Best non-QC chess book of the year?

Last week’s poll question was ‘What was the best Quality Chess book of 2015?’ The convincing winner was Chess Structures by Mauricio Flores Rios, ahead of Gelfand’s Positional Decision Making in Chess.  Between them, these two books scooped up the lion’s share of the votes.



As mentioned last week, the question this time is What was the best non-QC chess book of 2015? I made a list of options based on the comments section, leaving out books whose 2015 versions were only updates of older books. As ever, there is the ‘Other’ category if I have missed your favourite.

43 thoughts on “Best non-QC chess book of the year?”

  1. I’ve voted for Delchev’s QGA, but for what I’ve read (not much), Dvoretsky’s book is a good one, and Houska’s book is not bad either.

  2. A potential 3rd vote is “best forward chess” adaptation of the year. I thought when I glanced at Dvoretsky’s book the layout was terrible……but FC has bypassed that. You could perhaps say similar for Bologan and a few others too…..

    Of course your own layout is superb….

  3. While I have done little more than thumb thru Bologan’s Ruy Lopez for Black, it would have to be a substantial improvement over what I have read of Bologan’s Black Weapons to get a vote for anything other than worst book of the year from me.
    If there is any explanation of ideas in that book, I haven’t found it yet. The 40 page strategy chapter fails to mention any.
    As far as best book from 2015 otherwise, Benjamin’s is the only one on the list I have any more than a cursory knowledge of(spent 2 hours on a plan with a friend going thru positions) and it seemed reasonably good.

  4. @Kassy

    I’ve read the first chapter of Liquidation on the chess board (which is the sample from FC) and while I don’t think it is a bad book, I was not really impressed by it. It seemed a good book overall, but in no way a must buy. So I’m not going to buy it 🙂

  5. Gollum, I have read the first 6 chapters of Liquidation. IMO, it is a nice book but absolutely nothing compared to the Dvoretsky candidate which is an amazing resource.

  6. I got used to solving exercises directly from books without a board due to Quality Chess ‘s pleasant lay-out.
    It was a real bummer when I started working on Dvoretsky’s new book. Compared to QC, the lay-out is horrible.

  7. chessmayhe, I agree that the layout is nicer in QC books than in Russel but I didn’t have any problems solving the exercises (except for some of them being too difficult) directly from the book either. Furthermore, the topic prophylaxis is IMO just so important and the book almost has 500 exercises. As I see it, the only down-side in this book is that there are quite a few errors in the diagrams in the solution section but still it is very good. A pity that it wasn’t published by QC because then there would definitely have been fewer errors!

  8. David Adamson :
    I voted ‘Other’ for Lokander’s Opening Repertoire: The Open Games

    I received an ad from Amazon this morning about this book. Looked at the pdf excerpt and it appears interesting and with far more explanation than Bologon. Have you finished the book?

  9. I voted “Other” and would say “The Old Indian: Move By Move” – The Move by Move series is hit or miss. I’ve browsed thru some that are really good, even read one of them cover to cover in under a month. Some of the better ones are the ones on the Taimanov Sicilian, Torre Attack, Ruy Lopez, Nimzo-Indian, Caro-Kann, and Old Indian, the last one being the only one from 2015. Some of the weaker ones are the ones on the Nimzo-Larson Attack and Modern Defense, and there was a thread on here a while back about a glaring error in I think it was game 16 (the …e5 move) in the one on the Slav.

  10. Im glad You didnt concider to put “video books” in poll.

    Must say that Im a bit disappointed on video books. One of the greatest world chess video publisher published games of Karpov. Opening, strategy, tactics and endgame parts. Must say that Tibor Karoly books on Karpov are like space shuttle comparing it to this video dvd. To understand Karpovs play man must if not analyse entire game than go through entire game on board (wooden or virtual). And I see that they did similar videos on Fischer, Lasker, Aljehin,…

    Long live Quality Chess!

  11. It sounds sycophantic, but this really underlines how much better the Quality Chess books are that the competition. There are a few QC books I’d like but only the Guliev book on manoeuvres from New in Chess or Tukamov on Bluff in Chess of new books.
    Probably the non QC book from 2015 I most want to get is The Russell Enterprises republication of Hypermodern Chess by Tartakover

  12. “Lessons with a GM,III” by Boris Gulko is great, as the I and II. Love this serie, when a GM speaks with a 1800 player who shares his feelings about the position.

  13. @Kassy
    My apologies Kassy if you’re CEO of but I can’t believe you have read either Bologan book at any depth more than scanning through the pdf samples to label the non-QC poll winner and it’s award winning sibling as “worst book of the year” and the 40 page strategy chapter you claim has no explanation of ideas must have been printed out blank. Perhaps an alternative opinion can be made for certain aspects of the books of course but both volumes have received rave reviews from others and especially for inclusion of the ideas/strategic aims rather than reams of proseless lines of variations..
    I can quite understand some readers prefer the in depth, variation thick analysis approach of most of the QC stable but it seems clear the winners of both the QC and non-QC polls were the explanation rich texts- Houska, Flores, Gelfand…the strength and success of the Bologan series was based on the fact that they contained both variations and explanations

  14. @Johnnyboy

    I read the first half of the strategy section of Bologan’s Black Weapons and had no idea what strategy he was saying as most of the sections just had some random made up name and referred one to the section in the book where it occurred.

