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  1. 26 Jan '08 17:36 / 12 edits
    In light of how often the "recommend me a book" and "what do you think of this book" topics seem to crop up, I thought it might be an asset to create a thread to act as a central repository for players to post a brief outline of the book (naturally they have to have read it for their advice to be meaningful), the category it falls under, a rough rating recommendation, and a rating (out of 5 stars) as to how, objectively, well the book covers its subject matter.

    Because there are at least hundreds of opening books I think it better to limit them, for the purpose of this thread, to those that are either very general or cover a very broad repetoire. Thus, please no books here on, for instance, the Exchange Ruy or the Nimzo-Indian.

    I'll start things off with a few of mine and add others I've read later:

    Chess Openings for the Average Player by Harding and Barden (general opening book)

    A little dated but a decent first opening book. Covers, to one degree or another, most major openings as well as some of the more offbeat ones. Coverage is densest on the openings recommended by the authors (Ruy Lopez and QG for white, Sicilian, French, Nimzo-Indian, and QID for black). Those recommended openings also have the advantage of being proven, mainstream openings that have never been refuted. Non-recommended openings are covered, but in varying degrees of detail. Some get as little as a paragraph. Authors make extensive use of text outlining the plans for both sides and diagrams showing good, balanced and bad positions for either colour. Algebraic notation. 4/5 stars Recommended rating range: 1200-1800 (I still refer to it now and then).

    The Logical Approach to Chess by Euwe et al (general/beginner)

    A good second beginner type book, or first beginner book for a player who already knows the rules like capturing e.p. and the basic mates. Emphasis is on development in the opening, elementary tactics and strategy, basic planning, and simple end games. Descriptive notation. 4/5 stars Recommended rating range: 1000-1400

    The Art of the Checkmate by Reynaud and Khan (tactics/mating patterns)

    The definitive work on mating patterns, yet accessable to players of almost every strength. Emphasis is on patterns and pattern recognition, with lots of text that explain the mechanics and diagrams and very few (but short) variations. One of the best chess books I've ever read. Descriptive notation. 5/5 stars Recommended rating range: 1300-1900

    Better Chess for Average Players by Harding (general/intermediate)

    Similar in Structure and coverage to "The Logical Approach to Chess" but aimed at a slightly more knowledgeable/experienced player. Chapters are short making it an easy read and Hardings writing style is both enjoyable and concise. Topics include Attacking, Defending, Planning, Endings, and more. Would make a good follow up book to "The Logical Approach to Chess" or introductory book for slightly stronger players before pursuing more specialized works on these topics. Algebraic Notation. 4.5/5 stars Recommended rating range: 1400-1700

    Weapons of Chess by Pandolfini (strategy)

    A good book to introduce beginning players, or those without much knowledge of strategy, to the various strategic/positional concepts in chess. Coverage is a little superficial but this is appropriate for its intended audience, where the idea is to introduce them to the concepts and lay a basic foundation for later, more in depth study. Lots of text and many, many diagrams. Can be read without a board. 4/5 stars Recommended Rating Range: 1100-1400
  2. 26 Jan '08 19:49
    “Discovering Chess Openings”
    Building opening skills from basic understanding.
    by John Emms.

    Rating recommended: Beginner to 1500

    Everyman Chess ISBN 1-85744-419-1


    In this excellent first openings book we get a GM with over 30 years experience and a renowned openings expert reaching down to the beginner, playing the move 1.a4 and explaining why this move is so popular with beginners, why it’s not such a good first move and how to play against it. The schoolboy’s mate gets the same careful considered explanation. The book is aimed at improving players who are just starting to take an interest in opening play. You’ll need to know how the pieces move and how to follow notation to get the most from it. As best these things can be estimated I’d recommend it for people with ratings from around 900 to 1500 although for those with a rating closer to 1500 it will be a refresher.

