495 Chess Lessons in Your Pocket
Positional Chess Handbook can be considered a strategy cousin to 1001 Chess Sacrifices and Combinations, the iconic puzzle book by Fred Reinfeld. Both are pocket-sized and ideal for studying on-the-go — but PCH is definitely the superior book.
I recommend Positional Chess Handbook to players (and coaches!) of all levels. Players rated from zero to at least 2200 will benefit. The book will give beginners ideas about strategy; it has much to teach club players; and it is a good refresher for the 2000+ crowd.
Originally published in 1991, it is filled with instructive game fragments from famous and not-so-famous players and composers. You’ll find examples from Morphy and Steinitz, as well as from Fischer, Karpov, and Kasparov. In all, there are 495 diagrams over 208 pages (plus index). I’m sure author Israel Gelfer (FIDE Master and FIDE Senior Trainer) spent many years compiling the examples that helped his students the most.
So what does it cover?
Positional Chess Handbook: Contents
Most of the 21 chapters isolate a certain positional feature, making it easy to reinforce understanding of a particular concept without distraction. A few sections are more general, but very instructive nonetheless. Of course, tactics are everywhere in this book, too — strategy cannot exist without them, right?
- Instroduction; Strong and Weak Pieces
- A Good Bishop versus a Bad Knight
- A Good Knight versus a Bad Bishop
- Bishops—Same Colour
- Bishops—Opposite Colour
- Two Bishops
- A Rook versus Two Minor Pieces
- Choosing an Endgame; Some Aspects of the Endgame
- Key Squares—Strong Points
- Strategic Advantages
- Cramped Positions, Restricted Pieces
- Pawn Structures
- Pros and Cons
- Active King; Central Supremacy
- Inducing Weaknesses
- A Diagonal
- Two Diagonals,
- Positional Sacrifices
Index of Players and Composers
Images from the Book
Positional Chess Handbook is one of the books I reread portions of regularly to keep my positional skills sharp. The others are Simple Chess and Judgment and Planning in Chess. You don’t need much else. Best of all in these tough times, each of these books can be had for under $10!
Have you read PCH? What are your impressions? Comment below!