Best Books to Learn Chess


I'm an adult who's new to chess. Two strong players on this site were nice enough to play example games, but I had to resign due to lack of time. The games were instructive, but it was all completely new to me. I clearly need to learn more before playing. To that end I'm trying to compile a list of books to become a proficient chess player. Many players say that chess mastery is 99% tactics, so that's what the list emphasizes. It then progresses to endgames, openings, and strategy.

1. Chessmaster Tutorial [basics]
2. Learn Chess by John Nunn [basics]
3. Predator at the Board by Ward Farnsworth [intros tactical themes]
4. Learn Chess Tactics By John Nunn [intros tactical themes]
5. Manual of Chess Combinations Vol 1 A/B by Sergey Ivashchenko [tactics workbook]
6. 101 Chess Opening Traps by Steve Giddins [apply tactics to openings]
7. Logical Chess: Move By Move by Irving Chernev [complete games]
8. The Complete Chess Workout 1/2 by Richard Palliser [more tactics]
9. Forcing Chess Moves: The Key to Better Calculation by Charles Hertan [adv tactics]
10. How to Beat Your Dad at Chess by Murray Chandler [mating patterns]
11. Understanding Chess Endgames by John Nunn
12. Understanding Chess Middlegames by John Nunn
13. Manual of Chess Combinations, Volume 2 by Sergey Ivashchenko [adv tactics]

1. How to Build Your Chess Opening Repertoire by Steve Giddins
2. Understanding the Chess Openings by Sam Collins

What do you think of the list? Is there anything you'd change about the content or order?

Thanks for your input.


#12 is the best of those that I've read for the beginner.. after that silman's reassess your chess is great..  


I would start with one thorough tactics book, I prefer Ward Farnsworth's Predator at the Chessboard available at After that you will want to study endgames. You will learn piece interactions very will with fewer pieces on the board, I'm reading silman's complete endgame course. These are really the only two books you will need for some time. Continue to do tactics puzzles daily (chess tempo or the tactics trainer here).

I've also read logical chess, it is an enjoyable read.


Thanks for the tip Cap & Bardu.

I'll move #12 to #7.

I'll read Predator after Learn Chess.

I mainly intend to play against the computer & do tactics exercises from books, so I'm going to work through a long list. You can get free PDFs of many of these books online if you do a little digging. I already have 5/13 titles for free.


you really don't need all of those books, especially as a beginner. just get something like the game of chess by tarrasch, which covers all phases of the game. you can do tactics for free on the internet with predator at the chessboard and on chesstempo too.


Thanks for the feedback. When I was a teenager I taught myself engineering by reading a stack of my dad's textbooks. It probably wasn't necessary for a 16-yr-old to have 3 books on computer architecture, but the learning strategy proved incredibly effective. I'm trying to do the same thing again. Besides, I'm much more interested in book puzzles than actually playing the game.


I think the YouTube chess articles have improved my game.There are a lot of strong Masters explaining theory and commenting on games. I like i.e Romans Lab , Yasser Seirawan , Smirnov.