    Reading it you get the impression that John Emms has taken a lot of time to really understand the thinking of the improving player and never once do you get the impression that the task is trivial. In fact there is a good measure of passion and enthusiasm throughout. Every effort is made to clearly explain the ideas behind the rules and principles. My rating is around 1500 on RHP so I’m familiar with much of the materiel presented but I still found useful insights. We get simple explanations of the centre, piece mobility, development, pawn play and king safety.

    Throughout I found the text accessible, enjoyable to read, and with a good balance of diagrams, explanations and notation.

    The intention is to help the reader learn the opening principles and the reasons behind the rules. As an example, I was already familiar the rule “knights before bishops” but John Emms explains the reason for this is because you know that the best square for whites g1 knight is f3 whilst the Bishop could do with waiting a move or two to see what the other side is up to before committing. More than this, the book then explains why the f3 square is such a cool place for this knight and compares it to other possibilities. Its things like this that make the book such a good read and it’s really helped to solidify my understanding. This might also be a good book for more advanced players involved in teaching.
  3. Standard member Frank Burns
    Great Big Stees
    26 Jan '08 19:55
    Originally posted by Mahout
    [b]“Discovering Chess Openings”
    Building opening skills from basic understanding.
    by John Emms.

    Rating recommended: Beginner to 1500

    Everyman Chess ISBN 1-85744-419-1


    In this excellent first openings book we get a GM with over 30 years experience and a renowned openings expert reaching down to the beginner, playing the move 1.a4 and explaini ...[text shortened]... my understanding. This might also be a good book for more advanced players involved in teaching.[/b]
    I just picked up Weapons of Chess by Pandolfini (strategy). I agree with your assessment. But I like it just the same. I'll finish it. I think that sometimes, no matter how many times you've heard it, ya just gotta touch base with the basics from time to time.

    And, I do just enjoy reading it.
  4. 26 Jan '08 20:31 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Mahout
    [b]“Discovering Chess Openings”
    Building opening skills from basic understanding.
    by John Emms.

    Rating recommended: Beginner to 1500

    Everyman Chess ISBN 1-85744-419-1


    In this excellent first openings book we get a GM with over 30 years experience and a renowned openings expert reaching down to the beginner, playing the move 1.a4 and explaini ...[text shortened]... my understanding. This might also be a good book for more advanced players involved in teaching.[/b]
    Not so up to date but nicely explanatory of the basic principles (e.g., why f3 is such a nice square for the knight, and why (generally) knights before bishops, etc.), is Irving Chernev's Logical Chess: Move By Move. While Chernev is a bit of a dogmatist and the book gives short shrift to more contemporary openings, as a chess pedagogue he is truly marvelous, despite the occasional descent into pedantry.

    The book (I have the algebraic notation edition reissued by Batsford, I think) consists, as the title suggests, of master games highly annotated by Chernev with the beginning to intermediate player in mind. It would make an excellent first serious chess book for anyone. There are so many diagrams updating the board positions that it is often possible to read without a board handy, though Chernev does make an occasional digression that requires one.

    The book really does its best job hammering home the lessons therein, by repeating them in the context of different games and situations. Since repetition is an important aspect of pedagogy, at least for most students (who tend to forget, over time, material not repeated at intervals), and since the material is presented in the liveliest manner imaginable, it could scarcely be improved upon as a presentation of basic positional principles (with plenty of tactical analysis interpolated).

    The book concentrates heavily on games involving the Ruy and the Queen's Gambit. Rightly or wrongly, Chernev is of the school advocating meeting 1.e4 with 1.e5, and 1.d4 with 1.d5, especially for students, claiming that this provides them with the richest experience for learning basic opening and middlegame principles. If you already play this way, or are open to doing so, and have at least a mild interest in chess, this book should really light a fire under you.

