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.


To help for further reference, I am 1750 in Correspondence chess in chess.com

  • 3
    yeah, usually any book on tactics will work. "Invisible chess moves" is my suggestion. – CognisMantis Sep 30 '14 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. – ZL1Corvette Sep 30 '14 at 16:24
  • I apologize if I misunderstood the question, but perhaps answers to this question can help? – AlwaysLearningNewStuff Sep 30 '14 at 21:22

10 Answers 10


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 '14 at 15:46
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    I'd say 1800-2400. – dfan Sep 30 '14 at 18:56

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.


"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..


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

  • It is worth mentioning the authors: Emmanuel Neiman and Yochanan Afek. – Evargalo May 22 '18 at 15:25

for studying/learning openings, there is a new Kindle book available here:


with many diagrams, and clear explanation, so most of the time you won't need a chess board (at your level).


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