I am thinking about getting my first chess book. After making a bit of research, people recommend to not worry about opening and endings and start with a primer on general strategy. That description lead me to a book called "Logical chess: Move by move" by Irving Chernev, I was wondering if this is an appropriate book for this matter, or is there a must-own bible for the beginner that I missed.

For more information about my level, I pretty much just played chess online for a couple of months, and I would like to get a bit more serious, and start improving my game by doing more than just playing.

Edit: Following the advice of Mark Goodwin, here comes my best game, according to Stockfish

[FEN ""]

1. d4 e6 2. e4 Bb4+ 3. c3 Be7 4. Nf3 Nc6
5. Be2 h6 6. O-O d6 7. Be3 a6 8. c4 Bd7
9. d5 Ne5 10. Nxe5 dxe5 11. Nc3 Nf6 12. Rb1 O-O
13. Qc2 c6 14. Rbd1 cxd5 15. cxd5 exd5 16. Nxd5 Nxd5
17. Rxd5 Rc8 18. Qd2 Bc6 19. Rxd8 Rfxd8 20. Qa5 f6
21. Bb6 Rd7 22. Bg4

I didn't meant to 12. Rb1, was a mouse slip, although I wanted to do Rc1 which, according to Stockfish again, isn't much better.

  • My first book was Modern Chess Strategy by Ludek Pachman. And I don't regret that.
    – hoacin
    Commented Jan 6, 2017 at 19:03
  • 1
    Take a look at this question.
    – Glorfindel
    Commented Jan 6, 2017 at 19:54
  • 2
    Yes, that book by Irving Chernev is very good. Also consider the "Steps method" (several volumes that build on each other) by Rob Brunia and Cor van Wijgerden (originally published in Dutch).
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Jan 6, 2017 at 20:53
  • Might be better to put your game in a separate question not to conflate things. That said a quick look by this ~1850 player and that's a very impressive game for a "beginner"! I expect to see pieces dropped for nothing when I see beginners play, instead I see a good understanding of the importance of the centre in the opening, nice development, and evidence of understanding tactical themes like pins and skewers. Even a hint of understanding a dark square weakness - Good stuff!
    – Ian Bush
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 10:11
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    I have been doing some tactic puzzles in Lichess.org, however anything dark square weakness-related must be a coincidence, since that is not something that I have considered yet.
    – Smurf
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 14:28

8 Answers 8


You might want to post your best game here (cut and paste the pgn is sufficient). There are many different stages of 'beginner' in chess.

Anyways, what I suggest you do is to:

1) Keep playing every day. Experience is king.

2) Learn basic opening principles - you do not want to get caught out with your king in the centre, your pieces sitting on the first rank, or your rooks dusting off in the corners.

3) learn all the basic mating patterns - what good is being up two pieces if you cannot finish him off?

4) Do chess tactics daily, without fail - chess24 has a pretty good chess tactics trainer and it adjusts to your level. You will lose games because of tactics more than anything else. You will win all your games because of tactics. I've been playing since 1973, and to this day, I do tactics every day.

5) record and review all your games (if you are playing online you are all set - all servers record the game for you), and maybe once a week or as frequently as you see fit, review your losses and understand where you went wrong. Make some friends online on your chess server with people who are better than you and ask them to review some of the games with you. This is the most single valuable thing you can do to improve your game.

6) Ignore all opening advice and play what you like. If you fail in the opening, understand why and fix it (books, better players, online resources, chess engines, etc.) If you really want to develop your chess openings at such a nubile stage, then Chessable is a good place to start and it's free, but unnecessary.

7) acquire a basic chess strategy book - someone mentioned Ludek Pachman's book but that might be too advanced, I think. You may grow into it, however. Jeremy Silman's Imbalances book(s) are popular. There are many.

8) Lastly mentioned, but not lastly important, learn the basic endgames necessary.

Good Luck and Good Chess!


A first book should give you a very broad understanding. While some books that cover specific areas (like tactics books) might be excellent 2nd or 3rd books, they don't cover the entire game. Other books (like Chernev's) give great examples but don't explain the fundamentals of getting there. That would be like getting a collection of brilliantly solved math problems but no explanation of how to add and subtract.

My recommendation would be Learn Chess: A Complete Course by C. H. O'D. Alexander. I admit the book may be hard to read because of its tedious British style but it literally takes you from how the pieces move to some fairly advanced middle-game concepts that I rarely see covered outside of books that are aimed from the 2000+ crowd. If you read that book and play through it I have no doubt you will be an above average player and win more games than you lose.

If you don't like that recommendation, at least look at books that cover the entire game at a very basic level. I'll add the Chessmaster software series is very good too.


Consider the following classic: Capablanca, "Chess fundamentals", 1921. Look for the algebraic edition, to not lose time learning two different notation systems. But if you wish, the effort pay, because some times you will find old books in descriptive notation.

