The Top 10 Chess Books (For All Abilities)

You are likely searching for a straightforward chess book when you’re initially thinking about learning the game. 

Since the game is so complex, you will want to make sure you’re not wasting time studying things you don’t need to know. This is particularly true for newcomers, who are still learning the fundamentals of the game.

The Top 10 Chess Books (For All Abilities)

In this article, we will be looking at the best 10 books about chess that may help you learn more about the game.

Why You Should Read Books About Chess

There are many reasons why you, as an individual who is interested in the game, should read more books about chess.

For starters, if you have a hobby or an interest, reading is a great way to find additional information about them.

You may think that you know all there is to a certain subject, only to learn more than you ever thought you would within just a couple of pages of a new book.

Of course, the finest thing you can do to improve your chess skills overall is to play the game. Reading as many chess books as possible, however, may be the second-best thing you can do to improve your playing abilities.

We feel that the first thing you should do after becoming passionate about chess is to locate and read a book on the game’s rules, terminology, and standard tactics.

From there on, you can begin to improve your skills by building knowledge from the ground up.

Anybody who knows anything about chess knows that this is not a simple game to play. The rules are difficult to understand at first, and it often takes a couple of games to fully – or, at least, partially – understand how it works. 

After all, there are six game pieces to remember the names, all of which have different ways to move across the board, along with so many other rules to remember in order to play a full game.

It’s no surprise that so many people believe that chess is one of the most difficult games to master, of all time. 

Practicing through playing may be the best way to build up your skills, but reading as many books as you can will help you build up the knowledge needed to play to your best ability.

How to Choose The Best Book For You

How to Choose The Best Book For You

Your Age

While it could be argued that age shouldn’t be a factor when it comes to playing a game, those who are older may have more of an advantage of understanding specific terminology compared to younger children.

Therefore, you may want to seek out a book that it is suitable for your age group. There are plenty of books about chess that are marketed towards children, teens, and/or adults. 

The books aimed towards younger audiences will contain simpler terms, making it easier to understand, while those aimed towards older readers will be a little more difficult to understand.

Your Current Skill Level

A person’s skill level is way more important to consider than their age, in our opinion. After all, the world’s youngest chess Grandmaster, Abhimanyu Mishra, was just 12 years and 4 months old when she earned that title in 2002.

If you are a complete beginner who knows little to nothing about chess, and your goal is to learn everything from the start, there are plenty of books available for beginners.

These books will contain simpler terms and easier-to-understand explanations. 

Those who are already familiar with the game of chess, perhaps at an intermediate or advanced level, would most likely prefer something more challenging to match their preexisting knowledge. 

Your Price Range

Lastly, you will want to consider how much money you would want to spend on a book. The prices of books about chess vary vastly, with some books costing a lot more than others.

However, the price of a book doesn’t always necessarily reflect the content inside. Some expensive books may not hold as much information as a cheaper one, and vice versa.

We all know of the saying, ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’. Well, we say, ‘don’t judge a book by its price tag’. 

The best thing you can do is check out reviews for whichever book you are interested in, and work out whether you think it would be useful to you before purchasing.

Then, after working out how much money you are willing to spend, you can work out which books you want.

Top 10 Chess Books For All Abilities

Top 10 Chess Books For All Abilities

As we mentioned previously, there are several factors that affect the decision of which book you should buy for yourself.

Some of these factors include your age, your current skill level, and your price range, but there are so many more to think about too.

However, in our list below, we have listed 10 books that are suitable for all abilities and most ages. We will also list how much each book currently retails for so that you are aware of the price while reading through our reviews.

Here are, in our opinion, 10 books that every chess enthusiast should read at some point in their lives.

Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess By Bobby Fischer, Stuart Margulies And Don Mosenfelder (1966)

Several generations of chess players have opted to follow the counsel of one of the greatest chess players of all time throughout the last six decades or more.

This has demonstrated to be a wise decision, as there is no better way to master a skill than to learn from the greatest.

Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess is still one of the best-selling chess books today, having sold millions of copies since its initial release in 1966. 

We recommend getting a copy of this classic book even if you already know how to play chess. Who knows? You just might discover something you didn’t know before about the game.

Fischer’s book covers practically every aspect of the game of chess, from the movement of the pieces, to basic checkmates, and attacking the opposition. 

Even if you have no prior knowledge of the game, after reading a few pages of this classic, you will be able to, at the very least, play the basics.

Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess retails at $17.70 on Amazon.com.

How To Reassess Your Chess: The Complete Chess Mastery Course By Jeremy Silman (1991)

Positional chess and establishing strategy in the middle game are concepts that many chess players struggle with. This book explains how to think about middle game strategies, including how to spot positional asymmetries. 

Jeremy Silman, an internationally successful writer, teaches his readers with wit and insight into the flaws of beginner chess players, something that amateur chess players can not only relate to, but also learn from.

This book is noted for its ease of use, and is intended for a wide spectrum of players of all skill levels, from beginners to advanced.

It is also a great resource for anyone rejoining to the game after a hiatus, as it helps them get back into the game’s rhythm. This timeless classic appeals to people of all ages and skills.

You can also read some of Silman’s writings on Chess.com to get a sense of his personal writing style for free.

How to Reassess Your Chess: The Complete Chess Mastery Course retails at $16.19 on Amazon.com.

Karpov’s Strategic Wins, Vol 1 & 2 By Tibor Karolyi (2011)

A top-10 list of the best chess books of all time would be incomplete without a positional player’s game library. 

Look no farther than the two volumes of Karpov’s Strategic Wins if you want to discover the technique of positional play via match scenarios, with detailed commentary and discussion throughout.

Karolyi’s study of Anatoly Karpov, the former chess World Champion and soviet grand Chessmaster, is both profound and approachable.

