I have read a number of chess books by now, which either contained a number of analyzed games, or some tactics. But I am a little underwhelmed with completeness. What I am hoping exists is a really complete book that contains a bit of everything. I am reading silmans A-Z, which gets kind of close. But coming from academia I'm thinking of something more similar to a 2000pg textbook format, which after reading will have provided a relatively complete understanding many chess concepts.

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    Can you mention a few examples of 2000-page academic textbooks that provide a "relatively complete understanding" of a whole field?
    – kamekura
    Commented Apr 14, 2021 at 14:32

3 Answers 3


The Steps Method is a graduated series of books that attempts to provide all material necessary to take a player from complete beginner to expert. I have not used it but it has a strong reputation.

To proceed past that, the best thing I can think of is Yusupov's 9-book course (Build Up Your Chess et al), which is around 2700 pages in total and attempts to take a player from about 1500 FIDE to master. I am a bit more than halfway through and give it a great deal of credit for my rise from 1800 to 2000 USCF.

Of course, either (or both) of these series must be supplemented by actually playing games.


I found The Mammoth Book of Chess to be a good all round book, if you're going to only buy one, it pretty much covers everything. It has a Tactics section with easy/hard/medium, endgames tactics section, openings overviews with example games separated into open/semiopen/closed openings, mid game and end game strategies sections, and I think a history section and a computing section. You can get a second hand one quite easily.


Chess has had more books written about it than any other topic except the Bible. It is a highly complex game and volumes have been written on just a single topic, so I think expecting one book to provide a complete examination of all concepts is probably unrealistic.

Having said that I can also tell you that you are on the right track reading Jeremy Silman's books because he is superb at explaining ideas with clarity. Few authors have this ability. Check out his endgame manual.

Of course, Bruce Pandolfini is also known as a good teacher.

Also, I have read many books and can recommend a few. Aron Nimzovich's "My System" offers many useful ideas. Nimzovich invented many of the terms still used today to describe various important principles.

Next, V. Vucovic's " The Art of Attack in Chess" is a unique guide to learning how to spot and exploit weaknesses on the board so that you may understand why a move is good or bad.

Alexander Kotov and Paul Keres have a definitive book with " The Art of the Middle Game". It is one of a kind!

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