A huge portion of chess players gets stuck on the intermediate level.
This is why attaining mastery in chess is a reality for just a handful of players in comparison to the overall population of chess players.
In an attempt to improve that narrative, we’ve compiled some of the best chess books for intermediate players in this article.
If you’re around 1000-1700 FIDE rated, then you should look at getting your hands on any of the books shown below:
1. Chess Fundamentals by Jose Raul Capablanca
Improving with the help of a chess master is great, but do you know what’s better?
Improving with the help of a chess world champion! The third official world champion highlighted key components of chess theory to help players improve rapidly.
The 6-chapter book progresses through the stages of learning chess.
The book introduces the three stages of a chess game in its first chapter and emphasizes the middle game and endgame in subsequent chapters.
A chapter is also dedicated to general theories like initiative, attacks, and motifs. The book closes with an analysis of some of Capablanca’s best games.
2. Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess by Bobby Fischer and Stuart Marguiles
This is not just one of the best chess books for intermediate players, it’s also one of the best chess books for players of all levels.
The approach used in this book is one main reason why it’s considered among the best. The 352-paged book filled with puzzles requires no knowledge of chess notation but uses plain words instead.
Most of the puzzles are based on finding checkmate with particular emphasis on combinations that explore back rank weaknesses.
Most of the referenced games in the book were picked out of Fischer’s real games.
3. My System by Aron Nimzowitsch
This book is one of Aron’s most notable contributions to chess. The Latvian-born Legend introduces numerous concepts through this 3-part book.
The first part of the book is called “The Elements”; the second part is called “Positional Play”, and the third is called “Illustrative Games.”
He listed The elements of chess as:
- The center
- Play on the open files
- Play on the seventh and eighth ranks
- The passed pawns
- The pin
- Discovered checks
- The pawn-chain
These details along with the in-depth breakdown of chess in other parts are why we considered My System to be one of the best chess books for intermediate players.
4. Silman’s Complete Endgame Course by Jeremy Silman
This popular book is rated 5/5 in both Barnes & Noble and Flipkart. That tells you most of what you need to know about how reliable this book is in terms of improving your game.
The endgame is arguably the most complicated phase of a chess game, and IM Jeremy Silman, the American chess writer, found an effective manner of outlining and simplifying the key components of the endgame.
If you have little or no idea what Trebuchet means, or Cat And Mouse, or Lucena and Philidor positions, then this book is for you.
5. Fundamental Chess Openings by Paul van der Sterren
Paul states in this book that the amount of opening knowledge required for every player depends on the ambition and how much time one is willing to spend on chess.
It means that the opening is extremely vast, and it’s practically impossible for one to master it all.
But in this book, Paul highlights some major openings and their variations. Reading this book would give you a heads up of different opening traps and tricks.
It would also show you how to structure different opening systems in your favor.
6. Pawn Power In Chess by Hans Kmoch
This book was originally published in 1959 by Hans Kmoch, an Austrian-American chess player, arbiter, author, and journalist.
Pawns are typically overlooked by beginners, but if you must raise your game to the next level, you must acknowledge the true power of pawns.
All you need to know about pawns is explained in this iconic chess literature, from en passant to promotion.
You’re guaranteed to come across more pawn-associated terms you’ve never heard of, like Luff and Quart.
7. Logical Chess: Move By Move by Irving Chernev
You might not know Irving Chernev as a chess player, but as an author, you should know him.
He points out 33 detailed games in this book and analyzes the reason for each move. Some moves serve more than 4 purposes. Sometimes, you find just one or two.
According to the author: “Playing through these games and explanations gives real insight into the power of the pieces and how to post them most effectively.“
A good read will show you why it is one of the best chess books for intermediate players.
8. Think Like A Grandmaster by Alexander Kotov
This is one of the best chess books for intermediate players because if you aim to be a grandmaster, the worst you could get is other official master titles, which is also a great achievement!
This book reveals all the underrated details on how to play chess properly. For instance, you stop hoping for your opponent to make an obvious mistake.
9. My 60 Memorable Games by Bobby Fischer
Sometimes, the seemingly natural conditions play an important role in the turn of events. From the song he heard on the radio when he rose from bed on the match day to the gum he was chewing at the game; all the details matter sometimes.
Fischer doesn’t just select and analyze some of the best games he has ever played in this book, he also shallowly talks about the psychological battles behind them. This uniqueness makes it one of the best chess books for intermediate players.
10. Practical Chess Exercises by Ray Cheng: 600 Lessons From Tactics to Strategy
There’s no way we could end this article without recommending a book on puzzles and exercises.
This book published in 2007 puts your theoretical knowledge to the test. In the process of doing that, it cements these crucial tactics and strategies into your core memory.
Its technicality is the ideal instrument for intermediate chess players that are willing to take the next leap; that’s why it’s in our list of the best chess books for intermediate players.
If you are looking for a more comprehensive list of chess books for beginners to advanced players, check out our compiled best chess books of all time.