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Yay I just received my copy in the mail. Can't wait to start and improve my rating :)
Nice. I got mine a while ago. I started reading it and felt that it would help me, but then I discovered Dan Heisman's Novice Nook and realized I have to work on the basics first - I have to learn to play what he calls "real chess" before trying to improve more subtle aspects of my game. What's the point of going through a massive book such as HTRYC and learn all about fancy strategic manouvres if I keep giving pieces away to simple tactics.
Beginners like us need to learn the basics first if we have any hopes of improving. Of course, if you just think it's great fun to study chess (I know I do! It appeals to my geeky, academic personality) and don't care about improving as much as you can given your talent and situation in life - go ahead and enjoy the book!
My recommendation is that you read through some of the articles in Novice Nook and decide if you want to start reading the book right now of if you want to do like me, put it on the shelf until I learn to play "real chess" consistently. Trust me, it's a pain to leave that fine book sitting on the shelf, but I honestly believe spending a large amount on time on reading through it, understanding the concepts and learning to apply them in my game really isn't the most efficient way for me to spend my limited time for chess if I want to improve.
The book seems huge but the reading is pleasant and quick. And one third of it is filled with exercise answers.
I am reading bits of it. Most of it you don'rt need to set a board.
Devil's Advocate and my opinion: |If you have been a chess player for a number of years and are seeking to improve Don't waste your time, YES that book will give you some sort of short term improvement in your results and perhaps even your chess.com rating from a WOW I'VE FOUND THE SECRET! effect.... (This is known as the Euphoria Syndrome) for a short while - but mark my words - I guarantee that upwards of 90% of people who have bought that book will improve for two or three months and then regress to exactly the same rating and strength as before. WHy? Becasue that is the way our brains are wired - we cannot supplant old thoughts processes permanently by reading one book once - Reassess your chess? Yup, you can, but there is NO WAY that an average club player can improve permantently by reading this book once - you would have to read it, practice the methods, regress, re-read it a second time, you will improve again, then you will regress then you will regress again, re-read it again a third time and perhaps, just perhaps if you have an iron will you just might improve permanently. I've read Reassess Your Chess, it is not a good book. It is knowledge based rather than method based - my opinion is that Silman is no more than a snake-oil salesman, six months after finishing the book 90% of those who have read it will be back (down) to the plateau they were at before they read it.... YOu will perhaps know more but you will not be able to put it into practice in your games OTB - Sorry to disappoint - but it is true. Same with Michael de la Maza, everything by Pandolfini as well, Raymond Keene but not quite as bad as Maurice Ashley's offerings (which are truly hopeless - entertaining but hopless to help you improve) - con men the lot of them.
Prove me wrong of course....
(Crap player - but a sceptic through and through about help me to play better books and DVDs...)
I think you are touching on the right idea, Glasgow, just taking it a bit too far in the pessimistic direction.
Yes, only reading the book will not give you permanent, serious gains.
Yes, most of the people who buy it will not put in the necessary other work to succeed.
But as part of a wider training program, Silman's books can be very helpful. You need to not only read them but actually play through each example, carefully and slowly. Doing it several times would be better.
If you combine that with tactics training, playing slow games and analyzing the results, working on your thought processes and slowly learning openings over time, you'll see real progress.
Most of the people who buy the book will never do that. It took me months to get through Amateur's Mind that way, but once I did, I saw real improvements in my chess.
Fortunately I have the time to study chess at the present time. Part one has already given me value in that I learnt something new today. Part of the thought process which will definitely be a plus.
Yes, it takes work to get past a certain level. But, for beginners, it's relatively easy to improve a good amount to a decent plateau.
This works in almost any field. But then to get past that requires hard work.
I agree with your comment about beginners. However "Reassess Your Chess" is not for beginners. If you read the back of the book it says "Designed for players in the 1400 to 2100 rating range."
The claim of the book is that it "Will be a life-changing experience",
It also has a section entitled "Psychological Meanderings" which is utterly wrong from start to finish in how people play chess and present short term fixes for long term problems that have been picked up (by these 1400 - 2100 rated players) it claims "Presents never-before-published ideas on psychological processes that hinder players of all levels, and gives easy-to follow advice and techniques that will help anyone overcome these ubiquitous mental / emotional failings."
A lofty claim. What it actually does in this section is present badly written, poorly thought out, short term (plucked out the air to my mind) clichés which are based on nothing but ill-grasped myths about both how people can overcome habitual errors that they have picked up over the years. There is no method for overcoming the habits other than showing knowledge based articles on "how to play" certain positions and in certain (self-perceived) states of mind. The best teachers in the world would never try to drum into an experienced student of a subject a series of short general panacea suggestions and present them as something that a student can assimilate into his personae and his automatic thought processes. They wouldn't because it does not work.
