Chess For Novices - A Guide for Fresh Beginners and Aspiring Novices

Main Menu Basics - Tactics - Strategy - Openings - Places to Play - Improvement Main Menu

The Best Chess Books for Beginners and Novices (Part 1)

A quick search on Amazon will turn up thousands of possible chess books for you to dive into. This series of pages will guide you through what we consider to be the best chess books for beginners and novices.

Complete Beginners

If you're completely new to the game, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Chess is a great place to start. Patrick Wolff - an International Grandmaster and two-time US Champion - starts off with an engaging walk through chess history, rules, and basic checkmate patterns. Parts two and three form the meat of the book, tackling tactics and strategy respectively. The fourth and final part is a grab bag, covering topics from continuing studies - to over the board club play - to computer and internet chess.

All-in-all, Wolff has written a fantastic introductory book that should be accessible to fresh beginners and aspiring novices alike.


A diverse tactical library should form the heart of any chess student's collection. Remember, it is essential to go over the problems more than once! When you work on tactical problems you're developing both your analysis and pattern recognition skills. The latter skill can only be improved by repetition of problems. Check out our series on Beginning Chess Tactics if you need a refresher.

Winning Chess Tactics by Yasser Seirawan is a great read. Seirawan - an international grandmaster, four-time US Champion, and well-known commentator - has an engaging writing style that makes working your way through this book a pleasure. Seirawan balances the obligatory tactical problems (137 in total) with an unusually large amount of commentary and explanatory text. The anecdotes from Yasser's past playing career are particularly exciting.

Back to Basics: Tactics by Dan Heisman is another solid addition to your tactics collection. Heisman offers a lot less text than Seirawan, but a lot more problems (434 in total). Heisman does a fantastic job of introducing the basic tactical motifs - doing justice to his reputation as the godfather of adult novice instruction.

Chess: 5334 Problems, Combinations, and Games by Laszlo Polgar is the ultimate pure checkmate problem book. In fact, there are probably enough checkmate problems in here to keep you satisfied for a lifetime! Polgar knows a thing or two about chess instruction, having fathered and trained the famous Polgar Sisters.

Back - Next
Chess Improvement - Table of Contents
Beginner Level
Novice Level - Board Vision - Part 2
Tournament Level - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Thought Process
Best Books for Novices - Part 2 - Part 3