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This is a page dedicated to books written by Grandmasters Emms, Speelman, Nunn, McDonald, and Gallagher, and International Masters Watson and Palliser. These gentlemen are excellent writers and seem to put a great deal of effort into all of their books. Here are a few of their best works with brief comments from me. Please be aware that you are not on an Amazon page, you are on one of my pages with links to Amazon. A 'lighter' (table free) version of this page is available here. If a link to a book is not showing properly please just refresh/reload the page.

Books by John Nunn
Understanding Chess Move by Move

A selection of games analysed and explained by the great John Nunn, one of the best chess authors of all time. His writing style makes use of his pedagogical past being as is it lucid, clear, and penetrating. This is a book very much in the mould of Chernev's "Logical Chess, Move by Move" with sackfulls of explanations and insights. If you liked Chernev's book then you'll like this one too.

Secrets of Practical Chess

This is a book full of advice for the improving player. The advice is extremely useful and includes material on how to build an openings repertoire and how to handle the clock. Nunn also highlights common defects in the way players think and offers tips for avoiding these problems. Nunn often condenses his advice (after explaining it properly) into a memorable acronym, examples of which include "KISS" (keep it simple, stupid) "DAUT" (don't analyse unnecessary tactics) and "LPDO" [pronounced 'el-pee-dee-oh'] (loose pieces drop off).

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 reasonably versatile player. As usual with Nunn, the analysis is bullet proof and the explanation superb. This book will most appeal to you if you enjoy crisp tactics and neat and tidy (but complex) combinations. The approach is different from "Secrets of Practical Chess" in that this is a games collection with some autobiographical content rather than being primarily an instructional tome.

Books by John Emms
Easy Guide to the Nimzo-Indian

A very very good book. The lines Emms recommends 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 (it offers a repertoire for black) but it does not attempt to. The introduction in which the power of the two bishops is explained is excellent and very valuable. 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 omission of which is revealed on the front and back covers. The lines suggested are generally active and aggressive but still sound and the repertoire hangs together very well indeed. 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 writers I could mention, Emms does not replace variations with words, but rather allows them to complement one another, (which is as it should be).

Books by John Speelman
Jon Speelman's Best Games

Speelman is a perfectionist. This shows through in the book. The depth of analysis is a 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.

Endgame Preparation

More analysis from Speelman, but this time focusing on the endgame, an area in which his expertise 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.

Books by Joe Gallagher

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'.

Books by Neil McDonald

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 encyclopaedia, but it is a sound book, and very handy.

French Winawer

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 excels 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).

Books by John Watson

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 laid 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. The idea is to show how the theories presented in "Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy" are applied in practice. Echoes of Nimzowitsch's "Chess Praxis"? 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.

Books by Richard Palliser

Play 1.d4!

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.

The Modern Benoni Revealed

The Benoni is a sharp opening often used when a win is needed. Palliser is a very thorough author and provides plenty of carefully considered advice and detailed analysis. The layout of the book is a little strange (all books in the "Opening X Revealed" series from Batsford have pretty much the same format so authors have to fit their material into a slightly strange mould) but Palliser copes with this very well. The book is very readable and not so densely packed as "Playing 1.d4". It offers an excellent introduction to the Modern Benoni.

Tango! A complete defence to 1.d4

In case you don't know, the Tango is an opening for black which goes 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 Nc6!?. It's one of the few genuinely unorthodox openings which has some real pedigree. Orlov wrote a book on this opening back in 1998 so it is certainly high time for a new one. Palliser is well suited to the task, being something of an expert on this opening. It's been an important part of his repertoire with the black pieces and he has even had to face it a few times with white. If you're looking for an offbeat but genuinely sound defence against 1. d4 then this may be the book for you!