Best Chess Books for Beginners in 2024


Perhaps you’ve just decided that it is finally time to learn the rules of chess, or maybe you’re already acquainted with the basics but are eager to elevate your skills. Furthermore, maybe you are like me and prefer books as your way-to-go learning method since they allow you to digest information at your own pace. But right at this moment, emerges the main obstacle that many people experience at this stage: the abundance of choices in books. This article is tailored to alleviate the age-old question, “Where to start?”. I’ve curated a list of best chess books for beginners, enabling you to embark on your learning journey and immerse yourself in the timeless beauty of this ancient board game without further delay.

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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Deniz’s Choice

Logical Chess: Move by MoveThe Soviet Chess Primer

In my personal journey, selecting the best chess book for beginners comes down to a close competition between “Logical Chess: Move by Move” and “The Soviet Chess Primer.” Although the instructive and practical approach of the former is commendable, the latter holds a slight advantage in my eyes. “The Soviet Chess Primer” stands out due to its holistic perspective on chess, offering a timeless companion from the initial stages of learning the rules all the way to achieving mastery. The enduring value of this book makes it a cherished guide throughout the entire chess-learning journey.

1. «Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess» by Bobby Fischer

Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess

I would position Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess as a timeless classic; it has retained its relevance and impact, offering insights that transcend the decades since its initial publication. Fischer’s method not only refines your problem-solving skills but also imparts the ability to recognize key themes in various positions. The book’s teachings empower players to make optimal moves swiftly, even within seconds, enhancing their overall strategic and tactical acumen.

This book places its primary emphasis on checkmates. After all, a checkmate is what ends a game of chess; hence, the approach of providing the basics of checkmate as the first thing makes sense. The main objective of this book is to improve your pattern recognition skills.

“Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess” is not just a read; it’s an interactive chess experience. In this way, it stands out from other books for absolute beginners. Right from the start, after learning the rules, it encourages readers to put the acquired knowledge into practice. This is achieved through the numerous examples that the book is packed with. Overall, I can say that Fischer’s practical approach, coupled with a focus on fundamentals like checkmates and attacking, ensures a transformative learning experience. Because the book contains relatively little theoretical text, it is very well suited for readers of all ages.


Author(-s) Bobby Fischer, Stuart Margulies, Don Mosenfelder
Deniz’s Rating 4.5/5
Price $9.99 on
Publisher Bantam
Reader’s Age All age groups above 12
Distinction from other books Emphasis on interactivity and engaging content through the puzzles

Pros and Cons

Improves pattern recognition skills Does not cover most of the strategic elements of the game

2. «Logical Chess: Move by Move» by Irving Chernev

Logical Chess: Move by Move

This book was introduced to me by a fellow chess teacher, who added that they primarily rely on the guidance of this book in the classes in their chess academy. After a brief look, I could clearly see why they chose this book in particular and adopted its method in the classes to follow. “Logical Chess: Move by Move” takes you through the instructive games, so-called classics, played mostly in the early 20th century and explains the reasoning and concepts behind each move in a highly articulated way. Hence the book title, “Move by Move.” It is always a difficult task to provide such deep strategic insights in a clear and concise way that everybody can understand without too much effort. But this book has successfully managed to do that. The verbal explanations of moves sometimes contain counter-arguments, making it almost like a dialogue. These arguments are like the possible questions that readers might have. And the best part is? They all get answered!

The collection of games in the book is not a random selection. They all center around a particular theme, such as the Kingside Attack and the Queen’s Pawn Opening. Each game is a narrative that reveals an insightful aspect of the theme. For example, games in the section about the Kingside Attack show various ways to weaken and break through the defense of the enemy king. In this regard, the title ‘move by move’ shouldn’t be mistakenly taken as a move by move memorization. Rather, this book is all about teaching you how to think like a master.

On a final note, I would like to say that while this book is written for beginners, you would profit a lot more if you had a little bit of experience, or at least had played a few games after you learned the rules of the game. This will make the wisdom of this book much more relatable than purely theoretical advice.


Author(-s) Irving Chernev
Deniz’s Rating 5/5
Price $22.95 on
Publisher Batsford Chess
Reader’s Age All age groups
Distinction from other books Step by step method with comprehensive explanation of every single move

Pros and Cons

Provides deep insights on every move of the featured games Requires familiarity with very basics of chess
It is perfectly suited as teaching material to be used in chess classes or academies. Might not fit everyone’s budget

3. «Chess Fundamentals» by Jose Raul Capablanca

Chess Fundamentals

Chess Fundamentals by Jose Raul Capablanca holds the distinction of being one of the oldest books in this compilation of the best books for beginners. Published in 1934, it continues to carry significant value almost a century later. Notably, this book profoundly influenced the chess understanding of the former World Chess Champion, Anatoly Karpov, during his childhood. It’s no surprise, given that the author is none other than a world champion himself.

Jose Raul Capablanca is widely regarded as one of the greatest positional players of all time. In his book, he masterfully imparts the principles and general theories of the game across all its stages. The book teaches how to formulate plans for attack or strategic play, echoing Capablanca’s own style that made complex tasks appear easy and simple.

Furthermore, Capablanca, recognized as a maestro of the endgame, emphasized the importance of mastering this phase. He believed that endgame proficiency influences how we play and make decisions in earlier stages of the game. Consequently, the book commences with the basics of endgames, focusing on positions with only a few pieces. This way, the reader is not overwhelmed by the complexity of positions with many pieces on the board. Adopting the approach of learning chess fundamentals through endgame study, which was later embraced by Soviet chess schools and contributed to the development of numerous world chess champions, underscores its effectiveness as a proven and established method.


