Incredible Savings on One-of-a-Kind Items - Updated Daily!



The Definitive Book - Encyclopedia of Chess Problems - Themes and Terms

Product Code: B0009SHV



"I have great respect for the experts in the field of chess problems, though I never was a great fan. All those terms and themes sounded distant and hard to understand. Instead, I preferred the practical aspects of playing chess. However, while writing for different newspapers, I witnessed a great interest from readers for two movers. The common question being - Why are you not including chess problems?

What I really liked were those gigantic problems and studies where the mate could be found in, say, 298 moves! It was fantastical; yet, sometimes, even if it didn't make any sense, I felt like it could happen in real tournament games.

What I always wanted was one book that would explain everything and provide the best examples from the history of chess problems. I asked the guru of the chess problem community, GM of chess composition and GM solver Milan Velimirovic, whether such a book was possible and unknowingly tapped into his lifetime wish to create just that. 

Many months later, we are proud to present The Definitive Book, Encyclopedia of Chess Problems: Themes and Terms, written by Velimirovic and his colleague, GM solver and 1984 World Solving champion, Kari Valtonen from Finland. Inside, there are 1,726 selected problems and all the answers to any question that one might ask about chess problems. It can be read in different ways, like the classical Larousse encyclopedia or as a great collection of problems. Every theme and term is illustrated with the appropriate problem.

I am proud to be involved in this project. I see it as a historic moment for the world of chess problems. And, yes, now I a full-fledged fan of this magnificent field!"

Josip Asik, CEO of Chess Informant



"A lot of courage was needed to undertake, within an extremely tight time table, the “impossible mission” of coping with such a comprehensive task as displayed in this book, which covers practically all aspects of chess composition.

Behind this there stood a special situation, where the general manager of “Chess Informant” has found it in his interest to invest in such a project, provided that the chief editor is GM Milan Velimirovic. And indeed, one could not ask for a better qualified man for the job. In a lucky coincidence, Kari Valtonen who happened to gather a lot of material suitable for the book joined forces with Milan and these two with the help of several enthusiastic friends managed to present us with this mammoth enterprise – the encyclopedia before you.

Every fan of chess composition can find in this book some thing of interest. The undersigned finds appeal in most aspects of the book, but being biased by his personal composing activity, particularly so in the core parts referring to themes and terms. For the undersigned, browsing through these extensive parts has been a fascinating “journey among the stars”.

Nowadays it seems that the time of basic themes is over. The time of the more complex themes has come, but these must preserve a number of basic characteristics: internal coherence and logic, a high prospective for inspiring composing and a strong survival capability which can only be verified over time.

The themes should expose the potentials hidden in the contingent rules of chess – their power to create things of beauty, which in the case of chess compositions are dependent entities, as they are man-made. Beauty in chess composition is not constant but a dynamic concept. Taste will change over time, and like the stars in the skies, themes have their periods of flourishing and decline, depending on the amount of life or energy they possess, and how long it will take for each to burn its entire vitality before turning into a white dwarf.

This book seems to have taken these or similar criteria into consideration. Hopefully the number of counter-examples is negligible and can easily be adjusted in a future edition.

This comprehensive encyclopedia is special in our field of chess composition and will be enjoyed by chess players as well. It is a must in the library of all lovers of chess problems and studies."

Uri Avner, GM of Chess Composition, Honorary President of the WFCC


Sample of Encyclopedia of Chess Problems



'The Definitive Book’ – that’s written on the front cover and it nearly put me off reading it. Fortunately, I conquered my scepticism and plunged in. I didn’t know any chess book that merited the word ‘Definitive’; now I do. Big claims need big justification, but this book is extraordinary. It attempts to describe all the themes, the ideas, that chess problems use, and it succeeds in that formidable task.

Encyclopedias tend to sit on one’s bookshelf looking impressive, but rarely opened. You could do that with this tome, of course, and merely mention to your friends that you’ve got a copy, to up your kudos. But you can use this for fun, too. It has 1,726 problems and endgame studies, with their solutions and explanations, and you can dip into it at random; every page has problems that I had never seen before and each was a pleasure.

The names of problem themes can be disheartening: ‘Tertiary Arrival Correction’, ‘Distributed Rukhlis’, ‘Regel der Wirksamen Felder’ – what on earth are those? It doesn’t really matter, although if you’re curious you can find out easily – the book has not only the entries themselves, but also an index with cross-references and translations. Of course, there are errors – no humans could write a book as comprehensive as this without making some slips – but Velimirovic and Valtonen have achieved a praiseworthy level of accuracy. The English is at times a little faltering, but not to the point where one might misunderstand.

If you’re a composer, you’ll probably go straight to the index of composers to look for your name, and there’s a good chance you’ll find one of your problems in here.Just from that, the publishers should get good sales! It’s not cheap – no encyclopedia is – but at €39.95 it’s not out of most people’s range, and there’s far more content than any of my other chess problem books. My only worry for the future of this book is that the price can hardly cover the effort that has gone into writing and publishing it. Printed encyclopedias are becoming phenomena of the past; I haven’t used my Encyclopedia Britannica for years now; Wikipedia is both reliable and up-to-date. So, if the publishers don’t make a good return on their investment, can I suggest that future editions become on-line wikichesspedias?

I hope there will be new editions in due course; composers are constantly inventing new ideas to puzzle the solver and these will be given names and become recognised themes. Encyclopedia writers haven’t finished their work when they’ve read the proofs – they’ve given themselves a lifelong duty to update and expand their creation. They need collaborators, of course – people willing to send in suggestions for additions. I’m tempted to become one; it would be much like being on the worldwide team that helps to update the Oxford English Dictionary. In the chess problem world, this book will attain the status of the OED. ‘Definitive’? Definitely!

