Dan's 11 Chess Books

See below for best way to obtain the books - Detailed descriptions further down - Last updated: March 07, 2015

Main Chess Page - Book Recommendation Page - Lessons - Novice Nooks, Chess.com articles/blogs, Instructional Videos for ICC/WCL members - Articles 

This page describes each book, autograph availability, and lists/links places where you can buy them. If purchasing a non-autographed book, at your convenience, consider using the publisher if they are also a bookseller!

ICC Message from carro: I own nearly 1,000 chess books (literally).  Yet, the more I read your work, the more I become convinced that you rival the best chess writers in history.  You have a rare gift for providing honest clarity.   Your earnest efforts to penetrate and inform are greatly appreciated.


email from Josh: Your writings have changed my life. Not only do I learn a lot about chess, but I learn a lot about learning in general.


Chess.com post about In Defense of Chess Instruction: Knightdreamer - Dan, Awesome article! I smiled the whole time I read it. In my eyes, you are the best living chess author.


email: This year in February, I have played my best chess tournament in my whole chess career. I think this is mainly because of the  chess books "The Improving Chess Thinker" and "The Best of Novice Nook". Maybe I can't repeat this little success in the future, but I absolutely convinced of the way your are teaching chess. Regards, Wolfgang PS: Your books: Back to Basics and  The  World's Most Instructive Amateur Game Book are real eye opener. In particular the last one.


Obtaining Personalized Autographed Copies

Price includes book/CD, autograph, postage and handling to US - A Guide to Chess Improvement is more than 1 lb. Foreign is extra depending upon type of postal delivery; Canada add $2, airmail to Europe is ~$8 extra. Please add 4% for Paypal. Please e-mail or call 610-649-0750 if you want to send a check and need my address.

Note: This page is kept up-to-date. If you see a book advertised as available, then I have it in stock at my home and you don't have to ask. But if you wish to e-mail to let me know you are paying by PayPal, chekels, or check, I understand. CD's are self-sufficient - they include ChessBase Lite, and don't require additional software. Normally CD's are not autographed, but if you want me to autograph case with magic marker, please let me know. Please do not make copies of electronic books. See below for more info on each book.

Book/CD     Availability   Autographed mailing price, including shipping
A Parent's Guide to Chess - Unique & great book! - it's a guide to the world of chess Electronic word file $2 updated zipped Word format version (does not have pictures; just text)
Elements of Positional Evaluation, 4th ed. ~2 $20; At http://shop.chesscafe.com , Amazon, etc; errata list => request; available in Kindle
The Improving Annotator 2nd edition 2 copies $20; errata list for 2nd printing => request; $19 with Grey-scale art (see below)
Looking for Trouble  2nd edition now out; also in Forward Chess format ~10 $21; errata list for 1st edition => request -- (Browse new and used prices for the 1st edition!)
The Traxler Counterattack (CD)      Sold out ...but available in CD and download formats at www.chesscentral.com
The Computer Analyzes the Fried Liver/Lolli (CD) 3 CD $14 Ask also for the update article!
Everyone's 2nd Chess Book 3rd printing status Sold out see used book price! - Apparently used books available from Barnes and Noble.
Back to Basics: Tactics 2nd printing also available e+chess format for Ipads Sold out $17; errata list for 1st edition => request - errata fixed in the 2nd printing; now in Spanish, too
The Improving Chess Thinker  2nd ed. now available 4 $21; errata list for 1st printing => request; $20 with Grey-scale art (see below)
A Guide to Chess Improvement: The Best of Novice Nook 6 $27 (list is $28.95, but this includes autograph and shipping!) This book is heavier, so shipping is more.
The World's Most Instructive Amateur Game Book - also in Forward Chess format for Ipads and Androids 2nd box sold out! $25

To order: Best payment method: Pay by PayPal (please add 4% to cover PayPal charges) or ICC chekels (now free) but also e-mail me  to let me know you paid by PayPal and how to autograph your book.

