Dr.Dave's Chess Lists

Please don't hold me to these, I will change my mind tomorrow...nbsp; and I know the Hon Menshes are cheating, I saw no reason to obey my own rules about doing batches of ten.

    The games and most of the annotations can be found in the PGN block on this page.
  1. (A) 20 Favourite Games ==>
  2. (B) 10 Favourite players ==>
  3. (C) 10 Chess Endgames ==>
  4. (D) 10 Problems and Studies ==>
  5. (E) 10 Chess Moves ==>
  6. (F) 10 Favourite Openings ==>
  7. (G) 10 Chess Quotes ==>
  8. (H) 10 Favourite annotations ==>
  9. (I) 10 Favourite authors ==>
  10. (J) 10 Favourite books by other authors ==>

30 books for improving your chess ==>

(A) 20 Favourite Games

  1. Pillsbury,H - Tarrasch,S [D55] Hastings, 1895 – That's how to start your international tournament career: an all-out attack against the great Tarrasch, while burning his boats on the Queen's-side. I found Pillsbury's vigour and enterprise so exciting to discover.
  2. Bernstein-Mieses, 1921 – like New Orleans jazz, a theme to build a solo around.
  3. Bogoljubov Efim - Alekhin Alexander [A90] Hastings, 1922 – The most brilliant game ever played?
  4. Samisch-Nimzowitsch,1923 – Gnarly and puzzling, Nimzo's play also has the mark of genius.
  5. Maròczy-Tartakower, 1923 – these days it's just technique, but someone had to show the idea first.
  6. Janowsky-Capablanca – Capa made his master opponents look helpless, and I was thunderstruck at the time by his undeveloping manoeuvre ...Bf5-Bd7 and ...e6!
  7. Reti,R – Bogoljubow,E [A13] New York, 1924 – A game with everything right: strong strategic theme, neat tactical finish. 25 moves of great polish.
  8. Capa-Sultan Khan – Mostly mysterious, like listening to inaccessible music... a man from the continent that invented chess teaches one of its greatest exponents how to manoeuvre.
  9. Tal-Smyslov, 1959 – So many Tal sacrifices to choose from, but who could have imagined that he could launch one at such an occasion, against such an opponent, after such an opening?
  10. Tal-Keres, 1959 – Courage and conviction, Keres gives Tal a lesson in the triumph of piece activity over pawn structure while contesting for a match against Botvinnik.
  11. Byrne-Fischer, 1963 – A wonderfully clear, crisp game - everything I like about Fischer's chess.
  12. Spassky-Bronstein, 1964 – An ancient weapon still finding a role in modern battles.
  13. Estrin-Berliner, 1965 – I honestly had no idea you could do this sort of thing in postal chess, let alone in a World Championship. After this, the Two Knights was my defence of choice...
  14. Petrosian,T – Spassky,B [E66] Wch26-Moscow (10), 1966 – The famous finale is but the cymbal crash after a long drum-roll; Petrosian invites an attack which he defuses with two of his trademark exchange sacrifices.
  15. Kaplan-Bronstein, 1975 – a favourite finish: "right, like a well-done sum"
  16. Karpov-Miles, 1980 – Perhaps only an Englishman could include this game in a top 20, but it meant so much
  17. Karpov,A - Kasparov,G [D55] WCh (4), 1985 – I am not one of those who found Karpov's calm and neat chess disappointing after Fischer's dynamism; on the contrary, his deftness and cool are wholly admirable.
  18. Kasparov-Topalov, 1990 – Kasparov showing that chess is not all preparation and analysis, there is still a place for risk and fantasy
  19. Ivanchuk-Yusupow, 1991 – cometh the hour, cometh a sacrificial attack from the old school.
  20. Shirov-Polgar, 1992 – Beating the boys at their own game.

Honourable mention: Steinitz-Bardeleben, 1896 – appeals to the romantic in me.

  1. Capablanca – Calm, elegant: chess as technique.
  2. Alekhin – Outrageous chess, the original irresistible force.
  3. Tartakower – Plays like he writes: bright, witty, wears his talent lightly.
  4. Botvinnik – Chess as science, he was always at the cutting edge, always investigating new approaches.**
  5. Nezhmedtinov – The triumph of imagination and will over technique.**
  6. Fischer – Clarity, accuracy, vigour.
  7. Speelman – It's as though he plays a different game to Capablanca, looking always for the murky and paradoxical.**
  8. Kramnik – Somehow sails through storms of complications to bring his catch home.
  9. Petrosian – The way of a starfish on an oyster: a hundred little points of pressure produce collapse.
  10. Anand – I'm too old for Anand too be closest to my heart, but it's a privilege to watch him play. A wizard.

