7 Best chess books for intermediate players in 2024


The chess market predominantly caters to beginners due to the larger audience, whereas intermediate players seeking more specialized educational materials may face challenges. In this article, I’ve curated a list of best chess books for intermediate players, covering a spectrum of focused areas such as tactical puzzles, positional play mastery, and in-depth endgame study. Exploring each of these selections will contribute to your development as an all-rounded chess player. There’s no specific order to follow; feel free to pick up any book that resonates with your interests or areas for improvement.

Written by
Deniz Tasdelen, National Master
National Master with over 20 years of experience. He has participated in many prestigious tournaments, including the European and World Youth Chess Championships.
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My choice

While I consider “The Seven Deadly Chess Sins” by Jonathan Rowson as the most original work in the list, I would pick “How to Reassess Your Chess” by Jeremy Silman as the best chess book for intermediate players. Silman’s book delves into the fundamental strategic elements of the middlegame, offering readers insights not just on what to consider in specific position characteristics but also on how to approach strategic thinking in diverse situations.
Silman’s adept communication skills shine through as he breaks down advanced concepts into a simple and natural language, a trademark of his writing. This makes the book accessible and beneficial for a broad range of skill levels, catering to players from 1400 to 2100 elo and beyond.

1. “How to Reassess Your Chess” by Jeremy Silman

In How to reassess your chess, Silman aims to break down the complexity of advanced positional concepts and decision-making into small, manageable steps. One of the first and essential steps for him in evaluating the characteristics of a position is to look through the lens of concept called “Imbalances”. Superior minor piece, pawn structure, space and material, control of a key file or weak squares, development and initiative, king safety, static and dynamic features of a position are the primary types of imbalances that make up the skeleton of this work. Jeremy Silman’s main philosophy is that by figuring out the imbalances, the spirit of the position becomes clearer to us, revealing us the ideal plan to execute. And there is no denying that this method is highly effective, especially if you feel like you have been stagnating in your progress and want to break out your chess into the next level.

Silman’s literary prowess shines through in the use of creative and witty language, transforming this extensive and serious work into an enjoyable and accessible read. Often, Silman addresses the reader in a manner that fosters a sense of engaging in a casual conversation rather than presenting a mere list of tips. Each chapter primarily features an illustrative game example, highlighting key concepts. The critical junctures of the game are depicted in diagrams, serving as instructive markers for applying the chapter’s concepts.

The intended audience for “How to Reassess Your Chess (4th Edition)” is generally considered to be players with ratings ranging from 1400 to 2100 elo. However, this does not imply that players outside of this rating range cannot derive benefits from it. In my honest opinion, individuals should revisit this work periodically to identify areas for improvement and focus in their upcoming games.


Author(-s) Jeremy Silman
Deniz’s Rating 4.75/5
Price $22.49
Publisher BantamSiles Pr; 4th edition
Reader’s Age All age groups above 8
Distinction from other books Touches upon almost all elements of positional thinking

Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
Silman’s entertaining literary style makes it easy to read, despite the massive length of the work. Sometimes the examples are a bit too unique or few.

2. “My System” by Aron Nimzowitsch

The all time classic, “My System” by Aron Nimzowitsch is to be easily found in almost any of the lists regarding top chess literature. And it is not hard to see why! During its initial publications, “My System” introduced ideas and advanced positional concepts, such as prophylaxis, at a time when they were still in their infancy. This groundbreaking work not only provided chess with a new direction but was also significantly ahead of its time. Many foundational elements of the hypermodern school of chess, which brought about a revolution in chess strategy and philosophy, can be traced back to this masterpiece.

“My System,” as the title suggests, systematically breaks down the intricate game of chess into simple positional principles designed for effective and optimal play. These strategic principles revolve around ideas like fighting for the center and quick development, how to effectively exploit an open file, the importance of 7th and 8th ranks for the rooks, prophylactic play, ideal piece exchanges, and overprotection. Nimzowitsch’s strict adherence to these guidelines, treating them almost as unbreakable rules, has faced criticism in a modern chess era marked by the flexibility of ideas and positional exceptions. Nevertheless, the positional insights presented in this work still continue to hold exceptional value for players of all levels, and profound comprehension of these principles remains essential for knowing when to deviate from them.

