Some Books That Have Helped Me


Table of Contents

Very often I have been asked to recommend a book for some sort of improvement in chess – openings, endgames, general understanding, calculation, anything really.

The books below are books I have used and/or liked and that I think will be of use to the reader. The list is far from exhaustive, none of these books is a new one, but they have helped me, so I share my opinion with you.

One of the books I recommend the most is Neishtadt’s Test Your Tactical Ability. I have a special connection to this book, one I extensively used as a kid, back then in the Serbian version called Sahovski Praktikum (Chess Practicum). I have fond memories of this book because every time I would finish solving all the exercises in the book my level would go up. I did this several times back then (the book contained over 1000 tactical exercises divided according to the tactical motifs), until the moment when I could recognise all the exercises in the book!

When recommending this book my rationale is that if it helped me progress, it should also help the others progress! Apart from the widely-acclaimed Dvoretsky books, which have led to infinite suffering when trying to solve the exercises in them, I quite liked Volokitin’s and Grabinsky’s Perfect Your Chess, mostly because of the fact that the exercises in it were new and not already known to me. This book, however, is aimed at substantially stronger players than Neishtadt’s, so bear that in mind.

I quite liked Gelfand’s Positional Decision Making and Dynamic Decision Making mostly because it resembles what I try to achieve when analysing games. The analytical approach is aimed at getting to the truth, but he also uses verbalisation to describe the underlying principles and psychological moments that have occurred. When going through the games together with Gelfand you have the opportunity to feel the game and this feeling for a game for me is the ultimate understanding of what had happened, both on the board and inside the heads of the players.

As a child, I was impressed by Kotov’s Think Like a Grandmaster, Train Like a Grandmaster and Play Like a Grandmaster, which I read in Russian in a single volume named Kak stat Grossmeisterom (How to Become a Grandmaster). While today there is certain criticism of the Kotovian analysis tree, I still think there is a lot of valuable advice in that book and even attempts at using the “tree” will improve the player’s discipline in thinking during the game.

A book that I thoroughly enjoyed was Sadler’s and Regan’s Chess for Life, hopefully not because I’m getting old! I like reading Sadler’s writing, his book reviews in New In Chess are excellent. In the book, he analyses players who have achieved longevity in chess, draws some practical conclusions and gives sound advice.

Of the many books on openings, I will name the ones I used for my preparation. With the increase of the strength of chess engines, I believe that most opening books are of good quality and the constant development of theory has also led to the rising level of these books.

With this in mind, note that these books are likely outdated today, though I still think they can be useful.

I used Kornev’s Rossolimo and Friends as a basis to construct my alternative repertoire against the Sicilian. Years ago, when I decided that I should refresh my 1.e4 repertoire, I understood that I was not comfortable against all Open Sicilians, mostly because of the vast amount of theory that had accumulated in the years when I was playing 1.d4, so I deemed it practical to switch to the alternatives.

Mind you, the “alternatives” are no less main lines than the “main lines” (i.e. Open Sicilians) because after Carlsen used them as his main weapon for a long time they have become equally popular as the Open Sicilians. On the other hand, they are less forced by nature and are easier to handle and prepare for. Hence, Rossolimo and Friends. I used my work on my white repertoire from this period as the basis for my course 1.e4 Simplified.

When constructing my 1.d4 repertoire I heavily relied on Avrukh’s work on The Catalan and the Fianchetto Systems against the King’s and Grunfeld Indian. While these books are somewhat outdated now, they still can serve as a starting point for future work.

I also quite liked Kiril Georgiev’s Squeezing the Gambits as it provides very safe options for White against the annoying Benko, Budapest and Albin.

Notice that the theoretical books I mentioned are several years old and they stem from a time when Chessable didn’t exist. Today we have a Chessable course on pretty much any opening or variation and bearing in mind the high quality of the analysis they are inherently superior to the above-mentioned books. The value I see nowadays in these books lies in the ideas they present – sometimes old ideas and lines can be turned into modern ones with the help of a strong engine. This requires some work, but the benefits can be substantial.

I hope you find the above book ideas helpful and useful. I also hope that if you decide to go over these books, it will enrich your understanding and love for the game.

Was this helpful? Share it with a friend :)

4.9 with 3.65K user reviews

Check them on individual course pages