Honourable mention: Nimzowitsch – pawky, punchy, priceless

p** If there isn't a game of theirs in the PGN file you can find an example of their play elsewhere on the site.

  1. Pillsbury-Gunsberg, 1895 – With minimum material and maximum drama, a Pillsbury breakthrough that we now see as typical.
  2. Lasker-Capablanca, 1921 – Capa's wonderful technique is instructive to this day.
  3. Capablanca-Tartakower, 1924 – much more lively, and brimming with confidence
  4. Bogoljubow-Capablanca, 1928 – A win from the most unpromising material. How does he do this?
  5. Alekhin-Yates, 1922 – Clear themes and a cracking finish.
  6. Znosko-Borovsky - Alekhin, 1934 – a revelation, Alekhin's notes opened up a whole new world of ideas to me.
  7. Hage-Nimzowitsch, 1926 – Wizardry: with every exchange, White becomes more cramped!
  8. Petrosian-Botvinnik, 1963 – partly for the occasion, partly for the lesson in KUFTE
  9. Fischer-Petrosian, 1970 – finding new life in classic ideas like the IQP, Rooks on the seventh and Bishop against Knight.
  10. Kramnik-Leko, 2004 – White's King is driven into the heart of Black's defences by sheer force of will, a nice echo of Petrosian's game

Honourable mention: McDonnell-de la Bourdonnais, 1834 – With Queens on, is it still an endgame? But that final position will live forever in the hearts of chessplayers.

These are all real lightweights, I don't have much of a passion for problems, but these might give you one if you haven't seen them before.

  1. Dilaram's mate, ?950 – the oldest old favourite of all?
  2. Saavedra, 1896 – very familiar, but I still get a kick out of showing it to people: your second idea is always better! [ ]
  3. Rinck 1922 – the poor Queen is chased across the board using a single tactical idea
  4. Loshinksy 1930 – squeezing the most from two short moves and one big idea.
  5. Kovacs, 19??– a good one for juniors, such an appealing setting
  6. Smullyan, 1956 – [, (the problem is not in the PGN file but the solution is!)] not deep, but very neat with such minimal material.
  7. Shinkman, 19?? – fantastic first move of the solution
  8. Ekstrom/Andersson, 1947 – Not usually my style, but I took the trouble to get into this one, and it stuck with me
  9. [Knight manoeuvres, 19??] – a neat theme of the sort that Blathy took to such triumphant excess. [I don't have any attribution for this one, can anyone help?]
  10. Missiaen, 1974 – one of John Nunn's favourite studies, minimal material and one extraordinary move..

Honourable mentions: Loyd 1859, an amusing idea.

  1. Andersson-Dufresne, 1852: Rad1 – burning his bridges in some style
  2. Zukertort-Blackburne, 1883: Qb4 – perfectly comprehensible, and a wonderful piece of inspiration, but also looks like a blunder at first glance
  3. Rotlevi-Rubinstein, 1907: ...Rxc3 – part Queen sacrifice, part geometrical proof
  4. Levitsky-Marshall, 1912: ...Qg3 – Black was winning anyhow, but what a way to seal it
  5. Bernstein-Capablanca, 1914: ...Qc2 – surely the neatest and purest trap ever sprung
  6. Averbakh-Kotov, 1953: ...Qxh3+ – a King hunt at Candidate level, amazing
  7. Petrosian-Pachman, 1961: Bg7 – after the early appeal of the crash-bang-wallop seen in my first selections, I began to see the appeal of this sort of move.
  8. Karpov-Kasparov, 1985: Nh1 – wonderful insight at the highest level
  9. Short-Timman, 1991: Kg5 – the most amusing chess move ever played
  10. Anand- Bg6 – such flair, it couldn't be too long to become World Champion

Honourable mention: Alekhin-Fisher (Feldt), Tarnopol 1919: Nf7 – a simple combination that has everything, a 'silent' sacrifice, a Queen sacrifice, and mate.

