how to play chess

How To Play Chess

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awingman 28 ( +1 | -1 )
Any good book? I have been playing for a few years and never opened a chess book before. I have a rating of around 1550 and would like to improve to beyond 2000 if thats even possible. Can anyone recommend a good book to help me with this?
ionadowman 110 ( +1 | -1 )
Good books... The following will give you a start...
Ray Keene "Complete Book of Beginning Chess"
Danny King "How to Win at Chess: 10 Golden Rules to Follow"
This one might be a bit elementary, judging by your rating, but it is worthwhile to test yourself with its 'puzzles'.
I've just recently got hold of William Hartston's "better chess" (a "teach yourself" book I gather). Some of the ideas it discusses are not - and even deliberately contradict - the advice of most chess books.
Check out some of the Silman and Pandolfini titles. I read one or two, but don't recall their titles, off hand. I do recall they were pretty informative though... I gather both have something of a name as chess teachers...
If you want something pretty meaty, do get hold, if you can, of Keres and Kotov "The Art of the Middle Game". It might still be around.
I used to have, until some snurge made off with it, a copy of Irving Chernev's "Bright side of Chess". Great for exciting games, but it also included some amazing endgame studies. You might, if you are very lucky, find a copy somewhere...
velvetvelour 243 ( +1 | -1 )
Book Recommendations: Jeremy Silman's "How to Reassess Your Chess" and "The Amateur's Mind" are both excellent auto-instruction manuals, the former for corralling together all the potpourri of chess truisms and strategic tidbits into a cohesive whole, and the later for identifying typical thinking patterns which plague the average denizen of the Alphabet Soup ranks (E-A).

If you need some "remedial chess" study "Logical Chess: Move By Move" by Irving Chernev and a good puzzles/tactics book (white to move and mate in three) should be plenty.

Modern Chess Strategy by Czech Ludek Pachman is an excellent strategic tome, a few decades old but still very sound. Ditto for Larry Evans "Chess Catechism" and "New Ideas In Chess," (both of which are no longer new by Larry Evans is probably the most erudite and most seasoned chess writer around, with much to bestow) Many people laud by "Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy" by John Watson to supplement the "classics" out there, which I haven't read but many people swear by. Art of the Attack by Vukovik is indispensable for teaching you all the modes and patterns needed to successfully carry an initiative into an attack.

Andrew Soltis has written many excellent strategic books as well, focusing on defensive play, pawn structure, calculation, blunder-proofing one's game, endgame technique, and so on, and continues to do so, are are generally well-received in the chess world at,, and other places.

A good opening manual on your line(s) of choice is recommended. Everyman is a good publisher for many such materials, as is Gambit publications. A game anthology of a personal hero is also a good way to learn to conduct the opening/middlegame. Again, they are legion, but I really enjoy "Art of Sacrifice" by Rudolf Spielmann, "Keres' Best Games of Chess" by Fred Reinfeld, and "The Sorceror's Apprentice" by David Bronstein, by favorite chessplayer.

