read books over my head which means neglible results.  I love Purdy's writing style, but since I am > 1400, I probably need to stay at just reading tactics.   


I loved "Best Lessons of a Chess Coach" but struggle to apply its principles.   


Warning: Light-hearted sarcasm ahead!

Shortly after receiving a new chess book in the mail, I get out my trusty blender, a container of ice cream, some milk, and malt powder. I grind the chess book up with the ice cream, milk and malt powder. Though a little thick, the whole concoction is quite tasty. I've found this method improves my chess playing abilities only slightly less than reading the book's Table of Contents (which is about as far as I usually get with most of my chess books).

maria1984 wrote:

So I definitely agree with your statement, its practice that would really make beginners (as myself) improve on my games.

SeamusOriley:    AND    DRAWMASTER:


Wow . . . . I'm so surprised that most of you agree with the post . . . . I will have to try it in my blender maybe it will sink in faster . . . I actually thought that I would be chastised left and right for my observations . . .

Have nice holidays that are coming up . . .


I know that there are always 'those' type of responses, but there are plenty of nice people who have had success in the game and share their experiences.  They are valuable and for the few chastising posts, it is worth their experiential advice.

2012 New Year's Resolution:  To stay with a book start to finish. 

I am also going to give Steve's recommendation on Tactics training a go....concentrate on quality not quantity, and forget the ratings numbers.  (its on a thread here).

I am one of those adults stuck in 1400 land and am studying tactics, tactics and more tactics. 



i think one of the major issues in chess books is theirs hords of notation and not many pictours on each page layout of chess books.


My unread book collection is the main reason I joined  I just think Chess Mentor and watching videos (pausing to make an honest attempt to solve the next move whenever the instructor suggests, and sometimes even when he doesn't) are tons more efficient than setting up a board and plodding through annotation.  Of course my chess is still awful, but it's less awful than it used to be!


Using a book the right way is key ... as indicated in the posts above.  The most an  author can do is put up a position ... tell you to STOP, think about it, come up with your own ideas for as long as the content warrants/asks for and THEN give you the answers/truths within.  You are hopefully mature enough to compare/contrast your own findings with that of the author and THEN make the necessary adjustments to your knowledge/thought process ...  basically getting your "learn on". :)

Most readers skip this vital step or do a half-a##ed job of thinking on their own ... rushing to the answers, reading the text that follows the diagram almost immediately.  They often expect to see a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow ("The answer is this ... and by knowing what to do with 100% clarity with this magnificient example, you will ALWAYS ace any future position like this you will encounter in your chess career, you lucky bastard! Feel the power within!!!)

If this does not happen (which is more than often), they start bitching about too many variations and how they didn't learn anything ... or worse yet, trash the author's efforts on the whole.


There is a great pleasure to be derived from owning books. Just seeing them standing on the shelf knowing they are my collection. I can say to myself just look at the knowledge I have at my finger tips; I can pull out a book at anytime and delve into its mysteries.

Reading books is much harder than owning them it requires effort and time its much easier to watch a video or surf


I agree with everything the op said except for one thing.  I don't think you need to stick to one book..The brain thrives on variety.  For rest and new connections to make.  When first starting out for beginners definitely stick to one book(u don't know what you need yet).  But, for someone who is intermediate to advanced I think a little spice and change from day to day is needed.  When I was really studying hard I would set aside one day (or chunk) to lets say king and pawn endgames (plug for secrets of pawn endings-thank you) from a certain book.  Then the next day (or chunk of that day) I would go through a tactics book(plug for forcing chess moves).  You get the idea


I think after a certain level books are the way to go to improve. Probably learn more per hour than you would if you were playing a game. You can improve a lot also by looking at your games for countless hours to un-earth the mysteries of your mind, but I'd much rather take an hour to analyze my game and then read a book with the rest of my time! Different strokes for different folks I think...


alt of great comments were made on this post . . .


It's really good to sometimes to re-read something that was posted way back . . .

I thoroughly enjoyed going over all the remarks made on this subject because it continues to be in effect . . . August, 2016



I love chess books but think applying the knowledge and practicing applying the knowledge is the way to go, but yes I do love looking at my chess books on my's a guilty pleasure I guess


My issue is that while I can see the reasoning behind the annotations, my chess engine often disagrees with the author on who's better.

Then I don't know what to believe, more precisely I get the feeling that I don't get the larger picture.


Maybe the computer you are using sine the best one around?

Many of the authors don't use computers to write a book, they use their own knowledge.



Igor, I am just a beginner in chess but I am starting to form a theory that there are several kinds of good moves. Bear with me here... 

A perfect move from both sides would change the evaluation +/-0, right? A times there are several different moves that are equally good. Now to my theory.

If I move X in one position and get the evaltuation by the computer +/-0 and sees that my opponent has 5 responses to that move that gives +/-0 in evaluation and that they all are easy to see, but I have an other move that the computer says is -0,1 but my opponent only has 1 god respone to and that very are difficult to see and only gives benefit to my opponent after some 10 moves, but all his other alternatives gives a big minus number. Is not that a better move for me?

I would guess that it is better in certain situations to play a worse move.