The 9 Best Chess Books For Beginners In 2023 (Essential Reading)

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If you’re looking to improve your chess game, one of the most popular ways is by reading one of the best beginner chess books.

But with so many titles on the market, it can be tough to know where to start. Should you study openings? Middlegames? Endings or strategy?

To help you figure out where to start, we’ve put together a list of 9 of the best chess books for beginners that are essential reads to anyone wanting to improve their game.

From instructional manuals to fascinating histories, these books will help you take your game to the next level. So grab a board and settle in for some serious learning!

1. Chess For Dummies By James Eade

Chess For Dummies
  • Eade, James (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 416 Pages - 08/29/2016 (Publication Date) - For Dummies (Publisher)

If you know nothing about chess and want to get a complete guide that builds your basic chess concepts step by step, then this book is the best choice for you.

All the chapters in this book are highly organized so it will be very easy for you to skip to the specific parts.

The author of this book James Eade is USFC Chess Master and knows what he talks about in this book.

See, as a beginner, it is very important that you know all the basic chess terminology, all the basic chess rules very clear right from the start. And this book does a very good job to clarify all the basic concepts of chess.

Apart from being organized, I liked the special boxes on some pages that highlight some important concepts, key terminologies, and some real-life chess games incidents. It makes the book very interesting to read.

Also, reading the book it feels that the author is guiding you through all the chess concepts sitting by your side as a chess coach.

This is the dummies series chess books. All the dummies series chess books are very good to build your basics in any field, not just chess.

I am very confident about this book because I personally started learning chess and building my basic chess concepts from this book only.

2. Play Winning Chess By Yasser Seirawan

Play Winning Chess
  • Seirawan, Yasser (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 224 Pages - 06/01/2003 (Publication Date) - Everyman Chess (Publisher)

Play Winning Chess by Yasser Seirawan is a good introductory chess book. The author of this book Yasser Seirawan (American Grandmaster and Four-Time US Champion) starts the discussion with a little history of chess, chess basics such as the chess pieces’ names, how they move, the basic rules, and all that stuff.

After that, he discusses the important principles, tactics, strategies, and other basic chess concepts. Also, the specialty of this book is you will find a brief introduction of the chess players who pioneered a particular chess concept.

This is a good feature, especially for those who are not familiar with the popular chess players of all time. In the end, there are a few annotated chess games.

You will not find a lot of examples as in other books but still, you will become familiar with the important chess players, important chess terms, why we use them, etc.

This book is more on the theory side like a school textbook. So if you are an absolute beginner and want to get a complete overview of how chess originated, how it evolved, plus some basic chess concepts then you can definitely check out this book.

3. Chess Fundamentals By Jose Capablanca

Chess Fundamentals
1,934 Reviews
Chess Fundamentals
  • Capablanca, Jose (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 138 Pages - 06/19/2018 (Publication Date) - SDE Publishing (Publisher)

As the name of the book suggests, this book helps you to build your fundamental chess concepts. the author of this book, Jose Capablanca was the World Chess Champion and he is considered as one of the greatest players of all time.

The principles behind every concept are explained using proper examples and diagrams.

Although I want to make it very clear that if you are an absolute beginner then this book won’t help.

To know the basic chess board setup, chess pieces move, special rules, and all other very basic chess concepts you can first read either of the above two books.

Is chess fundamentals a good book? The main theme of this book is to teach you the basic principles. This book is actually good for adult beginners, for those who played chess earlier but were detached from chess for a long time and want to relearn chess again.

So if you want a classic chess book that teaches you the fundamental principles of chess then you can add this book to your chess library.

4. The Soviet Chess Primer By Ilya Maizelis

The Soviet Chess Primer (Chess Classics)
  • Maizelis, Ilya (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 400 Pages - 03/07/2015 (Publication Date) - Quality Chess (Publisher)

The Soviet Chess Primer By Ilya Maizelis is a very well-known book. This is one of the first books that the World Chess Champions, Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov read when they were younger.

