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Top 3 Books to Improve Your Chess Skills

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 5 22

Here are the top 3 chess books that will make you a better chess player. I highly recommend them to any chess players, except the complete beginners (then, it is better to simply play a lot).

Chess: The Complete Self-Tutor by Edward Lasker

When I began chess, a friend of mine who is a really good player told me that this was THE book I had to read. Today, years later, I do agree with him. I learned so much with it...


The Complete Self-Tutor by Edward Lasker

The principle of this book is to make you, the reader, active. To do so, the author, Edward Lasker (one of the best player of his time) is asking you a question about a position and offers you several plausible answers.

You have to analyze the position and choose the correct answer. Each answer you to a different page and if you choose a wrong one, the book will explain why it was wrong and let you go back to the question.

This book is incredible in the sense that it makes you think from the very beginning.  Beware the traps, Edward Lasker will not let you rest on your intuition. Also, this book manages to combine parts where you need to understand the position through principles and without calculating all the lines and parts where you need to calculate precisely without consideration for the principles. This is really important as both are needed in chess.

Finally, this book can be read by players of different levels. Intermediate players will go through it quickly trying to get the essence of it. More advanced players may be interested to read it more thoroughly, for example reading the refutation of wrong moves, etc...

The only problem of this book is that its opening part is a bit outdated. You will probably need a book that covers more in detail the opening(s) you are playing in addition to this book.

Get it at Amazon!

Chess: The Complete Self-Tutor (Algebraic Classics Series)
Amazon Price: $89.56 Buy Now
(price as of Sep 20, 2013)

How to Reassess Your Chess by Jeremy Silman

If you don't know Jeremy Silman, you may have been away from the chess world for too long. This chess writer is a phenomenon, having written several best sellers and having an incredible huge amount of fans and followers.

This book is the one I like best by him and one of the most popular book about chess strategy.

The title is a bit unfortunate in my opinion as this book is not as much about finding out how good or bad you are at chess as teaching you the chess fundamentals. It teaches you how to play real chess.


How to Reassess Your Chess by Jeremy Silman

No firework sacrifices, no opening traps, ... but how to think. What imbalances are in this position? How to use them? In a seemingly quiet position, how do you play? 

There have been several editions of this book, and this is the 4th one. Revised and improved a lot.

Get it at Amazon!

How to Reassess Your Chess, Fourth edition
Amazon Price: $29.95 $17.67 Buy Now
(price as of Sep 20, 2013)

Chess Master vs. Chess Amateur by Max Euwe

As the title indicates, the principle of this book is to analyse some games played between a chess master and a chess amateur. The chess amateur is not a complete beginner and he is not making stupid mistakes like forgetting to move his queen under attack, or not seeing the fork from the opponent's knight. No, the mistakes he is making are more subtle and more about the ones we (non-professional players) are making, without understanding why they are mistakes.


Chess Master vs. Chess Amateur by Max Euwe

This is an old book but it is still both really instructive and enjoyable. Why ? Because not only will you get deep analysis about why some moves are bad (even though they are not immediately losing) but you will also see how a master is taking advantages of these mistakes his opponent is making.

I am also generally more fan of re-playing some games than in reading big theoretical books.

My only regret is that the notation and overall edition of this book is old/outdated. Wished they would come with a new edition of it.

Get it at Amazon

Chess Master vs. Chess Amateur (Dover Chess)
Amazon Price: $14.95 $7.96 Buy Now
(price as of Sep 20, 2013)


There are many more chess books that deserve your attention but these were the 3 books which helped me the most. Hope you will enjoy them as much as I did and I wish you the best for your chess adventure.

Here are more chess articles that may interest you: 



May 19, 2012 9:56am
Thank you for good reviews of these 'Chess Books'
May 19, 2012 12:20pm
You are welcome !
May 19, 2012 11:09pm
Chess is king.
May 20, 2012 3:31pm
Yes, it is!
May 22, 2012 6:58pm
Chess is a game that I have not played in a long time. I appreciate your review of these chess books... and the suggestion to just play if a beginner (which I think i fall under).
May 22, 2012 11:30pm
Thanks for your comment and good luck in your games!
Jun 8, 2012 12:28am
Nice piece of writing. Max Euwe is one of my chess hero's. Well I'm from the Netherlands so that's no surprise. Still I would not recommend this book. Euwe isn't the writer actually. It's an amateur (like me) and it shows. You should go for 'Judgment and Planning in Chess' by Max Euwe. That's ia really a classic. The first two books you mention are also very good.
Jun 8, 2012 12:50am
Thanks for your comment. I actually enjoyed going through these games because of their imbalances and because moves are explained in details. But yes, 'Judgment and Planning in Chess' is also a nice book.
Jun 8, 2012 8:20am
A worthy feature article. Great job.
Jun 8, 2012 9:53am
Jun 9, 2012 5:59pm
Great article, perhaps my chess game will improve, it can't really get much worse!
Jun 10, 2012 1:09am
Thanks for your comment and yes, I think your chess games will improve if you read these books.
Jun 10, 2012 6:57am
Great article. I think I'm going to purchase Edward Lasker's book. Many Thanks for writing.
Jun 10, 2012 7:17am
Thanks, I hope you will enjoy it.
Jun 10, 2012 11:32am
Just finished playing a game of chess with my 9 yr old then found this article. Your article inspired me to study my chess game with one of these books and I'll look for one designed for kids also. Thanks for the read.
Jun 10, 2012 11:36am
Thanks for your comment. There is actually quite a lot of books for kids too but unfortunately, I don't know them.
Jun 23, 2012 5:43am
Great ideas for newbies like me to try out. Gee its not easy to learn at least not for this oldie.
Jun 23, 2012 7:37am
If you are willing to give it a try, it means you are still young enough :)
Jul 9, 2012 9:22pm
sweet article man, have you read "Bobby Fischer teaches chess"? it is a good one too. Thumbs up man!!!
Jul 10, 2012 12:35am
Thanks for the rating and the comment. Isn't "Bobby Fischer teaches chess" the book with checkmates position to solve? It is good to train for checkmates but it lacks other things like strategy (how to improve your position when there is no checkmate possibility), how to develop your pieces at the beginning of a game (opening) etc... Also, Bobby Fischer was a chess genius but I don't think he was patient enough to be a good teacher.
Jul 18, 2012 12:58pm
I like this article It actually Highlighted a couple of books I havent come across yet. personally I'm a fan of Yasser Sierwan's Winning Chess series. You should Check it out.
Jul 19, 2012 1:58am
The Yasser Seirawan's chess series are effectively good books
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