What Silman claims is UTTER NONSENSE. And I stick by what I said (and would debate it face to face with Silman and win) above "I guarantee that upwards of 90% of people who have bought that book will improve for two or three months and then regress to exactly the same rating and strength as before. "
Jonathan Rowson (a Grandmaster who is knowledgeable not only in chess but in Psychology) admitted in his interview with John Watson on chess FM, that as a chess trainer time and time again students make progress only to see games they play some months later where old errors come back and he said he had asked the student "I thought we dealt with this already?" - and he had. The Holy Grail of Chess Education (and Karate, and Ping Pong and Yoga and Golf and Leap Frog and you name it) is to teach an old dog new tricks, and it takes a completely different approach from teaching a new dog tricks or just pointing out errors and giving knowledge about "HOW TO" approach those errors.
There are ways of that established players CAN improve permanently. Sheer bloody determination is one when combined with unbelievable amounts of hard work and self-discipline- but it is not (repeat not) the best way, another way is to accept that there are habits which are bad and supplant them with other better habits - this is perhaps the easiest and is the approach of some great chess books, but the best way is unbelievably difficult and goes to the very core of your personality and takes into consideration not only your chess but everything you do and requires years of training to give you a "means whereby" to inhibit your habitual reaction - trouble is this means whereby can become an ingrained habit as well and has to be overcome as well, and I only know of maybe two or three people who have this capability - and none of them are chess players.
Do not get me wrong - I do not hate Silman, I just despair at the thought that anyone would believe his approach set out in his book will help established 1400 -2100 rated players to permanently improve. The fact is, it will not. And that's a fact.
What is the Euphoria Syndrome?
I have a copy of Silman's "Complete Chess Strategy." I agree, partially with our Scottish friend in that a one time read of this book will not put you in the GM league. However, for me much of chess is pattern recognition and the absence of this would lead to the bad habits of which Glasgow M8 alludes. I am on my third reading and study of this book and I believe that it has helped me to ingrain some good pattern recognition in my mind. I have not seen "Reassess Your Chess," and so I cannot intelligently comment as to the effectivity of this work but I have gained good chess habits and am playing stronger chess as a result of the study of "Complete Chess Stategy." When I finish each reading of this book I move to "The Genesis of Power Chess," by Gerald Ault, where I am on my fourth reading, alternating with Silman's book. Much as a baseball player becomes a better hitter by spending hours in the batting cage, building muscle memory to help his swing, so a chess player can, indeed, build his playing skills through improvement in his thinking memories. Thus, bad habits can be overcome, but, as Glasgow M8 points out, it will not likely happen with one reading.
GlasgowM8: your rants do not include any specific examples of what is wrong with the book, nor do you suggest any practical solution.
"but the best way is unbelievably difficult and goes to the very core of your personality and takes into consideration not only your chess but everything you do and requires years of training to give you a "means whereby" to inhibit your habitual reaction - trouble is this means whereby can become an ingrained habit as well and has to be overcome as well, and I only know of maybe two or three people who have this capability - and none of them are chess players. "
Oh, ok. Now I see what you mean. ....????
I bought the book (4th edition) and so far I believe it has improved my game. I have only perused the first two chapters, but the chapter on knight play alone has helped me immensely. Now, I have just really begun to play chess at a level other than just knowing how to make the moves. I don't believe I came into the game with any pre-existing weaknesses, other than just my ultimate potential and my lack of playing to this point in my life.
The correct author name is Leslie Ault, and if it was good like Silman would have been reprinted, instead is from 1994 that nobodys reprints it. While Silman is on his 4th edition!
You're absolutely right, his name is actually Leslie Ault; I must have had a senior momentwhen I named him as Gary. As for the lack of reprinting, I have no idea why it hasn't been reprinted. Many of the books that are touted as "must have" are useless for me. I have read Kotov's "Think like a grandmaster", for example, and found it to be useless for me. Maybe if I were a higher rated player it might have proven useful. I am only stating here what works for me. I'm not stating unequivically that it will work for you.
I agree with Mr. glasgow but the same logic applies to any chess book, even the greatest book ever written...you will not be any better after reading/studying even that book, but this doesn't mean anything. Only practice makes you better.
The problem with "thinking method" books like Heisman and Silman's is that the primary fundamental problem with weaker players is a lack of exposure to basic patterns in chess (tactics/mates) not undisciplined thinking (which is still a problem but exponentially less significant). This is why I will never beat a titled player in chess even if they are considered "mentally weak" by their titled colleagues, even if they are drunk off their arse, and even if I apply the most rigorous discipline in my thinking focusing on time, activity, and king safety and following all of Silman's thinking method truisms.
A disciplined thinking method will improve my game against those at or around my rating and slightly improve my rating, but will not take me to the next level in the way that blitzing through thousands of GM games and tactics/mate problems will in the same amount of time it would take to study a Heisman or Silman book. It may be a nice adjunct to tactics/mate/games study, but if you are pressed for time like many of us, you are best to dance with the "prom queen" rather than the "bar maid", to steal one of de la Maza's lines.