    There is a table of games by player and another by opening, in the back.
  5. 26 Jan '08 20:41
    “Beating Unusual Openings”

    by Richard Palliser IM

    Everyman Chess ISBN -10: 1-85744 – 429 – 9

    Suggested rating: 1500+



    OK to be fair a 1200 could easily follow the main lines in this book, but it’s clearly aimed at higher rated players or lower rated players willing to put some work in. There are no 1.a4 openings and it rather cheekily suggests that if you need help with the likes of 1.a4 then you need a more introductory book – (thanks mate but I’ve already bought it – maybe you could pop that info on the cover next time!). So what we have is a comprehensive and up to date book (Chessbase Big Database 2006 is credited) showing responses and continuations to everything credible that’s not either 1.e4 or 1.d4.

    Part 1 of the book gives us four chapters on The English - about half the book judging by the thickness of the remaining pages. All the analysis stems from the reply 1…c5 and the chapter headings of this first section on The English are:
    1. White Fianchettoes and plays Nf3
    2. White Fianchettoes without Nf3
    3. The Three Knights Variation
    4. White Plays an Early d4

    It’s worth mentioning the chapter headings because if you were looking for lines other than 1…c5 against the English then they aren’t here, and this seems a reasonable approach, as the idea is to prepare with the minimum study.

    Part 2 of the book is for unusual first moves that are not The English or 1.Nf3 - including 1.g3, The Grob, The Nimzo Larsen, Birds Opening, 1.Nc3 (with the lovely name: Der Linkspringer), and the Sokolsky.

    Part 3 gives us three chapters on dealing with 1.Nf3 - all comprehensive and thorough.

    The is just such a good idea for a book. It’s great for OTB preparation and a good reference to help understand the book moves whilst playing correspondence. You have the option of either glancing through the lines or going into more detail. The layout is clear and well populated with references to games and comments on alternate continuations.

    At first I found one minor irritation as when a continuation splits into a few options e.g. line a), b) or c) etc. the page number for the continuation isn’t given. But it’s easy enough to find the continuation and when you do find it - there’s a useful recap of the game from move 1. at the beginning of the new paragraph - so you don’t have to go backwards and forwards through the pages.

    Although no whole games are annotated (something I would normally want from an openings book) it’s easy enough to look up the references and find the games on the Internet to play through them… and including whole games in such a wide-ranging book wouldn’t be a good use of space.

    Clearly I’m not in a position to contest the author’s analysis, but where I have used the book so far I found it to be user friendly and informative. Given the thoroughness of the research I’d recommend it for higher rated players of any level.

    As a taster here’s an extract from the book. I’ve chosen the beginning of chapter eight on 1.Nc3 partly because, until I read this book, I just assumed that no one played this line and it would therefore be easy to play against….not so:

    START OF EXTRACT FROM THE BOOK:

    1.Nc3
    A much more popular choice in the correspondence world than OTB, although I’m not quite sure why. Perhaps the majority of players remain ignorant that 1. Nc3 is both an independent system and not just a transpositional tool, as well often allowing White early free piece play. This opening has been referred to as the Dunst, the Van Geet and Der Linkspringer (The Knight on The Left), and Black certainly should not neglect it in his preparation unless he wants to join the ranks of miniature victims (particularly in the lines featuring an early …e5: either on move one or after 1.Nc3…d5, 2. e4…dxe4, 3. Nxe4). We will focus on:

    A: 1…d5
    B: 1…c5

    The latter is a common choice with Sicilian players, but not everyone has the Sicilian in their repertoire. Instead, French players should meet 1. Nc3 with 1…e6, when Keilhack suggests that white has nothing better than 2. e4 (or 2.d4…d5, 3. e4). It may also be useful for French players, when reaching their favourite opening via a 1. Nc3 move order to know that Keilhack’s impressive work also covers following up 1. Nc3…d5, 2. e4…e6 with each of 3. Nf3, 3. g3 and 3. f4. Likewise the Caro-Kann player should begin with 1. Nc3…c6, and once again white hasn’t really anything better than 2.e4 (or 2.d4…d5, 3.e4). Just like against the French, Keilhack doesn’t abandon the 1. Nc3 player after 1…c6, 2.e4…d5, but considers in some detail the offbeat systems 3. f4, 3.Qf3, 3.g3 and 3.d3

    Another major defense to 1. e4 is 1…e5, but unfortunately 1. Nc3…e5, 2. Nf3!?...Nc6, 3.d4…exd4, 4. N x d4…Nf6, 5. Bg5 is quite a tricky system.

