I've expanded my library - advice sought on read order

Discuss anything you like about chess related matters in this forum.
guyhayton
Posts: 28
Joined: Thu Nov 18, 2010 11:04 pm
Location: Liverpool

I've expanded my library - advice sought on read order

Post by guyhayton » Sun Aug 14, 2011 9:07 pm

Colleagues... I started to play chess online last October - so just coming up to the close of my first year.

As always with a new hobby I start, I dived straight in and bought all the gadgets, sets and computer programs - Aquarium Rybka 2011, Fritz 12, Chessmaster XI

I only ever got a third of a way through John Nunn's learn chess and then started playing correspondence chess on SchemingMind.com. I've finally concluded that knowing the piece moves is not enough <yeah, I know!> and I need to study more.

Anyway, the reason for my post - I've just had a weekend of Amazon spending, and consequently my chess library over the next week will more than double. I am hoping I should have a great starter collection now and was wondering if more esteemed members can advise me on the best order to read/study over the next 12 months.

I have:

Learn Chess, John Nunn
Keene on Chess, Raymond Keene
Logical Chess:Move by Move, Irving Chernev
Winning Chess Openings, Yasser Seirawan
Winning Chess Tactics, Yasser Seirawan
Winning Chess Strategies, Yasser Seirawan
Winning Chess Endings, Yasser Seirawan


And of course the ubiquitous Batsford MCO.

Thanks in advance

Jonathan Bryant
Posts: 3248
Joined: Sun May 11, 2008 3:54 pm

Re: I've expanded my library - advice sought on read order

Post by Jonathan Bryant » Sun Aug 14, 2011 9:56 pm

guyhayton wrote:Colleagues... I started to play chess online last October - so just coming up to the close of my first year.
Kind of depends what your playing level is/relative strengths and weaknesses are. Allow me to make a few bets with myself:-

1. Geoff Chandler will say post some of your games so he can get an idea about your playing level. (And he'll be right. That's a good idea).

2. Most people will suggest Logical Chess

3. Not many, if anybody, will suggest the Ray Keene book.



I reckon, assuming that you're starting from a relatively low base, the order of study probably isn't that important. As long as you're studying something, that's what important.

Also, if I might be so bold as to offer some unsolicited advice: improving at chess is about studying books not buying them. If you buy a lot of books without knowing what to look at first you're kind of wasting your money. Actually, what you are is on your way to being me: 20+ years in, lots of books on the shelves, few of them actually read thoroughly, still rubbish at chess. WARNING: you do not want to be me.

Enjoy your books.

Paul Cooksey

Re: I've expanded my library - advice sought on read order

Post by Paul Cooksey » Sun Aug 14, 2011 10:24 pm

Jonathan Bryant wrote:2. Most people will suggest Logical Chess
Speaking as one of most people, it really is very good.

Jonathan Bryant
Posts: 3248
Joined: Sun May 11, 2008 3:54 pm

Re: I've expanded my library - advice sought on read order

Post by Jonathan Bryant » Sun Aug 14, 2011 10:37 pm

Paul Cooksey wrote:
Jonathan Bryant wrote:2. Most people will suggest Logical Chess
Speaking as one of most people, it really is very good.
I win! Now what do I owe myself?

guyhayton
Posts: 28
Joined: Thu Nov 18, 2010 11:04 pm
Location: Liverpool

Re: I've expanded my library - advice sought on read order

Post by guyhayton » Sun Aug 14, 2011 11:55 pm

Excellent points made by many... SchemingMind puts me at a rating of 1500+ after 10 months
It doesn't mean anything, really as it comes down to whom you are playing and my consistency isn't great.

It was on this forum that I heard Logical Chess being recommended so it went on my Amazon wishlist. The Winning Chess series books came from recommendations I have picked up elsewhere on the interweb.

To be honest, as I have just spent £400 in a weekend with Amazon - the following observations apply:
(1) I'm stupid
(2) I was drunk
(3) I buy too many books
(4) I have a Kindle habit as well
(5) I like cooking & recipe books
(6) I am depressed
(7) I just got promoted (so I deserved a treat!!!)
(8) I've just had two bottles of a very fine Rioja and a LE Upmann Cigar

So 20+ years in I may have regrets, but they will add to the many I have already!!
Seriously though, it is a very fair point - as proven by John Nunn's book that is only a third completed - the important thing is to study and read the *damn things*.

What is intriguing is the 'not many would recommend the Keene book. This was recommended to me specifically by a Canadian chess friend, and I had to get a copy sent over from Vermont (out of print here) Is it a bad book? Or is there something else I should know????

