In an effort to get my son to combine reading practice with some chess, I recently started looking round for instructive chess books that don’t need a set. There are plenty of books with chess problems and no text and quite a few written about the game but without any meaningful chess content. Could I find some which combined the two aspects?
I did find some, but not that many. In fact only one that was really suitable. Bruce Pandolfini’s Weapons of Chess got the gold medal as it explained a lot of concepts and ideas just with diagrams and text. And a copy should be with me by the time you read this.
What about the others? Well new contributor Steve Giddins wrote quite a good one with his 101 Chess Endgame Tips, though you’d need to be a very strong player to get through some of the endgames ‘blindfold’. There are some old books that are suitable too, such as Fischer-Spassky Move by Move by Larry Evans and Ken Smith, which has a comment and a diagram after every move. But there really aren’t that many when you look at the total number of chess books that have been published.
This strikes me as being strange as it’s hard work to get a set out and follow the moves in a book like that. Most amateur players have little stomach for using their leisure time like this and would much prefer to skim through something and ignore the chess content. And this won’t do their chess much good.
What may eventually happen is that chess books will be replaced by software and e-books, but perhaps not quite yet. Whilst many e-books are very good, and take full advantage of the new media, there are others, such as some kindle offerings, which do not. Putting a conventional chess book into kindle format, without adding extra diagrams, will make things a lot harder for the reader rather than easier because books printed on paper are more robust and easier to handle. Of course they could have put a diagram after every move in kindle versions, but then that would have added to the production costs in an attempt to exploit an uncertain market.
So meanwhile I’m still in the market for printed books that don’t need a set. And if anyone knows of one then please leave a message under this post at the Facebook page for The Chess Improver.