I am looking for books that can help me improve without a physical/digital chessboard. I have a kindle, and I have many places in school where I can read, but not many where I can open a chessboard without people coming from all 4 corners to see what I am doing.

EDIT: To help for further reference, I am rated 1750 in correspondence chess on chess.com

  • 5
    yeah, usually any book on tactics will work. "Invisible chess moves" is my suggestion. Sep 30, 2014 at 15:57
  • I found that Yasser Seirawan's books are enjoyable without a board available. There are a few longer positional examples, but for the most part there was a diagram at a pivotal point. He has a nice writing style that makes chess accessible to just about anybody. Unfortunately that means the ideas are generally for lower rated players. Sep 30, 2014 at 16:24
  • I apologize if I misunderstood the question, but perhaps answers to this question can help? Sep 30, 2014 at 21:22

11 Answers 11


One book that can mostly be read without a chess board is Willy Hendriks' "Move First Think Later", one of my favourite chess books. It mostly contains puzzles and some interesting musings from the author.

Also, even though you are not looking for a digital solution, I have to add that I find DroidFish (available on Android) to be a nice compact way to read chess books on my daily commute while still having the power of a GM level analyst right there.

  • What level is this book? In ELO.
    – MikhailTal
    Sep 30, 2014 at 15:46
  • 2
    I'd say 1800-2400.
    – dfan
    Sep 30, 2014 at 18:56

I greatly enjoyed Jonathan Rowson's books Chess for Zebras and The Seven Deadly Chess Sins. And mark, I read them without a board (many times). Rowson's style is entertaining -even funny at times. And I think these books give you a good understanding of the game beyond tactics and strategy.

Given your question "Does black really have a disadvantage?", Chess for Zebras might particularly interest you. In it Rowson deals with this question among other things, such as which is the advantage when playing with white, which is the good side of playing with black, etc.


"Chess: 5334 Problems, Combinations, and Games" is a wonderful book written by Laszlo Polgár. It is a very large book covering 1104 pages, but worth every page..


Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess is a great book on chess fundamentals for newcomers and skilled players. I have it and read it (play it?) without a board, as it's designed this way. It presents a puzzle on one page, and gives the answer and a breakdown on the next. Very well done overall.


What I consider the book that can be read without any need of a chessboard is the classic "Logical chess move by move" by Irving Chernev. I's a book designed for players in the 1400-1800 OTB range, so I think it definitely will suit you. Moreover, this book teaches both conceptual and strategical ideas via move by move analysis of full games, so it is an entertaining and profitable read.

On books about tactics, which can be definitely read without a chessboard in front of you, I recommend "Chess Training Pocket Book" by Lev Alburt. This book presents 300 of the (arguably, but not much) most important positions in chess. They all feature some must-known concept or tactic and are analyzed deeply in a few lines. This book is well suited for players around 1700-2100. The book presents the problems on the left page and the answers to them on the right page, so you don't have to swing back and forth the book, and can be used for training at virtually every place you may open a book. It is extremely useful.

  • Regarding "Logical chess move by move" , it is much difficult to read without a board.
    – AKP2002
    Apr 21, 2020 at 5:53

Many tactics books are suitable to read without a board,

Understanding Chess Tactics by Martin Weteschnik is one, where it is specifically designed to be read without a board.

Forcing Chess Moves by Charles Hertan where only a few times you need a board

1000 checkmate combinations by Viktor Henkin

Chess tactics for champions by Susan Polgar and Paul Truong

Far too many other tactics books to mention, :)

Although keep in mind that you will have to visualize sometimes and keep variations in your head, although this is typical of such books.


I recommend "Invisible Chess Moves." It focuses on our tendency to miss certain tactics and helps readers correct these tendencies. It also won ChessCafe book of the year.

  • 1
    It is worth mentioning the authors: Emmanuel Neiman and Yochanan Afek.
    – Evargalo
    May 22, 2018 at 15:25

Any book of tactical problems would fit the bill. My favorite is the Chess School series (aka Manual of Chess Combinations) by Ivashchenko et al.


Soltis' The Art of Defense in Chess is great.

You should strive to never use a chessboard when reading books. Use you mind. This isn't real practical when you're working through an Informant, but for normal books, you should be able to do it. It saves a lot of time.


A nice book for beginners is How To Beat Your Dad At Chess. It lists 50 tactics - mostly checkmating attacks. Each tactic appears on two pages, with a brief explanation and a few diagrams showing examples of the tactic in use. Usually there are no more than two or three moves made between the diagrams, so it is reasonably easy to follow between the diagrams. The book is also available from Amazon.

Addendum: In spite of the title, this book is not just for kids! While I bought it for my chess playing adolescent, I'm enjoying going through it and learning mating attacks that would probably not occur to me otherwise.


Wildhagen's series of books is easy to read without a board, albeit there is no text. The name of the series is Weltgeschichte Des Schachs, and while it is typically biographical game collections (with volumes for Tal, Spassky, Lasker, Capablanca, et al.) there are some volumes centered on multiple players.

If you're wanting to read specific lessons, they're not a good choice, but if you want to play over classic games of chess and do the work of analysis yourself, these are excellent. Every game of the player covered is presented, with a diagram every 5 moves to help you "resync" your mental image of the board with reality.

Aside from the games being worth thinking about, I've found them a great help in improving my own ability to visualize the board.

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