Review of How To Reassess Your Chess by IM Jeremy Silman 

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Table of Contents

I have always loved reading books and articles (on by IM Jeremy Silman ever since I took chess seriously. 

Although he passed on recently (August 1954 – September 2023, God rest his soul), this amazing teacher was highly revered in the world of chess by every class of players.

He has published more than 25 books, some of which include:

  • How to Reassess Your Chess: Chess Mastery Through Chess Imbalances
  • Complete Book of Chess Strategy: Grandmaster Techniques from A to Z
  • The Amateur’s Mind: Turning Chess Misconceptions into Chess Mastery
  • Silman’s Complete Endgame Course: From Beginner To Master
  • How to Play Chess; Lessons from an International Master

I’ve read every book listed above and can boldly say that this was one of the best chess teachers to ever exist in the realm of chess.

I can go on with lots and lots of praise for this man but you’re here to read a review of his book: How To Reassess Your Chess, and that’s exactly what I’ll share with you.

This book is arguably Silman’s best work, and it was this same book that completely changed the way I viewed chess as an intermediate player.

International master John Watson calls How To Reassess Your Chess the “Rolls Royce of instructive chess books” and I completely agree with that. 

Chess is hard to master and that’s because you need to understand the plans and moves of the game, calculate lengthy variations, and lean into the psychology aspect. 

This is why lots of chess players get stuck as beginners and it’s with this reasoning that Silman wrote this book.

Who is the Book For?

How to Reassess Your Chess is great for beginners and intermediate players looking forward to becoming experts. 

The book puts the rating range at 1400 to 2100. So that means that even club players and candidate masters might find this book helpful.

I studied ‘How To Reassess Your Chess’ when I was about 1800 on Lichess and after reading this book and putting it into practice, my rating skyrocketed to 2100+.

The book was emphatic on one thing – Imbalances in chess. For example, you can have:

  • Weak vs Strong Squares/Pawns
  • Bishops vs Knights 
  • Active vs Useless Bishops 
  • Statics vs Dynamics

It’s not exactly a tactical book like the usual ones filled with checkmate puzzles but one that’ll help you solidify your positional understanding.

Why I Love It 

Silman was a great teacher and that’s because he’s not one to rely on soulless analysis by engines. 

Instead, he likes to break down positions and view them from a human’s lens. Reminds me of the book: Move by Move by Irving Chernev.

To ensure that readers have fully immersed experiences, Silman does not just pull up classics (grandmaster games) for analysis. 

Rather, he explains positions played by his students and these lessons actually offer more practical advice because they illustrate weaknesses that plague amateur players. 

For him, it doesn’t matter if the amateur games were blitz games played on the internet or from popular tournaments. 

In his words 

You’ll notice that I’ve used games by grandmasters and also games by amateurs! I’ve used new games, and I’ve also used games from the seventeenth century! I made use of blitz games from the Internet, and even used the blitz players’ online names. I have a simple philosophy: if a position or game is instructive, it’s important. I don’t care if Kasparov played it, or if it’s beginner vs. beginner. In fact, lower rated games and/or blitz games often feature the kind of errors real players make, and this makes the example far more personal for a large range of readers.”

In addition to the simplified breakdown of concepts, Silman also includes tests to help you practice your newfound knowledge.

Reassess Your Chess Summarized 

The book is divided into 9 parts that include:

  • Part One/The Concept of Imbalances
  • Part Two/Minor Pieces
  • Part Three/Rooks
  • Part Four/Psychological Meanderings
  • Part Five/Target Consciousness
  • Part Six/Statics vs. Dynamics
  • Part Seven/Space
  • Part Eight/Passed Pawns
  • Part Nine/Other Imbalances

I’ll just break down the first 4 parts briefly so you can have an idea of what to expect in the book.

If you want to know more, I suggest buying the book. Honestly, it’ll be one of the best investments you’ll make as regards your chess career or skills.

Let’s begin with Part 1.

Part 1 introduces the concept of imbalances and explains them. 

Each of these is explained thoroughly with images of positions included (like the one below) for better clarity. 

According to Silman, these imbalances include:

  • Superior minor piece
  • Pawn structure 
  • Space 
  • Material 
  • Control of a key file 
  • Control of a hole/weak square 
  • Lead in development 
  • Initiative (known as Pushing Your Own Agenda)
  • King safety 
  • Statics vs. Dynamics

The point of this part is to teach you not to shy away from imbalances in a position but to fully embrace and navigate them if the opportunity presents itself.

In Part 2, Silman addresses the Knights vs Bishop discourse. 

He fully delves into positions where the knight excels against the bishops and vice versa.

You’ll learn things like:

  • Knights are short-range pieces. 
  • Knights gain strength as they move up the board. 
  • Bishops can be tall pawns if they are not serving real purposes. 

Part 3 talks about Rooks, creating and stealing open files, and controlling the 7th or 8th ranks. 

Part 4 delves into the psychological aspects of playing chess. Silman added this part because we hardly see these discussions in other chess books. 

He talks about stuff like:

  • Fear of giving or taking material 
  • Overcoming the trap of “I can’t” and “I must”
  • Bowing to Panic

My summary is obviously very plain and may not carry the full description of how helpful the book is. I do recommend getting a copy for yourself especially if you’re looking to improve your game as a beginner.

At the end of the book, Silman addresses questions that people have regarding topics like planning, creating a study plan, offering draws, and taking proper tournament diets.

Final Thoughts 

As I noted in the last section, you should definitely check out Reassess Your Chess if you’re a beginner, intermediate, or even advanced player looking for an easy-to-study book that explains the positional nature of chess in every ramifications without getting bored.

Let me know if this review was helpful.

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