The book covers the stages of the game (opening, middle and ending) and gives advice of strategy, using games.

Also, "A Primer of Chess" by the same author (José R. Capablanca) cover the sames games stages, and start in a more simple fashion, explaining the moves of every piece.


Although "Logical chess: Move by move" by Irving Chernev is a fantastic book, and that may, indeed, be a great place to start, I am not sure that there is any one book that you can get by with.

If I were to name one book, and only one book, it would be "1001 Winning Chess Sacrifices and Combinations, 21st Century Edition" by Fred Reinfeld.

Most chess games between weak players are decided by who drops the last piece, and this book would help you win more material, and thus, win more games.

That said, I actually recommend starting with its companion volume, "1001 Brilliant Ways to Checkmate" instead. I picked the ""1001 Winning Chess Sacrifices and Combinations" over this book only because the positions occur more often in games than cool checkmates. That said, this is an easier book to start learning combinations with.

I recommend doing 50 per day, spending no more than two minutes per move on each problem. In pencil, write down next to the problem how easy you found it on a scale of 1-5 because you will do these books multiple times. That immersion method has worked very well for me. I took a friend, who was about 38 at the time, from 1000 to 1850 on ICC in three months following this method.


There are four categories of chess books. Many books fall into several of these categories of course.

  1. Tactics
  2. Middlegame strategy
  3. Annotated games collections
  4. Openings

Tactics are the most essential, and give the most bang for the buck. There are plenty to choose from. I like the classic 1001 Winning Chess Sacrifices and Combinations by Fred Reinfeld. Victor Henkin's 1000 Checkmate Combinations is an excellent less well known book by a Russian author.

Middlegame books are extremely useful to understand strategy and positional theory. My two favorites are Jeremy Silman's Reassess Your Chess, and Sunil Weeramantry's Best Lessons of a Chess Coach. Weeramantry's book is lighter than the Silman book.

I enjoy annotated game collections. For example, Larry Christiansen's Storming the Barricades is a wonderful read, and the games are fun to play through. Likewise, Gary Lane's How to Attack in Chess is awesome. Some books, such as Garry Kasparov's My Great Predecessors series, are too complex for me to follow, with too many variations and too much analysis. You do have to find books at your level.

I find opening books helpful if I find myself stuck playing the same sorts of games. For example, for years I found it much easier to play in the center than from the wings. I decided I needed to learn some fianchetto openings. I remember thinking "What is the point of the Pirc anyway"? "How does it even work"? So I bought Lev Alburt's book Pirc Alert. I read some of it, and started 30 or so games as black to practice it. Eventually I realized why the opening "works", and I started winning some games with it. However, the many games I lost taught me more about the opening than the book did. But the Alburt book got me started. It definitely expanded my chess repertoire. I don't really need to work through all of the Pirc book. I do take it off the shelf now and then. When studying openings you can get stuck in a mode of trying to memorize moves. That's no substitute for actual tactics and strategy.


1)Judgment and Planning in Chess by Max Euwe

2)The Chess Player's Battle Manual by Nigel Davies

The above books would be fantastic if you can read chess notation


I can vouch for the Chernev book. It literally has at least some explanation for every move, which I have found quite enlightening.

Along the same lines, I can recommend these books:

The Amateur's Mind: Turning Chess Misconceptions Into Chess Mastery, by Jeremy Silman. A variation on Logical Chess, Silman's book describes how he trains players to tell him what they are thinking as they make their moves. He does so not only for beginners but for players up through the expert level. This may not be something you do for the rest of your chess career, but it would be very helpful for you to study a few of your games by writing down or audio recording what you were thinking. It yields amazing insights.

The Improving Chess Thinker: Revised and Expanded, by Dan Heisman. This book is also divided up by player level and also focuses on the thought process behind one's moves. I really like how Dan Heisman emphasizes finding and fixing flaws in chess thinking. For example, it may be that a player gets away with a mistake in a game and rationalizes it as a great move. But if the thinking behind the move was flawed, that error is bound to catch up with him in a future game.

Play Winning Chess, by Yasser Seirawan. Rather than explain every move, this book focuses on learning chess principles of space, material, time, and so on.

Welcome to chess - it is a fantastic game!


I'm suprised nobody mentioned "Bobby Fisher teaches CHESS" $7 new. This is a paperback that is a progressive self-paced step-by-step book that won't leave any big holes in the basics. I suggest build pattern recognition with Susan Polgar and Dan Heisman. There is a free download at the Polgar foundation website-helpful training tools. Shredderchess has free tactics--there app is $7 works fine--allows position setup & analysis--you said beginner and book--suggestions from an experienced coach..best to you..When you play SLOW DOWN all novice players move to fast.

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