De la Maza is an underappreciated genius for novices, his method is far more effective than Silman's or Heisman's. Silman, in his critical review of de la Maza's book, simply resorts to saying how you can't "appreciate the game" if you study like de la Maza, you end up playing like a "robot", and that de la Maza's book reads like an infomercial (which is true but doesn't negate its validity), yet Silman makes no assessment of the validity of de la Maza's methods. Silman mentions how he has coached lots of people in his lifetime, yet makes no mention of any single player he has coached who improved to the degree that de la Maza did in the same time frame. Curiously, Silman is all about blitzing through thousands of GM games at warp speed without dwelling on particular moves/ideas/motifs (he says he'd play through up to 500 GM games in 1 day), yet he somehow cannot grasp the validity of a novice doing this with simpler chess ideas (e.g., such as tactics/mates). De la Maza's method is not perfect but far closer to the mark for weak players.
Cheers for the reply. You may have a point. My scepticism about authors like Silman may have become a habit in itself.
However while I do not object to you syaing it was a rant, I do take issue with you saying I was not specific. I was. The book claims to help 1400 -2100 players improve and I specifically pointed out that the methods which Silman proposes to help will not permanently overcome ingrained errors. Right enough I suppose that Silman could legitimately claim that he has not written (Edition after edition and on and on and on...) a book for permanent improvement only temporary :-)
As to your second point. I am glad you see what I meanJ
Try this - (I mean it) think about the finger you type "e" on your keyboard (when you type say "every" or "error", or "exactly", or "enemy" or "excuse me" - type these words out and note the finger you type the “e” with). Then imagine you have read a book about why you should always use a finger other than the one you have been using - in fact you should use the finger next to it - you believe the author, you want to believe the author. And off you go....
So try NOT using that finger to type an 'e' for say three days, instead use the finger next to the one you habitually use - at first you will be able to do this (it's easy we are clever) - and you will be able to break the habit of typing that e with that finger, you will consciously be doing it, and then you will be able to do that subconsciously, and you will succeed if you put a lot of effort into it, maybe for a week or a month depending how much effort you put into changing that habit, but - and here is the point - EVENTUALLY maybe in month or two or next year or after you have not used a keyboard for a few days you will go back and you will type "every" and you will use the same finger that you have been using for years.
I know people who after years of training in inhibiting their habitual responses have a conscious control over this and they (not me unfortunately) could type e with their other finger forever and they would never regress. That’s what I mean.
Now, I do not expect you to seriously try this with your finger and the way you type an 'e' (though if you did you would realise what I mean) - but this approach is exactly the same method that Silman proposes to help you play imbalanced positions better... or his advice when in a particular state of mind.
My main interest in this area is not in chess (which is not even my main hobby or pastime – I am much more interested in these sorts of things in another field – but it applies very much to chess playing.
Rant over and out...
BuddyT: I followed Heisman's advice and started analyzing my games (mostly my losses) regularly. I found out that in every single game I lose, I can pinpoint a losing move that gives my opponent an easy tactic to win enough material to win the game. All of my wins are also due to my opponent making the same kind of mistake. It's obvious to me that this is the first thing about my playing that needs to be corrected.
Even so, I must admit that I have ordered two books with annoted master games, following another of Heisman's (and others) advices. Working on my thought process is hard work and not always possible (as it requires that I actually play), so I think reading annoted master games may be a more relaxed activity that I can do when I don't have time or energy to play. What do you think about reading heavily annoted master games at our level?
How can one even begin to grasp the ideas of these games if s/he hasn't mastered short-term calculation or recognize tactical motifs (even if the author spoon-feeds you what is going on)? Higher-level players can immediately eliminate the weakest moves in a given position (which will by definition be concrete tactical blunders) and therefore preserve brain power for analysis/calculation and subtle advantages/pattern-recognition that may lead to a long drawn-out victory. I find it enjoyable to read through annotated games, but in terms of playing ability, more basics are needed. Then again, maybe you are beyond that point that I am aspiring toward.
dannyhume: I don't know if you adress me, but I'll assume you do. I understand your point. I'm not talking about reading annoted master games as the main method for improvement. And I'm not talking about books with endless variations but books with general principles and ideas explained for learning players. My plan is to read one or two such games per day, at about 20 minutes per game, for a long time, and hopefully, I will learn something from it eventually. I have read several chess coaches recommend this, so it can't be totally wrong, and the ideas behind it seems sensible to me:
1. the learning player needs general principles and ideas explained, and the more of this kind of material we read, the more will stick and as we use it in our games, the ideas will be integrated in our playing and
2. all players that wish to improve needs to review lots of master games, even though weak players like us cannot hope to understand a fraction of the subtleties in the games. Reading games with heavy annotations is a way for beginners/weak players to start reviewing master games, and with time, and many games reviewed, this will grant some kind of chess intuition that will help our playing.
Even if the most urgent area to improve for all of us weak players is learning to blunder check so that we don't give our opponents easily avoidable tactical opportunities, we can also work on other aspects of our playing simultaneously. I have come to think that reading this kind of game collections may be a good way to complement the other areas of study.
In the book he does reccommend re-reading the book to keep yourself fresh with the ideas until you master them...
I studied this book cover to cover and my OTB rating increased 150 points and I'm an old dog playing a little better afterwards.
I feel like I'm overrated
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