User avatar
Christopher Kreuzer
Posts: 7532
Joined: Fri Aug 06, 2010 2:34 am
Location: London

Re: I've expanded my library - advice sought on read order

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Mon Aug 15, 2011 6:07 am

The order depends on the books, and I don't know enough about the books or your playing strength to suggest the right order (hopefully others will say more about the books), but if you find yourself struggling to understand something in one of the books, try an easier one first. It is very easy to read books aimed at stronger players and not get much benefit from them.

Having said that, I think the question (following the revelation of the money spent) is better phrased as:

"What is the best way to spend £400 as a chess player?"

You already have sets and chess engines (chess playing computer programs), so we can cross those off the list. Though to be honest I'm not sure that a computer program is the top priority on such a list, so I'm going to assume you don't have those and say whether or not the first £400 should include those.

I would spend the £400 on (in this order):

(1) Pocket chess set
(2) Chess club subscription(s)
(3) Starter chess books
(4) Chess magazine subscription(s)
(5) Chess computer program(s)
(6) More advanced chess books
(7) Tournament entry fees
(8) Initial lessons with chess coach
(9) Database of chess games
(10) Advanced chess books
(11) More lessons with chess coach
(12) Time, money and motivation to go further

[I'm wondering how much the above costs over a period of 10-20 years?]

The last is unlikely if chess stays as only a hobby (though it can be very difficult to stop playing once the bug has bitten you). At various points along the way, do get a full-size set and clock for proper training and analysis sessions. Do (as has been suggested) read the books and not simply buy them (something I tend to do as well, buy them and not always read them). And do keep scores of your game and go over them with other players and with a computer program and use the results of analysis to guide your development.

But above all, just enjoy playing the game and the friends you can make from playing the game and (if you get into that side of things) the history and culture of chess. There is some saying which I always misquote, about how chess is an ocean in which an elephant can bathe and from which a gnat can drink (meaning people can get a lot from chess, no matter what their level of play).

Andrew Stone
Posts: 141
Joined: Fri Feb 18, 2011 11:13 am

Re: I've expanded my library - advice sought on read order

Post by Andrew Stone » Mon Aug 15, 2011 8:05 am

guyhayton wrote: Seriously though, it is a very fair point - as proven by John Nunn's book that is only a third completed - the important thing is to study and read the *damn things*.
Amen to that. I have loads of books and I have been holding back buying from buying more (not entirely successfully) until I have made use of what I already have. "Reading" also can mean reading any text and maybe looking at diagrams. It should really consist of going through all the "boring" variations ideally working things out for yourself before seeing what they recommend as the main course of action. Always wanting more and not making use of what you have seems to be a very common trait for most things in this country. May help explain partly why we are in the economic mess we are in.

Jonathan Bryant
Posts: 3248
Joined: Sun May 11, 2008 3:54 pm

Re: I've expanded my library - advice sought on read order

Post by Jonathan Bryant » Mon Aug 15, 2011 8:47 am

Andrew Stone wrote:I have loads of books and I have been holding back buying from buying more (not entirely successfully) until I have made use of what I already have.
Needless to say, I don't practice what I preach either. I don't think there's anything wrong with acquiring chess books at all. It's just that collecting books is not the same thing as trying to get better. Both are noble pursuits.

As for the Keene book, well that particular one might be good for all I know. Never read it. He's got a reputation for churning out pap though. Shame since his earlier work - mid 70s and before was genuinely ground breaking.

Not that you couldn't get something out of it even if it's not the greatest book ever.

Arshad Ali
Posts: 704
Joined: Mon Feb 22, 2010 12:27 pm

Re: I've expanded my library - advice sought on read order

Post by Arshad Ali » Mon Aug 15, 2011 9:34 am

The Seirawan books are okay -- but nothing great. Keene I would give a miss. Nunn is good and Chernev is good. You've probably made some purchasing mistakes but live and learn, as my gaffer used to say.

With what you have, work through the Nunn book first, then the Seirawan books on tactics, endings, and strategies (but not the openings book), and then the Chernev book. Work through them conscientiously and not too fast.

Thomas Rendle
Posts: 389
Joined: Tue Aug 10, 2010 8:31 am

Re: I've expanded my library - advice sought on read order

Post by Thomas Rendle » Mon Aug 15, 2011 9:42 am

I haven't read the books so I won't offer advice on a reading order but I will offer an important piece of general advice. In my opinion the key to improving (at most levels at least) is to play as much as possible.
There is no point to studying chess from books & computers if you don't have a regular chance to put what you've learnt into practice.

