Chess: what are the 5 best books for openings to win?

Reddy Mohith
4 min readJan 29, 2022

Chess, the most talented board game played between two players. Started back in the 6th century and as of today, chess is one of the world’s popular games, played by millions of people. What if I say there are around 800 million people playing chess, out of which there are only 1500 grandmaster title holders. Since you’ve already made up your mind (which is why you are reading this), we have come up with a solution to the problem you’re facing “how to get started or how to crack openings”.

Photo by Carlos Esteves on Unsplash.com

Though there are many great chess opening books out there and it was very hard to choose only five of them but still present to you the 5 best books for openings to win for beginner levels and beyond.

  1. fundamental chess openings (FCO) by Paul Van der Sterren
  2. Modern chess openings by Nick De Firmian
  3. Chess opening essentials by Stephen Djuric
  4. ECO: Encyclopedia of chess openings
  5. Back to basics; openings by Carsten Hansen

What the books are about:

  • Fundamental chess openings (FCO) by Paul Van der Sterren

This is a book that doesn’t give you many differences to remember instead, it gives you a bunch of ideas and explanations along with the basic differences of each and every opening. The knowledge from this book will enable you to succeed in the openings and raise you to the club level. This book is crafted very beautifully in a way that it carries a little amount of theory neither too much nor too less and must have a book on your book shelves. Besides the point to notice is that the author of this book is one among those 1500 members, the grandmaster. So, anything from the champion will also be a champion. It is recommended for intermediate and advanced level people aiming high.

  • Modern chess openings by Nick De Firmian

This book contains moves that are symbolized in the standard algebraic system. If you are an avid chess player then this book is an apt for you. Though it contains an algebraic system, this book is easy to understand and comprehensive. It gives a brief introduction to all openings and later explains clearly about everything. If you are looking for openings that can get you from intermediate level to the master level, then this is the book you should definitely go for. Nick De Firmian is also a chess grandmaster who won the US chess championship three times and now he is a chess writer and an expert on chess openings.

  • Chess opening essentials by Stephen Djuric

Chess opening essentials is a set of four books that will help you understand how every opening works and points at various middle game plans that apply after the opening has ended. This book is a little bit dense and recommended for the intermediate level people or for people who are nearer to hold a grandmaster title. If you want to do a little more than just scratching the surfaces in the openings, then this is a to go book that explains what you should be trying to achieve with clear indications for further study.

  • Encyclopedia of chess openings

Encyclopedia of chess openings, commonly referred as ECO is a set of five volumes currently undergoing its fifth edition. ECO is a reference work relating the opening theory in chess. This volume covers every line and every opening widely. It is not recommended to buy these volumes unless you are really serious about learning chess. However, many chess grandmasters use these volumes to warm up before they go to play. This is the best set of books to all chess learners who are serious about everything that happens in chess. So, going further if you ever get serious about learning chess, better go with these.

  • Back to basics; openings by Carsten Hansen

Back to Basics helps you understand and play the opening matches much, much healthier. This book not only covers the critical concepts like how do I decide which openings to choose first? But also educate you on how to balance your openings and give you a recipe on how to obtain better results from your openings. This book is much more like chess opening essentials but as denser as it is. This is a top quality book that gives you the basic variations in all the critical openings. It is easy to understand and will be very helpful too for all chess beginners out there who want to prove their opening play. This might be an easy read to all advanced players but to beginners I would strongly recommend this if you want to improve your opening play.

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Reddy Mohith

Content writer| Content creator| Copywriter #talks about entertainment, lifestyle, books, finance, technical, e-commerce and health. IG @freelance_writer_mohith