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# Working myself through the "Reassess your Chess Workbook"

• #1

So I just started to work through Silman's "Reassess your Chess Workbook".

Even though I do not agree with Silman's view on Amateurs, I was impressed by his endgame book which I did the first four chapters of. Very good for me, who gets more out of activity rather than passive reading.

Maybe someone of you has already been through the Workbook and can answer some questions regarding it.

1) Is this actually the right book for me? I consider myself to be a class D  player.

2) How long does it take to get through all the 131 problems? I have just done 4 in 2 days. I calculate it would then take me 100 years to get through all of those tough questions!

3) Silman advises that the reader should go through all the problems, take notes and then look at the solutions. I decided to work on the solutions after every problem. I reckon this way I improve with every problem and thus also hopefully get to be a stronger player in the estimated 100 years it will take me to work through that book. Am I wasting the opportunity this book represents this way or is it ok to do it this way?

4) Is it acceptable to change the order I solve the problems in? Like working on an endgame problem instead of going through all the opening problems first. Just because I feel like it, for example.

5) Most importantly: How long should I work on each problem before I look at the solution? In the first four problems I did I already ran into the "I am honestly not sure what the answer is but I think I got some good idea" situation.

Would be great to hear some insights of people who have worked through the book or even someone who is doing it right now!

• #2

Okay, first you seem to have problems with simple arithmetic.  If you did 4 problems in 2 days, you should get through the remaining 127 problems in 64 days, allowing for half a day off for your waxing appointment.

You have 2) twice, which is confusing, especially for those with math challenges.

But why bother following the program Silman sets out?  He only wrote the book and designed the program, what the heck does he know about it?  No, a complete amateur like you should definitely take it upon yourself to rearrange the system as it suits you, why would you ever listen to the IM who designed it?

• #3

thanks for the correction, Estragon.

OK, I take it that I should do the problems in order.

But doing all of them before looking at the solutions seems very impractical and unmotivating for me.

• #4
Estragon wrote:

Okay, first you seem to have problems with simple arithmetic.  If you did 4 problems in 2 days, you should get through the remaining 127 problems in 64 days, allowing for half a day off for your waxing appointment.

You have 2) twice, which is confusing, especially for those with math challenges.

But why bother following the program Silman sets out?  He only wrote the book and designed the program, what the heck does he know about it?  No, a complete amateur like you should definitely take it upon yourself to rearrange the system as it suits you, why would you ever listen to the IM who designed it?

Your math probably doesn't apply cause the problems undoubtedly get harder, thus slower do do.

• #5

ok I was joking when I wrote "100 years". Can we get over that now, please?

Guess it is true that the problems get harder.

• #6

I guess im a classist (whatever you guys wanna call it). Ive never read any of Silmans books. Its not that i dont like him. I just felt that i already had the  right books then at my shelf that helped me alot. I learned alot from Capas books Chess fundamentals and Chess Career, Rubinsteins handling of rook endgames in his Masterpieces also with Fischers 60MG combined with CJS Purdys books (Fine art of annotiation) i went from a mere 900 to a better player (you can play over my games here if you want). Its like this: Capa showed my the basics of chess and the endgame, Rubinsteins handling of most common endgame the rook endgame, Purdys perspective on the schemes and of course Fischer, just about everything. Now its up to me to improve more and develop on what i learned. It worked for me i just dont know if it will work for you.

• #7

I have looked at some of the classic books and did a bit of study this way. I have worked through quite a bit of chess theory, in fact. But alas, as the old chinese masters of Kung Fu said: "With repetition comes understanding".

Thus, what I like about the Silman books mentioned is that I get to do problems which stir my involvement with the book. Reading "look how great so-and-so did this-and-this" does not do it for me. I go through the moves and struggle to keep up attention. I prefer to have some hard problem and then get some insight when reading the solution (whether I have solved it or not.)

• #8
Bartleby73 wrote:

I have looked at some of the classic books and did a bit of study this way. I have worked through quite a bit of chess theory, in fact. But alas, as the old chinese masters of Kung Fu said: "With repetition comes understanding".

