Great for adult novices
Things are tough for the older player who has taken an interest in chess: most books are either written for children or for experienced tournament competitors.
GM Rudolf Teschner (1922-2006) gave this forgotten crowd much help with his well-structured course Learn Chess in 40 Hours: A Self-tutor for Beginners and Advanced Players. It was originally published in 1993, but re-issued in 2004 by Edition Olms.
As I’ve said before, Edition Olms produces beautiful, high-quality chess books. I have such confidence in them that I would be willing to buy their volumes sight unseen.
Learn Chess in 40 Hours is broken into blocks of 1-hour chess lessons:
- Hours 1-6 on the basic mates and the most basic endgames. A good treatment overall.
- Hours 7-21 cover the most important openings, giving just the most important information and insights. This is beautifully done! He also includes a table of openings for reference.
- Hours 22-30 cover tactical ideas very nicely. Go elsewhere for puzzle practice.
- Hours 31-40 focus on strategy, with lots of good explanations.
I definitely recommend this title ahead of, for example, Chess Fundamentals. Teschner doesn’t hold your hand, but he guides the reader very efficiently. There is plenty of prose, and all the important variations are there — though the novice will need to stretch themselves a bit to make all of it stick.
No need to rush. Instead of 40 hours, don’t fret about taking 60 or 80. It wll be worth it.
I believe a motivated novice who seriously works through Learn Chess in 40 Hours two or three times could reach at least 1600 — maybe 1800 if they have a bit of talent and lack bad habits.