Why subtle strategic understanding is key for beginners
From Heisman's article Chess Books and Prerequisites:
Many players who are not yet ready for How to Reassess Your Chess mistakenly think that just because it is well written and contains a lot of good information that they understand and do not already know that it must be able to help them immensely. As a full-time chess instructor I have run into dozens of players who feel this way about Silman’s books (or others), including both students and non-students who wish to discuss improvement with me. However, when I look at their rating and their games, it quickly becomes obvious that they are not sufficiently familiar with “removal of the guard” tactical patterns, or other similar basic tactical motifs, to play a reasonable “intermediate tournament player” level game, say 1500-1700 USCF. Instead they have “adult beginner” ratings of 900-1400.
Yet many of them swear by How to Reassess Your Chess because they learned so much from it. The problem is that knowing when a Bishop is superior to a Knight or how to identify the static strengths and weaknesses of your opponent’s position is not too much use if you lose pieces regularly, or don’t understand the principles you need to win a game when you are ahead a piece.