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Subject: Your Favorite Chess Book rss

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Michael Kandrac
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I'm prompted to create this thread because I ordered a used copy on Amazon of "1000 Short Games of Chess" by Irving Chernev. I lost a copy of the book 13 years ago and craved another. It would be the one chess book I would have if I could only have one. For me, playing through games with a book and a chess set has always been a pleasurable way to pass the time.

What book would you choose to own forsaking all others?

Gg

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Todd Redden
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Interesting. I find downloading the practically limitless PGN files available online to be far more useful than books for that purpose. The more games a book has, the less useful commentary usually accompanies the text.

I have so many favorites it would really be hard to pick a single one. Probably the most important for me is CHESS THE EASY WAY by Reuben Fine back in print by ISHI Press. It's less useful now as I long ago absorbed its content and no longer need to refer to it.

I'll cut to the chase, as I could go on endlessly about many books I've loved over the years. My favorite chess book is 40 LESSONS FOR THE CLUB PLAYER by Alexander Kostyev. It was a single source tool I used to raise my playing level quickly when I attended chess club a lot back in my 30s (starting with no rating I achieved an FIDE rating in the 1700 range, and know this book and its application had a lot to do with my progress). The book covers all aspects of what chess players should do, and with good examples.

Okay, I couldn't stop there. I also praise HOW TO REASSESS YOUR CHESS (I read the 3rd edition, but intend to read the newly rewritten 4th edition now also) by Jeremy Silman. It is, however, a more subjective attempt to base move choices on board position, and how to know what needs to be done at any given moment throughout the game.

Lastly (though there are many books about the subject matter) another "favorite" is CHESS ENDINGS: ESSENTIAL KNOWLEDGE by Yuri Averbakh. Many masters say the best way to improve play is to learn the power of each piece, and the best way to do that is to study the game when fewer pieces are left on the board. This book provides just what everyone needs to accomplish that goal.

Anyone who is thinking they want to improve their ability at chess would do well by reading and working through these four books.

Edit - more on the pgn stuff. I run a small application on my iPhone called tChess Pro that loads pgn files for replay (Fritz does the same on my PC). I have dozens of pgns each with hundreds or thousands of games by favorite players (Tal, Fischer), favorite openings (Kings Gambit, Pirc), favorite books like "500 master games of chess", various tournaments, Brilliancies, Minis, etc. I can understand how much you enjoy playing through games from your favorite book as I spend a lot of down time going through games on my phone!
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I don't think it's terribly well-respected among hardcore Chess enthusiasts, but my favorite is "The Tao of Chess" by Peter Kurzdorfer. It's much less in-depth than the other chess books I've perused, merely touching on the general principles and various rules-of-thumb of chess tactics/strategy. A mere one (usually fairly simple) example is provided for each principle, along with an (often trite) attempt to tie the principle into life in general.

Nevertheless, this one book has improved my chess game more than all the others combined, because I find it better to touch briefly on many ideas, rather than focusing at length on a few. The ideas may be underdeveloped, but at least the seeds are planted in my head.

The writing is also a bit more flavorful than the usual dry fare.
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Brad N
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D Beau wrote:
I don't think it's terribly well-respected among hardcore Chess enthusiasts...

That's funny because the book I remember being very helpful to me when i was a kid is probably not respected at all. I'm basically taught entirely from books and just playing and I remember reading "Weapons of Chess" by Bruce Pandolfini. That book opened my eyes to things I had kind of picked up on but didn't really know the names for or even how to describe them properly. It goes through things like backward pawns, bad bishops, bishops of the opposite color, doubled pawns, fianchetto, good knights, isolated pawns, passed pawns, blocked center, etc. It's just a bunch of chess basics and it helped me get a better understanding of the game.

Another fantastic book for me was "How to Win in the Chess Endings." It provides a description of how to win in many situations when you get to just a couple of pieces left on the board. And it provides some pretty basic problems to hammer home the point. This one really helped me understand the strengths and weaknesses of each piece.

I still have both of these books in my bookcase today.
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Gamegrunt wrote:
I'm prompted to create this thread because I ordered a used copy on Amazon of "1000 Short Games of Chess" by Irving Chernev. I lost a copy of the book 13 years ago and craved another. It would be the one chess book I would have if I could only have one. For me, playing through games with a book and a chess set has always been a pleasurable way to pass the time.

What book would you choose to own forsaking all others?

Gg



Well, as for game collections, I'd choose:

1) Bobby Fischer, My 60 Memorable Games, and equally
2) Botvinniik's best 100 Games

Also:
Modern Chess Strategy by Ludek Pachman, and
A Guide to Chess Endings by Euwe/Hooper

Which would cover the gamut of chess books outside of opening tomes, and are more of serious nature. The Chernev book is fun to read on occasion but the games are fairly horrible and often leave one with the thought of "what the hell was that move?"

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Todd Redden
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markgravitygood wrote:

The Chernev book is fun to read on occasion but the games are fairly horrible and often leave one with the thought of "what the hell was that move?"

Don't forget, back in the era when Chernev was writing chess books they didn't have computers to confirm everything as they're all doing now, so some of the annotations may be wrong, in fact. They're still fun to read, but not altogether useful for deep study.

A great contemporary tome of annotated games is INSTRUCTIVE MODERN CHESS MASTERPIECES by Igor Stohl, in which 50 contemporary games are deeply analyzed and annotated in a massive 320 page volume. It is amazing to witness the complexities that arise at that level of play, where every choice is investigated at all important positions of each game. That is probably my favorite current games collection.
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tmredden wrote:
markgravitygood wrote:

The Chernev book is fun to read on occasion but the games are fairly horrible and often leave one with the thought of "what the hell was that move?"

