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Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy Book Review (2024)

John Leonard Watson

John Leonard Watson was born on the 5th September, 1951, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States. Watson is a Chess International Master and accomplished writer on the subject of chess. He was born, like we mentioned, in Milwaukee, but grew up in Omaha, Nebraska.

Educated at Brownell-Talbot, Harvard, and the University of California, San Diego, John received his degree in engineering. Right now, we are going to proceed with our book review of Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy – one of Watson’s best.

Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy Book

Evolution of the Game

Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy book by John L. Watson was published in the year of 1999. Now, twenty years later, the book remains among the most loved, most interesting books on the topic of strategy in chess, but also one of the most fascinating books about chess. Any even half-enthused reader ought to take it up and see why Watson was so accomplished and loved for his contributions.

From the get-go of the book, Watson begins to showcase where the games played during our time and the ones that were played during the period when Nimzowitsch was alive differ and, more importantly, why. This is the aspect of the volume that allows for the reader to gain expert insight into how the evolution of the game started and how it has progressed for years upon years.


Since Nimzowitsch wrote and published his classic My System, the most general outlook on chess writing seemed to skew towards the thought that Nimzowitsch had encapsulated it wonderfully and that there was nothing to be added. Enter: John L. Watson and his fantastic book. A little-known fact is that Watson’s book carries the subtitle of Advances since Nimzowitsch for precisely this reason.

Keenly, neatly organized and elaborated in a fantastic, invigorating way, the material is acutely insightful. This facet of the book enables for the reading to become a genuine breeze, while having the reader learn more and more.


It is subdivided into two different parts, with the foremost dealing with Refinements of Traditional Theory – here elements from the older periods of chess-playing are examined from the modern lens –, and the second tackles a fair bit of positional principles and their alteration during the evolution of the game. This masterpiece by Watson must never be understated, since its exceptional qualities are ones that are scarcely found today. Very deserving of a place on our list.

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.