Silman on chess engines

Many players think that using a chess engine to analyze their games is the way to go. That is so, so wrong. A chess engine will show you tactical things you’ve missed, but it won’t tell you how to find them yourself. It will toss out long variations that show how you could have gotten a slight advantage, but you will usually not understand why one side is better, nor understand the moves leading up to it.

The sad fact is that very strong players are the ones that get the most out of chess engines since they can figure out the veracity of odd assessments and cryptic moves/maneuvers. And when I watch a live online grandmaster game and see countless engine owners screaming that so and so is better, all I have to do is ask “why?” and silence will follow, or something like “because he’s 1.2 better, that’s why!”

You can read the whole article here.


  • 3 years ago

    NM Pacifique


    The problem Silman points out is that 1200 rated players lack chess understanding to use engines in a proper way.

    Your suggestion does not solve the problem. Lines, given by engine may not always be understandable for weak players without coach`s asisstance. Also these lines are not always the most suitable for human players.

  • 3 years ago


    I disagree completely. I think engines can be an incredible tool for improvement if you use them in a way that doesn't diminish your overall thinking of the position.

    The problem he's pointing out is their usage rather than the engines themselves. And if you think about the position first, then turn on an engine to see what its opinion/evaluation is, and go through the lines rather than just looking at the eval, it's like having somebody stronger than a grandmaster teaching you.

    You don't need to not use an engine to ask "why" questions.

  • 3 years ago


    A few years ago, after a tournament loss, my opponent gave me a huge 6-page printout of dense text of his engine's analysis of the game. I thanked him and, after a cursory look at it, I just put it aside. Basically, I already knew that I made a weak, second-rate move in a crucial position instead of going for the dangerous, double-edged move that I couldn't possibly calculate to a clear resolution. That's how humans play chess.

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