This is a very good book for beginners as it covers all the basic rules and fundamentals. It teaches you the various basic chess concepts, how to approach the opening phase, the middlegame, and the endgame phase.

In case you don’t know, in chess, there are three phases, opening, middlegame, and endgame.

It also teaches how to calculate the lines, how to spot tactics (In chess, Tactics mean the sequence of moves that helps you to limit your opponent’s options and gives you some advantage.)

The only drawback is you can’t find a lot of tactical puzzles (since this is not a puzzle book). But it is not so concerning issue because there are a lot of good puzzle books (like Learn Chess The Right Way by Susan Polgar – discussed ahead) for beginners which you can supplement with this one.

This book basically covers everything you could ask for as an introductory chess book and so if that is what you are looking for then this book will be a good choice for you.

5. How To Beat Your Dad At Chess By Murray Chandler

How to Beat Your Dad at Chess (Chess for Kids)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Chandler, Murray (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 128 Pages - 10/01/1998 (Publication Date) - Gambit Publications (Publisher)

How to beat your dad at chess, yes, you heard this right! This is an awesome chess book written by Murray Chandler the New Zealand Chess Grandmaster.

See, in chess, “tactics” matter a lot. And in this book, you will find a lot of mating / tactical patterns. You will not get an explanation of the basic chess terminologies.

It is expected that you already know how to set up the board, and some basic chess terms like a check, checkmate, stalemate, castling, etc.

But don’t worry, because for that you can supplement it with the books I talked about earlier, Chess For Dummies or Winning Chess.

The author of this book starts by discussing how the chess players actually think, what matters the most in playing and winning the games.

And then, he one by one describes the 50 deadly checkmating patterns with proper and illustrative diagrams.

So the bottom line is if you know how to set up the board and the very basic rules, but are interested to know the basic tactical and checkmate patterns which will help to improve you a lot, then this book is the one that you should definitely check out.

6. Logical Chess Move By Move By Irving Chernev

Logical Chess - Move By Move
1,357 Reviews
Logical Chess - Move By Move
  • Author: Irving Chernev
  • Pages: 256 Pages
  • Publication Year: 2003
  • Irving Chernev (Author)

Logical chess move by move is also a good book. Inside it, as the name of the book itself suggests, you will get the explanation of each move made and the logic behind it with suitable diagrams.

You will get a proper in-depth analysis of a lot of chess games. This is one of the best middlegame chess books for beginners. The only downside is since the book is very old the game material is also old.

However, that would not be much of an issue for you as the key is to grab the important ideas that the author wants to convey to you and thus apply them in your games.

Chess players have found positive results with this book and have seen improvement in their rating, so I recommend this book to you.

7. Learn Chess The Right Way By Susan Polgar

Learn Chess the Right Way: Book 1: Must-know Checkmates
140 Reviews
Learn Chess the Right Way: Book 1: Must-know Checkmates
  • Polgar, Susan (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 160 Pages - 06/15/2016 (Publication Date) - Russell Enterprises, Inc. (Publisher)

Practice is very important to learn anything and that’s where you need a good puzzle book. As a beginner, it is very important that you solve a lot of tactical puzzles and for that, I really like the series of puzzle books, Learn Chess The Right Way By Susan Polgar.

This book is authored by Susan Polgar, the former Women’s World Chess Champion and an award-winning chess coach. This is a five-volume chess puzzle book series.

The book I have shown here is book – 1 of the five-volume book series. This first volume is about the must-know checkmates, checkmate patterns, mate in one, mate in two combinations.

Book – 2 is about winning material and it covers the basic tactics such as pins, forks, skewers. In all, you learn almost all of the standard tactics you need to learn when you are just starting out.

Book – 3 is about mastering defensive techniques, book – 4 is about sacrifice, and book – 5 is about finding the winning moves.

