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With my post I was kind of hinting at what thor_ras said, though I decided not to put it so bluntly :-)
As an American chessplayer, it pains me to see so many of my countrymen buy dumbed-down chess books. That's what I think of Silman's books: they are not bad chess books, but I feel they are dumbed-down repackagings of The Classic Chess Literature. I cringe whenever I see someone rave about the Silman endgame book: it's an okay book, sure, but there are SO MANY books far superior to it! The same goes with Reassess.
The thing is, I don't entirely blame Silman for this! He knows that most US chessplayers are lazy sacks of s--- and don't want to study real chess. Hence the reason his books sell so well year after year.
About some other books recommended in this thread:
I studied Modern Chess Strategy by Pachman. It's not my favorite, but it is a good book, especially if you play the Queen's Gambit Declined or Grunfeld from either side.
My System is very tough: I recently saw an interview of 2800+ Levon Aronian (I think on the excellent ChessInTranslation.com) who said that Nimzowitsch's book was very helpful to him...when he was an IM! The book is very worthwhile, but as a 2000+ player, it is a lot for me to digest (it's one of the books I'm reading now).
The Euwe series is reputed to be excellent!
The truth is: if you want to improve your chess with book study, read the Soviet School-approved classics. Fill your library with them. Once in awhile, a western author comes out with a good middlegame textbook...but not very often.
Another thing is, a lot of people have a phobia about Descriptive Notation. If you are serious about improving, you need to get over it.
If anyone is interested, I found a couple of free books for kindle by Edward Lasker on Project Gutenberg's website.
One by Capablanca:
And one by Staunton:
Don't know how useful they are in modern times, but it might be fun to take a look at them.
I'm not a big fan of Silman's style of thinking or writing whatsoever. I feel that he's way too positional and doesn't emphasize the tactical sequence within the given position. Also he has a very unique style of thinking in relation to how he and the student address the problem. Most players who will read his books will find it extremely difficult to switch their style of thoght process over the board. Silman even writes on the first few pages of his book titled "Reasses your chess" - that the reader should expect to have a drop within their playing ability and overall strength initially. He claims that over time their method of thoght process should correct itself and their respective ratings should adjust accordingly. The way I see it is that if Silman's methodology of how to play chess was truly the best, then why isn't he one of the top 10 players in the world? Or better yet why isn't he even a Grand Master? He sure has been playing tournament chess long enough.
I agree. Chess Mentor needs a full engine behind it - the analysis is full
silman is a waste of time, he just rips simple minded ppl out of their money from his never ending books
I'm reading Silman's "AM" at the moment. I think it's really, really good. People you blame Silman for not having any original ideas, and who refers you to the old classics, sounds like snobs to me. Frankly, it doesn't matter if the ideas presented are original or not, as long as they are good, and presented in a manner one can understand. Silman's "AM" is certainly easier to read than "My System".
Yes, Silman's "AM" deals more with strategy, than tactics. To me, this is exactly what makes it worth reading.
Can you name strong GMs who recommend Silman's books to players seeking to improve their game? Maybe there are some, but I cannot think of any.
On the other hand, I can name dozens of players who recommend the classical literature. One recent example: http://www.whychess.org/node/707
My System was written in 1925. Euwe's books were written in the 1950s-60s. Pachman's book was written in the 1950s. My 60 Memorable Games (which I have not studied yet) was written before 1970. Romanovsky died in the 1960s.
There's a reason these old books are recommended again and again.
And...you might find that the classics are written in a CLEARER manner than Silman's books...
Andre_Harding, I think Silman's "AM" is a lot easier to read than "My System". And, no, I don't know any GM's you recommend Silman's books. And so what?
I haven't read it, so I can't say whether it is appropriate. For 1500-1600 rating it is usually good to work on some game strategy aspects (such as early middlegame planning), so if that book covers similar topics it should be fine, and also:
- Andrew Soltis' "Pawn Structure Chess";
- Andrew Kinsman's "Improve Your Middlegame Play";
- Max Euwe's "Judgement and Planning in Chess" (Andre_Harding recomended it too a few posts earlier);
- Nikolay Yakovlev's "Chess Blueprints - Planning in the Middlegame".
