It’s a New Year and have you made goals to get better at chess? If your goal is to get great at chess this year, I have put together a guide suggesting the best books in multiple rating levels you can read and enhance your chess knowledge and increase your chess rating!
If you are craving chess mastery, then this is the blog for you to read in 2024!
Hi, I am GrandMaster and FIDE Trainer Priyadharshan Kannappan, chess coach of the Brazil National Team in the 2022 Chess Olympiad. In this blog, I am giving you a curated arsenal of 6 must-read books to skyrocket your skills in 2024. Whether you’re a curious beginner or a seasoned semi-professional, this exclusive list unlocks potent strategies, devastating tactics, and endgame brilliance.
Before we go into the list, I want to inform you that none of the links below in this blog are affiliate links or promoted for any commercial purpose.
New to Chess/Under 1000 rating
Learn Chess The Right Way – Susan Polgar
Are you a budding chess player, lost in the labyrinth of openings, tactics, and checkmates? Worry not, young knight! Grandmaster Susan Polgar’s “Learn Chess the Right Way” series is your ultimate roadmap to checkmating victory, step-by-step.
Ditch the guesswork and frustration. Imagine confidently deploying brilliant tactics, honed through clear understanding. Polgar, a former World Chess Champion, has crafted this beginner-friendly guide with you in mind. Forget dry jargon and confusing theory – her engaging puzzles and step-by-step approach make learning chess an exhilarating adventure, not a tedious chore.
This 5-book series is your chess boot camp, covering the essential skills every beginner needs:
Book 1: Must-Know Checkmates: Master the art of delivering game-ending blows, building a rock-solid foundation for your attack.
Book 2: Winning Material: Learn to exploit your opponent’s weaknesses and gain a material advantage – the superpower of chess!
Book 3: Mastering Defensive Techniques: Build an impenetrable fortress, thwarting your opponent’s attacks and turning threats into triumphs.
Book 4: Sacrifice to Win: Discover the exhilarating world of tactical sacrifices, where giving up material unlocks the path to checkmate.
Book 5: Finding Winning Moves: Hone your strategic vision and learn to identify the hidden winning moves lurking beneath the surface
With each conquered puzzle and mastered concept, you’ll transform from a bewildered pawn into a strategic queen. “Learn Chess the Right Way” will equip you with the tools to:
- Conquer basic tactics: Outsmart your opponent with forks, pins, and other cunning maneuvers.
- Discover winning strategies: Develop long-term plans that put your opponent on the defensive.
- Build a rock-solid foundation: Gain a deep understanding of chess principles that will guide you on the board.
So, stop feeling like a pawn and claim your rightful place as a chess champion! Grab “Learn Chess the Right Way” today and make your first move towards checkmating brilliance.
P.S. This series recommendation comes not just from Grandmaster Polgar’s esteemed reputation, but from my own experience. As her former student, I can wholeheartedly say this content is the perfect launchpad for any kid or beginner taking their first steps on the chessboard.
Ready to unleash your inner chess genius? Click here to learn more about “Learn Chess the Right Way”!
1000-1300 rating level
“Logical Chess – Move By Move” by Irving Chernev. Is one of the bestselling and highly-rated chess books in history. This timeless gem holds more than just nostalgia. It’s a potent weapon in your chess library, as the author deeply explains all the games in the book, giving you a deeper understanding of the game.
In this level of 1000-1300, your primary goal must be to have solid logic behind every move you make, and this book will help you learn that solid logic behind every move.
I am personally a big fan of the move-by-move style of chess books, as it helps people get a deeper understanding of the complete game, and not just one particular aspect of the game.
The book enables you to understand why a certain move was played by providing detailed explanations of every move. Forget rote memorization of openings. This book teaches you the “why” behind every decision. You’ll grasp the intricacies of positional understanding, the logic of attack and defense, and the thrill of discovering hidden tactical nuances.
The book has selected Gems from Masters like Capablanca, Alekhine, Keres, and other titans, learning from their triumphs and mistakes, and helping you to see beyond basic tactics.
This book helps you to get better at critical thinking, and a willingness to deconstruct moves and rebuild them, understanding the logic behind each step.
I guarantee, that with dedication and a patient journey through Chernev’s masterpiece, you’ll emerge a transformed player. Your moves will gain purpose, your vision will sharpen, and the thrill of checkmating brilliance will no longer be a dream, but a reality within your grasp.
So, why settle for another dry instructional book? Pick up “Logical Chess – Move By Move” and embark on a chess odyssey alongside a master. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
1300-1600 USCF rating
The Power of Pawns by Jorg Hickl
Pawns. Often overlooked, misunderstood, underestimated. Yet, within these humble pieces lies a hidden power, one that can shape the course of a game and dictate victory or defeat. In “The Power of Pawns”, a book that teaches you how to use your pawns carefully!