My recommendation would be to join a local club. There you will get a chance to play against some stronger opposition, some of whom may be very happy to go over the games you play with them afterwards. This also has the advantage that attending a club is more social (and hopefully more fun) than just studying books. Record the games if possible and then make a careful study of them at home and try to work out where you went wrong (with the computer engines, books, databases &/or another player).
Finally enter as many competitive tournaments as you can! That is where real lessons are learnt (often the hard way).

Michele Clack
Posts: 437
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2008 2:38 pm
Location: Worcestershire

Re: I've expanded my library - advice sought on read order

Post by Michele Clack » Mon Aug 15, 2011 10:23 am

Good advice to join a chess club. Most are very friendly and will try to help newcomers. A good club will give you two or three weeks to decide before asking you for any cash, we always do. There are one or two not so good clubs out there so make sure the club is right for you before you committ yourself. If you say which part of the country you are from I'm sure people will be able to suggest good clubs in your area to look at, or you could just look at the list on the ECF website and take pot luck.
One day rapidplays are a good idea for beginners as well. So many people make blunders under time pressure you won't feel too bad if you lose some games easily. If you live in or near the midlands The Leamington Rapidplay on 11th September is a good one. You'll find that and other tournaments on the Calendar of Events on the ECF website.

Best of Luck.

Paul McKeown
Posts: 3461
Joined: Thu Apr 12, 2007 3:01 pm
Location: Hayes (Middx)
Contact:

Re: I've expanded my library - advice sought on read order

Post by Paul McKeown » Mon Aug 15, 2011 11:30 am

Guy,

I understand that you are a relative novice. Therefore, I would advise you to study tactics, tactics and tactics. You need to be able to look at a position and see the basic tactical stuff at sight, at which point you will start to become competitive with average club players. To get there you will need to engage actively with thousands of straightforward tactical exercises, until you can picture them all in your head.

You should join a club and play as much as you can.

Besides tactics (tactics and more tactics) you will need to know some basic endgames, some sort of idea of how to play (grind) in more simplified positions and a simple, uncomplicated opening repertoire, the sort that can get you to move ten with some sort of an idea of what you would like to do next.

Good luck.

guyhayton
Posts: 28
Joined: Thu Nov 18, 2010 11:04 pm
Location: Liverpool

Re: I've expanded my library - advice sought on read order

Post by guyhayton » Mon Aug 15, 2011 12:14 pm

All tremendous advice... thank you very much.

I will put the Keene book to one side and finish the Nunn book. I live in North Liverpool so will start to look for a local chess club.

Andrew Varney
Posts: 88
Joined: Mon Jul 11, 2011 10:25 pm

Re: I've expanded my library - advice sought on read order

Post by Andrew Varney » Mon Aug 15, 2011 12:59 pm

I agree completely (and in order) about:
1. Joining a chess club.
2. Recording your games and analysing them after (best with other players at first, but Fritz et al are also useful).
3. Tactics practice. My recommendation for that would be Ideachess (on-line, free to join).
4. Working through the variations in the books with a chess board, not just reading the book(s). It probably takes 5 times longer but I'd expect to get more than 10 times more out of it.

Simon Dixon
Posts: 149
Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2011 2:11 pm

Re: I've expanded my library - advice sought on read order

Post by Simon Dixon » Mon Aug 15, 2011 2:43 pm

It is not just a case of reading chess books, that would be to easy. The thing about chess books is you have to take time out to play through the positions and games in them. This is where the time goes and why you should only buy one or two books at a time.

If you have to many books, as you have discovered you won't know where to start, you end up reading bits from each of them, never actually reading an entire book.

Avoid books that have not been written by GM's if you can.

Books by Batsford tend to be full of errors. Everyman chess books tend to be far superior. So you see I also look at the publishers and authors before buying a book, as I expect to invest a lot of my time studying it.

I am sure there is a list somewhere on google of the best, most informative chess books ever written, that is all you really need.

Logical Chess is very good, but not brilliant. For eg "Another plausible move" type comments rather than explaining the real ideas. But still a must read if you have it.

The Ideas Behind the Chess Openings, good, if you can follow it. Takes a long time to play through all the moves to understand it.

Chess Strategy by Lasker, very old but brilliant book.

Silmans books are not to shabby, even though he is an IM, does tend to waffle a bit. If anything he goes into to much detail.
Not many, if anybody, will suggest the Ray Keene book.
I would say avoid anything with Keene's name on it. And Shaun Taulbut for that matter.

I think DVD's and software are the way to go these days, a nice clear speaking chap called Andrew Martin makes excellent cd's. My only gripe with them is you can't play the bloody things on a normal DVD player, you have to run them on a computer.

The more knowledge you have, it will only serve to show how bad you are playing anyway, ignorance is bliss. jking :wink:

Post Reply