Due to the need to make space on our bookshelves at home I have given away a lot of chess books recently. I hated to see most of them go, but they were just occupying space. Many were old books that I bought years ago when I actually read chess books. Fortunately they have been reprinted by Dover Publications and they remain, even today, among the best ever written. I don’t know if reading them ever made me a better player but they provided a lot of enjoyment and I still can highly recommend them. Some of my favorites were:
Reti’s Best Games by Harry Golombek. It’s a little known fact that as a young player, Reti played a lot of gambit openings and many thought he was as good as Alekhine! His play later evolved into the hypermodern we usually think of when we think of Reti and he had excellent endgame technique. Great notes by Golombek..
Sultan Khan by R. N. Coles. Kahn was Indian Champion in 1928 and British Champion in 1929, 1932 and 1933. In 1931 he defeated Tartakower in a match and at Hastings in 1930/31 he defeated Capablanca. If you want to see how a “natural” player plays chess, this is the guy’s games to play over! He never mastered openings, and his middlegame play was superb and he was one of the best endgame players of his day. Capablanca called him a genius.
The Art of Checkmate by Renaud and Kahn. This book classifies 23 mating situations with examples from games by players like Tartakower, Janowski and Blackburne. What makes the book useful is the authors have included positional maneuvers leading up to these mates. It also has review quizzes. Back in the day, this was one of very, very few books available on tactics and it’s still an excellent book!
Zurich 1959 by David Bronstein. This tournament was one of the strongest ever played up to that time and watching them play and following Bronstein’s notes makes this one of my all time favorites.