If paying by check, please e-mail me and I will send you my home address.


Six of my books are now available on Kindle! Click on this graphic to shop at Amazon for Kindle (or hardcopy) and give Dan credit č In Association with Amazon.com

"I love Mr. Heisman's works (both books and online articles) and Elements of Positional evaluation is another good one.  He is able to communicate things in a way that us beginners can understand and grasp." - Russell Reagan

1) Elements of Positional Evaluation subtitle: How the Chess Pieces Get Their Power - 4th ed. vastly updated (tripled in size!).

Publisher: Chess Enterprises (Eds. 1-3); Russell Enterprises (Ed. 4)- The fourth edition is super-expanded with 100+ new diagrams, available from Chess Cafe and everywhere.
Book Overview: My life "treatise" - originally written on a typewriter in 1974-75.  1st three editions sold out.  Describes the basis for how each piece gets its value and relates, in a very basic (but not for beginners) way how that relates to evaluating positions.  Describes the basic elements that can be used for non-tactically evaluating a position.  Not as many diagrams or examples as I would like because I didn't have the tools at that time to include them!  Very unique for its time (and even now!). IM John Watson's award-winning new book, Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy, has many examples the ideas my Elements book discusses.  The first edition (yellow) was the old text.  The 2nd edition (pink) was made more conversational.  The 3rd edition (Blue) added more diagrams and  recent references. The fourth edition is nothing like the first three - it has tripled in size and has 100+ new diagrams/examples.
Suggested Rating Range: 800-1800. Emails about Elements:

Note: See a new addition to the theory of this book at the end of this linked Novice Nook!

2) The Improving Annotator - From Beginner to Master         
     Original publisher: Chess Enterprises. 2nd edition available from Mongoose Press.

Book Overview: Introduction discusses how to annotate a game and why it is so helpful.  The remainder of the book is my following that advice and self-annotating my games as I improve from USCF rating 1400 to National Master.  Annotator is light reading and mostly some very interesting games along with my original analysis, and now bracketed computer analysis to compare with the original and see how well I did. ~200 pages.

"BTW, received my copy of The Improving Annotator by Dan Heisman. The most valuable aspect for me tat this point has been the 8-page introduction! It, alone provides all the ideas and recommendations for annotating games! The 28 annotated games are icing on the cake !!" - from Chess4Him on Chess.com, Dec 7, 2013

Suggested Rating Range: 1100-2400

3) Everyone's 2nd Chess Book - You Can't Play What You Don't See ...A precursor to Novice Nook columns

Publisher: Thinker's Press Third printing cancelled.
Book Overview: After you learn how to move the pieces and the basic rules for checkmate, castling, etc, this book discusses what you have to learn next.  Much of the book discusses "board vision" and how you develop it.  Many generic tips for beginners, including most common misconceptions about starting chess, misunderstood rules, chess etiquette, etc.

From the ChessCo Web Site (2000):

Here is a plug for Everyone's 2nd Chess Book from Searching for Bobby Fischer real-life Coach Bruce Pandolfini in his Q&A column on the web:

"Question: I am a grade 5 teacher and incorporate the game of chess throughout my class curriculum. I am looking for 2 things really: a good internet chess site that you could recommend, where my students can play against other opponents; and a school teacher's guide for the incorporation of chess into the classroom (if you know of any such books/texts). Mary Beth Osburn (USA)
[Pandolfini] Answer: There are a number of Internet sites offering live chess, such as the Internet Chess Club
, the USCF, Its Your Turn, and Yahoo. Why don’t you sample a few of these and see which one appeals to you the most. For guides you can try either the U.S. Chess Federation or Chess-in-the-Schools, both of which should be able to provide help and suggestions on literature. You might also take a look at Dan Heisman’s excellent new work, Everyone’s 2nd Chess Book. It has all kinds of useful suggestions for learning and teaching the game."  !!