Thus, what I like about the Silman books mentioned is that I get to do problems which stir my involvement with the book. Reading "look how great so-and-so did this-and-this" does not do it for me. I go through the moves and struggle to keep up attention. I prefer to have some hard problem and then get some insight when reading the solution (whether I have solved it or not.)

Everyone learns differently. It sounds like you need less reading and more involvement when learning material. You may be a "hands on" learner (do you get more from see and do activities than lectures/presentations? I do). I own Silman's complete end game book and what I do is set up the games and positions as he discusses them and try and find the correct ideas before I read them in the book. This goes along with when I play over master games, I try to find the correct moves before I see what move the player I am going over did.

A coach would probably be great for you because they can be a lot more hands on when teaching the material rather than lecturing or passively reading about it. Something you may want to think about too. :)

• #9

Frankly, it is likely not the right book for you. A class D player needs to figure out how to stop hanging pieces, not how to understand the nuances in Rook versus Bishop middlegames. Though if that is your area of interest right now, it's still not the right book for you, as Silman's dogmatism gets in the way of good instruction at a number of points in the text.

Silman's great feature is that he writes in an easy and entertaining style. But that doesn't make his book particularly good as instructional material. There are some great books on positional play out there for club level players. Silman is not their author.

Silman's Endgame book is brilliant. His chapter in HTRAYC on psychology is worth the price of the book IMHO. But his middlegame material is lacking.

• #10

Well, I do not think that a player around 1300 would need to figure out how to stop hanging pieces, I think that is a bit exagerated.

But I appreciate the warning about dogmatism. Which book on positional play would you recommend, Kingpatzer?

• #11

The hanging pieces comment isn't hyperbole, Bartleby73 - I don't mean you leave pieces sitting around en pris, but if someone is rated under about 1600 OTB, they are rated that way because they're missing basic tactics frequently enough that it's negatively impacting their rating. And I don't mean it to be insulting -- it's the hurdle I'm trying to get over in my OTB play right now as well. I keep getting into the 1500s only to get knocked back to the 1400s because of the very same problem!!

To find an example of what I'm talking about, I only had to look as sfar as your most recent loss. Take a look at: http://www.chess.com/echess/game?id=60319844

On move 32. ... you play f6 instead of something like Rd5 or Rdd8 -- both of which are better defensive tries.

But then on move 33. ... you play Kf7 which more or less loses by force because you drop a rook. You could have played Rdd8 or Rd7 and you would be worse but you would not be down a whole rook for nothing. This is what I mean by hanging pieces. You gave away a whole rook, by force, for nothing in return. And it was to a simple double-attack tactic that was only 2 moves deep.

As for books on positional play -- I like Euwe and Kramer's two volume "The Middlegame," I like Nunn's "The Middlegame" and Pachman's 3 volume set is of course a classic recommended by a lot of titled players, I haven't read it, but the one volume redacted version is pretty good.

Lastly there's a new book out that I'm currently working through that is very good: http://www.amazon.com/Chess-Strategy-Players-Herman-Grooten/dp/9056912682

• #12

thanks Kingpatzer for looking deeper into my situation. Agreed with missing tactics and play level. Misunderstood you.

I think I will still give the silman book a go with your recommendations in mind. I don't think it wil hurt and I can drop it if I think it is getting over my head - I stopped the endgame book because I know that reading the chapters beyond the one for level C is just confusing. Step by step.

As for this game - it has been a while - but I think I had already realized at that point that I will lose it. Psychological imbalance. Rd5 does not seem to be very useful, but Rdd8 is.  Don't remember anymore why I did not do it, but lets not get into it. Thanks for the analysis, always appreciated.

• #13

IDK what you guys are telling him, but I know what worked for me. I went through Silman's HTRYC and Amateur's Mind when I was a class E player. Those two books alone helped me become a class B player.

Bertleby, the way you are approaching the books is exactly how you should do it. Assess the position, and assess it hard. Point out every little stinking detail in the position, from material to pawn structure to the weakness of one little central square. The more you do this, the more you will do it in your game, and the easier you will see if a piece is hangin or the proper way to go about things. Then describe what the side in question should do based upon your assessment of the position. Write this all down. Then look at the solution and compare what he wrote with what you wrote. Don't be discouraged if you get it wrong; take it as a learning experience and see why exactly you got the problem wrong. And if you can't find any plan, look deeper. Make some sort of plan. Sometimes it's not in plain sight.

