My coach does not like Jeremy Silman...


Recently, I purchased two books written by Silman:  The Amateur's Mind and Silman's Complete Endgame Course.  So far I really enjoy the simplicity and the arrangement of the chapters based on rating strength, especially in the endgame book.  But for some strange reason, my coach; a Candidate Master, was not happy when I showed him my new books.  He is always the one telling me to purchase different chess books from Amazon in order to improve tactics, strategy, endgame, etc.  But out of rotten luck, I just happened to pick the ones written by an IM player he doesn't like. (I might as well play the lottery...)

He claims that Silman is "spoon-feeding" amateur players and not making them work hard enough to get better at chess.  It may not sound like much but this is a BIG CONFLICT between my enjoyment of Silman's books and my coach's philosophy of chess improvement.

Please help me solve this struggle if you can!


I laughed out loud at the title! HAHAHA XD

Sorry. I'll read your post now.

Addicted-to-Chess97 wrote:

I laughed out loud at the title! HAHAHA XD

Sorry. I'll read your post now.

I totally understand.  You should've seen the look on my face when my coach freaked out over Silman.


Oh man, sorry. I just think the title is sooooo funnny! Anyway, I mean I love Silman, I have 3 of his books and I think his stuff is great.

It makes for light chess reading maybe, but bottom line it cant hurt and might help. If you're studying more because if it, dont trash it.


Let's see if we can figure it out.  Silman is world famous and rich and your coach is a CM who makes a few extra bucks teaching kids how to play chess.  Nope, I can't figure out why he hates the guy. Laughing


I don't understand why by studying Silman's book you don't work hard.


I imagine that the cost of the book is about the same as the cost of 1 lesson. Perhaps he is worried that you will start thinking about value?

DragonSavage wrote:

He claims that Silman is "spoon-feeding" amateur players and not making them work hard enough to get better at chess.

So he doesn't disagree with the material? 

The books are fine, sounds like your coach has a personal problem.  Tell him to not be so jealous.  Remind him you're just reading his books, you're not dating him Laughing


So there's nothing to learn from Silman's books? Sounds like your coach has an axe to grind. One, maybe two strikes against your coach...


He probably will dissuade you from a diamond membership here. for $99/year, you got unlimited access to training videos, Chess mentor, etc.

I imagine that as a candidate master he tells you that he can provide much more to you for less.


Buy Peter Romanovsky's Book:  Soviet Middle Game Technique.

Show it to him/her.  If he/she then tells you it's bullocks,... then it is time to find a new coach.


Any book that you really study is going to have value. And Silman's have way more value than most. Does your coach want you to study some obscure tome written for GMs by a Russian with an unpronouncable name? Or maybe he wants you to start with "Learn Chess in a Weekend."
 Sounds as if he's got some unresolved issues.


     If you read, "Lasker's Manual of Chess" published 1925 you will see that the concepts of imbalances and piece coordination were already known and described in referenced book.  Even wikipedia's description of the book's contents says, "The rest of the section is concerned with identifying and describing the various "features" and "advantages" of a position, such as its pawn structure and potential for piece cooperation."  It might as well be describing one of Silman's books.

    Silman wrote some books (starting in 1986) expounding on and giving examples of Lasker's ideas (without giving Lasker credit of course).  He now lives in Beverly Hills, California.  Average home price... 1.3 million dollars.  What's not to like?


Incredibly unprofessional move by your coach.


Getting back to the actual question ....

How about just not telling your coach that you're reading these books? Also, ask for a recommended reading list, and share that with us, if you would. I'd be interested in seeing what someone who dislikes Silman recommends, and I am sure that others in this thread would be glad to offer a second opinion on the list.

I'm thinking, though, that your coach has the common misconception that Silman doesn't think tactics are important, and thinks you should have gotten a book on tactics instead; one that I am appreciating more and more is Polgar's Chess: 5334 Problems, Combinations, and Games. HUGE value for your money, and since you have a coach, you can get so much more out of it. The only spoon feeding you'll find there is that the problems are mate in N type, and presented starting with N=1, and progressing, and the combinations and games are organized according to combinational motif.

jlconn wrote:

Also, ask for a recommended reading list, and share that with us, if you would. 



I sort of agree. His books are wonderful reading and all, but they don't make you work. You don't learn chess by reading about it, you learn by solving hard problems. Silman himself always says he learned a lot by going through thousands and thousands of games, I don't recall him saying he got good by reading a book.

Silman's Reassess Your Chess Workbook does. So do Yusupov's books, and so on.


He may feel threatened that you will learn more from Silman than from him so attacks the books as a diversion defense mechanism.


My coach likes to refer to these books:

Logical Chess: Move by Move, Irving Chernev

Chess Secrets: The Giants of Strategy, Neil McDonald

Understanding Chess Endgames,John Nunn

Learn Chess Tactics, John Nunn

Art of Attack in Chess, Vladimir Vukovic


Your USCF rating is about 1400 you wrote.  If we take the year 1900 as a starting point there have been 10s of thousands chess books written.  Many of them aimed at learning the basics for beginners.  My point is:  What rating level should you be before a coach is really helpful?  I believe 1500-1600.  Under that you can simply use books and save your money.