Ian R. Watson, British Chess Magazine



Milan Velimirovic, author of Encyclopedia of Chess ProblemsMilan Velimirovic is a GM of Chess Composition, GM Solver and International Judge of chess composition. Editor of chess composition magazines “MAT” (1974-1985) and “Mat Plus” (since 1994). He has published several books on chess composition. Author of numerous articles on chess composition. 

IN MEMORIAM (February 25, 2013)

Milan Velimirovic (1952-2013), author of Encyclopedia of Chess Problems, has suddenly passed away after short illness. Velimirovic was one of the most respected members of chess problems community worldwide and a regular columnist in Chess Informant. 


Kari Valtonen, author of Encyclopedia of Chess ProblemsKari Valtonen (b.1954) is GM Solver and International Judge of chess composition. Editor of the chess composition section of “Suomen Shakki” (1987-2008), sub-editor of chess composition magazine “Suomen Tehtäväniekat” (1992-1997). Author of several articles on themes and terms in chess composition. World Solving Champion in 1984. Living in Tampere, Finland.




Our Price: $59.95

Publication Date: October 1, 2012
Notation Type: FAN - Figurine
Page Count: 520 Pages

Media Mail Eligible

Media Mail® shipping from the US Postal Service is the cost-effective way to ship Books, Software and DVDs. With shipping rates starting at only 4.00, it's the most affordable shipping method available.

Related Products

  • Decision Making - Chess Lecture - Volume 44
    M David Vigorito gives an overview of what to do when a game goes outside theory, beyond tactics and you are over the board and on your own. Over a series of three example games he delves into what the considerations are on the board and how to make decisions.

    Decision Making - Chess Lecture - Volume 44

    Catalog Code: DVD0044CL
    Our Price: $15.95

  • Chess Tactics from Scratch - 2ND EDITION
    These players clearly needed a good book, but when Weteschnik looked for it he found nothing suitable, so he decided to write it himself. But Weteschnik was not completely satisfied with the book and decided to restructure and rewrite it completely.

    Chess Tactics from Scratch - 2ND EDITION

    Catalog Code: B0062QT
    Our Price: $29.95

  • Insane Chess Sacrifices - EMPIRE CHESS
    If you want to win more games, you have to attack your opponent and can not be scared to sacrifice to break through with an attack. There are an overwhelming variety of sacrifices and reasons for making sacrifices – you could give up a pawn to seize the initiative or gain space, you could sacrifice an exchange to change the dynamic of a position, or you could make a positional sacrifice by allowing doubled, isolated pawns but gaining a dangerous attack against your opponent’s king.

    Insane Chess Sacrifices - EMPIRE CHESS

    Catalog Code: DVD0031EP
    Our Price: $34.95

  • Modern Chess Preparation
    With powerful anecdotes and many instructive high-level games, Tukmakov explains how you can organize your homework, focus your efforts, and arrive at a viable game plan.

    Modern Chess Preparation

    Catalog Code: B0115NIC
    Our Price: $26.95

  • The Caro-Kann - Move by Move
    In this book, Cyrus Lakdawala examines the Caro-Kann, which enjoys a richly deserved reputation as one of Black's most reliable defences. It provides an ideal blend of soundness and dynamism, which allows Black to create counterplay from a solid platform.

    The Caro-Kann - Move by Move

    Catalog Code: B0341EM
    Our Price: $29.95

  • EBOOK - Study Chess with Matthew Sadler
    Matthew Sadler is one of the UK's strongest ever players. He became a grandmaster at 19, won the British Championship twice and, amongst other amazing achievements, made a gold medal winning score of 101/2/13 on board four for England in the 1996 chess Olympiad.

    EBOOK - Study Chess with Matthew Sadler

    Catalog Code: E-B0357EM
    Our Price: $19.95

  • Chess Tactics - Level 3
    Chess Tactics Level 3 is designed for players with a USCF rating of 1600 to 2100. It is a fundamental training program on chess tactics.

    Chess Tactics - Level 3

    Catalog Code: WIN0004AK
    Our Price: $24.95

  • Attack on the King and Combinations in the Middle Game - RUSSIAN EDITION
    This is a reprint of two Russian Language chess books combined into one. The author, Igor Bondarevsky, was one of the strongest players in the world.

    Attack on the King and Combinations in the Middle Game - RUSSIAN EDITION

    Catalog Code: B0146IS
    Our Price: $25.95

  • Endgame - PAPERBACK
    ENDGAME is acclaimed biographer Frank Brady's decades-in-the-making tracing of the meteoric ascent--and confounding descent--of enigmatic genius Bobby Fischer. Only Brady, who met Fischer when the prodigy was only 10 and shared with him some of his most dramatic triumphs, could have written this book, which has much to say about the nature of American celebrity and the distorting effect.of fame

    Endgame - PAPERBACK

    Catalog Code: B0022RH
    Our Price: $15.95

  • Botvinnik the Invincible
    Botvinnik the Invincible was written in 1946, two years before Botvinnik won the World Chess Championship. The fact that it accurately predicts the ultimate victory by Botvinnink is itself significant.

    Botvinnik the Invincible

    Catalog Code: B0177IS
    Our Price: $25.95

Tell us what you think about this item!

What Our Customers Are Saying About The House Of Staunton