Each of these books has around 500 problems. So there’s a ton of material to practice. The problems are thematic and useful and so I highly recommend this book. You can supplement this puzzle book series with basic chess books.

8. 100 Endgames You Must Know By Jesus de la Villa

100 Endgames You Must Know: Vital Lessons for Every Chess Player
  • de la Villa, Jesus (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 256 Pages - 01/15/2016 (Publication Date) - New In Chess (Publisher)

It is really important that you study the endgame concepts early on.

Endgame is the final phase of a chess game. How you play in this phase ultimately whether you are going to win or lose the game.

Therefore, it is important that you clarify the concepts of endgame very well right from the beginning. And this book, 100 endgames you must know, does a great job to strengthen your endgame concepts.

This book shows you the essential positions that are going to show up often in actual games.

Knowing these positions, it will become very easy for you to transit from middlegame to endgame with more depth of understanding.

So this is a wonderful book that will teach you the basics of the endgame.

9. Grandmaster Secrets Endings By Andrew Soltis

Grandmaster Secrets Endings
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Soltis, Andrew (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 214 Pages - 02/01/1997 (Publication Date) - Thinkers Pr Inc / Chessco (Publisher)

This is a good book that teaches the concepts of endgame in a very fun and light-hearted way. There are lots of good advice included in it.

This book covers enough illustrations of the various concepts of the endgames that will help you to grasp the concepts in an easier way.

The book starts with the discussion of what every grandmaster knows about the endgames and then dives in deeper step by step.

It teaches you the concepts in the Socratic student-teacher approach and it means the whole book is written as if the conversation is going on between two characters, GM Noah Tall and Pat Sayre.

Nice use of cartoons is made to convey the important concepts and that makes the book entertaining.

If you want to read a different style chess book that teaches you the endgame concepts in a fun and delightful way then you should definitely read this book.


So these were the best chess books for beginners. One question, you may be still wondering. What should a beginner learn in chess?

Here’s what a beginner should learn in chess:

  1. First, you need to learn the chess basics such as chess board setup, chess pieces moves, chess pieces values, how they interact, and all the basic rules.
  2. Then, you have to learn about how to actually think during the game, how to gain an advantage, and limit the opponent’s options, thus mastering the tactics and strategies.
  3. Finally, you have to apply all the knowledge by solving puzzles and improving your chess skill.

So considering these three steps here’s how the chess books will help to you.

How to decide the best chess book?

Look for books that fulfill your need. First, you have to identify at which level you belong. Are you an absolute beginner, beginner, intermediate or advanced player?

After identifying your need, you have to choose the books accordingly. Selecting the right book is very important for chess improvement because the wrong book will not only waste your money but also your time.

I recommend that you should look for books that discuss the games completely (except endgame and puzzle books). You should get the book only if it has a detailed thorough analysis.

So books that include a few words explaining the game along with the moves are good.

Avoid books, especially those that have no verbal or written instructions.

Also, make sure that the book you choose is fun and interesting to read. A book that is boring and placed on the shelf for years is of no use, isn’t it?

One thing you might have noticed in my chess book recommendations until now is that I have not suggested any opening books.

This is because many chess experts recommended to not spending a lot of time on openings until you reach a higher level.

There is also a popular 20/40/40 rule in chess. According to this rule, a player under 2000 chess rating should spend:

  • 20% time on openings
  • 20% time on middlegame
  • 40% time on endgame

Along with this, you have to practice, solve puzzles and analyze your games. You have to rectify your mistakes, apply your knowledge and ultimately improve your playing skills.

Also Read: Best Chess Books For Intermediate Players


Hope you liked reading this article. If you found this article helpful then please do share it with others.

If you like my recommendations, then you can also read my chess recommendations page where you will find all of my recommended chess products articles.

And since you are a beginner, I highly recommend you to check out my best chess sets for beginners article where I shared my top picks. It will save you a lot of time and help you to choose your desired chess set.

So that’s it! Thanks and have a nice day.