Joint ACP (Association of Chess Professionals) Book of the Year

The three-times World Chess Solving Champion distils the most useful middlegame concepts and knowledge into 100 lessons that everyone can understand.

Following on from his successful Understanding Chess Endgames, John Nunn turns his attention to the middlegame – the phase of the chess battle where most games are decided, yet the one that has received the least systematic treatment from chess writers. With the outstanding clarity for which he is famous, Nunn breaks down complex problems into bite-sized pieces.

In the case of attacking play, we are shown how to decide where to attack, and the specific methods that can be used to pursue the enemy king. Positional play is described in terms of the major structural issues, and how the pieces work around and with the pawns. Nunn explains how to assess when certain pieces are better than others, and how we can make use of this understanding at the board. Readers will never be short of a plan, whatever type of position arises.

Each lesson features two inspiring examples from modern chess, annotated honestly and with a keen focus on the main instructive points. Both sides’ ideas are emphasized, so we get a clear picture of the ways to disrupt typical plans as well as how to form them.

Dr John Nunn is one of the best-respected figures in world chess. He was among the world’s leading grandmasters for nearly twenty years, winning four gold medals in chess Olympiads and finishing sixth overall in the World Cup in 1989. He is a much-acclaimed writer, whose works have won ‘ Book of the Year’ awards in several countries. In 2004, 2007 and 2010, Nunn was crowned World Chess Solving Champion, ahead of many former champions.

Download a pdf file with a sample from the book.

Watch a YouTube video in which GM John Nunn presents a sample from this book.

“A successful attempt to offer bite-sized pieces on many topics... Nobody, not even Kotov, at least in my opinion, has ever selected teaching examples better than Dr Nunn” – Neil Limbert, British Chess Magazine

“The book can be recommended to everyone from intermediate club-player level (ELO 1800) who would like to improve in the difficult field of plan making and position evaluation in complex middlegame positions. Hewill be challenged by the author, but always guided and never left in the thicket of variations. Recommended!” – Glarean Magazin

“A must have for every chess player in view of the wealth of middlegame concepts that are presented.” – Heinz Däubler, Der Neue Tag

“In one of the first chapters of his middlegame treatise, Nunn reveals one of the main points of middlegame play: ‘ All parts of the board are connected. Plans, strategies and tactics that occur in one area of the board can impact another part of the board in unexpected ways.’ He calls it ‘ interconnectedness,’ but perhaps it has more to do with synchronicity. Butterfly flaps its wings in China, triggering an earthquake in California. White’s dark bishop sneezes on the queenside, the black king catches a cold on the kingside” – Lubomir Kavalek, Huffington Post

“This book features 100 of the most important middlegame ideas under the following headings: Material Imbalances (including advantage of the exchange); Strategy (including creating plan, and when you can’t think of a plan); Activity (including The seventh rank and the curse of passivity); Attacking Play (including king in the centre and castling on opposite sides); Defensive play (including The risks of attacking and Don’t panic!); Pawn-Structure (including Isolated pawns and the central passed pawn); Typical Central Pawn-Formations (including The open centre and the open e-file centre); Typical mistakes (including Underestimating an attack and overestimating an attack!). Nunn precedes all this with a succinct introduction and a short chapter on ‘Myths of the Middlegame’which is very interesting indeed. Each chapter does have a lot of sub headings to get your teeth into. Each of the 100 lessons features examples from modern chess annotated openly and honestly with a real focus on the main instructive points. ... I own several books on the Middlegame in chess written by esteemed Grandmasters but this one is probably my favourite and I am not just saying that. John Nunn knows his subject; he is three-times World Chess Solving Champion and has a certain style of writing that I find very agreeable. I am not saying this is an easy or quick read but then if you really want to learn more about Middlegames, especially from such a renowned author then you will have to put in the time. Why not undertake for example to do two or three lessons a week? Surely you can only benefit from this when you sit at the board and play your own games.” – Carl Portman,

“This is truly, a highly instructive learning book!” – John Elburg,

“Here is a true gem of chess literature, the latest work by the genial pen of John Nunn: a book where in just a hundred short and easy chapters the chess kernel is perfectly dissected in a scientific, logical and appealing way... do not miss it!” – Joe Dawson,

“This is a monumental work, the contents of which cannot be fully explained in this short review. This book represents an investment in your chess.” – Patrick Foley, Business Day and The Sunday Times (South Africa)

“The middlegame ... is always a challenge and a mystery. Once your game enters this phase, it is usually a unique position that you are encountering for the first time, ... Nunn’s point is that single, simplistic ideas don’t always hold universal truths, and that principles should rather be considered only as guidelines ... Nunn is a great chess writer whose prose is simple and unpretentious. If you have a chess friend who knows a few openings, is having some initial successes and would like to get even better at the game, this would be a welcome gift.” – Cecil Rosner, Winnipeg Free Press

Gambit books by John Nunn: 1001 Deadly Checkmates, Endgame Challenge, Grandmaster Chess Move by Move, Grandmaster Secrets: Winning Quickly at Chess, John Nunn’s Best Games, John Nunn’s Chess Course, John Nunn’s Chess Puzzle Book NEW EDITION, Learn Chess,Learn Chess Tactics, Nunn’s Chess Endings volume 1, Nunn’s Chess Endings volume 2, Secrets of Grandmaster Chess, Secrets of Pawnless Endings, Secrets of Practical Chess NEW EDITION, Secrets of Rook Endings, Solving in Style, Understanding Chess Endgames, Understanding Chess Middlegames,Understanding Chess Move by Move, Vishy Anand: World Chess Champion (with Vishy Anand).