    I admittedly have only read(studied, played thru every move and then ran some thru the computer after playing games against myself) the first couple chapters of the ‘Very Fast Lane’. If you could point to the specific paragraphs that discuss strategy in those chapters, I am open to re-reading them.

  15. @Johnnyboy

    I am also a little bit at a loss as to how 3rd place in a poll equals winner.
    I guess we should go ahead and congratulate Democratic Presidential nominee O’Malley in the US elections.

    Current poll standings:

    Nimzo/Bogo 82 votes
    Houska 77 votes
    Bologan Ruy 74 votes

    And yes I freely admit this is snarky, but you started with the troll comment.

  16. Kassy

    You’re absolutely right to be snarky and I’m sorry for sounding so rude. Polls are never over till they’re over and Bologan has slipped down the ranking- perhap Sarah Palin gave it her backing.
    I just couldn’t quite believe you weren’t trolling about the same books that I was reading that I thought was a breath of fresh air in opening books
    (and that many other reviewers seemed to think eg – Richard Vedder,
    “This is a fantastic book, just as ‘Bologan’s Black Weapons’ was. A complete repertoire full of surprising ideas. With these two books in your library you own the 1.e4 e5-bible, so to speak. Everything you need to know is there. You can put a lot of your old books up for sale on Ebay.”)

    …but seems you’re quite genuine- my apologies as I was sure you were just winding the blog subscribers up.

    Happy to help point out some useful strategic ideas in the books but if you look for them in the “Very fast lane” you’re maybe looking in the wrong place. The “Very Fast lane” is the bare essentials if you’re trying to prepare last thing the morning before a game.

    Still think you may be slightly jumping the gun calling a book the ‘worst book of the year’ when you freely admit that you haven’t really done more than scratch the surface let alone read it through but your initial reaction may prove to be indeed true for you if the initial thumb through didn’t inspire you to look at the rest. Horses for courses.

    Not sure…

  17. …. which Bologan book you are referring to when you talk about a relevant section but pick a title and chapter and I’ll get back to you about what I think is good strategic advice rather than variations and still puzzled why you think the strategy section doesn’t include strategies.

    Genuinely feel you’ll appreciate the input from Bologan when you read the whole book rather than the first half of the strategy section and the Very fast lane.

    All the best Kassy

  18. @Johnnyboy
    The only thing I remembered from his book on the Open Games is ‘Fat Bertha’ 🙂 The names are indeed funny and i.m.o. slightly annoying, but at least I’ll never forget the manoeuvre with pushing the black a-pawn… It’s like advertising: the most annoying ones are the most effective.

  19. The Bologan books contain great ideas. Where they are problematic is being able to explain the differences between similar positions or not highlighting the transpositions clearly. To illustrate, in the Black Weapons book, chapters 43, 51, 52 and 53 are all chapters on the Giuoco where White plays d3. His basic idea is that Black should aim for d5, but only if it works. There are so many transposition issues it is difficult to distinguish the positions. There are a couple of comments like “…after White plays Nbd2 in some lines, d5 is good because the knight can’t pressure the center from c3.” That is useful, but, the book needed more of that. Somehow, these four chapters needed to be explained better.

    The way to approach this book is to identify the chapters that are the repertoire and not read the rest of the book. The variations in the Evans gambit line after 5…Bc5 and the analysis of 7…Nxe4 against 7 Bd2 in the Moller Attack alone probably make purchasing this book worthwhile. Lots of good material. But rather than laying out a clear repertoire, the book provides a lot of options which make these books more complex and require more time to create a comprehensive repertoire. But, the ideas are there. Looking forward to the QC book on the open games.

  20. All right, just on the first 2 pages of the ‘Arsenal of Strategic Ideas and Themes’ there are at least 3 undefined or poorly defined terms and one serious editing error(diagram doesn’t even come close to showing what is claimed):
    -Blackburn’s Rook(p 16) mentioned but not defined in anyway until page 29
    -“Keep in mind McDonell’s Manevuer”(p 16). How am I supposed to keep in mind that which has never been mentioned in the book before and is NOT common chess terminology? This is actually defined on page 35
    -p16-17 discusses the wedge on d4. 8 of the 20 lines in that section talk about structures that do not include a pawn on d4.
    -p 17 has in bold type ‘eye fo eye stratrgy’. Seems to be defined as d5 push when black already has e5 played against white’s e4/d4 structure. Doesn’t really say that but it can be deduced. IT seems to be important to Bologan as he puts it in quotes twice but never sources those quotes and there does not seem to be a section in this arsenal about it otherwise. Anyway, at the bottom of the page(17) there is a diagram supposedly showing what the position looks like after the ‘eye for eye strategy’ has been done and yet the black pawn is still on d7
    -Staunton’s Night(p17) and the Scotch Hedgehog(p17) are mentioned and not defined in anyway until pages 36 and 37 respectively. The book does not direct you there. I just had to flip until I found them

