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Book Recommendations:

Posted by pablito15 on June 6, 2010

Some book recommendations🙂 The ratings are in FIDE, so slightly lower them for ACF. And also, as everyone thinks their *real* rating is higher than their actual one, the ratings suggested should be challenging for that level. (In my somewhat informed opinion. Feel free to disagree!)

Two of the "hits" in Pandolfini's often hit and miss literary career! and yes... I'm aware that's not him...


  • Pandolfini’s Chessercizes: ELO 1600-1900 (48 quite difficult checkmates with short explanations)
  • Pandolfini’s More Chessercizes, Checkmate: ELO 1400-1800 (around 300 mates, no text, some repetitive problems that have become clichés  but a good book all the same- the sheer volume of the mates is the trump and it’s nice for pattern recognition)
  • Vukovic’s Art of Attack: 1600+ (Part IV is 12 pages or so on mating patterns, and this book is generally great to annotate games from)
  • Kotov’s Chess Tactics (Chapter 3 is 50 mating patterns)
  • http://www.ideachess.com/ (22000 checkmates allegedly!)




Pawn Structure:

Andrew Soltis’ Pawn Structure Chess (1976). 1400-IM. Put bluntly, the best chess book I’ve ever read. Has revolutionised the way I think about chess, the beauty I manage to occasionally see in it and even my opening repertoire. The pawn structures are divided into 10 ‘families’ by opening and he uses entirely games from these openings to illustrate the structures and the typical plans associated with them.

Read this book!

General themes & Principles:


  • Lasker, chess strategy 1915. (Yes really.) The only book I’ve come across that explains openings in a way that is reasonable, useful, and broadly illuminating on chess for the 14-1800 player. His explanations on the Chigorin Defense to the Ruy Lopez, and the Classical defense to the King’s Gambit are still used today, and no matter what is looked at it is done in a way that will teach you about structure, the logic of the openings and how we maintain and lose control with pawns in the center. You might not base an entire repertoire on it, but it will provide you with the fundamental understanding of openings that most players skip learning and waste hours with un-aided attempts at memory throughout their careers.


I’ll separate this into ‘pure problem’ books, with diagrams only and no explanations, and ‘understanding type books’ with thematic explanations, opening background and more ‘selected’ problems from various authors.

Problems only:


  • Susan Polgar’s Chess Tactics for Champions (A nice book sorted by theme which I still go over for pattern recognition purposes.)
  • This website: http://www.entertainmentjourney.com/tactics.htm (Which I posted on in a tactics training post not long ago) It can be used as either a beginner tactics course or a pattern recognition resource for anyone up to 2000. The guy who runs it recommends printing them out and going through a set number of them [a quite high number!], and when you can reach that number in 20 minutes he gives what rating he achieved when he could do the same. This is really great for improving your blitz and important in general to drill in simple ideas.)


  • Lou Hays’ Winning Chess Tactics for Juniors (Excellent book of 535 mid strength tactics, perfectly placed to help you make the jump from 1500 to 1800 in tactical strength)
  • Sharpen your chess tactics by Archangelsky & Lein- I can’t give a rating for this one as I’ve just started but it begins with simple patterns and progresses up to #1125!
  • Reinfield’s 1001 Brilliant Chess Sacrifices & Combinations. 1500-2200. Organised by theme and with some quite imaginative combos rather than the mass-reproduced ones you usually find, beware that the problems are not at all sorted by difficulty however, so you may find a 1500 level problem next to a 2100 level one.

Understanding tactics type books:

  • Palatnik & Alburt’s Chess Tactics for the Tournament Player. An excellent book with a long instructive section on each tactical theme and 12 problems after each section. Tough to say what level it would be for- i’ll let the title do that for you! Upper limit would be 1900-2000 though.
  • Neishtadt’s Test your tactical ability. A great book which proposes problems to you, ie. White has left his e4 pawn unguarded, is it safe for black to play Bxe4? It really forces you to calculate in a way that is far closer to how you would in a game, than your average tactics book which is just drilling (sometimes irrelevant) patterns into the mind.
  • Neil McDonald’s Mastering Chess Tactics. Tough to give a rating for this one too, i’ll say 1550-1900, what I can say is that these books give you more ‘hand picked’ and realisitic problems, for example:

From the Queen's Gambit, White to play.

End Game:

  • Lamprecht & Mueller’s Secret of Pawn Endings (1600-GM). A very detailed study of King & Pawn endings, if you are a visual learner this book is far more helpful than Silman’s book in my opinion (see my https://pablito15.wordpress.com/2010/04/05/die-final/ on it). Each chapter has a theme, 20 instructive positions, then 15 tests. The perfect end game book really, even if about 20% of the positions are too difficult for sub 2000 players to consider.
  • Lamprecht & Mueller’s Fundamental Chess Endings (1500-GM) A more concise look at King & Pawn endings as minor piece and rook endings are covered too. The format is the same, with excellent visual aids, instructive positions then tests, however everything is a little less detailed. Perhaps better for a player just beginning to look the end game.

One Response to “Book Recommendations:”

  1. […] 8, 2010 by coderyder My chess buddy Paul has posted a nice list of chess books that he finds useful, check out his blog. His ELO recommendations look very reasonable. If you only […]

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