For 1400-1500 rating it's good to work on mistake reduction and move choice abilities. Andrew Soltis' "How to Choose a Chess Move" would be good, and other similar books too.
I like the structure of Chess Blueprints. Unfortunatly I found a large error in one of the first examples which the author would have found using a computer in ½ a second! That made me doubt the quality of rest of the book.
My System is definitely a difficult book; I and many posters have said that above. It's the reason I didn't recommend it to the OP.
However, to the best of my knowledge, each of the other books suggested is very readable.
My System being a difficult book doesn't make The Amateur's Mind good (I have it, by the way, as well as the 3rd edition of Reassess, and the Silman endgame book, so I know of what I speak).
Try Simple Chess by Michael Stean. I GUARANTEE you will find it even easier to understand than AM, and you will learn more from it.
student: why did i lose this game?
Silman: you didn't create enough imbalances in the position
student: i see, what else?
Silman: you only read How To R Y C 1 and 2 editions, you still have to buy and read the 3rd and the 4th editions to become a top player like myself
student: i see, here is your hourly wage and for ur golden advice 200 bucks an hour, you trully are the ONE!
Silman: yes, i am the Superman!...i mean the Silman!
Would you recommend the book How to Reassess Your Chess by Jeremy Silman? What USCF rating level do you think it would be most helpful for? Is there another book you would recommend reading instead? Thanks!
Silman asks the question: What is REALLY going on in the position ? The reason silman is so popular is because he will DEMAND that YOU answer that question !I think you will love the book he will take your game to the next level . No it will not make you an EXPERT player but he is without doubt the best ( teacher) of this complex game that i have ever read.
Silman books are excellent and he is an excellent teacher. But in my humble opinion books are overrated and overemphasized. Here are the things to do if you really want to improve. (and I am not currently doing them; I just play for fun).
Play in OTB tournaments. When you sit down give it your all with total concentration. After the game analyze it with your opponent and other players. Move the pieces around and try to absorb patterns and ideas.
Actively analyze master games. Cover up the next move, analyze, and try to guess the next move.
practice solving puzzles (without moving the pieces of course)
play against computer. Take a "won" or superior position and try to win it against the computer.
Pay for some lessons with a strong player
Passive reading does little. You have to work hard and practice to get better. There are many players who have a lot of knowledge but play poorly. There are many strong practical players who know surpringly little, but play extremely well.
Okay, I'm getting curious. I really like Silman's "AM". Please explain why it not good. Why?
You can hardly type, I suspect you can barely read.
Sounds awfully personal and biased to me. How about an objective response?
MCO or ECO?
I ask again. Why are Silman's books not worth reading? Please explain why the content isn't good, don't talk about the man. How he does in tournaments are not so important. It's the content that matters. Please enlighten me (and others) why I/we shouldn't read Silman's books.
I'm always amazed about the people criticizing Silman's work. I myself am busy studying "Amateur's Mind", and I have read a multitude of Silman's articles, all of which were very helpful.
Sometimes players read the first 20 pages of a book, and when they don’t show an improvement of at least 200 rating points, they put the book down, claiming it to be rubbish. Even worse, they "skim" through the book, and when the table of contents does not cover some section they liked in another book, they cry foul.
Also, like in this thread, players claim that the author and/or his books are worthless because he/she is not a grandmaster, even though they themselves don’t even have a rating close the vicinity of the player that wrote the book.
One just has to take a look at some of the games of IM's (on this site) against the players rated in 2000+ vicinity. Almost NO wins for the 2000 player (if any wins at all). Yet, these 2000 players still boast about the "lack of knowledge" displayed in these people's books and articles. Amazing, isn't it?
The point I'm trying to make is, if you are not playing at their level, rather keep quiet in your corner and learn from them, because you have to opportunity to "sidestep" some of pitfalls they fell into.
Silman's books come HIGHLY recommended, and he has a huge fan base all over. The reason is simple. He is a great writer, as well as a fantastic player. Buy "Amateur's Mind". You will not go wrong.
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