A final plug - read the Sep 12 entry in Rook Van Winkle's blog.

Suggested Rating Range: 800-1700

Errata on 2nd printing, 2nd diagram page 39: There should be a black rook on d8
Dan's Picture on the back cover of the book at In Association with Amazon.com - Raymond Smullyan's autobiography: click "back cover" on left!

4) The Traxler Counterattack (a.k.a. The Computer Analyzes the Traxler - this required the most work of any of my books! 

Publisher: Pickard and Son - They are also a bookseller; e-mail: Pickard & Son; web site: Chess Central; book webpage
Book Overview: An Electronic Opening Book.  Available in CD-ROM or downloadable.  The book that took the most work!  I used the computer to analyze every known variation of this super-sharp opening (also known as the Wilkes-Barre Variation of the Two Knights Defense: 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5 Bc5?!).  I saved all the analysis in ChessBase format so that it can not only be a hardcopy book with the analysis, but also an electronic book (e-book) for those who wish 1,500 additional games and to study using ChessBase Lite (free) or ChessBase.  I was able to either verify, clarify, extend, or yes, even refute, almost every line of published theory on this very sharp line!

Dan's blurb for the CD cover: "This e-book has been nominated for the 2000 Cramer Award.  NM Dan Heisman, a member of the International Computer Chess Association, spent over 2 years anaylzing the ultra-sharp Traxler (Wilkes-Barre Two Knights) variation with computer software. The result is almost all new analysis which completely changes the theory of this old opening.  Includes 50 surveys covering all existing and new lines - the equivalent of about a 1,000 page book!  Complete with training database and about 1,500 sample games, many annotated.  Uses ChessBase Lite (free; downloadable) or ChessBase."

Suggested Rating Range: 1400-2800

This week in Chess' IM John Watson says about Dan's Traxler CD e-book: "This may be the most thorough work ever on a particular subject!" - Read his entire review near the end of his chess book review article

5) The Computer Analyzes the Fried Liver/Lolli- CD from Chess Central; I have autographed copies

6) A Parent's Guide to Chess - The only book for new chess parents! Click HERE to see a picture of the book

The Only Book for beginning American "Chess Parents"

7) Looking for Trouble - Published by Chess Cafe - probably my most underrated book - 2nd edition manuscript already finished and waiting for early 2014 publication!

Read the review at ChessBug - This is a book for all levels - the idea was suggested by Dr. Stephen Rolfe to help intermediate players identify and deal with threats. It is one of the very few books where each puzzle has two problems: What are all the threats, and what is the best way to meet them?

subtitle: A guide to finding and meeting chess threats. A book of 220+ (300+ in edition 2) problems where each requires 2 solutions: you have to identify the threats made by your opponent's last move and figure out the best way(s) to meet them. 

Chess Cafe writes: "This book is written to address an underemphasized area of chess training and study, the identification of and reaction to – threats. For beginner and intermediate-level players, the study of tactics is paramount. Almost all tactics books take the approach of providing a position where there is a forced win, checkmate or draw. However, Looking for Trouble takes a different tack. This book helps you to recognize threats by providing over 200 problems in which you focus on identifying and meeting threats ranging from extremely easy to fiendishly difficult. But even the identification of difficult threats – and sometimes more importantly how to meet them – is discussed in a manner that should greatly benefit players of all levels."

Ralph Buske wrote: "I have bought (too?) many chess books, looking for those that will help.  My judging criteria is simple: The book must be worth reading multiple times and what the book teaches must help me win. So, I bought "Looking for Trouble" as a filler to get Amazon.com's free shipping.  Soon after starting reading, I knew it needed multiple readings.  Then, last night, at our club's tournament, I got behind in development because of a dumb move.  I asked myself "What does Dan recommend?".  I started looking at every opponent move's threats and looked for a good response, that would both answer the threat and improve my position.  90 minutes later, my opponent resigned.  Thanks to your book!!!"

