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I am looking for opening books, preferably a series that explain different openings, where the opening is explained with a complete view:

  • strategic plans for main variants,
  • main tactical ideas,
  • usual pawn structures and how to play them (e.g. minority attacks,...),
  • usual endgames derived from the opening ( 2 pieces vs. Rook, ....) and how to play them,
  • if there are, main opening tricks.

I see these points as the things one should learn to master an opening. I don't mind the actual opening that the books explain; but I would prefer a series of books with different openings.

  • Clarify your question please. As it stands now, I assume that you could use Starting Out series. The publisher is Everyman Chess. Best regards. – AlwaysLearningNewStuff Apr 7 '14 at 18:09
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    @AlwaysLearningNewStuff, what clarification do you seek exactly? The OP has provided a substantial list of desired features; if the books in the series you mentioned tend to address include those features, then it seems like that would already be a good answer for you to give. – ETD Apr 7 '14 at 22:14
  • @AlwaysLearningNewStuff From looking at amazon the "inside" it looks like the starting out series fulfilled most of my requirements. Please make your comment and answer. I will wait a bit for other possible answers. – zunbeltz Apr 8 '14 at 10:06
  • @EdDean: Well, condition #4 is unrealistic in my opinion. It would take up too much space for an opening book to explain typical endgames as well, that is why I asked for clarification. This also applies for typical pawn structures. Still, an opening book can give general guidelines for playing them and can mention typical endgames that arise. Best regards. – AlwaysLearningNewStuff Apr 8 '14 at 11:59
  • @EdDean You are right. Explaining how to play the endgames is too much for a book on openings. I am happy if the book mentions the typical endgames. – zunbeltz Apr 10 '14 at 12:33
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I am looking for opening books, preferably a series that explain different openings, where the opening is explained with a complete view:

  • strategic plans for main variants,
  • main tactical ideas,
  • usual pawn structures and how to play them (e.g. minority attacks,...),
  • usual endgames derived from the opening ( 2 pieces vs. Rook, ....) and how to play them,
  • if there are, main opening tricks.

Of all the books I have read, the Starting Out series are the closest thing you can find that matches your conditions.

They give general information about main lines, informing the reader if they are theoretical or if you can get by with playing by general principles.

They also warn if knowledge of the certain pawn structure/typical endgame is required, giving general tips on how to play those, which is good enough to help the reader start to understand the topic, and to provide him with enough details so he can do his own research.

The format of the book is also beginner-friendly as they explain ideas in prose with illustrative games, rather than smothering the reader with reams of analysis.

The series cover lots of openings, and generally have a good critics and readers review.

Hopefully this answer will help you. If you have further questions leave a comment and I will reply.

Best regards and good luck!

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I agree that the "Starting out Series" is excellent.

I also like the "Move by Move" series.

The "Move by Move" series in general cover a larger space of variations than "Starting Out" and are therefore thicker. There also seems to be more descriptive text, but do not have the nice graphic attention grabbers to important points that the "Starting Out" series has.

At a simpler level, a general survey book like Fine's "The Ideas Behind the Chess Openings" or Seirawan's "Winning Chess Openings" is a good thing to have.

You are correct to avoid opening books that are just a list of lines. Even those with good annotations like the "Grandmaster Repertoire" series, do not provide enough connection to the middle and endgame. If you find lots of lines terminating with "and white stands better" or "is equal" without more explaination, move on to another book.

IMO, opening encyclopedias are bad (MCO, ect). For master level players trying to explore new ground, they have been supplanted by databases (and long before that by Chess Informant). For the rest of us there is not enough explanation, not enough answers to why or why not.

Even the best opening book will have gaps. I have not found an opening book that explains why 3.Nf3 and not 3.Nc3 in the Slav. (The answer is that black can transpose to a problematic line for white of the QGA with 3...dxc4)

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Neither the "starting out" nor the "move by move" series are good enough. The only books I know which meet most of the Op's requirements are the "mastering with the read and play method" books by Ponzetto and Berlin, McDonald etc. Another book that does a good job is "how to play the Sicilian defence by Levy". If one reads these books one would really know how to play the openings and would be ready to and able to study databases and reference books easily.

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Going back in time, there's always "The Ideas Behind The Chess Openings" by Reuben Fine. Move sequences change over time, true, but the ideas not so much.

IIRC, Gary Lane tried resurrecting this formula, but I don't remember the book. Ideas Behind The Modern Chess Openings, perhaps?

Also, Bellin and Ponzetto did a "Mastering the ... with the Read and Play Method" series that did that. (In fact, the book "Mastering the Spanish" has no variation names in the chapter titles. Instead the chapters are named for the pawn structures they cover and multiple variations appear in a chapter.) I think Batsford was the original publisher of that line.

Of course the undisputed king and undefeated champion of that approach is "Bronstein On The King's Indian" (David Bronstein) which contains little in the way of variations, instead dealing with things like White's b-knight typically goes to one of these squares, and when it gets there it has one of these intentions. When White plays this move, these are the typical plans and one of these moves is how you counter them. It was always Bronstein's contention that you could not hope to play the King's Indian well by rote; you had to play by understanding.

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