For fun: "Karl Marx Plays Chess" & "Chess to Enjoy" by Andrew Soltis, "Chess Panorama" by William Lombardy, "The Queen's Gambit" by Walter Tevis (novel about an orphan girl taking the chess world by storm, written by the author of "The Hustler" and "The Man Who Fell To Earth" among other things), and "The Chess Artist," by J.C. Hallman, the best journalistic expose I've fond concerning the chess world's players, quibbles, foibles, and adventures to date.
awingman 18 ( +1 | -1 )
Wish I had the time for all these books Thanks for taking the time to answer my question! I am however lost with all this information you have given me. If you had to choose a single comprehensive book which would it be?
velvetvelour 35 ( +1 | -1 )
Hmmm, try "How to Reassess your Chess" then, as it's comprehensive, readable, and widely available, whereas some of the books I listed could be construed as arcane. And a tactics book (there are a number of them), with puzzles to sharpen your combinative ability, because as Teichmann said, chess is 99% tactics (and there's no way getting around it).
thunker 21 ( +1 | -1 )
I suggest Chess Fundamentals by J.R. Capablanca.
I know, I know - it's older than my granny. But still, it's my favorite beginner book.
Then go on to his chess Primer book. Those two will make for a solid foundation.
awingman 6 ( +1 | -1 )
So a rating of about 1550 would be considered a begginer?
awingman 6 ( +1 | -1 )
And how would improving a beginner's game be best achieved?
i_play_slowly 225 ( +1 | -1 )
Beginner's rating I regard a beginner's rating as 1200, because 1200 is where our ratings actually do begin once we have played a few games here at Gameknot. I see that your rating has climbed to 1547, placing you in the 81st percentile among Gameknot's 19,800 members. Based on these figures, perhaps we could say that you actually are better than 80% of chess players the world over. Not bad!
Many of the books being suggested here would, indeed, be very good for beginner's. With your rating, however, most of them would be telling you ideas that you have already figured out the hard way. Nor would I consider any of the books that people have suggested here as comprensive. If you believe that you truly need a comprehensive book, try "THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF THE WORLD'S GREATEST CHESS GAMES" by Graham Burgess, John Nunn and John Emms, or "The Mammoth Book of Chess" (Paperback) by John Nunn. You can read readers' reviews of these books at
Before buying a comprehensive book, however, you might want to ask yourself which aspect of your game requires the most improvemnt, then finding the book that focuses directly on that topic. Any of Silman's books will improve your positional playing. Seirawan's "Winning Chess Tactics" is perhaps the best book on that topic for players with your rating. Which area would you most like to improve, your strategy, or your tactics? But perhaps what you would like to improve most is your opening, middle game, end game, play as Black, play as White, pawn structures, mating nets... ? There are good books on all facets of chess for players of all strengths.
I see you live in Ontario. If you live in Toronto, check out "Seekers Books," "BMV Books," "Eliot's," or "She Said Boom," all of which have good selections of second hand chess books. For new chess books, you can check out the huge catalogue at Toronto's "Strategy Games" shop: ->

bonsai 90 ( +1 | -1 )
Potentially a book offering a structured training program would be useful, particularly if you have the discipline to work through it. E.g. Alexander Koblenz's (one of the famous Russian trainers) "Chess training" (that's just literatlly translating the German title "Schachtraining", not sure what it's really called in English). I am sure there are a lot of other such books, however the Jussopov/Dworetzki books are probably are more for the time when one has already reached >> 2000/2100 and wants to improve beyond that.

I also firmly believe that there's a lot of value to be derived from playing over good game collections (once more there are many Zürich 1953 would be a classic, but there's many more, ideally I'd say one would read one with good strategic explanations, but also a fair share of tactics that one can work on).
peppe_l 134 ( +1 | -1 )
awingman I checked out some of your games. If I was you (trying to go for 2000+ rating), I'd get 3 books: one on tactics, one on strategy, one on endings. It's unlikely one book can give you "everything"...

If you allow me, here are the 10 first moves of your latest game here at GK:

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6

<Very logical moves - controlling the centre, developing the pieces.>


<This move isn't necessary. The game is about to get quite open (lots of piece activity), so it was defitenitely better to continue development.>

3...Nf6 4.Nc3 Bc5

<Here we can see because of 3.a3?! your opponent has developed 3 pieces (Nc6, Nf6, Bc5), while you have developed 2 pieces (Nc3, Nf3).>


<Again, spending time for unnecessary pawn move. I noticed you like to play a3 & h3 / a6 & h6, but it really isn't good strategy. No need to know (memorize) opening THEORY here. Just opening PRINCIPLES.>


<If you have development advantage, open the position for your pieces!>

6.exd5 Nxd5 7.Nxd5 Qxd5 8.c4??

<Notice how d4 will now be practically owned by your opponent. The concept of strong/weak squares (check out some games of W.Steinitz) is fundamental part of strategy. Also, c4 blocks your pieces (Bf1)>

8...Qe4+ 9.Be2 Nd4 10.0-0??

