Dan Heisman has written a chess column called Novice Nook on ChessCafe.com for 10 years. He has taken material from his internet column, revised, expanded, added and published the book, A Guide to Chess Improvement The Best of Novice Nook. Everyman Chess published the 381 page book in 2010.

Dan Heisman

Dan Heisman is a United States Chess Federation, USCF, National Master, and a Candidate Master in the International Chess Federation, FIDE. He is a chess teacher who published several chess videos and books in addition to writing the Novice Nook articles.

Wooden chess pieces.Credit: Anthony Appleyard

A Guide to Chess Improvement. The Best of Novice Nook


A Guide to Chess Improvement by Dan Heisman is a book for  players to develop their chess skills. It isn’t a book filled with chess games and annotations. Much of the book is practical considerations of tournament play, and general advice on specific game aspects. It is a book that gives these suggestions and recommendations in text. The text based chapters give practical advice on tournament and match play. Heisman covers such topics as using time properly, not moving too fast, and concepts of playing the game that don’t involve chess moves directly.

It does have position diagrams for problems, and some chapters have game sections to illustrate an idea. Heisman uses game scores in chapters like Strategy and Positional Play. Some chapters make use of diagrams for quizzes.

The book is divided into nine chapters. General Improvement, Thought Process, Time Management, Skills and Psychology, Tactics and Safety, Openings, Endgames and Technique, Strategy and Positional Play, and Shorter Lesson Material. Each chapter is divided into subsections. The first part of the book is mostly text.

In the General Improvement chapter, Heisman lists several books. He graduates them for beginners to the more advanced players. These books cover all the game phases starting with the opening through the middlegame to the endgame.

The chapters, Tactics and Safety, Openings, Endgames and Technique, Strategy and Positional Play, and Shorter Lesson Material use chess diagrams and notation.

This is a good book for novice up to strong intermediate players. It is a book instructors and coaches could use as a guide to improve their student’s game. Instructors can coordinate the books mentioned in the General Improvement chapter with their own recommendations. They can use it as a basic lesson plan to help their students improve. It’s a worthwhile book that players can use for reference, and beneficial to reread sections from time to time. It’s a chess book one can read and benefit from without taking out a set.