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3 Best Chess Theory Books (2024)

Best Chess Theory Books

Predator at the Chessboard by Ward Farnsworth


Smooth and Conversational

Ward Farnsworth published the great book Predator at the Chessboard: A Field Guide to Chess Tactics in 2007.

The book takes the reader on an aptly thought-out process to aid him in the development of his chess identity and how to utilize tactics in the game. The tone of the volume is a smooth and conversational, almost as if Ward is by the reader and just guiding him, step by step, with the process.

Easy Terminology

Farnsworth also stays away from complex chess terminology, as his main interest is having the reader – i.e. the barest of beginners – understand all that is being discussed and examined.

The writing is, as a result of that, not dry, and is actually easier to get through. The sections featuring the various lessons are made into minute texts, so that you can study a certain aspect properly without having to lose any excess amount of your dear time.

Relationship with Patterns

Farnsworth provides multitudes of examples and accessible tidbits as he tries to have the reader build a distinct relationship with the patterns of tactics and to modify them if need be.

How to avoid having the same tactics be used on you, how to group several different tactics so as to gain the upper hand, how to hinder any escape that the opponent might be attempting to employ and how to be as efficient as possible while doing all of this, are just a few tricks that Farnsworth promises you’ll learn – and, spoiler alert, accomplishes with flying colors.

Concise and Simple

Each chapter succeeds in building and setting up different concepts and their introduction, which when it comes is a direct, concise and simple. And even though the length of the book might be intimidating, it doesn’t feature anything that might be padding.

Naming this wonderful volume anything other than one of the best chess theory books would be a grave mistake. Definitely worth the conscientious read.

Logical Chess Move by Move by Irving Chernev


Superb Classic

Irving Chernev’s Logical Chess Move by Move: Every Move Explained was written during the 1950’s and published north of sixty years ago – in 1957.

Chernev’s superb classic features thirty-three complete games, and each of them are explained meticulously. Each move that is taken receives the utmost care by Chernev, even the reasons for picking whichever piece is picked up and the power of each piece is explained.

Wonderful Invention

The ideas that are unearthed and expounded on in this book are nothing short of brilliant. Quite a modern table that comprises of the analogy and comparison of the pieces’ mobility in terms of the squares to which they are able to travel to – definitely a wonderful invention.

Looking for a Combination

As the reader goes through each game, following Chernev attentively, we see all of the possible and potential attacks that arise. The readers, thenceforth, will see themselves searching for combinations that ensure the win. And even though the book was written sixty-three years ago, thus Chernev couldn’t have reacted to all-time greats like Fischer, the book still succeeds in what it sets out and it does it with an ardent passion.

Speaking of passion, the writing of Chernev is all-around beautiful. Rarely can a chess author engage readers like Chernev does with ease. Humor is present so as to prevent the setting of any kind of monotony or dryness when examining the games.

Tactical Checkmate Everywhere

A little flaw that readers might find in the volume is that almost all of the games end in a tactical checkmate, leaving many pieces on the board. This, in a sense, negates the endgame. So, it should be recommended that a separate book dedicated to the aspect of the endgame should be read so as to ensure that the player won’t fall back.

In spite of this little flaw, Chernev’s Logical Chess Move by Move remains as one of the best chess theory books.

The Everything Chess Basics Book by the U. S. Chess Federation


Number One

The U. S. Chess Federation published The Everything Chess Book back in 2003, much to the praise and adoration of chess enthusiasts.

In short, if one is searching for a chess book that is going to teach them the basics of the royal game, and more importantly, how to win games, then The Everything Chess Basics Book is the number one book for that introduction. It represents an authoritative guide appealing to chess players of the most various of ages and degrees of skill.

Your Own Strategy

By and large, one of the best books on the theory of chess. Starting out from the basics of just comprehending how chess pieces are set up, and all the way to creating your very own strategy and tactic for outthinking your opponent and getting the first win of your sure to be plentiful streak.

Improving Your Skills

Honing and sharpening your skills have never been easier than with this wonderful guide. Additionally, advanced techniques and tricks are shown in the guide and the readers can start getting used to them straight away. Special moves, certain threats, ethics and sportsmanship, notation, scoring, timing, and plenty more things are all discussed superbly, too.

This sophisticated volume is one that enthusiasts ought to have their eye on. The writing and structuring are exceptionally logical, cohesive, and easy to grasp. Probably the number one book you should read before starting out with the progression of your chess skills.

Michael Englert

Michael is a graduate of cultural studies and history. He enjoys a good bottle of wine and (surprise, surprise) reading. As a small-town librarian, he is currently relishing the silence and peaceful atmosphere that is prevailing.