Nimzowitsch’s language is exceptionally clear, at times even poetic, presenting insights in a comprehensible manner and illustrating them with examples. The ideas provided build on top of each other and are interconnected, forming a holistic view akin to atoms and molecules composing a whole organism. Since its initial publication in 1925, there have been numerous revised and edited versions, with my personal recommendation being the edition by the renowned chess publisher, Quality Chess.


Author(-s) Aron Nimzowitsch
Deniz’s Rating 4/5
Price $35.95
Publisher Quality Chess
Reader’s Age All age groups above 8
Distinction from other books Philosophical approach to strategic play with the aim to compile the most essential principles in one single work.

Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
Systematic study of middlegame principles From a contemporary perspective, some of the information may appear outdated.

3. “Art of Attack in Chess” by Vladimir Vukovic

The ultimate objective in chess is the straightforward idea of checkmating the opponent’s king, regardless of the game’s complexity. The path leading to victory by successfully achieving a checkmate goes through intentional preparation and strategic actions against the opponent’s king. While puzzle books focus on honing the skills needed for the killer blow, “Art of Attack in Chess” complements this by providing essential insights into building and executing attacks. Vladimir Vukovic scrutinizes the concept of attacking from various angles, covering strategies against both castled and uncastled kings, focal points, and mating patterns. In essence, he brilliantly compiles the ABCs of attacking in chess, offering an easily digestible format for understanding aggressive play against the enemy’s king.

A particularly noteworthy chapter in “Art of Attack in Chess” is titled “The Phases of the Attack on the Castled King,” and it stands out as exceptionally insightful. This section delves into the types of preconditions, the necessary conditions, such as weaknesses, for launching a successful attack. Then Vukovic masterfully connects the wisdom shared in previous chapters that explore more specific and concrete situations. In my opinion, this section alone is enough to set the book apart from many others on attacking as it goes beyond merely focusing on how to checkmate and delves into the strategic depth of the attacking process.

In conclusion, Vladimir Vukovic’s clear and concise language facilitates a thorough understanding of the subjects, rendering it suitable for any serious player aiming to make a substantial improvement in their attacking game.


Author(-s) Vladimir Vukovic
Deniz’s Rating 4/5
Price $14.04
Publisher Everyman Chess
Reader’s Age All age groups above 10
Distinction from other books Focuses on build and carrying out an attack properly.

Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
Reasonable price At times, the analysis goes too deep, which might be hard to follow.
Provides numerous examples of various attacking scenarios, aiding in the decision-making process of when to launch an attack and when to refrain.

4. Amateur’s Mind by Jeremy Silman

Majority of the chess books are centered around sharing tips and provide an inside look into the mind of a master. However, In Amateur’s Mind, Jeremy Silman puts great emphasis on pointing out the flaws in the mind of an inexperienced player and suggests fixes based on the diagnosed weaknesses. In my opinion, this unique and distinctive approach places Amateur’s Mind as one of the most original works in chess literature. The author primarily aims to provide readers with indispensable tools for precisely assessing positions, empowering them to make informed decisions based on the distinctive characteristics of each position. For this purpose, Jeremy Silman makes use of his key philosophy in chess; the concept called ‘Imbalances’, which refers to the ‘static differences that exist in every position’. This concept is present in many of his works, and Amateur’s Mind is not an exception.

The hypothetical dialogues between the students of a wide range of levels (from 1100 to 1700 Rating) and the master are highly engaging for the readers, making the content not only relatable but also impactful. In this manner, the author functions as a mental surgeon, extracting misconceptions and offering remedies for improvement.


Author(-s) Jeremy Silman
Deniz’s Rating 4.5/5
Price $21.03
Publisher Siles Press
Reader’s Age All age groups
Distinction from other books The fictional dialogues between players of diverse skill levels and the master elucidate numerous potential questions and concepts that readers may have.

Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
It provides a glimpse into the thought processes of players at various skill levels and offers guidance on rectifying their misunderstandings. May be not suited for everyone’s budget

5. “Chess Tactics for Champions” by Susan Polgar

Susan Polgar’s chess career is adorned with achievements, including attaining the Grandmaster Title at the age of 15 and reigning as the Women’s World Chess Champion for three years (1996-1999). A key element of her remarkable success lies in her tactical skills, honed through years of training with her sisters. In “Chess Tactics for Champions,” she shares her tactical study techniques to help readers enhance their tactical vision.