  1. Giuoco Piano, Bernstein Variation [1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.cxd4 Bb4+ 7.Nc3 Nxe4 8.0-0 Nxc3 9.bxc3 Bxc3 10.Ba3] – My first real opening, and a lesson that greed is a sin in chess, if nowhere else.
  2. Queen's Gambit, Rubinstein Variation [1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.e3 0-0 6.Nf3 Nbd7 7.Qc2] – Wonderful vigorous opening in the style of Pillsbury: seize the centre, aim at the King, fire!
  3. Trompowsky Attack [1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5] – My introduction to closed openings, a little weird wonder and an advert for Knight power, which I sadly had to abandon when it became fashionable.
  4. English Opening, Staunton system [1.c4 2.Nc3 3.g3 4.Bg2 5.e3] – The drift to the West continued; no need to memorise lines, just a flexible start to a pawn roller that can hit you on any part of the board.
  5. Sicilian Defence [1.e4 c5 ] – When I started with this opening, I couldn't believe my luck: lots of chance to win and it didn't fizzle out like 1...e5 does. And having been so struck by the English, it made sense to play it as Black...
  6. Modern Defence [1.e4 g6 ] – ...except that the Sicilian is a headache to learn, and you keep falling into 'anti-Sicilian' systems which don't give you the same chances for counterplay. Not with the Modern! I love this opening, no-one knows or cares about the theory, and a great way to play for a win as Black.
  7. King's Indian Attack – [1.g3] Another bright idea: a pet system to play as White, using all the moves I usually played as Black.
  8. English Opening, Botvinnik system [1.c4 2.Nc3 3.g3 4.Bg2 5.e4 ] – After an intermission of several years where I didn't really play chess, I felt on my return like playing something a bit more assertive than all this creepy-mousy stuff. So there was born the new DrDave, playing the Wrestler's Gambit: step towards your opponent, get hold, and twist until they break...
  9. Blackmar-Diemer Gambit [1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3] – I still don't believe a word I read about this outrageous gambit, but I've had a lot of fun with it.
  10. King's Gambit [1.e4 e5 2.f4] – A bit more assertive than the English Opening, and an attempt to play more tactically... An opening that made me realise how wobbly club players are: give them a shove and they fall over. Also a lot of fun, but you never get to play it, and there's an awful lot of theory to keep up.

Honourable mention: Two Knights' Defence [1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6] – I've not played it seriously since I was a nipper, but I still recommend it to all the juniors. A glorious scrap!

  1. INDIAN PROVERB: "Chess is a sea in which a gnat may drink and an elephant may bathe"
  2. Irving CHERNEV: "Of chess it has been said that life is not long enough for it, but that is the fault of life, not chess."
  3. Andrew SOLTIS: "Pawns are born free, yet are everywhere in chains..."
  4. Richard RÉTI: "It is the aim of the modern school, not to treat every position according to one general law, but according to the principle inherent in the position."
  5. Alexander ALEKHIN: "During a chess competition a chessmaster should be a combination of a beast of prey and a monk."
  6. William LOMBARDY: "All openings are sound below master level."
  7. Richard RÉTI: "Now we see wherein lies the pleasure to be derived from a chess combination. It lies in the feeling that a human mind is behind the game dominating the inanimate pieces with which the game is carried on, and giving them the breath of life."
  8. Mortimer COLLINS: "There are two classes of men; those who are content to yield to circumstances and who play whist; those who aim to control circumstances, and who play chess."
  9. Raymond CHANDLER in The Long Goodbye: " as elaborate a waste of human intelligence as you could find anywhere outside an advertising agency."
  10. Savielly TARTAKOWER: "A chess game is divided into three stages: the first, when you hope you have the advantage, the second when you believe you have an advantage, and the third... when you know you're going to lose!"

Honourable mention: "At that age (ten), the odd piece here or there often makes little difference. Rather, ingenuity and the will to win may prove decisive." -- ZAK, Improve your chess results.

  1. Razuvaev – "Black badly needs a bright idea -- or to put in in conventional chess sign-language: +-"
  2. Larsen – (notes to Karpov-Korchnnoi, 1978)
  3. Chernev – "Don't simplify against Capablanca!" I keep telling them at the office.
  4. Fischer – (notes to Gligoric-Fischer, 1959)
  5. Euwe – "Whether this advantage is decisive or not does not interest Capablanca. He simply wins the ending! That's why he is Capablanca!"
  6. Nimzowitsch "Ridicule can do much. For instance, embitter the existence of young talents – but one thing is not given to it and that it to put an end permanently to the incursion of powerful and new ideas." –
  7. Bronstein – (secrets of the backward d-pawn)
  8. Nunn – (how to lose a miniature)
  9. Anson – (on seeing a player writing with a fish-shaped pen) "Cod's on e7, all's right with the world"
  10. Alekhin – (notes to the ZB ending)

