25.1.11

I published a review on Silman's new How to Reassess Your Chess 4th, at Amazon.

"What my review is about: 

This will not be a match review, where I will attempt to scientifically compare the different editions. I don't really find it relevant if I'll be honest. 
I will not make claims like: "This is the best book ever", because what does that really entail? 

This review is a personal feedback from someone who is not a proper amateur, someone who read numerous chess books and someone who enjoys chess reading too. 

I have a few favorite chess books and none of them is considered to be on the top classical list. The reason for that is that I believe that the books that influenced you the most and affected your play did so, partly, because the timing was ripe! Sometimes it's not about the absolute soundness of the variation, sometimes it's about whether or not you appreciate the idea and understand the examples. 

For instance, one of my favorites is "Winning with chess psychology" by Benko. Not a book most players even appreciate! However, Benko's explanations made me understand chess better and in return, I grew as a player. This is where Silman truly shines in style. 

His language has been both criticized and praised, and I understand both claims. I found his "bad language" to be overly present at his Complete Endgame course but on the other hand, it does keep you fixed and soaks you into his examples. In this new Reassess, he seemed to evolve even in that area. His minor case of "Tourette" seemed to gain wisdom and intelligence. His humor is fantastic, I find myself giggling aloud and that makes the experience even more enjoyable and certainly more educating. 

He is extremely creative, his "story" about Mr. Metallic and Mr.Pink VS. Mr. Orange was a blast to read. I found it both comic, educating and if I may say so poetic and deep. 
His teaching methods are brilliant. His examples are probably the diamond of the King of Persia! I have never seen such a collection of perfect examples in my life. If you are looking for a position to prove a point. Mate, read this book and see how it is being done! 
The subjects themselves are, as Nigel Short say "spot on". This is exactly what you need to hear in order to understand what you couldn't quite place throughout years of confusion. After all, as Korchnoi once said: "Chess you don't learn, chess you understand". Let me just add a "!!!" to that remark! 

This is basically the best soup you will ever get to eat in a French restaurant! What? Okay let me explain myself... 

Have you ever read a book and felt that it missed you? I mean, the examples are there right? The author is a GM right? This is the opening that you like right? Then what on earth is the problem?? Why, after reading the same chapter repeatedly you still don't have the faintest notion as to what the flying blue bird he wanted? 

I'll tell you why. Because the truth is that quality is hard to find. If the examples are good but the annotation is lacking then in the end you'll end up feeling like you've missed something (and you have!!) but you can't quite place it right? 
Alternatively, if the annotation was accurate and deep but the example wasn't very practical, then you can't help but wondering - that was interesting, hmmm, but what am I supposed to do with it? 
Sometimes, the author is really good but his publisher doesn't allow him the length or space to fully and poetically express his knowledge. That's always sad and even leaves you with some annoyance. 
Sometimes (no, I take it back. Most times!!) a book is really good but let's face it, the human design and over all print quality - Yawza! 

For instance, I love John Watson. I find him to be impressively deep and thorough but his books (and I have most) are a mess of knowledge. I find it very hard to follow the lines that more or less look like computer generated code with the occasional "bold" move to keep you on target - as if! Quality books should take care of their readers like first class tickets on a plane! A good example to how it is being done is the GrandMaster Repertoire publication. Avrukh's 1.d4 is the best opening rep I've seen if only because you can follow the lines at ease and comfort! 

Bookbinding is also important. Who wants to spend so much money and lose pages after one brief read? I mean, what is that !?! 

How about general design, color and colours and diagrams and notes and hints and tips and so on? Dunno what about you but I like them pop ups! 

To make it short, this book triumphs in all these areas! ( I wish I could underline this line) 
It is funny, educational, well designed, well presented, user friendly, scientific, tutoring, detailed and a real fun all in all. It's like the best friend I ever had =D 

What you'll learn in these pages is more than specific (and vague) "expertise" that only the very "special" among us seem to possess in real life. What you'll learn is how to play chess and that is something very rare these days. What?? Yes! I am serious! 
People do not play chess, they play sub lines, they play memorization, they play other people's ideas, they "push wood", they play tricks and traps and oh, I'll just say it, they play Blitz! 
No one plays chess like chess should be played. You know Perosian style of chess. 
Anyway, here you will learn independence! This is the point for me. He covers areas like what Knights are so well that once you're through with the chapter you've been recharged by independent thinking because suddenly you don't care so much about the latest Carlsen game because you know what... you understand Knight techniques by yourself thank you very much! 

Once you understand chess, you seem to play it better too. Ahh, wah? Yes! I know, almost heretic isn't it? You mean to tell me that understanding imbalances and knowing how to maneuver my pieces will improve my play for real? No, what I'm saying is much more brutal then that. Before you read this book, you played other people's chess. After you will read this book, you'll play chess as chess is and if you're lucky you'll even play your chess too! 

IM Lakdawala said (and he was already an IM at that point) that he gained about 200 elo points after reading this book because he realized that it's not just about the best move it's also about a firm grip of what this move is. Sometimes it's not about the best move, sometimes it's about the best plan and how well you understand your chess. 

I sometimes use his examples in my Blog ([...]) to prove or show an idea. 
I think that Silman has a true genius and I always enjoyed listening to him as well. The guy is crazy =D 

BTW, the reason I said I'm not a proper amateur is because I'm over 2200 and for what it's worth this is the best chess book I ever read and I read well over a hundred. 

It's not just about the latest variation (because you need to understand that variation too) 
It's not just about the latest trap or opening idea (because you need to be able to appreciate it too) 
It's not just about technical study (because you need to enjoy it too!!!) 

So do yourself a favor, read this book. It's a beauty, a true gem. Really, a masterpiece. 

Well done J, indeed, well done!"


 Here's a direct link to the review

1 comment:

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