Wooden chessboard with white and black chess pieces arranged. Nearby lies stack of thick multi-colored books.

The Best Chess Books for Beginners: Build Your Foundation and Improve Your Skills

Beginner By Mar 23, 2023 22 Comments

Chess may seem intimidating to beginners, but there are many great resources available that can help new players get started and improve their skills. One of the best ways to learn about chess is by reading books.

There are countless chess books on the market, but not all of them are created equal. Some are geared toward advanced players, while others may not provide enough information for beginners. In this article, we will take a look at some of the best chess books for beginners, designed to help new players learn the game, understand its principles, and develop their skills.

Thoughtful six years old chess player

“Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess” by Bobby Fischer and Stuart Margulies

The book was first published in 1966 and has since become a classic guide for beginners and intermediate players seeking to improve their chess skills.

The book is structured as a series of lessons, with Fischer teaching how to play chess and sharing his insights and strategies along the way. The lessons progress from the basics of chess, such as how the pieces move, castling, pawn promotion, capturing En Passant, and the rules of the game, to more advanced topics like tactics.

The book is divided into eight parts, each focusing on a different aspect of the game.

Introduction: How to Play Chess

Chapter:

  • Elements of Checkmate
  • The Back-Rank Mates
  • Back-Rank Defenses and Variations
  • Displacing Defenders
  • Attacks on the Enemy Pawn Cover
  • Final Review

One of the unique features of “Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess” is the use of diagrammed chess positions throughout the book. This allows the reader to visualize the moves and strategies being discussed and makes the book more accessible for visual learners.

Fischer’s teaching style is direct and practical. He emphasizes the importance of understanding the underlying principles of chess, rather than simply memorizing specific moves. He also stresses the value of analyzing one’s own games to identify mistakes and areas for improvement.

Throughout the book, Fischer shares personal anecdotes and insights into his own thought process when playing chess. He also provides commentary on famous games from chess history, offering valuable lessons for readers looking to improve their own game.

Overall, “Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess” is a timeless classic that remains relevant and useful for chess players of all levels. Fischer’s direct and practical teaching style, combined with Margulies’ experience as a chess teacher, make this book an invaluable resource for anyone looking to improve their chess skills.

About the Autor:

Bobby Fischer is a legendary American chess player. He became the first American to win the World Chess Championship, defeating Boris Spassky.

“Chess for Kids” by Michael Basman and Mary Ling

“Chess for Kids” by Michael Basman and Mary Ling is an introductory guide to chess aimed at children aged 7 and older. The book is designed to be easy to read, with large and lots of colorful illustrations, and provides a fun and engaging introduction to the game of chess.

This is an excellent resource for children who aspire to become chess masters. It provides comprehensive guidance on the various tactics and strategies that can be utilized to enhance their game, as well as offering insights into the rich history of chess and the most accomplished players in the sport.

This book is an excellent introduction to chess, suitable for young people who are developing an interest in the game. Despite the title “for Kids”, it’s appropriate for all beginner-level chess players. The writing is easy to understand and not condescending.

The book is well-structured, starting with a basic overview of the game and then progressing to explain the function of each piece, the rules, and finally, the strategy. There are interactive exercises and teaching games that go beyond simple question-and-answer problems. These activities help beginners get a feel for the game before playing full-length games. Chess notation and rules are introduced in a natural and simple way, without requiring students to memorize complicated jargon before playing.

The book features short and clear text passages accompanied by colorful photos and diagrams that illustrate board positions and piece moves. While the diagrams may sometimes be confusing to students with no prior knowledge, they are generally well done. The book also includes sidebars with interesting explanations and chess trivia.

Overall, this book is an engaging and helpful introduction to chess that will take beginners from knowing nothing to being able to play effectively and appreciate the strategy. It’s suitable for independent study by students with moderate reading skills, but having an experienced instructor would be beneficial. For students who are ready to learn standard openings and more advanced strategies, a more advanced book would be necessary.

“Chess for Kids” is an excellent introduction to the game of chess for children. It is engaging, accessible, and well-designed, and provides a solid foundation for children who want to learn and improve their skills. This book is a great resource for parents and educators who want to introduce children to the fascinating world of chess.

“Winning Chess Strategy for Kids” by Jeff Coakley

The book starts from the very beginning by explaining the fundamental rules, basic checkmates, and simple tactics. It gradually progresses toward more advanced strategies such as developing pieces, analyzing pawn structures, and launching attacks on the opponent’s king.

In easy-to-understand language, the book covers various aspects of chess including opening principles, middle-game plans, and endgame techniques. Additionally, there are dedicated chapters on combinations and chess terminology to help the reader gain a comprehensive understanding of the game.

This resource is not limited to children but is also highly beneficial for individuals seeking to enhance their knowledge and skills in chess. Through this book, one can gain valuable insights on how to improve and play more effectively. This book offers valuable information and techniques to help you improve your game. Personally, I have found it to be highly informative and educational.

About the Autor:

Jeff Coakley is a prominent Canadian chess expert who is highly regarded as a coach. He has dedicated the past 15 years to imparting his knowledge and skills to young chess enthusiasts in Toronto, Halifax, and through online platforms. His teaching expertise has helped numerous students achieve national championship titles.

“How to Beat Your Dad at Chess” by Murray Chandler

This book focuses on mating patterns and emphasizes the importance of internalizing them to improve your gameplay. The book provides clear examples and explanations that are broken down into easily understandable steps, making it simple to comprehend even without using a chessboard to set up positions. Many coaches recommended this book because this book present learning in a straightforward, humorous, and easy-to-digest manner. The printing and diagrams are also well executed, making them easy to understand at a glance.

