A weekly question and answer column by FIDE Master Andy Lee.
Q: What chess books helped you as a chess player? What are your recommendations for an improving player?
-- Joseph, San Jose, CA
A: Great question! It seems like there are hundreds or even thousands of new chess books published every year, but I think that some of the old classics are still among the best.
For players still learning the basics, I highly recommend books by Bruce Pandolfini. His book Chess Openings: Traps and Zaps is a great way for young players to learn about how to take advantage of (and avoid falling into!) common opening traps. Pandolfini's Endgame Course is a book that taught me 90% of the basic endgame skills that I still use today!
Studying the games of the chess masters of the past is another great way to improve. My first chess book was 500 Master Games of Chess, by Tartakower and du Mont. However, this book is only a good choice if you are comfortable using or learning descriptive notation.
Fortunately, there are many other great collections of chess games: Bobby Fischer's My 60 Memorable Games was just republished. My personal favorite is David Bronstein's Zurich International Chess Tournament 1953. It was in this book that I first saw many great games, such as the example below:
As you improve, it becomes more and more important to master the finer aspects of chess strategy. Jeremy Silman's classic How to Reassess Your Chess helped me improve my rating from 1400 to 2000. A couple other great authors for players in the 1500-2000 range are John Watson and Jonathan Rowson.
You probably noticed that I didn't include any opening books on this list. Although opening books are the most commonly published category of chess book, they are often the least helpful, since the player who is stronger in the middlegame and endgame will almost always beat the player who is lost as soon as they leave book.
Keep your questions coming to FalseNarwhal here at chesskid.com!