I'm a highschool student and want to play chess seriously. A friend of mine taught me the basic rules of the game. What book should I refer to to begin learning chess?

I tried Capablanca's Chess Fundamentals but got stuck in the first chapter due to notations, I did not quite understand what 1K-K7 and things like those meant.

I'd love if you could give me an ordered list of books I can read :)

4 Answers 4


Learn Chess by John Nunn. A highly respected chess author. Do not be put off by the title!

Silman's Complete Endgame Course by Jeremy Silman. A modern classic, improvement in the endgame will improve your whole game, I should recommend studying up to the Part Five then saving the rest for later.

Tactics Time! by Tim Brennan and Anthea Carson. Tactics is an essential part of chess improvement.

How to Reassess Your Chess by Jeremy Silman. A challenging book but a good study of it will leave a permanent mark on you.

I believe that intense study of these four books will yield very good results for you. I recommend studying them in the order

  1. Learn Chess
  2. Tactics Time!
  3. Silman's Endgame Course
  4. How to Reassess Your Chess

The most important thing to do is to keep playing, once you have studied these books and feel that your level of play is better, check out Dan Heisman's Book Recommendations for further reference

Edit: Post RemcoGerlich's comment I have decided to change Build up Your Chess 1: The Fundamentals to How to Reassess your Chess as I realized that the Yusupov book is actually quite challenging and less approachable than Silman's. Although it should still be recommended for when your level of play is higher.

  • Build Up is way over a beginner's level. Sep 3, 2014 at 12:30
  • Noted and addressed
    – sco-ish
    Sep 3, 2014 at 13:07
  • what is your opinion on this book: amazon.com/Logical-Chess-Every-Explained-Algebraic/dp/… ?
    – amphibient
    Jan 30, 2015 at 17:30
  • I agree with GM Nunn's opinion that Chernev can be dogmatic and can oversimplify the situation too much but overall it is a good book, but I believe that there are better ones that are more relevant to modern chess like John Nunn's own grandmaster collection books such as Grandmaster Chess move by move and Understanding chess move by move.
    – sco-ish
    Jan 31, 2015 at 14:42
  • Reassess Your Chess is also way over a beginner's level. Aug 6, 2015 at 20:40

The best way to improve in chess is to play serious, slow games, and to read books that have a lot of exercises at the right level. Books without exercises tend to give the feeling that you learned to lot, but turn out not to change much in the choice you actually make behind the board.

Chess Steps is a training method that was developed by Dutch masters and coaches Brunia and Van Wijgerden, that starts at absolute beginner level (and for very young children, almost a bit before that) and that continues to strong club player level at least. It has a very strong focus on tactics, and a secondary focus on endgames. It is the official training method of the Dutch chess federation and I think of several others, but that I don't know for sure.

Steps 1 to 5 are intended to be taught by a teacher, after which the pupils do the exercises. However, in my experience, for older players it is doable to just do the workbooks. You could of course get the teacher's manuals as well, if necessary. Step 6 is designed for self-learning (because there are few teachers that are strong enough to teach it).

Workbooks are cheap, and if a step gives you difficulty, there are "Extra" and "Plus" workbooks. I think this is clearly the best line of "books" for serious beginners.

After step 4 or 5 or so, Yusupov's series is also great, but it is much too hard for a beginner.


The best books are all by John Emms, and Chess Traps and Zaps ain't bad either for beginner.

You must find first THE most elemental rudiments, neatly and most importantly, DIGESTIBLY presented to you in a balance of challenging and rewardingly fun.

Anything by John Nunn and...

if you want some lessons, I'm on Ir© ¢hess 666DUI the handle :%)


Try the http://chesstempo.com tactics server. It automatically adjusts the level of exercises to each user based on his or her performance.

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