Author(-s) Jose Raul Capablanca
Deniz’s Rating 4.5/5
Price $9.99 on
Publisher SDE Publishing
Reader’s Age All age groups
Distinction from other books Starts with the basics of endgames

Pros and Cons

Equips the reader with solid fundamentals of positional aspects of the game There is relatively less emphasis on the tactical elements of the game.
Budget Friendly

4. «Amateur’s Mind» by Jeremy Silman

Amateur's Mind

After learning the rules of chess, having played a couple of games, tasting the joy of victory and the pain of losing, and maybe scrolling through a few beginner books, ‘The Amateur’s Mind’ by International Master Jeremy Silman would be a perfect next stop. Imbalances in chess are a core concept of Jeremy Silman’s chess philosophy, and understandably, the book looks at chess through the lens of imbalances. Imbalances, in short, he defines as “the static differences that exist in every position”. In this book, the author’s objective is to equip the reader with essential tools for accurately evaluating positions, enabling informed decisions based on the specific characteristics of each position.

On the surface, it may sound as if the book just shows the reader a list of positions with explanations of them from his own perspective. But far from that! The primary concern of the book is not merely the positions themselves, but how to think about these positions. Each example game in the book is complemented by a hypothetical dialogue between the master and students of varying skill levels (e.g., 1100 to 1700 Elo). In this way, the author serves as a mental surgeon, extracting misconceptions and providing remedies for improvement. Regarding this method of teaching, I personally find the book highly original and engaging for the reader.


Author(-s) Jeremy Silman
Deniz’s Rating 4.5/5
Price $19.95 on
Publisher Siles Press
Reader’s Age All age groups
Distinction from other books The imaginary dialogues between players of various levels and the master clarify a lot of potential questions and conceptions readers might have

Pros and Cons

It gives insights into how players of different levels think and how to fix their misconceptions.  Might not fit everyone’s budget

5. «The Soviet Primer» by Ilya Maizelis

The Soviet Chess Primer

Explore the hidden gem of chess literature with “The Soviet Primer” by Ilya Maizelis, a lesser-known masterpiece that unveils the secrets of the renowned Soviet Chess School. In my opinion, this book, although not as mainstream as other bestsellers, is a treasure trove for chess enthusiasts seeking a comprehensive guide to elevate their game. Starting with the basics, Maizelis takes readers on a journey from fundamental strategies for beginners to advanced concepts suitable for seasoned players. For me, the main strength of this book lies in its ability to cater to players of all levels, providing insights that promise improvement in every aspect of chess.

A standout feature of “The Soviet Primer” is its unparalleled focus on the middlegame, offering a deep dive into the wisdom of the Soviet Chess School. Here, the art of calculation is unraveled like a true masterclass, introducing chess combinations, tactical motifs, and the nuances of positional play. The book equips readers with essential tools to evaluate positions strategically, making it an indispensable resource for players aiming to enhance their overall game. But what truly sets this book apart, in my opinion, is its incorporation of entertaining and original examples across all chess themes. I have to admit that I enjoy them so much that I regularly keep coming back to them. These examples, unique to “The Soviet Primer,” surely add a delightful dimension to the learning experience, offering insights and perspectives not found elsewhere.

In essence, “The Soviet Primer” by Ilya Maizelis is a must-read for chess aficionados who crave a holistic understanding of the game. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned player, this book promises to be a valuable companion on your journey to chess mastery, unveiling the timeless strategies that have shaped the Soviet Chess School’s dominance throughout the 21st century.

Additionally, I want to note that this book may not be ideally suited for very young readers. The book’s structure and language are crafted for a more mature audience engaged in self-study. With the inclusion of abstract concepts and the intensity of the information provided, readers should be prepared to invest time in digesting the profound insights offered by this chess masterpiece.


Author(-s) Ilya Maizelis
Deniz’s Rating 5/5
Price $24.95 on
Publisher Quality Chess
Reader’s Age Age 14 and above
Distinction from other books Touches all aspects of the game thoroughly.

Pros and Cons

Original and entertaining examples for various themes It takes time to digest all the information crammed in the book, as it covers both beginners and advanced concepts
The accumulated wisdom of the Soviet Chess School is ever-present in all sections of the book.

6.«Modern Chess Openings» by Nick de Firmian

Modern Chess Openings

Nick de Firmian undertook the monumental challenge of revising and updating the content of this book, originally published more than a century ago in 1911. The outcome is an impressive compilation of openings, providing users with a wide array of choices. It encompasses main variations, representing the optimal moves for both sides, along with the sidelines. The book’s structured organization of opening groups deserves commendation, with each chapter initiating with an elucidation of the key ideas inherent in that specific opening.

Nevertheless, this book serves more as an ideal reference guide than a quick read to be completed in an afternoon. The table format and presentation of lines may require some time to become accustomed to, making it perhaps not the best choice as your initial chess book. Instead, consider it a valuable supplementary resource once you’ve grasped the basic principles and are seeking to refine your opening repertoire.


Author(-s) Nick de Firmian
Deniz’s Rating 4/5
Price $29.95
Publisher Random House Puzzles & Games
Reader’s Age 12 and above
Distinction from other books Focus on the openings

Pros and Cons

The main ideas of each opening is explained clearly The lack of diagrams makes it little hard to navigate through the variations

Final thoughts

Each book in the list above hones in on different facets of the game, providing comprehensive tools to enhance your chess skills. The books presented in this article can be approached in any order based on your specific needs. For a more profound understanding, consider revisiting these best beginner chess books, allowing the knowledge to seep in more deeply with each reading. - Your One Stop Chess Resource
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