  21. Chapter 54(first chapter of the ‘Very Fast Lane’ makes a big deal of Nimzo’s Knightmare.
    Page 20 of the Arsenal seems to define this as BP e5 with not supporting d pawn against a semi-open e file for white.
    The bit in CH 54 about it seems to indicate it is when black pushes d5 too early allowing too much pressure against the e5 pawn and the king behind it. It says black should only push this if white has wasted a tempo or blocked the efile with Be3 or similar.The chapter summary specifically mentions to remember the nimzo knightmare in 4 separate lines. In 3 of the 4 lines the ‘knightmare’ cannot occur as they are lines were the tempo has been wasted or the line blocked before the line starts

    Now I do admit after going thru all this a second(third) time to write this critique that I do understand the idea a little better but that does not change my opinion that it is still poorly written and very poorly edited. Terms need to be defined when presented and not 20+ pages later or sometimes not at all.

  22. Kassy

    Great input- will have a look at the lines when I return on Sunday. Agree with Ray that giving certain manoeuvres a name helps learn them- I’m sure the McDonnell manoeuvre is Nc6-e7-g6 without looking at the book again and it is linking the single moves into a 2 or more move linked sequence that helps you, not just looking at individual moves but at the underlying strategy behind them. Then again Blackburne’s rook hasn’t stuck..rook to g8??? I agree a glossary of terms would help but I suppose at least you could flick through to find a similar named manoeuvre whereas you would never be able to see Nc6-e7-g6 in a maze of variations and so not make that link.

    never spotted the editing error on p17- think I only played through the actual repertoire rather than the ideas section so well done for spotting that- maybe i need to reread it again. Whatever the editing and unclear naming difficulties are i still think there is much greater explanation of ideas than your average opening tome- perhaps it just needs a 2nd edition or update just as QC do when their GM books are spotted to have holes in them.

    Without opening too big a can of worms, what do you think of the ‘black at the bottom of the board’ layout, Kassy? Don’t want to fall out with you again but I’m in favour…. dreading your reply….

  23. @Johnnyboy
    I am indifferent to the black on bottom diagrams.I don’t dislike it but don’t really care one way or the other.had one book years ago on kings Indian by Martin that did the same.

  24. was from late 80s to early 90s. White cover with red stripe.
    A great kid book from similar time frame was the read and play book. Those had great strategy sections.I had never played the kid.Was one chalet.beat a 1700 in a game that went straight dOwn the idea of the book.

  25. @Kassy

    The KID book is ‘Mastering the King’s Indian’ by Batsford and us truly a brilliant book.
    ‘Mastering the Spanish’ is srgubly even better!

  26. @The Doctor
    Agreed. Danny King and Ponzetto the authors. There was a Benko /Benoni book in a similar vein as well. I’m sure there were adverts for a French book as well at the time but never saw it. Days before the interweb of course… Still think they are relevant today as no theory just strategic themes according to pawn structure /centre

  27. @The Doctor
    No, the book Kassy is referring to is called ‘ Winning with the King’s Indian’. it was published by Caissa in 1989. I had that book as well, and it was indeed a good book. E.g., he recommended the queen sacrifice line aganst the Saemisch, which is a lot of fun.

  28. @The Doctor
    Actually he is reffering to two books. he second is indeed Mastering the King’s Indian, I believe by Bellin and Ponzetto? Back in the day, when Batsford was a great publisher of Chess books 🙂

  29. This week I got Stein – Move by Move from Thomas Enquist.

    If you see a book under the aspect of teaching you have to look at the strength of the reader too. When the quality of the first two games is kept in the other 58 games then I would have nominated this work of Enquist as an Elo 20xx player.

    There are three points to look at.
    – It’s a chess biographie of Leonid Stein, which wasn’t easy accessible before this book.
    – The quality of the game selection. For me it’s too early to judge this definitely after the first two games, which holds for the next point too.
    – The comments and questions were very good so far.

    I worked three hours over each game. This leads me to another point. If each game needs about the same amount of time you get a money/time-value with a good chessbook which makes chess nearly unbeatable. This has nothing to do with the poll. But detecting a good chessbook is simply fun. Maybe the team of quality chess should start a topic with old unmentioned books and additionally allow guests to submit their detections too. A criterion should be the time published (before xxxx) and another one that the book isn’t widely known.

  30. I found IM Houska’s book a good refresher course for most Caro-Kann lines. It is a useful book when used in conjunction with GM Lars Schandorff’s book (from QC) on the same subject.

  31. Interesting to see the breakdown of the nominations here; five opening books, yet only one autobiography and two midgame/ transition to endgame planning books.
    Yet we see in the voting of the QC section the overwhelming favourties were Gefland and Flores.
    I hope you can see what the public wants more of and where the market has a gap!?

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