I get asked all the time about different resources I use and recommend. That is why I started this page. I keep updating this page whenever I get to it. Especially the beginner section can be bigger and I’m slowly reading some books in order to find the perfect ones to recommend.
Every single resource I recommend I used & tested before including it in the list. Only the best for you! I hope you will find some tools, books & online websites that will help you improve your chess!
Chess Ratings can be confusing at times. How do the given ratings in FIDE translate to ratings such as USCF, Chess.com and Lichess ratings?
Here is an hopefully useful guideline: FIDE > USCF > Chess.com > Lichess.
That means, if you have those 4 ratings, your FIDE rating will most likely be the lowest. By how much? Roughly speaking:
FIDE + 50 = USCF + 50 = Chess.com (Blitz) + 100 = Lichess. That means your Lichess rating will most likely be 200+ points higher than your FIDE rating. Be aware of that difference when choosing a book or learning tool.
A more precise answer for those interested can be found here.
I do get a commission from some of the products you see here at no extra cost to you. I only link to products I deeply enjoy using myself or believe in. If you end up purchasing through my links, I’m very grateful for it. I hope you enjoy those resources as much as I do!
Scroll down to find non-chess books that changed my life. Yes, I’ve read several times more non-chess books than Chess books and would encourage anyone to do so too! Life is so much more than only Chess.
ChessMood is my favorite Website when it comes to chess improvement for Amateurs. It was founded by my dear friend GM Avetik Grigoryan and offers 1:1 calls with GMs, Video courses (including PGN files!), streams, and monthly webinars. All of this for a monthly price of only 29$! Click here to sign up or read my in-depth article here.
I only discovered this amazing FREE tool in 2021 because of a recommendation from a friend. I use it in the preparation for every game now: just enter the username of your opponents chess.com or lichess account and you can see and download all of his online games in few seconds. Google your opponents name+chess.com/lichess to find out the usernames.
Perpetual Chess Podcast
The best Chess Podcast out there! Ben Johnson interviews a wide range of guests: from Adult improvers to former World Champions (Anand & Kramnik). Insights into the greatest minds in Chess and actionable tips & tricks. My former Coach GM Ragger used to listen to the Podcast while analyzing openings. I adopted this approach and loved it. In more than 240 episodes there is something for everyone. I had the honor to be on the show which was released one day after my 25th birthday, on the 19th of October. Check it out!
Chess Tempo is an online Chess website designed to help you improve your chess. The main feature is their free tactics trainer, which I can really recommend. Funnily enough, I never used it myself (my Coaches usually prepared it for me, or I got free access to paid software). But upon getting it recommended by dozen amateurs I checked it out and really like it! I believe it is a great tool to get your daily tactics training in at no cost whatsoever.
Beginner Books <1500 FIDE:
- The Step Chess Method: A great learning tool consisting of 6 manuals specifically designed to teach children chess. Step 1 starts with the very basics such as the rules and mate in 1 and 2. Make sure to check out their detailed description on the homepage to find out which book is for you! As this method is really made for a teacher (parents) beginner interaction, you might find it a bit dull as self-study material. But the content is great!
- How To Beat your Dad at Chess: Wonderful book aimed at children once more, but suitable for adult improvers as well. Easy to understand explanation of the most common checkmating patterns. I have fond memories of discovering all different sort of mates with this book!
- Yusupov’s Chess School – the Fundamentals: An award-winning book series by none other than my former Coach and former #3 GM Artur Yusupov. The series consists of 10 books that cover all different aspects of Chess: endgame, middle game, tactics, and more! I really love the simplicity of having one book for everything. With 1500 FIDE you are at a great point to pick up the series with the fundamentals. If you are closer to 1800 you might want to start with the revision & exam book and then get into the second step, the Beyond the basics series.
- Chess Structures: A Grandmaster Guide. One of my favorite books ever written on Chess. GM Rios explains all the well-known chess structures as simple as it gets. Plans for both sides and model games included. A must-read for any ambitious Chess Player! My recommendation: start with the structures you get from your opening and leave the others aside for the moment. Whenever you pick up a new opening, make sure to read the fitting chapter in the book.
- Bobby Fischer My 60 memorable games: One of the most fascinating ever World Champions shows his 60 best games of his career. Fasten your seat belts, because you are in for some incredibly fascinating attacking chess!
