As title above states, what was/were the first "Opening Repertoire" book/s? I remember that opening books of the 1970s and early 1980s weren't actually repertoires for White or Black, but treatises on the various openings and defences. Now the concept of "opening repertoire" is very popular.


1939: White to Play and Win by Weaver Adams. Adams believed that 1.P-K4 (1.e4) wins by force. In this book he presents his recommendations for White against the various Black defenses. For example, against 1...e5 he recommended the Bishop's Opening 2.Bc4. He continued to revise his system and write more books, e.g., he switched from 2.Bc4 to 2.Nc3 in his 1946 book Simple Chess.

  • +1 Ahh, I forgot about him. Very good answer. – PhishMaster Dec 14 '19 at 14:56
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    His favorite was the Vienna Game. – PhishMaster Dec 14 '19 at 19:17

"How to Think Ahead In Chess" by I.A. Horowitz and Fred Reinfeld was published in 1951. For white it covers the Stonewall attack. For black its the Sicilian dragon and the Lasker variation of the Queens gambit declined. An odd combination of openings.


In 1561 Ruy Lopez (pronounced Rue-y Lopeth) de Segura (1530-1580) wrote Libro de la invencion liberal y arte del juego del Axedrez, por Ruy-Lopez de Sigura, clerigo, vezino dela villa Cafra. He wrote the book in response to Damiano's book. It contains 66 games. In 1584, his book was translated into Italian by Gio. Dominico Tarsia and printed at Venice by Cornelius Arrivabene. In 1655, it was translated into French and published at Brussels.


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    Doesn't really answer the question. – user20848 Dec 14 '19 at 20:15
  • @ChessStudent, This book was supposed to offer a deep analysis of the Ruy Lopez. This book is considered to be an opening repertoire book. – Mike Jones Dec 15 '19 at 21:44

This might be the first one: "Opening Repertoire for the Attacking Player" by David Levy and GM Raymond Keene. It was first published in 1976.

Here is another in a similar format: "The Chess Opening for You: A Complete System for White and Black". It was first published in 1975.

  • One was British and not readily available in US. The other would have come after some very basic Reinfeld books if that is what you call an opening repertoire book. I still think the answer to the OP is that the first one wa probably a few hundred years ago but we just don't usually hear about the book as it would have nothing but historical value now. – yobamamama Dec 13 '19 at 22:37
  • Both of those books were readily available here. Both Batsford and RHM books were VERY popular then. I had dozens of them. – PhishMaster Dec 13 '19 at 22:39
  • Maybe where you lived. I had a hard time finding anything on chess. – yobamamama Dec 13 '19 at 22:39
  • Well, I live in the U.S. At my peak, I had 1800 chess books. – PhishMaster Dec 13 '19 at 22:40
  • I lived in the US too. In the 50s I only had a handful of books. And they were hard to find where I lived. If you were in NYC it might have been easier. – yobamamama Dec 13 '19 at 22:42

I recall reading My System by Nimzovich. That must have predated the 1970ish books noted. Assuming repertoire means what it seems to mean otherwise PCO would have been earlier than 1970ish.

It would appear to have been a series of booklets later put into the form of a single book circa 1930s.

I still suspect there were earlier books from Italy and europe.

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    Doesn't really answer the question. – user20848 Dec 14 '19 at 20:15

Practical Chess Openings had openings in the 50s & 60s like Modern Chess Openings had later, and others have now.

I suspect there were some opening books that go back a lot further but they would have been more limited.

I also recall a few, not many, books that specialised in a given opening.

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    "Modern Chess Openings" and "Practical Chess Openings". – PhishMaster Dec 13 '19 at 21:59
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    @yobamamama Those are exactly the books he was not looking for. He is looking for something like the first books that laid out a suggest set of material that you study and memorize. A preset repertoire. – PhishMaster Dec 13 '19 at 22:01
  • And I noted there were others but they were very rare back then. Sorry my memory does not recall every chess book I read 50 some years ago. – yobamamama Dec 13 '19 at 22:02
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    @RewanDemontay, you are welcome. – PhishMaster Dec 13 '19 at 23:07

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