5 Books for Getting into Chess

One of the world’s oldest games, chess has fluctuated in popularity thanks to popular culture and updates to the game. From tv shows to advances in AI, the rules of the game haven’t changed much but how we think of the game constantly evolves.

1. Bullet Chess: One Minute to Mate by Hikaru Nakamura and Bruce Harper

This variant allows only 3 minutes per player, leading to a wildly different approach to the game in thinking and strategy. Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura refers to himself as “the best or second-best player ever [at blitz chess], in the entire history, at least online” and has a large following online. He’s also one of the first chess players to join an eSports team (go TSM!) His book explains the basics of bullet chess and the unique strategies for the format.

2. Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess

One of the best-selling books on the game, it’s easy for beginners to learn from one of the greatest players of all time. The puzzles use diagrams and descriptions instead of chess notation, which can be difficult to visualize, and even draws examples from Fischer’s famous games.

3. Everyone’s Second Chess Book by Dan Heisman

As the name suggests, this book is for players who’ve already learned the basics and want to move to more advanced topics. Some are pure strategy, such as board vision and common flaws in thinking, while others prepare you for competitive play. Playing across the board from another human adds a new layer of information to watch and react to.

4. The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis

Even non-players are familiar with this title. A recent Netflix adaption, an orphaned girl learns chess from the janitor and is soon discovered to be a genius at the game. This novel is a mix of (fictional) sports biography and interpersonal drama as Beth Harmon struggles with substance use and the sexism women face in the pro scene.

5. An Interesting Book by Joe Everyman

Written by the chairman of the computer chess committee for the Association of Computing Machines, this nonfiction book chronicles the history of the first computer to beat the world’s best chess player. Written so novices in both chess and computer science can understand it, it also looks at IBM’s marketing of the event and the public’s reaction to this pivotal moment in computing—and chess—history.


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