Suggestions about books to read

Chess Asked by g3k0 on January 6, 2022

I am a beginner player and I am studying the game on some classical books: I began with "A primer of chess" by Capablanca. I would like to continue with these 3 books:

  • "Chess Fundamentals" (Capablanca)
  • "My System" (Nimzowitsch)
  • "Hypermodern chess" (Alekhine)

In which order would you suggest to study these books? Could you also suggest to me something else to study?

2 Answers

There are so many definitions of “beginner” :-) So i can only try some general advices.

Beginners should start with tactics and easy endgames. In Europe, the Stappen method is quite popular and has a lot of materials for beginners and intermediates, but any book with explanation of tactical motives and a LOT of examples will serve. An app with chess puzzles is also a good idea. For endgames, i heard a lot of recommendations of Silman’s Complete Endgame Course. If you can read german, Bernd Rosen “Fit am Endspiel” is a very good start. Some beginners regard the endgame as dull, but it is where you learn about the very nature of your pieces. Serious work at those points will bring you to 1400–1600.

In strategy, “Mein System” is the basis of positional thinking. I also recommend Jeremy Silman “How to reassess your chess“.

The classic books have a lot of value. But you should be aware that chess has evolved since. Some opening systems that have been favorits for Alekhine or Capablanca are considered faulty today. Get the ideas of the game, enjoy their beauty, but always remember: they might be wrong.

With understanding strategy, you might reach 2000.

To improve further, you will have to deal with openings. It really is not necessary to do it earlier. Don’t bother with books. Look at some good videos. I learned a lot at chess24, and there will be others.

Answered by Christian H. Kuhn on January 6, 2022

Capa's books are very good for your level especially the one you mentioned.

My System is probably too advanced for where you're at. It's a great book but probably better for someone around 1800. Beginners should focus on not making huge tactical mistakes. Positional play like My System teaches you how to plan what to do when you can play a game without making huge mistakes.

I don't know the other one but judging by the title I would say it's way too advanced. You won't be able to understand hypermodern chess until you have a crystal clear understanding of classical centers. Few players below 1800 have any clue what they're doing in the center.

As far what I would recommend-

I really like the book Learn Chess: A Complete Course by C. H. O'D. Alexander. I admit the book can be a little hard to read but it covers every aspect of the game and includes hundreds of tactical puzzles. The chapters on attacking are the best I've seen outside of Vukovic and are targeted towards beginner players.

Silman's Complete Endgame Course: Yes, it's an endgame book but you will learn exactly what you need to know for the level you're at. Endgames are also good for beginners because you break the game down into smaller parts and learn to use the pieces individually.

How to Play Good Opening Moves by Mednis- The book is small but i promise you you can reach 2000 without knowing anything more about the opening than what's in that book. Center, development, king safety. That's all you need to know.

Any tactics book. If you do tactics problems you will get better. Probably the book that will give you the most "bang for your buck" is How to Beat Your Dad at Chess. The tactics are common and the section on facing a strong opponent is good advice.

I'll add one more and that's Rapid Chess Improvement by de la Maza. You can buy the book if you want but the book was based on a couple of articles written by de la maza which are still freely available on the internet (search 400 points in 400 days .pdf etc) Most of the rest of the actual book is testimonials and maybe a little elaboration in some areas. Basically, de la Maza argues that you need to study tactics and develop an effective thinking process to improve from beginner to intermediate. You won't find a strong player anywhere who disagrees with that even if they don't like de la Maza.

Answered by Savage47 on January 6, 2022

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