    END OF EXTRACT

    OK so the above extract is less than half of the info given in the book on the early moves in this line but hopefully it’s enough to give you an idea of the thoroughness of the research. It continues with suggestions for the Ruy Lopez player and the Petroff player etc.. And where he’s not supplying the detail of a continuation there is a reference such as above he refers to Harald Keilhack’s book “Knight on the left” (listed in the bibliography). The use of bold for references to familiar lines - Sicilian, Caro-Kann etc. - makes it easy to dip into.

    So I highly recommend this book… and next time someone plays 1.g4 or 1.b3 or 1.f4……!
  6. 26 Jan '08 22:08
    I personally recommend Winning Chess Tactics by Yasser Seirawan

    How to Reassess Your Chess by Jeremy Silman

    The Amateur's Mind by Jeremy Silman

    and both Middle Game books by Max Euwe.
  7. 26 Jan '08 22:29
    I thought Watson's Secrests of Modern Chess Strategy was an exceptionally insightful book. Although, it's not really meant to teach, it did so anyway for me.
  8. 26 Jan '08 23:38
    Originally posted by tomtom232
    I personally recommend Winning Chess Tactics by Yasser Seirawan

    How to Reassess Your Chess by Jeremy Silman

    The Amateur's Mind by Jeremy Silman

    and both Middle Game books by Max Euwe.
    All well and good that tomtom232 gives those books his personal recommendation, but who is tomtom232 and why do I care what he personally recommends if he can't be bothered to elaborate on why he recommends them, or even what they're about, or who the intended audience is.

    Personally I'm familiar with all of these books, but if a 1200 goes out to buy say RYC or the Middle Game set based upon your unqualified recommendation, he's in for a rude awakening.

    The initial post stipulates that, among the other things you haven't bothered to do here, is have at least read the book you're recommending. This kind of begs the question that if you've managed to plow through such serious works as TAM, RYC, and The Middle Game set, how in God's name are you still struggling at 1600? I know NM Randy Bauer gave credit to a serious study of the Euwe set along with Pachman's Modern Chess Strategy as giving him that needed push to up his Expert rating to his NM title.

    Finally, the recommendation of these 3 strategy heavy weights is at complete odds with your post the other day on how a player needs study nothing but tactics until he hits 2000. As you haven't seen 2000, other than as a date on the calendar, either you were talking out of your @ss that day, had a complete reawakening and plowed through these in a few days, or, more likely, you haven't read them and probably have never even seen these books.

    Of course, that doesn't stop you from polluting what's intended to be a useful thread with worthless name dropping, just to show everyone that tomtom232 has at least heard of a few chess books, even if he's never read them and can't construct a single sentence to describe them.
  9. 26 Jan '08 23:43 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by scandium
    All well and good that tomtom232 gives those books his personal recommendation, but who is tomtom232 and why do I care what he personally recommends if he can't be bothered to elaborate on why he recommends them, or even what they're about, or who the intended audience is.

    Personally I'm familiar with all of these books, but if a 1200 goes out to buy say n if he's never read them and can't construct a single sentence to describe them.
    look at who I have beaten...and I am 1800 in 30min chess on another site I would find a review on them and give the range..but I am too lazy for that...people can take my advice or not it doesn't really matter to me


    EDIT: and all you do need is tactics...but if you want to study other things then these are the books I recommend to do that with
  10. 26 Jan '08 23:50
    Originally posted by tomtom232
    look at who I have beaten...and I am 1800 in 30min chess on another site I would find a review on them and give the range..but I am too lazy for that...people can take my advice or not it doesn't really matter to me
    What advice? All you did is drop a few names of books that are already well known. And that you have to look up the rating range on another site just proves my point that you haven't read them or else you'd know who the intended audience is.

