Thursday, October 05, 2006

Don't reassess your chess until 2007

Jeremy Silman is going to radically alter his book Reassess Your Chess, fixing many of its problems (some of which stem from lack of computer checking). What follows is a quote from an article he recently wrote called Reassessing how to reassess your chess:
[There are] positions in HOW TO REASSESS YOUR CHESS that, in my view, were not explained properly in the book, and one even featured a small typo. It was this kind of error, a lack of computer checking (strong chess engines didn't exist when I wrote this book), and the availability of a wealth of new examples (thanks to the wonders of databases, another thing that didn't exist when this book was written) that has convinced me to totally rewrite HOW TO REASSESS YOUR CHESS (yes, a 4th Edition due out at the end of 2007).

My intention is to gut dozens (as much as 80%!) of the existing examples, and even toss a whole chapter or two into the rubbish bin! There are several reasons for doing this: the endgame chapter is useless and never belonged in HTRYC in the first place. It's also redundant since my new (upcoming) book, SILMAN'S COMPLETE ENDGAME COURSE, will give you everything you need to know about the endgame, and much, much more. The enormous amount of new examples I intend to make use of in the 4th Edition of HOW TO REASSESS YOUR CHESS gives fans of the 3rd Edition more study material, and allows me to make the many key points about imbalances fresh and compelling.

Most importantly, I have changed many of my views over the years and now have new theories and ideas that I would like to present, making REASSESS (4th Edition) the teaching tool that I always wanted it to be.

Compare Silman's sentiments with de la Maza's criticism of the book:
Pick any analyzed position in Jeremy Silman’s Reassess Your Chess, the book that has become famous for teaching class players positional concepts, set up the position on your favorite computer program, and play the side that is winning according to Silman. After a few moves the computer will deviate from Silman’s analysis. Feel free to check Silman’s book or any other source for advice on what to do about the computer’s "new idea." You will quickly learn that the computer has busted Silman’s plan and a new plan is required. Now what do you do? If you are a GM you can create a new plan (provided that you didn’t reject Silman’s plan from the start), but if you are a class player there is little that you can easily do to learn about the new position.


Blogger Temposchlucker said...

A curious way to herald his new book. Can I get my money back for his old book?

10/05/2006 07:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Am i glad i still did not buy it :-)

Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

10/06/2006 03:07:00 AM  
Blogger katar said...

look for the 3-star review of HTRYC called "a startling reappraisal" on

Silman can be safely avoided altogether, imo.

10/06/2006 02:09:00 PM  
Blogger Pale Morning Dun - Errant Knight de la Maza said...

When I was first learning chess, Silman's HTRYC was the first book that truly spoke to me as a patzer. Up to that time, any attempt at book learning was marred by the fact that most chess players cannot write for sh*t. Silman showed me positional concepts that helped me understand the game on another level.

I have heard all the criticism before about the examples not being the best and all that, but I could care less. Silman showed me how to make bishops and knights more effective, and gave me the ground work on evaluating positions.

I'm going to buy his new edition, for sure.

10/06/2006 03:57:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Hopefully I'll be done with these damned circles by the end of 2007!! :O

I'll buy the book then.

10/06/2006 03:58:00 PM  
Blogger classplayer said...

I agree. De La Maza is a tosser.

10/06/2006 07:13:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Well, I can safely say that my first appraisal of Silman's books have been corroborated - by the author himself!

The notion that his work did not show depth of analysis because strong computer progams and extensive databases were not available at the time is the worst type of lame excuse I have ever heard.

A man who is supposed to be in the top 1% of chess players in the world should not need a computer program or database to see the types of blantant errors is his book. Even I, without computer assistance, was able to find flaws in his lines - and that was over a year ago when I was far weaker than I am now.

At least I know what to do with my old copy, now. . .I was runnning short of tinder for the fireplace [grin]

10/07/2006 01:50:00 PM  
Blogger transformation said...

thank you patrick for the silman comment at bluedevil. i just now went back to the amzn review, querying three stars, and lo and behold, i knew that review from one or two years ago, and love THAT review. thanks for reminding me of it, it is very inspirational. it is the truth of correct chess training as i know it. dk

10/08/2006 02:02:00 AM  
Blogger harmless said...

Hey! Good to see you're still going strong.

HTRYC is good but I don't think people talk enough about Silman's Amateur's Mind. That was one incredibly readable and helpful book for me when I was around 1500.

10/08/2006 06:34:00 AM  
Blogger katar said...

in other words, silman has to cherry-pick his examples so that his process (coincidentally) produces the best plan.

Silman's solution is to excise the examples when his process (The Silman Thinking Technique [insert angelic choir sound]) produces the WRONG idea. IMO, this represents a problem not with the examples, but with the whole SYSTEM. Err, The Silman Thinking Process.

