My Favourtite Chess Books

I have over 80 chess books, a few of them read cover to cover, many others just dipped into. Many of them are mundane but a few seem special. Here are some that stand out for me.

Rook Endings, Smyslov and Levenfish. This book takes you through the basic rooks endgames before getting on to endgames with more pawns. At the end it has a 21 point conclusion that summarises the key methods from the previous chapters. First published in the UK in 1971 and well before that in Russia, it pre-dates engines and tablebases; but I have spot checked it with nodern software and have yet to find an error – this is a realy high quality peice of work. Apart from my first primer (see below) this book did more to improve my chess than any other, and possibly more than all the others put together. It is now out of print but second hand copies are available. Be warned, early copies (at least) are in descriptive notation.

The Game of Chess, Golombek. My first chess book and a really excellent primer. The detail of the openings is by now well out of date, but as an overview of the rules, tactics, basic mates, endgames, middle games and the ideas behind the openings it better than many later works I have seen. It still has a place in my heart.

Alexander Alekhine, Kotov. Mainly a collection of some of Alekhine’s best games. Sparkling and highly instructive.

My 60 Memorable Games, Fischer. Just a collection of Fischer’s games up to 1967. I should have studied this harder when I was younger (and probably now too)!

My Great Predecessors, Kasparov. Five volumes on previous world champions. A depth of analysis that is rare in collections of games, combined with an interesting commentary on the development of chess world-wide and the workings and politics of the Soviet chess machine.

Garry Kasparov New World Chess Champion and Kasparov London-Leningrad, Kasparov. Books of the 2nd and 3rd Kasparov-Karpov matches. Widely considered by grandmasters to be two of the highest quality world championship matches, annoated by Kasparov himself.

Play the Nimzo-Indian Defence, Gligoric. A slightly strange title as Gligoric presents both sides of the story very equitably, so it could just as easily be called Bashing the Nimzo-Indian. What’s more, Gligoric played far more games from the white side of Nimzo than the black. Like all good opening books this explains the main plans and illustrates the resulting middlegame themes with sample games. Written in 1985 it is a little out of date but the quality is so high that is still relevant and it remains a book that I consult for guidance.

The Modern Tiger, Persson. For most of us sad Modern Defence addcits, this is our main reference work. Objective and pretty comprehensive and at the same time inspring.

The Caro-Kann, Houska. A simply fantastic work. It goes into detail but at the same time explains the main ideas really clearly, and gives very helpful rules of thumb along the way.

Peter Anderson, November 2019