    This isn't a thread for you to show off by dropping names or telling us who you've beaten, I personally don't care and I doubt anyone else does either. This is, or at least it was, intended to be about books people have read and would recommend to others, who'd they'd recommend them to and why.
  11. 26 Jan '08 23:58 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by scandium
    What advice? All you did is drop a few names of books that are already well known. And that you have to look up the rating range on another site just proves my point that you haven't read them or else you'd know who the intended audience is.

    This isn't a thread for you to show off by dropping names or telling us who you've beaten, I personally don't care ...[text shortened]... s people have read and would recommend to others, who'd they'd recommend them to and why.
    No need to attack me...I have read them...I read "How to Reassess Your Chess" when I was a 1200 level player but I don't know if it is really for 1200 level players...I had to go back and reread the book every once in a while until it sunk in. If it makes you happy then I will write up a whole report for each of them.


    I don't like how you just assume things about people over the internet and then attack them for the flaws that you imagine they have. I have been contributing to the chess forums for a while...I have posted some crap and I admit it..but I don't feel welcome here so I will just leave and let you guys flounder in your attempts to improve.
  12. Standard member HomerJSimpson
    Renouned Grob Killer
    27 Jan '08 00:13
    Originally posted by tomtom232
    I personally recommend Winning Chess Tactics by Yasser Seirawan

    How to Reassess Your Chess by Jeremy Silman

    The Amateur's Mind by Jeremy Silman

    and both Middle Game books by Max Euwe.
    Excellent posting
  13. 27 Jan '08 00:13 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by scandium
    All well and good that tomtom232 gives those books his personal recommendation, but who is tomtom232 and why do I care what he personally recommends if he can't be bothered to elaborate on why he recommends them, or even what they're about, or who the intended audience is.

    Personally I'm familiar with all of these books, but if a 1200 goes out to buy say n if he's never read them and can't construct a single sentence to describe them.
    Yes, he didn't explain why and neither did I. If you want a real review, it's easy enough to search Google. Also, if asked (rather than attacked in his case), perhaps we would provide more. Would you have preferred we said nothing at all rather than defy the strict specifications you outlined?
  14. 27 Jan '08 00:15
    Originally posted by HomerJSimpson
    Excellent posting
    Thanks if that isn't sarcasm

    and


    ..... if it is
  15. 27 Jan '08 00:19
    Originally posted by tomtom232
    No need to attack me...I have read them...I "How to Reassess Your Chess" when I was a 1200 level player but I don't know if it is really for 1200 level players...I had to go back and reread the book every once in a while until it sunk in. If it makes you happy then I will write up a whole report for each of them.


    I don't like how you just assume thin ...[text shortened]... el welcome here so I will just leave and let you guys flounder in your attempts to improve.
    You probably wouldn't feel "attacked" if you took that whole 30 seconds to read the topic post before diving in head first with no idea what you're supposedly contributing to, or even if your addition is any kind of contribution.

    Instead you choose to close your eyes and run head long through the forest without a care in the world as to your surroundings, and then you blame gravity when you fall off a cliff. This isn't a flaw, its a habit of yours (and a few others as well) that derails well intentioned threads and turns them into crap.

    Unfortunately, its not you who is out of place here but me because I take it for granted that RHP topics begun (by myself or others) on an interesting premise will remain interesting, and that those who take the time to respond in a thread will at least read what its about before jumping in head first. And that doesn't even begin to include those (I'm not lumping you into this category) who come to this forum for no other reason than to apparently troll it.

    Anyway, its been a blast but enough's enough. For the last couple months I've had enough free time on my hands that it was worth wading through the crap to get to the bit of meat you'd find here and there, but that's changing next week and I've no plans to waste what there is in visiting a forum where too often I get into a discussion like this.