Jonathan Rowson, author of the highly acclaimed Seven Deadly Chess Sins, investigates three questions important to all chess-players:
1) Why is it so difficult, especially for adult players, to improve?
2) What kinds of mental attitudes are needed to find good moves in different phases of the game?
3) Is White's alleged first-move advantage a myth, and does it make a difference whether you are playing Black or White?
In a strikingly original work, Rowson makes use of his academic background in philosophy and psychology to answer these questions in an entertaining and instructive way. This book assists all players in their efforts to improve, and provides fresh insights into the opening and early middlegame.

Rowson presents many new ideas on how Black should best combat White's early initiative, and make use of the extra information that he gains as a result of moving second. For instance, he shows that in some cases a situation he calls 'Zugzwang Lite' can arise, where White finds himself lacking any constructive moves. He also takes a close look at the theories of two players who, in differing styles, have specialized in championing Black's cause: Mihai Suba and Andras Adorjan. Readers are also equipped with a 'mental toolkit' that will enable them to handle many typical over-the-board situations with greater success, and avoid a variety of psychological pitfalls.

Chess for Zebras offers fresh insights into human idiosyncrasies in all phases of the game. The depth and breadth of this book will therefore help players to appreciate chess at a more profound level, and make steps towards sustained and significant improvement.

Jonathan Rowson is an accomplished Grandmaster and Scotland's strongest ever player. In 2002 he shared first at the World Open, in 2004 he won the Hastings Premier and the British Championship, and in 2005 he successfully defended his British title. In 2006, he won the British Championship for an extraordinary third year in succession. He is also a prolific and successful chess writer and book reviewer for one of the world's foremost chess magazines, New in Chess. His previous books for Gambit, Understanding the Grünfeld and The Seven Deadly Chess Sins, have been widely praised in the chess press.

Download a pdf file with a sample from the book.

"He has interesting and perceptive views on chess and expresses them in a way that can prompt readers to re-evaluate their own approach to playing the game." - Bob Jones, Western Morning News

" of the most impressive chess books I have ever read." - John Glendinning, The Scotsman

"Rowson's book helped me to reflect on my game and optimise my quest for victory" - Scottish Champion Jonathan Grant, reported by Harald Fietz in an article in Schach Magazin 64

"It goes much further than plain instruction, delving beneath the skin of not only chess, but also the human mind and nature. I cannot give the writing of the book enough praise. Rowson mixes straightforward frankness with light-hearted wit, and teaches with an impressive authority and conviction. Chess For Zebras would be pride of place in anyone's chess library!" - John Lee Shaw, Chess Gateway

"Rowson has written an engaging, thought-provoking, and engrossing work that you'll actually enjoy reading." - Mark Donlan, Chess Horizons

"Lots of chess books promise to improve your game - this is one of the very few that actually delivers." - Michael Jeffreys,

"Rowson really does have something to say about thinking differently" - GM Ian Rogers, Canberra Times/Byron Shire Echo

" author who almost holds the patent on deep insights in chess" - Derek Grimmell,

"I have been reading Jonathan Rowson's absolutely paradigm-shifting book Chess for Zebras, which I heartily recommend..." - Michael Goeller, The Kenilworthian

"...this first class book is a great find and will benefit any chess player's understanding of the royal game, and it's a must for the adult player." - Michael Stevenson, New Zealand Chess

"...a marvellous new book..." - Phil Hughes, Chess Post

"...players of all strengths ought to benefit from the abundance of clearly-explained ideas." - Luke McShane, Sunday Express

"...Rowson's work is a little bit special..." - Jonathan Levitt, British Chess Magazine

"Jonathan Rowson has done it again, treating us all to a fascinating book filled with seriously important instructive ideas, his own brand of mystical/philosophic/practical musings, and sheer page-turning fun." - Jeremy Silman, Silman's website

"I wanted to be first to say this is an excellent and bloody brilliant chess book. Christmas has been sorted." Geoff Chandler, on Chess Scotland Noticeboard

"If you are a chess player then you will need this book. Players will be quoting from it for years to come and if you do not own it then you will be left out in the cold, clutching some worthless opening book and watching your grade slide." Geoff Chandler,

"It is impossible to do full justice to the book in a short review such as this. Suffice it to say that for me at any rate this is the best chess book to appear in print for a long time and it gets my vote as chess book of the year by a long mile." Alan Sutton, En Passant

"Jonathan Rowson, one of the premier chess thinkers, shows how to find good moves in different phases of the game, especially for black, in Chess for Zebras. One of the year's best reads." GM Lubomir Kavalek, Washington Post

"Excellent! As ever with Rowson the book chapter titles are unusual but the content is superb. Games are presented with a large amount of text explaining the positions and ideas arising from them. This book is no database dump of games from an author out to make a quick profit, here Rowson has put a lot of energy into a book that can be thoroughly enjoyed by the reader. Thought provoking, different and entertaining, this book deserves to be a success. Highly Recommended reading." Michael Blake,

"...the rich diversity of ideas is bound by a common theme: thinking differently." James Vigus, British Chess Magazine

"Chess for Zebras is Excellent." John Saunders, British Chess Magazine

"...the book, as a whole, overflows with sheer common sense, practical insight and good humour. Rowson annotates many games in great depth and with unusual objectivity. He is not just a model in this regard, but a first-class teacher." IM Craig Pritchett, Glasgow Herald

"Rowson's examination of chess psychology seems almost guaranteed to improve a practical player's results." - GM Ian Rogers, Canberra Times/Byron Shire Echo

"...wise advise from Rowson: If you want to become a better player, you need better habits, and you cultivate better habits through training.The best training is the kind that pushes you up against the edges of your comfort zone, where you force yourself to take responsibility for difficult decisions." - John Elburg,

"A delight to read. Highly Recommended." - Paul Dunn, Australian Chess

"I warmly recommend the book, especially to players frustrated by a long period of stagnation. Most chess books attempt to change what we think, but Rowson's helps us to change how we think, and in the long run, that's what will pay the biggest dividends - if we follow through with what we read." - Denis Monokroussos, Chess Today

"Everyone, who wants to learn more than the normal stuff about chess, who has an interest in profound reflection (of a chessy, psychological, or philosophical nature), who wants to improve his practical results on the strength of a wider horizon, will reach for Rowson's book with enthusiasm (even if he doesn't agree with all his theses)" - Dr. W. Schweizer, Rochade

"The good thing about books by GM Jonathan Rowson is that you always have the feeling that you have found someone with whom you can really talk about chess, even if it is a somewhat one-sided communication." - Fernando Offermann, Berliner Schachverband

"Whoever finds one of the two books, must also get the other. From time to time the author is too chatty for me, but the reader will be more than compensated by means of much witty and sometimes humorous stimulation." - Stefan Bücker, Kaissiber

"Chess for Zebras is the most interesting new publication of 2005" - Dr. Erik Rausch, Rochade