<Leaving Be2 hanging. Tactics - unprotected pieces.>


If you feel you have lost more games because of same reasons - tactics, strategy (opening principles) - you know the areas where you have to improve. And then you need to master endings, too ;-)
thunker 20 ( +1 | -1 )
awingman Sorry - didn't read your question properly. I thought you were just looking for a single, good basic book on theory.
Not a book for more advanced stuff. My apologies.
awingman 5 ( +1 | -1 )
No problem thunker, I probably need that too.
i_play_slowly 76 ( +1 | -1 )
Added Thoughts The classic comprehensive chess book is undoubtedly "Lasker's Manual of Chess." For decades it was the book that players of all strengths, from beginners to masters, read over and over again. It is still probably the best comprehensive chess book, and it is very easy to find, but the style of writing is now extremely old fashioned.
Eric Schiller has written several comprehensive chess books. He appears to be extremely popular, perhaps because he is very easy to understand. However, book critics and strong players generally hate him. The usual claim is that his books are filled with mistakes. Jealousy perhaps?
You can find reader reviews of all these books at Please let us know which book you finally choose.

velvetvelour 139 ( +1 | -1 )
I agree with i_play_slowly, however Lasker's Manual of Chess hasn't gotten a revision in over forty years and reprints still use an archaic form of descriptive notation: Nf3 = Kt-KB3.

Siegbert Tarrasch's: "The Game of Chess" is better for this reason, it covers similar ground as an "all-in-one" manual, and it's been reprinted in algebriac. The old Edwardian/Gothic style of prose shouldn't prove too much a hazard for the dedicated reader (might even enhance it vis-a-vis the staid way of technical writing these days). Tarrasch's love for chess is infectuous (reknowned as Germany's Greatest Teacher of the game) and he was also quite the wit in his day.

Fred Reinfeld's: "The Complete Chessplayer" is my runner-up for an all-in-one manual. Reinfeld is the godfather of American chess writers and was for many of an earlier generation their first introduction to the game. This book is written for the college-educated adult in a very accessible, avuncular style. It's still an old work (though "only" 50 years instead of 80 years old, in Tarrasch's case!), but quite sound. It's a tad cheaper and thinner work than Tarrasch's, but uses modern descriptive; the only downside. In reality, one doesn't need the latest instruction manuals for many of the "basics" and classical dictums of chess, that sort of thing mostly applies to opening theory and very nuanced positional ideas that may have recently (past 20-30 years) caught on.
awingman 30 ( +1 | -1 )
I have picked 3 books which I have just ordered at Amazon: Ideas Behind the Chess Openings Algebraic Edition , The Mammoth Book of Chess and How to Reassess Your Chess: The Complete Chess-Mastery Course.

Hope to improve my game soon, thanks everybody.
velvetvelour 2 ( +1 | -1 )
You should go far, congradulations. :)
thunker 24 ( +1 | -1 )
"Fine" book! wingman - Fine's "Ideas behind the chess openings" is my favorite for opening theory! Good choice! Although it is a bit dated too - but good theory is good theory. New theory is simply old theory that we've learned more about! :-)
oxycera 18 ( +1 | -1 )
chess book Although earlier disparaged (I think) , I really rate Bill Hartston's "Teach Yourself Better Chess". It is full of original ideas which are cleverly illustrated.
ionadowman 27 ( +1 | -1 )
Teach yourself better chess... I was wondering what might have been said to the disparagement of Bill Hartston's book, and who might have said it. Then it occurred to me: was it I? Far from disparaging the book, I think highly of it, not least owing to its original approach and style of presentation.
oxycera 4 ( +1 | -1 )
better chess Ion, sorry for misinterpreting your comment.
ionadowman 49 ( +1 | -1 )
oxycera... That's OK: I ouht to have expressed myself more clearly. By the way, whatever happened to Bill Hartston? 20-30 years ago he seemed to be on the edge of grandmastery, but seems never quite to have made it. Reading an article written by one William Hartston in a fairly recent English newspaper/periodical, I wondered if it was the same bloke. (I've been out of touch even with the local chess scene for the last 15 years or more...GK has been a recent revival of hessic interest).
oxycera 14 ( +1 | -1 )
Bill Hartston I last saw him on television a few months ago representing 'The Chess Society' I think it was (whatever that is) on 'University Challenge'. No idea if he still plays.