Best book(s) on chess history?


Noticed my local libraries have a few books on chess history but I don't know if they are any good (two were written in the 70's one in the mid 80's and I couldn't find reviews for any of them).  Also saw that the original 1913 edition of H.J.R Murray's "A History of Chess" -described by D.J. Morgan of British Chess Magazine as "The greatest book ever written on the game" - is due to be released early next month.  Insights and or suggestions would be really appreciated!


Dunno if Murray's the best but he's the best known, which should count for something I guess - see my blog for more details & info

You couldn't find anything on the other books using a search engine? List them here pls and if they're for sale at amazon you should be able to find user reviews there


@Splitleaf : see the English Wikipedia : History of Chess, giving a lot of information.  Besides Murray's book there are e.g. 

Murray, A Short History of Chess ( 1963 )                                                       Von der Lasa, Zur Geschichte und Literatur des Schachspiels ( 1897 )               Richard Eales, Chess : The History of a Game ( 1985 )                                        Joachim Petzold, Schach, Eine Kulturgeschichte ( 1986 )                                  Silbermann/Unzicker, Geschichte des Schachs ( 1975 )                             Golombek, A History of Chess ( 1976 )                                                        Gizycki, History of Chess ( 1972 )                                                            Henry A. Davidsons, A Short History of Chess ( 1949 )              

There is no complete list of books on chess history, but there are many, many more, also  in languages as Spanish, Italian, German, Dutch.   There are translations as well !

In general : user reviews ( as NimzoRoy says ) are very important, as the subjects dealed with may vary, as well as the periods.                                                                      

Many reference books and encyclopedia also give good information on chess history.

Splitleaf : do you want to study certain periods in the history of chess ?     The books cover at least 1500 years, and give older info as well, and other mile-stones are  --  before 1475  --  after 1475-1500  --  16th century  --  1730-1850  --  1940-1945  etc.             Will be continued...                                         


Any post by batgirl.

Seriously :)

NimzoRoy wrote:

You couldn't find anything on the other books using a search engine? List them here pls and if they're for sale at amazon you should be able to find user reviews there

Amazon was where I looked, nothing.  Not one.  These are the books:  Chess: A History by Golombek, Chess, The History of A Game by Eales and A History of Chess by Gizycki (my library also has Birth of the Chess Queen: A History by Yalom but I recall reading some unfavorable reviews of that book so will likely hold off at least until I get a more a authoritative volume under my belt, so to speak).  Thank you for the link Roy, will definitely have a look.         


RomyGer wrote:

Splitleaf : do you want to study certain periods in the history of chess ?                                


Thank you for taking the time to reply Romy.  What I'm most interested in is a book that takes us from the very earliest known or hypothesized origins, history of the game up till around the time where the game became widely accepted as the one we now enjoy.  


rooperi wrote:

Any post by batgirl.

Seriously :)


Thanks for the suggestion rooperi, have recently taken note of batgirl's work after running into her in another thread.  Am beginning to understand your enthusiasm for it. :) 


A Book of Chess by CHOD [the late] Aexander.


Garry Kasparov on My Great Predecessors series


Found these pages on the subject today - one dated from the turn of the century.  The second link has a 1500 words long article by H.J.R Murray on the origins of chess:

Getting the sense that there is no one authoritative, readable book on the origins of chess but that the books by Murray, Golombek and Eales all have something to offer the reader interested in chess history.



"The Oxford Companion to Chess" is not a "history book" of chess per se it is more of a one vol encyclopedia which does, of course, cover some aspects of the history of the game in a disjointed manner since it is really a reference work and not a history book.

I happen to own it and it is an excellent book but more so for reference purposes (and just reading whatever entries happen to interest you)


yes the oxford one is not a history book but it cover the past quite well.


There are several reviews of "Chess: The History of a Game" by Richard Eales at amazon (not sure why they didn't come up the first time I searched there).  Though it does apparently cover the 1500 years history of chess it is only 240 pages and, according to reviews, focuses on modern history more then the Murray volume so people looking for all they can find on the early origins of the game will likely find it lacking.  But the reviews I saw there were mostly very positive with the main thread running through them being that this little book is quite an enjoyable read.


I have read "Chess: The History of a Game" by Eales.  I liked it very much.  However, I was considering buying Murray's book.  I was curious if Murray's version provides enough content to purchase after reading Eales.  If anyone out there has read both, I'd love to hear your opinion.