The following are a few of the many books available on chess openings. Quotations and certain facts (including page numbers and recent offered-prices) are taken from the Amazon pages of these chess books.
How to Play the Chess Openings
by Eugene Znosko-Borovsky
[The author] focuses on purpose and plan rather than memorization of moves, explaining how to avoid amateur mistakes and classic traps.
From the beginning of the book, under the heading “A Little History,” we read the following:
It is not, then, by memorizing variations that we shall become proficient in playing openings, but by understanding their meaning, their purpose, and the general ideas and principles which are their foundation.
160 pages — published in 1971 — $6.20 — ISBN-13: 978-0486227955
First Chess Openings
by Eric Schiller
63% of Amazon reader-reviews give this book five stars (highest rating); nevertheless, one reader said:
Not really a book for beginners. Gives you a good idea of several options to look for but there would have to be a LOT of memorizing of postions for it to be of any practical use.
160 pages — published in 2005 — $10.49 — ISBN-13: 978-1580421522
Modern Chess Openings, 15th Edition (MCO)
by Nick De Firmian
One Amazon reader-reviewer, giving the book five stars, said the following:
I use this encyclopedia as a guide when playing on-line correspondence chess, and to review openings before OTB tournaments. I think Firmian does a good job. I highly recommend this book for chess players of all levels.
Another one reported an error in the book:
[In the Latvian Gambit] . . . in this position the book says “and now both 11.Nxh8 and 11.Nd2 are promising for white but not entirely clear (Kosten)” The book completely overlooks that 11.Qe5+ is checkmate!!!
768 pages — publ. in 2008 — $22.69 — ISBN-13: 978-0812936827
Chess Openings For Dummies
by James Eade
One reviewer mentioned this book (not on Amazon):
This is a great book for those who want to learn about chess openings in a simple format! As a chess teacher, I tell my students that the opening is the foundation upon which the entire game is built! The first step to getting good at openings is to fully understand “opening principles.” Don’t simply memorize an opening because unless you understand the underlying principles, you’ll not fully be able to understand the reasons behind each move.
388 pages — publ in 2010 — $15.99 — ISBN-13: 978-0470603642
FCO: Fundamental Chess Openings
by Paul Van Der Sterren
From page 34 of the book, (the Meran variation of the Semi-Slav version of the Queen’s Gambit Declined):
This is White’s most natural move, allowing Black to head for the Meran by taking on c4. However, it says much about the respect in which Black’s following moves are held that practically every legal move in this position has been tried to steer the game in a different direction. Still, even the most widely accepted of these alternatives, 6 Qc2, is not particularly dangerous for Black.
The above quotation is just a small part of one example among hundreds: This huge chess opening book gives the reader detailed verbal explanations for these many openings.
480 pages (paperback version) — published in 2009 — $21.78 — ISBN-13: 978-1906454135
Reviews two huge books on openings: Modern Chess Openings (MCO) and Fundamental Chess Openings (FCO)
The number of moves per page in NCO tends to be two to three times that in MCO, which is a very significant factor in NCO’s favour. By contrast, MCO includes verbal comments in its notes, and NCO does not.
For the player who has played less than twenty games (or who has not yet played a game of chess), losing all or nearly all of them, the best book is ‘Beat That Kid in Chess.’
This is promoted as an ideal chess book for the “raw beginner,” the player who knows the rules of the game but hardly anything about how to win.