I pasted AmateursMind awhile ago after borrowing it from a Silmanite-- who is stuck at 1550 for 5 years, go figure.

10/10/2006 12:00:00 AM  
Blogger Ed Doyle said...

Sillmans book is a classic but outdated, its timely for a rewrite and a make over.

De La Mazas criticisms are idiotic given there is no room for planning in his own system.

Its great that Silman has taken the time to update his classic.

10/13/2006 12:31:00 PM  
Blogger Pendrax said...

Congrats on being mentioned in the About:Chess article on chess blogs!

11/12/2006 05:08:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

De La Maza is right. All of you idiots who support Silman b/c u are too proud to admit that u bought a useless book, just open up any modern chess engine, Fritz, rybka, shredder, and try analyzing a few positions (especially endgame. no wonder Silman's gonna take out his endgame section, it's all WRONG) and u'll see Silman is wrong! Heck, even Crafty can pwn his analysis, and its free, try it for yourself. and, silman said something about rating points in the book. "yes I am too influenced by a high rating" (Silamn's own words). That's what happens when u trust an IM. All of this being said, I like the parts where he talks about the imbalances, it helped me think about thinkgs other than just material. So if u are gonna read it , I suggest you just read teh part where he explains all that, and as soon as he starts using specific games with lots of complications, STOP.

8/11/2008 02:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is hilarious.

Can you guys play at the level of a strong computer? Can your opponents?

I have heard an IM say that reading HTRYC over a summer helped him move from 2500 to 2600 USCF. And this guy would wipe the floor with Silman if they both played. And Rybka would beat both.

Go through any game that La Mazza ever played with a strong computer program. I wonder how he would do. LOL.

I'm about 2100 USCF and am re-reading the book as we speak at the suggestion of a 2315 USCF friend. He told me to re-read it because the last time I did, I was 1800 so I will learn even more.

12/09/2009 02:10:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Anon: until people stop dropping pieces, that book won't help them. Knowing the subtleties of Bishop versus Knight is great intellectually, but if you are down a Knight it is moot. I think that was de la Maza's point.

12/09/2009 03:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All this discussion is just about viewpoints. The same that with karate, there are is one karate style for every karate master: every single one of them will stress some aspects of the discipline on a different way. So, every 2000+ chessplayer has a different viewpoint of the most important part of chess knowledge for beginners. While everybody thinks that tactical ability and strategical thinking are both invaluable parts of chess improvement there isn't (and never will be) a general consensus about which one should be stressed more during the early period of chess improvement. De la maza is simply one that thinks that tactics should be 100% until you reach class A. NO ONE HAS THE TRUTH they are simply viewpoints. My personal opinion is that tactics should be at least 80% of tha studying time, but not more than 90%, leaving the rest of time to strategical study until you reach at least class B. THen tactics shuld be cut to 70% leaving 15% to endgame study and 15% to strategy. Beyond class A I cannot tell, but for shure tactics shouldn't be less than 50%, ever.

12/19/2009 03:46:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Anon: there is fairly universal agreement that newbies should focus on tactics and playing over strategy. Even Silman realizes this: if you are dropping knights to 1-3 move tactics, it doesn't matter if you have a nice outpost on d6.

12/19/2009 09:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Anon: there is fairly universal agreement that newbies should focus on tactics and playing over strategy. Even Silman realizes this: if you are dropping knights to 1-3 move tactics, it doesn't matter if you have a nice outpost on d6."

Yeah, if you are under 1000 that makes sense but I'm assuming you are higher than that.

If you are around 1400 or above, you have to start thinking about "real" chess.

I got to about 1800 before I did any specific tactical training.

I did work very hard at trying to visualize every note and tactic in books like this, Botviniks 100 best and Alekhine's Best games.

By the time I got to 1800, I had about 75 complete games from those books basically memorized, including notes.

I worked hard on chess. That's the bottomline - not some magic tactical circle or other nonsense. Just hard work.

And in my opinion, this book is one of the most efficient ways to work hard.

I think if players spent more time really working at chess and less at trying to find shortcuts, they would be much better.

1/12/2011 02:19:00 PM  
Blogger Thesaint8x said...

Better have a plan than no plan.Also to implement a plan you should be skilled tactically.Complementary.Silman understands this.De La Maza does not.
Personally I enjoy planning and strategy.That is chess in all its beauty.Also advanced tactics,endings though I struggle as I am just FIDE 1674.I took up serious chess including study of openings 2 years ago and now even write about it for money.Please excuse a bit of boasting which is just to encourage every one to study in the right way.

4/19/2011 01:00:00 AM  

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