- The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal: Another fascinating World Champion presents his favorite games. I especially love the structure of the book: from his early childhood days, Tal takes us into his World and remembers many details and anecdotes of his career. In this way, it is not only a great game selection but really rather a memoir of his chess life.
- Judit Polgar Teaches Chess: The greatest ever female Chess player takes the reader through her phenomenal career in 3 Books: “How I beat Fischer’s Record” tells the story until Judit became the youngest ever Grandmaster at the time. “From GM To Top Ten” is all about her way from 2500 to 2700+ and entering the Top 10 in the World rankings. The third book “A game of Queens” talks of her time at the Peak and includes a win over Garry Kasparov! I really loved her personal writing style with many amazing insights. Even though I find the circumstances she grew up terrifying, there are great insights as to what it means to be “programmed” for success by an overambitious father.
- The 7 Deadly Chess Sins: A book I would have been proud writing it myself! A deep dive into the 7 most frequent mental causes of disaster in Chess. Especially Numbers 3 ‘Wanting’ and 6 ‘perfectionism’ feel as they are written just for me. Don’t try to “solve” this book. Go through it and really reflect on which of these causes appear to be true for you.
- Yusupov’s Chess School – Beyond the basics: This is the sequel of “Fundamentals” with the same structure. Tactics, strategy, endgames & more are included in each book. Testing exercises are also part of the fun! If you want one book for everything, then this is your go-to! If you are intimidated by starting with book 5 of the series, you can give the revision & exam book a chance before starting with the first beyond the basic.
- Yusupov’s Chess School – Mastery: This is the third and last level of Yusupov’s amazing series. Once you finish the 3 “Beyond the basics”, or if you are rated 2050 FIDE or higher, you can pick up the first Mastery book. Be ready for some very hard positions. But that is exactly what will take your chess to the Next Level. If the first Mastery book appears too hard, you can try to go back one step and take up #3 of Beyond the basics.
- The Woodpecker Method: If you want to improve tactics, then this one is for you! Over 1’000 great puzzles from the best of the best that have ever played our beloved game. THE INTRODUCTION IS A MUST! The special thing about the book is the method of solving the same exercises in bulks again and again. A great challenge and a great tool to fully incorporate the motives into your intuition. I did love to work myself with the book when I was a GM already. As puzzles are easier at the beginning, suitable from 1800+.
- Excelling At Chess Series: Back when Jacob Aagaard was still an IM and not one of the most famous Coaches in the World he already wrote a complete series which I really like. The series is in many ways the small (old) brother to the new Grandmaster series: written around similar concepts, but for a lower rating range. This makes it a great introduction to Aagaard’s ideas. If you heard many good things from him and would love to read something but you aren’t quite 2300 yet, then these books are perfect for you! You can get the general book “Excelling at Chess” before diving into Jacob’s real strengths: Combinational play and Calculation. The third book “Technical and positional play” is also good, but clearly not his main territory. If you liked the other two, you’ll certainly also like this one though.
- Learn from the Legends – Chess Champions at Their Best: If you only want to read one book about classics then it should be this one! Marin analyzes the big strength of 9 big Champions from Rubinstein to Carlsen. I would recommend to read the book in a leisurely mood and skip some of the longer lines. What counts is the impression of the grandiose play of these champions when they are in their favorite positions. I remember starting to read the book before a game, getting inspired by Rubinstein’s Rook endgame play and totally outplaying my opponent in a rook ending myself. Might be placebo, but seems it worked anyway :-).
- Grandmaster Preparation Series by GM Aagaard: An amazing series if you take Chess seriously and want to put in some hard work to go towards some titles (or is already titled!). Do NOT touch this series if you don’t want to strain yourself! I’d recommend starting with Thinking inside the Box which is the general book of the series. Then, I loved solving the Calculations book. After working through this book, I had a more organized thought process and was able to calculate much more precisely. Endgame Play, Attack & Defense, Positional Play & Strategic Play are also great, but not quite the level of the first two mentioned. Still, all are recommended!