The readers are presented with numerous tactical exercises, encompassing both attacking and defensive aspects, categorized by tactical motifs like Pins, Forks, and Skewers. These puzzles, drawn from real games, offer practical benefits. Each chapter begins with a comprehensive explanation of a tactical motif, illustrated with an example game, providing readers with a clear understanding to apply in their own games.

For optimal results with the exercises, it is recommended to replicate tournament conditions by allocating a fixed time, such as 10-15 minutes, for each puzzle. Writing down your solution adds a level of commitment, simulating the decision-making process in a serious tournament. Finally, compare your solutions with the author’s to gauge your progress.

In conclusion, “Chess Tactics for Champions” serves as an excellent resource for enhancing pattern recognition skills through engaging exercises.


Author(-s) Susan Polgar, Paul Truong
Deniz’s Rating 4.5/5
Price $13.07
Publisher Random House Puzzles & Games; Illustrated edition
Reader’s Age All ages
Distinction from other books Hundreds of selected puzzles with high practical value

Pros and Cons

Enhances tactical vision by systematically categorizing it into different themes and motifs, accompanied by a set of practical exercises. Difficulty of puzzles vary, thus they might be over- or underchallenging at times.

6. “100 Endgames You Must Know” by Jesus de la Villa

Endgames in chess form an expansive subject with their own set of theories. The study of positions with fewer pieces can be a meticulous process, often involving lengthy sequences of moves and subtle variations in sidelines. Crafting a book that strives to make endgame study engaging is undeniably a challenging endeavor.
Nevertheless, Jesus de la Villa has remarkably succeeded in transforming the endgame study process into a much more accessible and convenient activity with his book, ‘100 Endgames You Must Know’. The author has effectively condensed the most valuable positions from the multitude of endings, presenting them in a format and volume that can be easily utilized by both practical players and trainers or coaches.

For enthusiasts of the insights offered in ‘100 Endgames You Must Know’, the accompanying workbook by the same author serves as a valuable resource to apply and reinforce the acquired knowledge.


Author(-s) Jesus de la Villa
Deniz’s Rating 4.5/5
Price $22.99
Publisher New In Chess
Reader’s Age Above 10
Distinction from other books Compilation of essential endgame positions with highest practical value

Pros and Cons

Concise and clear explanations of endgame rules and helpful diagrams. The price might not be the best fit for everyone’s budget

7. “The Seven Deadly Chess Sins” by Jonathan Rowson

Experiencing the pain of losing in chess often prompts a desire for improvement. While chess engines nowadays are the go-to for post-game analysis, they fall short of providing a deep understanding of our mistakes. Jonathan Rowson addresses this gap in “The Seven Deadly Chess Sins,” delving into the psychology behind common errors. Overthinking, perfectionism, losing the thread, and materialism are a few of the blunder types that make up Rowson’s list of decisive ‘sins’. By familiarizing themselves with these categories, players can identify patterns in their psychological pitfalls and focus on specific areas for improvement. Thanks to this method, post-game analysis can be a much more effective process.

Rowson’s writing style in “The Seven Deadly Chess Sins” shares a philosophical flair akin to Jeremy Silman. Both authors bring a unique perspective to chess literature, infusing the game with philosophical depth and making them standout figures in the realm of chess writers.


Author(-s) Jonathan Rowson
Deniz’s Rating 4.75/5
Price $15.96
Publisher Gambit Publications
Reader’s Age Above 12
Distinction from other books Focuses on the psychological aspect of our mistakes

Pros and Cons

Offers a valuable compilation of common mistakes to help readers identify and rectify their bad habits. The long theoretical passages might not be everyone’s cup of tea.

Final thoughts and tips

In summary, the works featured in this article primarily focus on the middlegame and endgame, recognizing that many players encounter challenges in these phases once they reach a certain level and establish thinking patterns. Each of these works aims to rejuvenate your perspective on different aspects of the game, aiding you in cultivating effective decision-making habits.

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