Books by John Nunn
Understanding Chess Move by Move
A selection of games analysed and explained (mostly explained) by the great John Nunn, one of the best chess authors of all time. His explanations make use of his pedagogical past being as they are lucid, clear, and penetrating.
Secrets of Practical Chess
Another offerning from Nunn, this time giving advice for "the improving player". The advice is simply superb and includes material on how to build an openings repertoire and how to handle the clock. I doubt that anyone could fail to benefit from reading (and studying) this book.
Secrets of Grandmaster Chess
Nunn annotates and explains some of his own games. His style is generally "concrete" and tactical but his games show that he is a versatile and well rounded player. As usual with Nunn, the analysis is bullet proof and the explanation superb.
Easy Guide to the Nimzo-Indian
A very very good book. The lines he reccomends are on the whole both sound and interesting and his style of writing is wonderful. The book does not provide complete coverage of the opening but it does not attempt to. Very enjoyable to read and very informative.
Play The Open Games As Black
This is an excellent book. It covers all the important systems after 1. e4 e5, except the ruy lopez, the ommission of which is revealed on the front and back covers. No gaps, no mistakes (that I could find), nice layout, witty and engaging style.
The French Tarrasch
Excellent coverage of the Tarrasch variation of the French which is popular with both positional and tactical players. Emms provides good theoretical coverage and as always, plenty of verbal explanation. Unlike some other writers however, Emms does not replace variations with words, but rather allows them to complement one another, (which is as it should be).
Jon Speelman's Best Games
Speelman is a perfectionsist. This shows through in the book. The depth of analysis is phenomenal wave after wave of variations. If you want to really understand the games of a Super-Grandmaster then this is the book for you.
More analysis from Speelman, but this time focusing on the endgame, an area in which his expretise is unquestionable. A very fine endgame book.
Analysing the Endgame
Speelman has a wonderful way of helping you to understand complex endgame positions. He begins by offering relatively simple positions with themes similar to those present in the example he is working up to so that when you arrive there it all seems to make sense. This is a very effective method. A superb endgame book.
The Magic of Mikhail Tal
Gallagher always puts his all into every book he writes and Mikhail Tal was the greatest tactician of all time. Given these two facts it was inevitable that the this book would be fantastic. So it is. Tal's fiery tactical play combined with Gallagher's enthusiastic and revealing commentary and analysis make this one of the best annotated games collections around.
Winning With the King's Gambit
The Kings Gambit is a romantic opening and should appeal to players willing to fight with their heart in their hand. Gallagher plays this opening himself which shows that he has faith in it. This book will provide you with all you need to play this exciting opening with white. Terrify your opponents with devastating sacrificial attacks!
101 Attacking Ideas in Chess
This book is essentially a collection of puzzles which contain re-usable attacking ideas. The correct method of prosecuting the attack is explained in each case and so you can try out the positions yourself first and then check Gallagher's analysis to make sure you chose the right lines for the right reasons. The sort of book you can just 'dip into'.
Concise Chess Openings
It does exactly what it says on the front. It is a genuine pocket book (fat, but small), which outlines and explains all the most important, (and some of the less important) openings. Clearly, in a small book you can't expect comprehensive coverage of everything and this book cannot really compete with genuine openings encyclpedias, but it is a sound book, and very handy.
Perhaps just a little too much explanation and a little too little analysis but this is still a sound book which will serve any Winawer player well. I'm not sure I agree with McDonald's assessment of the system which he dubbs the "Winawer declined" namely 5. ... Ba5, but apart from his over optimism about this line his assessments seem to me to be about right. Good coverage but perhaps most suitable for players under 2200 elo.
Mastering the French
The book is divided into themed sections and each deals with a different type of position. Playing through the sections helps you to appreciate how the different kinds of positions can be arrived at and how best to handle them when they arrive. McDonald excells particularly in his verbal explanations but the concrete analysis he offers is also of a very high standard (as you would expect from a GM).
Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy
The book has the subtitle "advances since Nimzowich" and the first part of the book covers most of "My System" the classic text. The second half looks at how the rules layed down by Nimzowich are now seen as being little more than rules of thumb which modern Masters often dispense with. Despite the authors claim that this book is not intended as an instructional book I think that it would be difficult for someone to study it without becoming a better player. This is a classic and will still be around in 100 years.
Chess Strategy in Action
This book is an extension of Watson's excellent "Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy". A sequel if you like. It was voted ChessCafe book of the year in 2003. Jolly good.
Play the French
The French Defence Player's 'Bible'. 'Play the French' has been the standard text book for French Defence players since it first came out all those years ago. If you play the French Defence then you should own a copy of this book. It is as simple as that. It is in fact a repertoire book which is therefore not comprehensive but rather looks at the opening from Black's perspective. For example the Rubinstein variation is not covered (but the new edition does cover the Burn variation). The new edition covers variations not present in the previous editions but also throws out some material. For a devoted French Defence player it might therefore be worth having both the second and third editions.
This is a rare example of a really excellent repertoire book. It provides white with all the material necessary to play 1. d4 with confidence. The lines selected are safe, sound, and promise white at least an edge. Occasional typing errors are slightly annoying (e.g. 7. Bf4 instead of 7. f4 at the beginning of the chapter on the Benoni) but cannot spoil this superb book. The analysis is robust and comprehensive and the advice on plans and strategies is insightful and revealing.
101 Chess Opening Surprises
Lots of surprises to baffle your opponents. Also some nice improvements on existing theory. I especially liked Ng5 vs. the Old indian. Note that unless you have a very broad openings repertoire only parts of the book will be directly relevant to you. However, the themes which occur in the examples given can also occur in other positions so all the surprises offered are worth examining.
The Mammoth Book of Chess
A big book of chess. Just lots of chess. If it's to do with chess, it's probably in there! Very well written. An enjoyable read. Perhaps an ideal gift for a chess playing friend?
This book is organised not by opening but by theme, though there is an index of gambits in the back. Excercises are scattered throughout the text which test your understanding of the themes being explained. The material is sound and well presented. An excellent piece of pro-gambit propaganda!
Nunn's Chess Openings
The best complete coverage of all the chess openings. This all star British team of analysts provide the very best coverage of all the openings available in a single volume. NCO is primerily a reference work so explanation is kept to a minimum. However, in conjunction with a monograph on the opening you wish to play this will give you a more complete (and objective) picture.