I will introduce my request by saying that up until fairly recently I was completely oblivious to chess despite practicing as a kid, I have a clear understanding of the FIDE rules but that's about it.

Though being an advanced player in similar disciplines I understand the concepts of opening theory, endgame, evaluation of position, albeit not in a chess context.

What are the best books of reference on:

(A) General Theory: or ways to think about chess beyond the rules themselves, having heard terms such as scope, dynamics, positional judgement, the importance of the center, pawn structures, etc.

(B) Calculation in chess: a description of the thought process, methods for improving

Thank you!


Chess principles:

  • Aron Nimzowitsch's My System [Essential. Good for beginners as well]
  • School of Chess Excellence series 3 - Strategic Play by Mark Dvoretsky. [Intermediate level]
  • Grandmaster Preparation - Strategic Play by Jacob Aagaard [Advanced. Aagard's books have tough puzzles which will be very hard for Beginners.]

Pawn Structures: [You can read the theory and games to understand the principles. Not very technical, so should be equally understanable by Beginners. At the same time, intermediate/advanced level player will be better able to participate with the book using analysis.]

  • Winning Chess Middlegame by Sokolov
  • Winning Pawn Structures by Alexander Baburin


  • Think like a Grand Master - Kotov [Good for all levels. But beginners will find the technical parts difficult]
  • Secrets of Chess Training by Mark Dvoretsky. [Advanced. dot. A difficult book since it dwells on analysis and getting better at the technical aspects]

  • Other authors: Jeremy Silman, Andrew Soltis (The Inner Game of Chess?) [I have all the above books in my library, and have read them in parts at least, but I don't have the books of Soltis and Silman. Never read them, But I heard good feedback about them. Worth a try, I guess.]

  • Great books, but a pretty crazy schedule for a beginner. "Strategic Play" was my gift to a IM who is close to his final GM norm. For Dvoretzky's stuff one should be beyond Elo 2000 (as I know from painful experience). – BlindKungFuMaster Feb 3 '16 at 8:36
  • Indeed, Let me add the levels next to my suggestion to make it easy for him. – Arun J Feb 3 '16 at 9:04

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