- Decision-Making Series by GM Gelfand: Another amazing series by Quality Chess (by far the best Quality Chess books). Especially the first one: Positional Decision Making in Chess is just incredible. Gelfand takes the reader (with the help of Aagaard) through his thought process during the games. As positional Play was always his big strength and can be explained quite easily, this is simply a Masterpiece. I also liked the three sequels: Dynamic & Technical decision making as well as Decision Making In Major Piece Endings. All these books are more entertaining and less “hard-work” than Aagaards series. You will be done faster & can also read them without a Board at your hand.
- Perfect your Chess: Great exercises to really test yourself. The Book is divided into 3 parts: Make a Move, Find the win & answer a question. Especially the first Chapter is very useful because it perfectly reflects the game situation: you don’t know if there is a winning tactic or simply a nice postional move! The exercises are very testing. As the authors describe: the first 40 exercises are aimed at FM Level (2300 FIDE), then 40 at IM Level (2400), and finally 20 at GM Level (20). So make sure to be at least very close to 2300 when picking the book up. I solved major parts as an IM and all exercises were testing. Great way to improve your decision-making.
- Finding Chess Jewels: Another collection of exercises. They start pretty easy and never get as hard as the ones in ‘Calculation’ or ‘Perfect your chess’. If you are above 2200 and would like to start solving exercises, this is a great book to start. Can be seen as an introduction into harder puzzle solving & calcuation books.
NON CHESS BOOKS
List of different books that have influenced me over the past couple of years. True to the “Hell yes or No” approach, I only list books I would give at least a 9/10. Books that are good but not really life-changing don’t find their way in this list. I hope you find something that has the same positive influence on your life.
- Jack Reacher Thriller series by Lee Child. It has been great fun to read this thriller series in the past couple of years. I started to read “Killing Floor” to improve my English for the TOEFL test when I was contemplating studying in the USA. I passed the test, never saw the inside of a university, but found a highly entertaining Thriller series. Full of action, laughs & excitement.
- Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins. This book has literally changed my life. I picked it up in Summer 2018, one of the darkest periods of my life. I still suffered from the consequences of my accident in 2017 and had no idea what to do with my life. I did not really have the drive, nor did I have big goals or believe in myself. By reading this book I again sat in the driver’s seat for my life, got more enthusiastic, and started several interesting projects. I then went on to read 100+ books and listen to many more podcasts because I felt the impact of it. Be ready to cry, have some deep insights, and do hard work on yourself as a person! This book is work, but it can change your life!
- Atomic Habits by James Clear. Habits are the things we do without consciously planning them. Some habits are great, others (like waking up and checking our phone) are not really good. This book explains how habits work and delivers solutions to making good habits stick & getting rid of bad habits. Must read, no matter what your current goal/situation is!
- The 4-hour-workweek by Tim Ferriss. The reason I started this Blog! Instead of measuring success in money, Tim offers a new solution. The success of the “new rich” is defined in three currencies: Time, finances, freedom of movement. In 4 steps: definition, elimination, automation & liberation one can gain more time, more income, and great freedom of movement. Contains also a lot of tricks for employed people, not only for freelancers!
- Hell Yes or No by Derek Sivers. A book full of wisdom. Condensed to only the best articles Derek has ever written. I revisit this book extremely frequently. Especially the approach of “Hell yes or no” defined my last couple of years. If you had X appointment tomorrow, would you be super excited to go? If you can’t answer this question with Hell Yes, then don’t say yes to the appointment in the first place.
- Your Music and people by Derek Sivers
- Anything you want by Derek Sivers
- How to Live by Derek Sivers
- Essentialism by Greg McKeown
- Effortless by Greg McKeown
- Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss
- Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss
- Money by Tony Robbins
- I will teach you to be rich by Ramit Sethi
- Stumbling On Happiness by Daniel Gilbert
- The courage to be disliked by Fumitake Koga and Ichiro Kishimi (highly recommend the audio version here!)
- The courage to be happy by Fumitake Koga and Ichiro Kishimi (highly recommend the audio version here!)
- Josh Waitzkin, The Art of Learning
- The obstacle is the way by Ryan Holiday
- Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
- Stillness is the Key by Ryan Holiday
- Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach
- How to stop worrying and start living, Dale Carnegie
- Man’s search for meaning by Victor Frankl
- How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie
- The subtle art of not giving a f*ck by Mark Manson