Suggested Rating Range: 1100-2300

8) Back to Basics: Tactics - for players rated between 800 and 1900 - 2nd printing fixes errata. - also available in Spanish - "live" e-book

                Jim Phillips wrote: "I read your Back to Basics book on my Kindle.  It's great."  

Publisher: Chess Cafe - now available - order from www.chesscafe.com 


"I'm studying your Back to Basics: Tactics book, and have just finished the part on Removal of the Guard. I must say you're a brilliant Chess instructor for lower rated players like myself. Absolutely brilliant." - Matts Wall, Sweden


"Dan, your book "Back to basics: tactics" is so good that it made me jump from 1000 ELO to 1500 ELO in 1 month." - Juicysnail (Chess.com) - Jun 2013

Read the thorough review at Chess Cafe by Richard Roseborough - Several players have asked me to spread the word that the tactics in Chapter 1 are not as easy as they thought!

See also my Novice Nooks on Tactics and Counting

Suggested Rating Range: 800-1900

9) The Improving Chess Thinker (how players think at different chess levels, time management, etc) - at the time of publication likely my best received book.

Publisher: Mongoose Press - excerpt

ICC message from Carro: "My rating has come up about 300 points in two days because of your book.  I dipped under 1100 and now I'm just under 1400.  I'm flabbergasted to find that your book provided the crucial piece of understanding for which I have long searched."

Table of Contents : Dedication and Acknowledgements - Preface - Introduction - 1. The Exercise - 2. Thought Process Basics - 3. Class F - 4. Class E - 5. Class D - 6. Class C - 7. Class B - 8. Class A - 9. Expert and Above 10. The Thinking Cap - 11. The Basics of Time Management - 12. What the Researcher Learned - Appendix A: Dr. Max Euwe Protocol of de Groot A - Appendix B: Computer Analysis of Positions - Glossary - Bibliography  

Link to publisher's blog on this book (and others). Read NM Jonathan Hilton's interesting Mar 31 entry. Also Eric Murrah's blog

Suggested Rating Range: Any

10) A Guide to Chess Improvement: The Best of Novice Nook - Amazon rating = 5 stars!

Publisher: Everyman Chess - Chess.com blog on how this book was made

A compendium of my best award-winning columns written for adults who wish to improve. Included are new columns, extensively updated material and references, corrected analysis! You can read the entire set of original columns via my Novice Nook web page links. Thanks to Mike Montgomery for his thorough Q&A!

Shiv Sankaranarayanan: "...this has got to be the 'most helpful chess book that doesn't leverage on annotated Master games for instructional purposes.'"

11) The World's Most Instructive Amateur Game Book - excerpt - blog - Chess Cafe review - download of games in pgn - Make the e-version "come alive" with active diagrams on IPads with a Free App (Forward Chess) - nominated for "Book of the Year" for 2013 via the Chess Journalists of America

Email: "...Today I picked up a copy of your "The World's Most Instructive Amateur Game Book" and I can honestly say I learned more from the 1st game in Chapter 1 than perhaps any other chess book I've read..."

    Publisher: Mongoose Press - Amazon 5-Stars!

        30 Amateur Games deeply annotated with emphasis on general improvement suggestions, recognizing and minimizing mistakes, time management, backed up with computer analysis. Over 100,000 words -a thick book (over 330 pages at 6x9")! Rumor has it that this is my best...

        The five chapters are Too Fast, Too Slow, Endgame Play, A Variety of Instructive Play, and Disaster Strikes.

  Book Recommendations (other authors' books)
 Article: The Making of The Traxler Counterattack and Everyone's 2nd Chess Book

Other Major Booksellers: 

Hope you enjoy each and every one of my books! If you have comments or suggestions, email me

Main Chess Page

Dan Heisman books - Dan Heisman chess books - instructional chess books - learning chess - getting better at chess - good chess books - autographed chess books - books about chess - improving at chess - chess improvement - Dan Heisman's books - interesting chess books - helpful chess books