This book is not intended for children who are just starting to learn the game, but rather for someone who already knows the basics. This book focuses on improving attacking skills and avoiding common checkmate traps. I would give this book a five-star rating because it presents its ideas clearly and concisely, with just the right number of examples to illustrate each concept in real-game situations. The book also includes a helpful test at the end to reinforce the ideas presented. Overall, I believe that this book will not only make me a better chess player but also a more strategic and effective attacker.

“Chess 101 – Everything a New Chess Player Needs to Know” by Dave Schloss 

This book is a great introduction to the game’s rules, etiquette, chess notation, and everything you would need to know to get started. It’s probably the first book about chess that you should read! This book is an excellent resource for those who are new to chess or for those who are looking to refresh their knowledge of the game. I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in learning how to play chess or who hasn’t played the game in quite some time.

In case you are a beginner chess player seeking basic openings and middle tactics, you might have to search for them somewhere else.

“A World Champion’s Guide to Chess” by Susan Polgar, Paul Truong

Susan Polgar’s explanation of the game’s fundamentals and various strategies is highly lucid. Each chapter concludes with puzzles, and their solutions and explanations become increasingly intricate as the puzzles progress. Rather than immediately jumping into opening game strategies, Polgar initiates the lessons by helping the student become accustomed to identifying patterns on the chessboard, which will serve as an aid in the later stages of learning.

The book contains the following:

  • The basic rules of chess and how each piece moves, with accompanying exercises.
  • An extensive collection of chess tactics, also accompanied by exercises for practice.
  • A wide variety of checkmates in one, two, and three moves for the reader to practice.

In my opinion, these exercises could be challenging for players under 1000, while they may be too easy for players above 1400.

About the author:

Susan Polgar is a highly decorated and accomplished chess player, having won four Women’s World Championships and being recognized as the top-ranked woman chess player in the United States. Her incredible talents were evident at an early age, as she rose to become the world’s number one female player at just 15 years old and remained in the top three for over two decades.

In addition to her impressive playing career, Susan has also made a name for herself as an outstanding coach. She was honored with the U.S. Coach of the Year Award in 2013 and the Chess Trainer of the Year Award by the International Chess Federation (FIDE) in 2014, making her the first person to receive both honors. Under her coaching, the SPICE chess teams at both Texas Tech University and Webster University have achieved an exceptional five consecutive national collegiate titles.

“Beginning Chess: Over 300 Elementary Problems for Players New to the Game” by Bruce Pandolfini

Within this book, there is a collection of 300 tactical puzzles that are simple in nature. Each puzzle’s solution requires only one move. In almost all cases, there is only one correct solution, which is provided in a separate solution section. The solutions are paired with the name of the tactic utilized, as well as a brief verbal explanation of the scenario.

All of the puzzles feature less than ten pieces on the board. This is especially helpful for those who are new to the game, as it allows them to concentrate on the main idea without being bogged down by extraneous details.

About the Author:

Bruce Pandolfini is a highly respected and sought-after chess instructor, renowned for his extensive knowledge and expertise in the game. He is also widely recognized as one of the most prolific and widely read chess writers in the world today.

His first foray into the public eye was as an analyst for PBS’s coverage of the legendary 1972 chess match between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky. Since then, he has cemented his reputation as an esteemed coach, including mentoring the chess prodigy Josh Waitzkin, whose story was depicted in the acclaimed book and film, Searching for Bobby Fischer.

It’s interesting to note that Bruce Pandolfini was a part of the production team for the Netflix series “The Queen’s Gambit.”

“Chess For Dummies” by James Eade

Chess For Dummies is the ultimate resource for those who are new to the game of chess. This comprehensive guide offers beginners a clear understanding of the rules, terminology, and strategy needed to excel in the game.

Whether you’re playing online, in a tournament, or across the dining room table with friends and family, Chess For Dummies provides all the information you need to succeed. From understanding the laws of chess to learning the art of the attack, this hands-on guide walks you through each phase of the game, from the opening to the endgame.

Additionally, this guide helps you familiarize yourself with the chessboard, pieces, and terminology. You’ll also discover tips on selecting the perfect chess set and board for your needs. With Chess For Dummies, you’ll gain a clear understanding of each chess piece and its unique abilities, enabling you to put the principles of play into action and sharpen your skills in no time.

“The Steps Method” by Rob Brunia and Cor van Wijgerden

The Steps Method is a comprehensive beginner’s chess program that includes six training manuals and 20 workbooks. Developed by two Dutch chess teachers, the course has been primarily used to teach children in Europe but is gaining popularity worldwide.

With a total of 27 books available in the course, 26 have been translated into English. The Steps Method follows a step-by-step approach that builds upon previously mastered material, ensuring that each level of chess learning is solidified before moving on to the next.

The program emphasizes the importance of mastery in each lesson, urging teachers not to progress until students can regularly apply the material learned in their games. Overall, The Steps Method provides a thorough and effective way for beginners to learn and master the game of chess.

Author

Hi there, I'm Sabina, a passionate chess player and author. I've been playing chess for over a decade and have participated in several national and international tournaments. As a woman who loves chess, I feel it's important to encourage and support other women who are interested in the game. That's why I love to write articles that focus on topics such as chess strategy, tactics, and psychology, as well as on the challenges and opportunities of being a female chess player. When I'm not playing chess or writing, I enjoy hiking, cooking, and spending time with my family. I'm excited to share my knowledge and experience with you, and I hope to inspire more women to get involved in the chess community.

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