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Nice review - thanks for taking the time to write that. Given your impressions, for what rating range would you say the book is most helpful?
I basically agree with the review. The other chapters were not worthless, though. I think that in a lot of ways rooks are much more simple than knights and bishops, or at least the battle between the two. The real challenge is getting the rooks out from behind the pawns, something that knights have no trouble with and bishops can manage pretty easily. With the bishops, it always seems to be the queen's bishop that is the most problematic.
One thing I felt was missing was the knight vs. knight or bishop vs. bishop.
After a player learns the basic elements of the game, four books will help you improve from there: Silman's How to Reasses Your Chess and the Amateur's Mind, Pachman's Modern Chess Strategy, and Stean's Simple Chess. Classics! Any others?
I wish Silman's books were available to me when I was learning the game. I would have been a better player.
Look at why you lose games. If you throw away pieces or miss simple two-move combos then you need to address that first.Silman and his positional books (such as AM, HTRYC and the Workbook) are great butthey are more valuable for players who are fine with the basics of tactical chess. I don't think anyone rated around 1300 fills this critera.At 1300 FiDE, Study tactics and BASIC positional ideas first.Steve
Well, being a complete novice and chess amateur myself (and maybe too old and lazy to take my game to the next level) I'd say that Silman's book has really helped me to understand some aspects of the game a bit more. I have also liked Chernev's Logical Chess. Seirawan's Winning Chess Tactics has slowly but steadily became one of my favourite books.
I have also bought some old classic game collections - Tartakower's 500 games, Capablanca's, Botvinnik's and Morphy's games too. I am not a huge fan of the descriptive notation but on the other hand maybe that's why these books were much cheaper.
On the whole, as for a novice player I have maybe simply too much chess books on my shelf and some of them are clearly too difficult for me at the moment. But that doesn't stop me enjoying the game...
I'm rated around 1300-1400 right now, and I thought it was about right for this level. I agree with the other poster that its probably more important to understand tactics at this level though. I have read a few tactics books ("Winning Chess Tactics" by Seirawan, "Back to Basics: Tactics" by Heisman and "Chess Tactics for Champions" by Polgar). The outcomes of my games are still usually determined by a tactic or failure to see a tactic.
That said, this book was useful, becuase what do you do when no tactic is available? Silman's book will give you some ideas on making better positional moves.
As someone a lot closer to 1300 than IM pfren, I'd advise against Silman's middlegame books.
While his writing is accessable, frankly how to use the information he presents just wasn't clear to me at all. I got a lot more milage out of Yusopov's "Build, Boost, Evolve" series. But a big problem with Amateur's mind is actually that his analysis of some of the positions are counter against what the computer will tell you about the same position. And it becomes clear that while one way of playing the position might be to follow his advice, there are equally good ways of playing the position that ignore his advice or even run counter to it. If you just read the book superficially, you might get quite a lot out of it. But if you really try to tackle the positions yourself, you'll find that he hasn't always choosen the best example positions to work with.
neither does those machines players think so highly of.....