Don't forget, back in the era when Chernev was writing chess books they didn't have computers to confirm everything as they're all doing now, so some of the annotations may be wrong, in fact. They're still fun to read, but not altogether useful for deep study.

A great contemporary tome of annotated games is INSTRUCTIVE MODERN CHESS MASTERPIECES by Igor Stohl, in which 50 contemporary games are deeply analyzed and annotated in a massive 320 page volume. It is amazing to witness the complexities that arise at that level of play, where every choice is investigated at all important positions of each game. That is probably my favorite current games collection.


In most cases, a computer would be overkill. A 1500 player can see the too often obvious blunders in most cases. But, that does not take away the fun. Many of those games were played in Cafes across Europe, if I recall, and probably were recited from memory by a previous source, no doubt innacurately. I look at that book as a sort of "look what bad stuff can happen in this type of position".

I agree about the Stohl book. It's meant as a study and analysis tool, but not really for casual reading, and a great book nonetheless.
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Frank Feldmann
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Overall, the book that probably helped me the most was My System by Aron Nimzovich. I need to buy another copy, in fact, since my copy uses descriptive notation rather than algebraic. Essential Chess Ending Explained Move by Move by Silman was very helpful too. Another big help were some of Silman's article in Chess Life around 1990. Those articles are largely subsumed in How to Reassess Your Chess.
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Nick West
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I have many other books that have taught me more about chess (even though I seem to know so little ) but the question was about which were my favourite chess books - and for that I need some humour!

1. Chess for Tigers by the sadly murdered Simon Webb. Still almost a unique style of chess book. For those that smiled when the first heard the famous Fisher-ism, "I like the moment when I break a man's ego."
http://www.chesscafe.com/text/review512.pdf

2. Rampant Chess. An amusingly annotated collection of game by modern Scottish masters. Those that find they like Geoff Chandler's writing style can find collections of his discontinued chess column via the Chess Edinburgh website (@ http://www.chessedinburgh.co.uk/chandler.php)
http://www.newinchess.com/Rampant_Chess-p-1731.html
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Almost any chess book will be helpful to novice or mid level players (and I'm mid level) if it gets a player to study chess and attempt to improve play.

But its good to match your ability. In general I find that many chess books are simply beyond my chess capability; the variations are too many and too complex for me to follow.

That said, these are my top six chess theory books:

1. Best Lessons of a Chess Coach, Sunil Weermantry. Excellent beginner's middle game theory book.

2. Reassess Your Chess, Jeremy Silman. This is the book to read when you want to go beyond Weeramantry.

3. Storming the Barricades, Larry Christiansen. This is a delightful book of annotated games, with Christiansen's lively attacking style.

4. A Guide to Attacking Chess, Gary Lane. Similar to Christiansen.

5. 1001 Winning Chess Sacrifices and Combinations, Fred Reinfeld. If I could have only one chess book it would be this one, in part for sentimental reasons. Its a classic book of chess problems. Its main fault is the descriptive notation.

6. 1000 Checkmate Combinations, Victor Henkin. This is my most recent find and an utterly fascinating book.

My advice is to find books matched to your playing strength. If you are starting out, get the Weeramantry and the Reinfeld books (or perhaps replace Reinfeld with a similar volume in algebraic notation).
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I haven't looked at my chess books in 30+ years because I've moved on to wargaming, but as a kid I really got a lot out of a thing called Improving Your Chess by Fred Reinfeld. It emphasises fundamental strategic principles and probably helped improve my game more than any other single book.
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Joe Joyce
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The two books I found far and away the most useful were Fred Reinfeld's The Complete Chess Course, 8 chapters (iirc) that covered a lot of ground while keeping things simple. It shows the basic central pawn openings, covers the midgame and basic mating combinations; and Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess, a truly excellent book by a flawed man but brilliant chess player who could think outside the box. Unlike other books, you do not need a chess set to "read" Fischer's book. And it teaches not openings or mating combinations, but tactical skills, essentially teaching you through a series of game situations how to see advantageous combinations of moves. It aims for visualization rather than memorization. I found both books excellent... well, essentially, they ere the 2 books that taught me the basics of chess. After that, you just have to play a lot. And given a choice of playing people better than you, or worse than you, pick the better players. You learn more from better players.
http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Chess-Course-Fred-Reinfeld/dp...
http://www.chess.com/eq/chess+books/bobby-fischer-teaches-ch...
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Julie Buse
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Anything by GM Lev Alburt like the his books from the Comprehensive Chess Course Series. The Complete IDIOT'S Guild to Chess by Patrick Wolff and Chess For Dummies by James Eade are good.
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Peter Mumford
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Athena60_98 wrote:
Anything by GM Lev Alburt like the his books from the Comprehensive Chess Course Series..

I agree on the Lev Alburt series. They are good and they also have one overwhelming advantage over Reinfeld's and other classic books: they are written in algebraic notation, which is easier to visualize than the old descriptive notation.
 
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The Grinch wrote:
I haven't looked at my chess books in 30+ years because I've moved on to wargaming...



Is Chess not the ultimate wargame?

Rhetorical Question.

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Michael Kandrac
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markgravitygood wrote:
The Grinch wrote:
I haven't looked at my chess books in 30+ years because I've moved on to wargaming...



Is Chess not the ultimate wargame?

Rhetorical Question.



Careful, you'll have the Gofers descending upon this thread with righteous ire!

Gg
 
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Maréchal de Camp
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All written by Bent Larsen.He wrote a lot of small tutorial books covering most aspects of the game. I learned a lot from these.
 
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