And as for time it should take, don't be discouraged. It will take a long time simply because a lot of this stuff is new to you, so thus you should be digesting it slowly. I'm actually also going through his workbook right now and can finish ~3-4 problems in half an hour, but I'm much more experienced with the positions. And I also write down every nuance of the position so I can analyze solutions that way. Good luck!

• #14
Kingpatzer wrote:

Frankly, it is likely not the right book for you. A class D player needs to figure out how to stop hanging pieces, not how to understand the nuances in Rook versus Bishop middlegames. Though if that is your area of interest right now, it's still not the right book for you, as Silman's dogmatism gets in the way of good instruction at a number of points in the text.

Silman's great feature is that he writes in an easy and entertaining style. But that doesn't make his book particularly good as instructional material. There are some great books on positional play out there for club level players. Silman is not their author.

Silman's Endgame book is brilliant. His chapter in HTRAYC on psychology is worth the price of the book IMHO. But his middlegame material is lacking.

Is Carsten Hansen's Improve Your Positional Chess recommended?  I have it and it's a good book, although he throws around the word "obviously" so much it's annoying, though his advice on rook placement should be stamped in all beginner books as well.

I also have Aagard's "Basic Positional Ideas" on a Chessbase DVD, that one is great too.  It seems like passive learning (and much of it is) but he has problems at the end of the DVD where you're supposed to find the best move.

• #15

speeking of dis book do any of u have a pgn file wit all the games. i hav the book but wanted to go thru the games myself first withou the book but i cud only find pgn of the first editionone not the 4th edition wich i need. thx

• #16

ticcherr, I don't know about this book. My suggestion for looking for pgns of important games is to search for them on chessgames.com or on the database of your chess engine.

ohsnapzbrah, thanks for the input! I am at problem 9 now and I think the book adresses important points of my play. I agree it will make more sense to work through this slow and thoroughly than to rush. Stuff has to sink in.

What is your point of writing it down when you do 3-4 problems in an hour? Couldnt you just memorize your ideas and then compare this to the solution?

What do you think about the idea of setting up the positions on the computer and then playing your ideas against the strong engine? This way I would not get lost in wrong ideas for the oponent moves.

• #17
Bartleby73 wrote:
...

What do you think about the idea of setting up the positions on the computer and then playing your ideas against the strong engine? This way I would not get lost in wrong ideas for the oponent moves.

IMHO that's the only right way to do it. For any book that I study I prepare or download (if available) PGN file with positions. For any kind of book - tactics, endgames, strategy/positional like in your case. There are plenty of advantages to it:

• you can try to solve it against an engine before you read the solution
• after you read the solution you can check if you succeed to follow it
• you can check if the solution is sound as books from pre-computer era can have errors
• it's good training when engine makes a move not discussed in the book (from my experience it happens a lot when playing endgame examples against an engine)
• you can come back to you PGN later, again and again, and see if you manage to solve same problems. Repetition and active learning are the key!
• #18

"What is your point of writing it down when you do 3-4 problems in an hour? Couldnt you just memorize your ideas and then compare this to the solution?"

I think then there may be a tendency to consider yourself correct because the solution is one of the ideas you thought about, when in a game you can only play one move.

• #19
Scottrf wrote:

"What is your point of writing it down when you do 3-4 problems in an hour? Couldnt you just memorize your ideas and then compare this to the solution?"

I think then there may be a tendency to consider yourself correct because the solution is one of the ideas you thought about, when in a game you can only play one move.

Lol you just described a problem I used to (and sometimes even still) have a problem with studying!  I'd write down all my candidates and lines, and consider myself "correct" even without committing to a primary variation.

Sometimes when I do commit to a plan my move order would be wrong (like a Smirnov problem from his Positional Understanding course and thinking, "Put a knight on the b4 outpost!  Get the Ba6 out of the way, fix the weakness by playing ...a5, then Nb8-Na6-Nb4 Have to move the bishop though" and play Be7 when Nb8 was correct, though both at least try for the same idea.)

Below is the problem I was thinking of.

• #20

I think I am just lazy and unable to read my own handwriting.

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