Karpov’s deceptively uncomplicated yet menacing style perfectly complements the straightforward narrative voice.

Both volumes of Karpov’s Strategic Wins retail at $47.69 at Chess.com.

Life And Games Of Mikhail Tal By Mikhail Tal (1976)

“You must take your opponent to a deep dark wilderness where 2+2=5, and the path leading out is just wide enough for one,” writes Mikhail Tal in a single sentence taken from this book.

You should definitely give Life and Games of Mikhail Tal a try if you want to add some proficiency to your playing skills while also growing your attitude.

You’ll learn a lot about Tal’s personality from this writing, and you’ll get a firsthand look at his wit, along with his passion for the game. 

If you take nothing else away from this piece of writing, take note of his advice on how to successfully attack other players while they are at their weakest, stealing the win for yourself.

His writing style itself has made this work of art a favorite of so many readers and chess players.

Life and Games of Mikhail Tal retails at $17.30 on Amazon.com.

My 60 Memorable Games By Bobby Fischer (1969)

Next up, we have one of the most apparent additions to the list, and it is, of course, Bobby Fischer’s second appearance. Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess was released only a few years after this.

Many people consider Fischer to be one of the best chess players of all time, and with good cause. He has truly earned his place among the world’s top players, as well as throughout history. 

If you’re a fan of Fischer’s work or aren’t sure which of these books in this list to grab first, we recommend picking up a copy of My 60 Memorable Games.

My 60 Memorable Games retails at $16.28 on Amazon.com.

My Great Predecessors (Series) By Garry Kasparov (2003-06)

Starting with Wilhelm Steinitz, the first chess world champion, this series of five books by Garry Kasparov offers analyzed games and context on chess development, along with its historical aspects. 

It is well worth the money to witness a chess legend such as Kasparov explain the backgrounds and strategies of each and every world champion, along with their challengers, while also offering his take on these iconic, legendary games.

Kasparov digs deep into the finer points of chess history in a way that will make you want to settle back and read for hours on end.

Once you get to his in-depth examination of the greatest matches of all time, you’ll have access to top-tier teaching material. 

By reading all five volumes of My Great Predecessors, you can take the advice to use in your own games.

My Great Predecessors: Part I retails at $31.41 on Amazon.com.

My System By Aron Nimzowitsch (1925)

This masterpiece, created by Aron Nimzowitsch in the early 20th century, is truly the epitome of a legendary chess handbook. 

Since its release, it has continuously ranked among the top five best-selling chess books of all time, and Grandmasters all over the world have recommended it for generations.

My System was among the first publications to be officially regarded as a positional chess manual, and it accomplishes an excellent effort at presenting key positional concepts that are so helpful for those wishing to learn more about the game.

My System is geared at a more mature audience when it comes to chess, and several users have said that it reads like a textbook, which is how many students prefer to learn.

Considering its lack of availability compared to other classics, this book is a must-have for every dedicated player of chess. 

We really do encourage that you try to locate and read this book in its entirety if at all possible.

My System retails at $17.66 on Amazon.com.

Silman’s Complete Endgame Course: From Beginner To Master by Jeremy Silman (2006)

The amazing Silman’s Complete Endgame Course: From Beginner To Master is Jeremy Silman’s second entry in this top 10 list.

Silman’s familiar endgame book is based on the premise that chess players should only master strategies that they need to know for their level of ability: nothing more, nothing less.

It can be all too tempting to get caught up in researching intricate endgames that you’ll never see in your own encounters.

Looking at strongly theorized rook-and-pawn games is generally not the best use of your time if you’re a 1300-strength player. 

It’s all about being confident in your own abilities, and building from there. It is preferable that you learn the standard and realistic endgames that you will actually experience in your own, current matches if you want to improve your skills. 

Silman’s research provides you with all the recommendations, illustrations, and concepts you will need to understand everything you need to grasp.

This broadly digestible endgame project is intended to anyone who’s not already a fully-experienced player, making it ideal for individuals who aren’t sure about the game just yet.

Silman’s Complete Endgame Course: From Beginner To Master retails at $39.59 on Amazon.com.

Think Like A Grandmaster By Alexander Kotov (1971)

Think Like a Grandmaster examines the whole mental process in chess, as the title implies.

Many vital and practical aspects of chess are discussed by Alexander Kotov, including the fundamental approach to the game, and how to draw your own conclusions.

Kotov equips the reader with the resources for both tactical and positional advancement. It is, however, very clearly geared for experienced players, so those who aren’t completely up to speed on all of the rules and regulations of chess may want to hold off on purchasing this book for a bit.

Think Like a Grandmaster is a great classic, regardless, and a solid contender on our list.

Think Like a Grandmaster retails at $6.77 on Amazon.com.

Zurich International Chess Tournament, 1953 By David Bronstein (1979)

David Bronstein’s bestseller has to be, in our opinion, a solid contender for the best chess tournament book ever written, with both professional and amateur players equally praising it. 

Bronstein’s wording and explanations are directed at the typical, amateur player, and this book’s overall intended audience is those with a playing strength of 1200 to 2000.

Zurich International Chess Tournament, 1953 delves right into the Candidates’ Tournament immediately prior to Mikhail Botvinnik’s 1954 world tournament final.

This is not just a fascinating look at the highest levels of chess playing at the time, but it is also a beautifully produced and detailed piece of work. 

Due to all of these attributes, this book has become a true classic over the years since its release.

Zurich International Chess Tournament, 1953 retails at $14.10 on Amazon.com.

Final Thoughts

So, there we have it: those were our top 10 picks for chess books for all players and abilities. 

Some of these may be a little more advanced than others, so we recommend that you do your own research, as well as taking ours into consideration, before purchasing any of them.

We hope you found this article helpful.

Jenna Ostria