There are plenty of books on the game but relatively few really aimed at the young player. Even some aimed at juniors lack the right language and style, and seem too detailed. Here I am listing the best junior books and some books written for adults which will suit improving young players.
Most of these books are currently available, and some you might find second-hand. I make no apology for including my own titles, co-written with Dave Regis.
Ten Ways to Succeed in the Opening - Tim Onions and Dave Regis (Onions) £4.95
For young players taking part in their first tournaments, this book explains the key principles and introduces a couple of openings for juniors to play. Part of a series of books with a child-friendly layout, written in clear English and illustrated with cartoons.
Chess Traps - Mike Basman (Audio Chess) £0.90
A survival guide for the first few moves, explaining how to avoid the most common traps that beginners fall into.
Chess Openings for Kids (Gambit) £9.99
In the same style as Chess tactics for kids and How to beat your dad this is a good one for the serious improving junior.
Openings 4 Now (Levens) £5
Paper booklet which covers the main lines of the Guioco Piano and Two Knights Defence thoroughly.
All the remaining books in this section are written for adults, but would suit good readers.
Improve Your Opening Play - Chris Ward (Everyman) £10.99
This introduces the main named openings in a readable format. (There are also books on Middlegame and Endgame play in this series).
Winning Chess Openings - Yasser Seirawan (Everyman) £14.99
Part of a popular series of basic books for adults, this is another guide to opening principles and the most important openings.
If you want a book on an individual opening, then the Starting Out series, published by Everyman, are probably the most readable, but they are written for adults. The series includes books on the Ruy Lopez, Queen's Gambit, French Defence, Sicilian Defence and the Nimzo-Indian Defence.
Ten Ways to Succeed in the Middlegame - Tim Onions and Dave Regis (Onions) £4.95
For young players taking part in their first tournaments. You will learn how to think about your position, how to spot tactics and work out combinations of moves, and how to make a plan for all your pieces. Part of a series of books with a child-friendly layout, written in clear English and illustrated with cartoons.
Middlegame Essentials - David Levens (4Now) £4.50
A colourful but rather dense book explaining positional ideas in the middlegame.
For books on Chess Tactics, see our recommendations under Chess Puzzles below.
Books of complete games
Logical Chess: Move by Move - Irving Chernev (Batsford) £14.99
A classic collection where literally every move is explained in witty prose, starting with attacking play.
Chess: the art of logical thinking - Neil MacDonald (Batsford) £14.99
A modern version of Chernev's idea
Ten Ways to Succeed in the Endgame - Tim Onions and Dave Regis (Onions) £4.95
For young players taking part in their first tournaments. You will learn how to make the most of the few opieces left and how to get an extra Queen. You need to practise the basic checkmates, and this book shows you how. Part of a series of books with a child-friendly layout, written in clear English and illustrated with cartoons.
Improve your Endgame Play - Glenn Flear (Everyman) £12.99
The third in Everyman's Improvers series for adults, this is a clear and helpful guide to the next ideas in endgame play.
An admirably clear summary with nice examples.
Chess Endgames for Kids - Muller (Gambit) £9.99
Chess Puzzles in One Move - Tim Onions and Dave Regis (Onions) £4.95
For young players taking part in their first tournaments. By working through these puzzles, and finding the next move in each position, the young player will learn to spot chances in their games. Part of a series of books with a child-friendly layout, written in clear English and illustrated with cartoons.
Chess Tactics for Kids - Murray Chandler (Gambit) £9.99
With short chapters and aimed at younger players, this makes an excellent next step after our books. Hardback.
How to beat your Dad at chess - Murray Chandler (Gambit) £9.99
In the same style, this catchy title is actually a book of checkmate patterns. Hardback. Recommended.
Mate in One Move and Mate in Two moves - Mike Basman (Audio Chess) £2.25 and £1.50
Chess Puzzles for Kids - Murray Chandler £9.99
Winning Chess Exercises for Kids - Jeff Coakley (Chess'n'Math Association) £19.99
A bumper bundle of puzzles, which uses the same happy combination of cartoons and bright colours as our books.
Winning Chess Puzzles for Kids - Jeff Coakley (Chess'n'Math Association) £19.99
Winning Chess Puzzles for Kids Volume 2 - Jeff Coakley (Chess'n'Math Association) £21.99
A more advanced sets of puzzles, with a real mixture of easy mates, tough endgames and entertainment.
(Tactics and combinations are important at all stages of the game, and so some of these books have opening and endgame positions as well.)
Checkmate Tactics - Kasparov (Everyman) £9.99
See the Price List for books usually in stock
Complete book of Chess - (Usborne) £9.99.
Highly recommended! In the true colourful and clear style of the range of Usborne books this teaches how to play but also goes that bit further - with chapters on the Opening, Middle and endgame and tactics and checkmates for example. Great for the new player who wants something more than just a beginner's book.
Chess for Children - Murray Chandler (Gambit) £9.99
Attractive black-and-white design in hardback, covering the main elements of the game for complete beginners.
Beginner to Winner - Basman (Audio Chess) £6.95.
Claims to be the best beginners' book ever written - it certainly covers the very basics of how to play in a clear format although not in colour - good value.
Checkmate! My first chess book - Garry Kasparov (Everyman) £9.99
Clear and colourful hardback.
And to progress further....
These are just some of the titles I keep in stock -- do contact me if you want further advice. I would also be delighted to hear about your favourite books.
It is possible to order most chess books in print - please ask if you require a particular title.