Honourable mention: (After White takes another Pawn) "They're like peanuts, you know." -- Stephan GERZADOWICZ

  1. BOTVINNIK – the master at work (e.g. 100 Selected Games)
  2. BRONSTEIN – the master at play (e.g. 200 Open Games)
  3. CHERNEV – warm, witty, impressive breadth of knowledge; his books taught me how to play chess, so he has a lot to answer for (e.g. Logical Chess)
  4. CLARKE – unshowy style but his books are gold (e.g. Petrosian's Best Games)
  5. DVORETSKY – enormously rich material, nice asides (e.g. Secrets of Chess Tactics)
  6. LARSEN – deep thoughts lightly expressed, candid and playful (e.g. Larsen's Selected Games)
  7. NUNN – thorough, incisive, tells a cracking yarn (e.g. Nunn's Best Games)
  8. PURDY – brisk, brilliant, polemic, pedagogic (e.g. Search for Chess Perfection)
  9. RÉTI – writing to lift the human spirit (e.g. Modern Ideas in Chess)
  10. TAL – frank, engaging and entertaining by turns (e.g. Tal-Botvinnik Match 1960)

Honourable mention: WATSON – His conversational tone carries you along smoothly, but his analysis of positions and ideas is as tough and honest as they come.

  1. ALEKHIN: Greatest Games – Guilty of gilding the lily on occasion, Alekhin has still produced some of the most wonderful games and two wonderful books. The third volume by Hugh Alexander is published in one complete book, so this counts as only one choice, OK?
  2. EUWE/KRAMER: The Middle Game (2 vols.) – made sense of what seemed beyond me, a great exercise in pedagogy
  3. FISCHER: My 60 Memorable Games – "Trumped Alekhin's ace".
  4. BYRNE/NEI: Both sides of the Chessboard – The drama of the events was utterly gripping, and the contrasting (and occasionally contradictory) annotations of the Spassky match made this a special book indeed.
  5. DONNER: The King – Bombastic, passionate, mischievous, honest, dishonest... peerless.
  6. EADE: Remember the MacCutcheon! – Unique among openings books, this gives you the heart as well as the moves of this baroque variation.
  7. WHYLD/HOOPER: Oxford Companion – Essential.
  8. JAMES/FOX: Complete Chess Addict – At last, someone puts all the best stories, puzzles, games and trivia under one roof.
  9. KONIG: Chess from Morphy to Botvinnik – Chess history explained through the development of opening theory. It's been done glibly a hundred times, but this is the real thing.
  10. SHAHADE: Chess Bitch – Among the po-faced, self-satisfied avalanche of books of moves by white men, this is such a welcome contrast. It's also one of the best books about chessplayers I have read. One day, I will get a photograph of myself dressed in pink...

Honourable mentions(plural!): WEBB: Chess for Tigers, ROWSON: Seven Deadly Chess Sins. Webb doesn't repay re-reading, and Rowson's too annoying to be a favourite, but everyone should read both once.








WEBB Chess for Tigers

WALKER Chess Openings for Juniors


CHERNEV The most instructive games of chess ever played

CHERNEV Capablanca's 60 Best Endgames

CHERNEV Logical Chess, Move by Move


SILMAN How to Reassess your Chess

KEENE/ LEVY An opening repertoire for the attacking player

HAYS Winning Chess Tactics for Juniors

STEAN Simple Chess

KOSTEN Winning Endgames

WEERAMANTRY Best Lessons of a Chess Coach


SILMAN The Amateur's Mind

FINE The Ideas behind the Chess Openings

LIVSHITS Test Your Chess IQ 2

EUWE/KRAMER The Middlegame (2 vols)

SHERESHEVSKY Endgame Strategy

McDONALD Chess: the art of logical thinking


NUNN Secrets of Practical Chess

RAETSKY Meeting 1.e4

ALEXANDER The Penguin Book of Chess Positions

DAVIES The Power Chess Programme (2 vols)

MEDNIS/ CROUCH Rate Your Endgame

NUNN Understanding Chess, Move by Move


ROWSON The Seven Deadly Chess Sins

WATSON Play the French 3

LIVSHITS Test Your Chess IQ 3

WATSON Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy


NUNN Secrets of Grandmaster Play

Smullyan: Where is the white King?


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