Essential Chess Books For Beginners

Chess Books for Beginners

While experienced players already have a feel for the game of chess, new players need the essential materials to help them along their way to becoming a grandmaster.

We’ve picked the best chess books we believe will help you wrap your head around the game. Whether it’s for getting to know the game, learning how to play with strategic prowess, or simply practicing.

These are some of the most complete beginner chess books we found. Everybody starts somewhere, so why not start here?

Top 4 Chess Books for Beginners (Our Review)

Let’s Play Chess: A Step by Step Guide for New Players (2nd Edition) – Bruce Pandolfini

Let's Play Chess: A Step-By-Step Guide for New Players (Pandolfini Chess Library)
  • Pandolfini, Bruce (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 224 Pages - 03/30/2009 (Publication Date) - Russell Enterprises (Publisher)

Considered to be one of the most experienced chess teachers in the United States, Bruce Pandolfini is an American chess coach, author, and teacher. He also possesses the title of National Master on the United States Chess Federation.

The second edition was published in 2008 while the first was published in 1980. Pandolfini wrote the book to lure you into what he called the “royal game.”

The lessons included in the book are the same that he teaches his students, many of whom have gone on to become long-standing chess celebrities (chesslebrities?).

What’s more, he’s taken what he learned teaching these classes and modified his lessons according to the problems and questions his students had. Some of the ideas even came from his students, showing that you’re never too old to keep learning.

Pandolfini’s book is straight to the point, breaking down the fundamentals of chess into short, coherent passages. Important ideas are clearly outlined and numbered in an orderly fashion. You can read through the entire book to get up to speed on the centuries-old game, or flip through it to get to the answers you’re looking for.

The concepts are introduced in sequence from novice, then intermediate, and, finally, advanced.

Let’s Play Chess teaches you how to think about the moves you’re going to make, and where it’s needed replaces calculations with straightforward explanations as to how and why those decisions need to be made. The book is full of diagrams that cover almost all of the ideas discussed.

While we think it’s got some great information, for $20, the book seems too short. There are only 120 pages of useful information while the rest is mainly the conclusion. It’s definitely worth picking up, but we’d suggest trying to pick it up on sale or at a second-hand bookstore.


  • Instructive and direct
  • Good for beginners or old players
  • Informative
  • Contains several diagrams


  • Too short
  • Overpriced

Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess – Stuart Margulies

Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess
  • Bantam, A great option for a Book Lover
  • Must try for a book lover
  • Compact for travelling
  • Bobby Fischer (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

As a novice who has just started out playing chess, it’s important to understand the rules of the game and the best chess strategies that come along with it. This is one of the best chess books for beginners ever written.

The book discusses a variety of ideas, including some of the latest and most advanced strategies in the chess world. It provides you with practical examples of realistic problems as well as several exercises that will have you playing against advanced players in no time.

It’s a good source to read on different strategies and aims to have you master chess manners such as a back-rank attack, pinning, interposing, and more. It even explains how to write chess notation and the three phases of the game: opening, middlegame, and endgame.

The book covers all the basics, from how each chessman moves, pawn structure, and how to go about your attack. It explains game plans and positional growth, too. There is a ton of information on the best strategies for achieving checkmate and even reasons why sacrificing some chessmen is beneficial.

At first, you might get confused by how the book is printed as some pages are upside down. It is designed like that because the answers would be on the next page. Once you are done reading, you flip the book upside down and go the other way. It’s available in its mass-produced paperback version for around $10.


  • Discusses rules of the game
  • Covers strategies, concepts, and principles
  • Steady paced exploration of examples
  • Fair price


  • Printed abnormally

Chess For Beginners – Craig Medina

Chess for Beginners: The Complete Guide to Basics, Tactics and Strategies to Start Playing like a Grandmaster and Win Every Single Game.
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Medina, Craig (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 118 Pages - 02/03/2021 (Publication Date)

Chess for Beginners: The Complete Guide to Basics, Tactics, and Strategies to Start Playing like a Grandmaster is a book that is what claims to be.

It offers strategies that can be used when playing chess against a strong opponent as well as breakdowns of all the rules and tactics a beginner chess player needs to master early on. The book will also help you understand how to read the notations of each piece, square, and move.

Chess for Beginners is a full course book set to explain concepts that are central to chess in an easy-to-digest way. The book also covers common mistakes you may have already made as a beginner and shows you how to get around them before they become a habit.

There are a bunch of exercises that you can use to prepare before playing. By covering these lessons you’ll be able to make winning chess moves against any opponent. In no time, displacing defenders and the swapping mechanism will come easily.

Chess For Beginners aims to improve both your offensive skills and critical thinking abilities. It provides you with rules for setting the board, making the right choices, and chess notation. Even going as far as discussing pawn structure, opening principles, as well as techniques and strategies for middle and endgame.

Chess for Beginners can be bought for around $15, which isn’t a bad price for what the book has to offer. It’s not a lot of pages to go through, and it has been recently published.


  • Covers a large foundation
  • Suitable for beginners
  • Written by an International Master
  • Informative and practical


  • Not enough diagrams
  • Sometimes over-simplified

Winning Chess Strategy for Kids – Jeff Coakley

Winning Chess Strategy for Kids
  • Jeff Coakley (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 240 Pages - 12/01/2000 (Publication Date) - Chess'n Math Association (Publisher)

It wouldn’t be a comprehensive list if we didn’t include something for our younger chess players, right? Chess coaches and teachers alike often recommend that a good age to start playing chess is around 7 or 8 years old.

Winning Chess Strategy for Kids is a thorough course meant for children between the ages of 7 and 13. The book divides chess strategy into three parts starting with the basic rules, elementary tactics, and basic mates.

It continues to more intermediate strategies that include developing chess pieces, pawn structure, and how to attack a defended king. Lastly, it covers plans to use for middlegame and endgame techniques which are explained in the clearest possible way.

The book is written thematically, which means that the lessons are scattered throughout the book to keep young players interested as they work through it page by page.

There are sections in the book that are divided into Kiril’s Klass, Combo Mombo, Tactics 101, Chess Lingo, and Other Stuff.

Kiril’s Klass provides lessons on things like basic mates, positional motifs, and simple endgames. Tactics 101 and Combo Mombo examine combinational devices like discoveries, x-rays, forks, and so on.

The Chess Lingo section explains in detail the different terms and phrases such as zugzwang, kibitz, and fianchetto in an easy-to-understand way. Other Stuff includes niche chess rules, notation, and basic etiquette that all young players should know.

As a book for children, it includes drawings and illustrations that make it entertaining for the young and aspiring players.

However, the book will cost you around $40, which is a bit much when you also consider that this chess book was published in 2000. Although the rules of chess haven’t meaningfully changed over the last 20 years, some of the strategies and lingo are a little out of date.


  • Caters to children
  • Lots of illustrations
  • Simplifies confusing ideas
  • Lessons are instructive
  • Useful to the novice player


  • Expensive for a chess book
  • Somewhat outdated

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