Today I'm not so sure that 95% of the books and software are worthwhile to the average club player. If you go back and read chess reviews, you might get the sense that they are all going soft on each other. An IM knows that it's tough to make it in the chess world, so isn't going to ask of a GM's latest book, "Do we really need another of THESE?!. Perhaps the problem is that so many are good, but we don't need them all.
I'm not so sure I need that fourth book on positional theory for a long while. I doubt many of us yet need that second book on our favorite opening. I think most of us are like me; we just want to consume more, and maybe even find that magic bullet. If we're reading a new book, that's a nice way of telling ourselves that we're "studying chess", when what we really should be doing is the grunt work. After having written the previous sentence, I shortly discovered that Nigel Davies had coined a phrase for this type of sub-optimal improvement method: "Reading and nodding". Of course, it's a hobby, so whatever makes you happy is good.
Here are my resources:
- Winning Chess Tactics, by Yasser Seirawan and Jeremy Silman. I think I've lost my second copy of this book. I love the entire Winning series. I might buy this again next time I'm in a bookstore. I like the way it explains the different tactical themes.
- 303 Tricky Chess Puzzles. I bought this, but I just use the PGNs. Still it's nice to occasionally look at the book.
- Chess Tactics for Students, by John A. Bain. This hasn't arrived yet, but I expect it to join it with 303 book to complete my Circle. I hope they are easy. I want drills.
- That enormous Polgar book. Speaking of drills... I might supplement future circles with portions of this. I have the PGNs as well, and that'll make it more accessible.
- I reserve the right to buy as many tactics books as I need. I'll probably get Woolum's The Chess Tactics Workbook. But I have Polgar and Reinfeld and Chandler. Between these and the internet, I'm probably good for a while.
- Openings: Starting Out: The Dutch Defense, Play the Evans Gambit, Winnning with the Smith-Morra Gambit book. I doubt I'll buy many more opening books for a while. They're all above me and more than I need. I do like the Starting Out book; maybe I'll get more of these. But down in the skill basement, you can do very well for yourself with chess engines and the Internet.
- Strategy: The King in Jeopardy, The Art of Attack, Winning Chess Strategy, The Amateur Mind, Reassess Your Chess. I only expect to work with the first two for a while, and overall I bet these are the only strategy books I'll need for 2-3 years.
- Endings: Winning Chess Endings. I might not touch this again until I lose a won endgame. Which should be soon!
I should be done with the 303 book by the weekend! Unfortunately, it represents less than half of a Circle. But I'm hoping that the Bain book will be easy enough that I can increase my speed.