The biggest issue with pawns is the fact that they cannot go backward, so once you commit them by making a move forward, they never go back like other pieces, deciding irreversibly, so it becomes important to know how to play carefully with your pawns!
The author, a GrandMaster and highly experienced chess trainer himself, guides us through the often-neglected realm of pawn structure. We learn the intricacies of advanced promotions, the dynamics of pawn islands and chains, and how these simple elements can become potent weapons in our arsenal.
The book equips you to apply these lessons to your games. Simple exercises and puzzles help you solidify your understanding so that you can confidently deploy your pawns on the battlefield.
So, if you seek to truly elevate your chess, look beyond flashy tactics and embrace the subtle power of the pawn. This book holds the key to unlocking a level of understanding and control that will transform your game.
Give it a read and prepare to witness your pawns become silent partners in your march toward chess mastery.
Mastering Chess Strategy by Johan Hellsten
“Mastering Chess Strategy” by Johan Hellsten – This best-selling classic is not about flashy tactics and dazzling attacks. This book focuses on the bedrock of good chess: sound thinking, strategic planning, and positional understanding.
Think of it like building a magnificent castle. Tactics are the decorative flourishes, but a powerful strategy is the sturdy stonework and clever design. This book teaches you how to lay that groundwork, brick by brick.
The author, an experienced GrandMaster, and former Swedish Champion lays out the essential elements of strategic play in a clear and accessible way. You’ll learn about:
- Basic concepts of strategy – How to handle your middle game positions optimally by figuring out things like prophylaxis, Pawn Play, etc.
- Improving the pieces – There is a chapter dedicated to improving your pieces to ensure they are at their best squares so that they can contribute maximum on the chessboard.
- Exchanges – Exchanging pieces is a key concept of strategic planning in chess, as you need to know which piece is good and bad on your side as well as on your opponent’s side, and how the exchanges affect the dynamics of the position.
There are a lot of practical examples to explain the above-mentioned and a lot more additional concepts in this book! You’ll witness Capablanca’s suffocating positional squeeze, Fischer’s aggressive king hunts, and Kasparov’s masterful long-term plans unfold on the checkered battlefield.
Most importantly, you’ll learn to apply these lessons to your games. The book is packed with practical tips and actionable advice, helping you translate strategic principles into concrete moves and decisions.
So, if you want to truly level up your game, go beyond the excitement of immediate tactics and delve into the strategic depths of chess. This book will be your compass, your guide, and your secret weapon on the path to chess mastery.
Pick it up, friends, and prepare to see the game through a new lens. Trust me, a solid strategic foundation is the difference between a fleeting tactical win and a lasting chess legacy.
2000+ USCF Rating
Chess Structures: A Grandmaster Guide by Mauricio Flores Rios
Mauricio Flores Rios meticulously examines the most common structures in chess in his book, “Chess Structures: A Grandmaster Guide.” I highly recommend this book because every example has a clear explanation accompanied by a “final remarks” section that lucidly breaks down the pawn structure ideas applied in the games.
Players consider pawn structures the backbone or skeleton of the position. Therefore, understanding pawn structures enables you to navigate numerous middle-game positions by applying these structural concepts.
This book is particularly valuable for players above 2000 USCF because chess at this level becomes significantly more complex. While tactics remain important, mastering positional concepts is crucial for success.
Grasping the intricacies of pawn structures unlocks a whole new dimension of chess, propelling your improvement further.
The Seven Deadly Chess Sins by Jonathan Rowson
This is one of the books that made a big impact on my chess journey and improvement. I’m a big fan of Rowson’s chess works, and his book ‘The Seven Deadly Chess Sins’ explores why we lose at chess and introduces you to a novel thinking pattern.
The thing that I like most about Rowson’s book is that he not just focuses on the chess moves but the underlying psychology and the thought process behind those decisions.
Rowson identifies seven key pitfalls
For players above 2000, the focus often shifts from improvement to maintaining a high rating. This book offers powerful tools for overcoming complacency and rediscovering the joy of learning and growth.
The selection of the Best Chess Books 2024 that one must read, offers you a comprehensive roadmap for chess enthusiasts of all levels. This handpicked list gives you a list of best chess books that I would personally reccommend for all levels from the fundamental teachings of Susan Polgar to the advanced strategies of Mauricio Flores Rios, this list encapsulates a wealth of knowledge essential for mastering the game.
Whether you are a beginner or an experienced player, these books provide invaluable insights and techniques that will enrich your understanding and enjoyment of chess. Embrace the journey of chess mastery with these top picks for 2024.