Phase 6: Becoming an Expert
Rating Range: 1800-2000
For players approaching 1800, such books as Silman’s How to Reassess Your Chess and his even more helpful The Reassess Your Chess Workbook are very good. The end-game book that we recommend for stronger players is the modern, comprehensive Fundamental Chess Endings by Mueller and Lamprecht.
To help improve your evaluation and planning skills, consider Chess Success: Planning After the Opening by Neil McDonald and Test Your Positional Play: How You Should Think in Chess by Bellin and Ponzetto. Chris Ward’s It’s Your Move is also a great book choice to assist with planning and decision making.
Yes, there are lots of other good books (some love the deep thoughts in Jonathan Rowson’s original work The Seven Deadly Chess Sins, for example), but you really don’t have to read them all unless you want to earn your Eagle Scout Chess Book badge.
And of course if you feel that you can easily substitute a book or three for the ones we have mentioned, by all means do so.
But please don’t read 200 more at the expense of really learning and applying the lessons in the more important ones.
An essential activity for players who are nearing expert is to play regularly against experts (and masters, if possible) and to analyze your games with strong players.
Once your rating gets within earshot of 2000, the need to play carefully on every move becomes apparent, and the best way to learn to do this is to play against players who will punish you each time you don’t.