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The Amateur's Mind: Turning Chess Misconceptions into Chess Mastery
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am 14. Juli 2000
Too often the aspiring amateur encounters serious and theoretically significant books that have a single failing: they are written by Grandmasters for Grandmasters.
This book by Jeremy Silman is a wonderful antidote to this syndrome. Unlike many other chess professionals, Silman seems to be genuinely fascinated with the thought processes of typical amateur tournament players, many of whom have some mixture of talent, knowledge, and experience, but can't put these elements together forcefully.
The format of the book is well described in other reviews here. Suffice it to say that this is the most valuable didactic about the real heart of chess- planning and execution in the middle game- I have encountered over 25 years of playing and teaching.
Although Silman's frequently amusing expressions of derision about the faulty analyses of his students might seem demeaning, there is a genuine love of the game and eagerness to help others gain mastery that consistently shines through.
This is a book that won't sit on your shelf if you have any affection and ambition in your chess playing, and genuinely merits the highest recommendation.
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am 25. Juni 2000
I had read wonderful reviews about Silman's other book, "How to Reassess Your Chess" ("HTRYC"), so I purchased it. Within a week after that I was told that I should read "Inside the Amateur's Mind" ("ITAM") first. So I put HTRYC down and picked up ITAM. I was skeptical at first. After all, who cares what goes through a patzer's head in a game -- I want to learn from masters and grandmasters. However, it was scary to see how similarly I incorrectly analyzed a given position or manner of executing a plan with the amateurs. These mistakes are vividly pointed out and practical advice for analysis and planning is presented.
Silman's method is based on understanding the imbalances inherent in every position. He gives 7 elements to analyze: (1) material; (2) minor pieces; (3) pawn structure; (4) files and weak squares; (5) space; (6) development; and (7) initiative. I have started forcing myself to break down the elements of a position and develop a plan dictated by those elements. Silman demonstrates how even seemingly minor differences like the battle between a bishop and a knight can consume the entirety of a middlegame plan.
I have already seen the benfits of this thinking method. For instance, I recently annotated one of the test positions at the end of ITAM (an excellent feature of the book BTW) and compared it with Silman's notes and found that I was 70-80% accurate in making my assessments -- a big improvement for me. He also emphasizes an attacking mentality (seize the initiative! Make you opponent react to your threats!) which has helped my game already.
It is also very instructive to see the way Silman defeats amateurs who are given superior or winning positions. I don't play against GM's so it is instructive to see how to take apart a C through Expert player who misahandles a good position.
After completing the test positions, I am going to spend a month or two sharpening my tactics so they can catch up with my new-found positional understanding. After that, I will read ITAM again to see what jewels of wisdom I missed (or need re-emphasized). This book definitely deserves being re-read.
Two notes of criticism. It is one thing to get a strong positional advantage and develop the correct plan, it is another cash it in to a victory. There are several times throughout the book where Silman shows how an Amateur chose the incorrect plan but does not show the technique of carrying out the correct plan. In fairness, he usually does demonstrate the technique of the correct plan, but not always. It is frustrating to look at a position and say, "okay, I see what the incorrect plan is, but how do I impliment the correct one?" and then get no explanation. Also, there are a number of typographical errors. Although I understand the third edition is a vast improvement over earlier editions, they still creep up with regularity.
Despite these criticisms, I highly recommend this book. Much more accessible to the under-expert player than a number of other books. Once I feel I have truly mastered the lessens in ITAM, I will tackle HTRYC. However, there are a lot of lessens to tackle, so it might be a while.
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am 15. Juni 2000
After you stop dropping pieces in games, a book like this helps. The chess info here is also in other books but the delivery is totally new. Using amatuer's way of thinking in every game helps me with "how not to think". Simple tactics, endgame, this book and a desire to analyze should take me far. If you have time to read, you will like this book. If you are rated 2000+, I don't know how much it will help.
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am 13. März 1998
I have a modest chess library (60+ titles) of carefully selected books, and I can honestly say that this is the one that has done the most for my chess understanding; boosting me more than 500 rating points within the space of a year. I recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone serious about wishing to improve his/her game. The lessons and long annotations are exemplary, and the way we get to "see" inside amateur players' minds and follow their thoughts are most instructive.
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am 21. September 1999
This book is an example of Silman's popular "Reassess Your Chess" in action: amateurs evaluate and play a position and International Master Silman uses their comments as a springboard for his reassessments. Although I benefited from Silman's "Reassess," I almost passed this book by simply because I thought, "Interesting, but how much could I learn from a 1300 USCF player's comments?" Yet it is precisely their imprecise analysis that allows Silman to discuss imbalances and plans. Combined with nearly two dozen test positions that Silman exhausively explains, I felt I received a great bargain and a very efficient, effective, practical review. The cliche is "this book helped me gain (fill in the number) rating points." For me, "How to Reassess Your Chess" was that book. This book solidifies my progress (I am a 1950 rated player). Not for everyone, but many will benefit.
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am 26. Februar 2000
This book like 'How To Reasses Your Chess' is very good. But although it did give me some good hints about thinking techniques and the section on confidence was very good it lacked the huge value of HYTRC. This is probably a matter of diminishing marginal utility as most of what needed to be said was said in HYTRC. The other good sections was the advice about development and iniative and they did serve to corect the bias in HYTRC. Also by following the correct plans in the test positions I understood them more. However the students commnents (with a few exceptions) were not really instructive and their poor ideas (however much Silman criticised them) did tend to stick in the readers head and in the mind (which is something the reader needs to be wary of). I would propose for future editions Silman to have more positions and to emphasise the correct plan more.
This book is a good book and I would still urge people to get it, but I would ask the reader to be wary of subconsiously repeating the errors made.
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am 24. August 1999
This is an incredible piece of work. The Silman technique espoused in "Reassess Your Chess" was a great help, but it's hard to apply to your games becos at times, you have too much faith in your old ways. This books helps the transition and I finally have the confidence that I'll attain my goal of the master title quite soon.
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am 17. Januar 2000
This instructional text is useful for even stronger non-master players since it shows how a player can be aware of the imbalances in a game (e.g., weak pawns, outposts, central control, etc.) and still play poorly. The difference between theoretical chess and practical chess is vividly demonstrated when Silman's Class C and Class D students make seemingly plausible evaluations only to have their positions fall apart within a few moves. The Amateur's Mind inspires one to think about "how" to think about chess. If you're already an efficient chess thinker then you don't need this book, all others are in the right place.
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am 17. März 2013
Ich habe während meiner Karriere eine Unmenge an Schachliteratur gelesen (Meine Schachbibliothek
umfasst ca. 1200 Schachbücher). Dieses Buch ist eines meiner ganz besonderen Lieblinge!

Warum? Weil es -sofern man die englische Sprache beherrscht- sowohl einfach zu verstehen, als
auch sehr tiefgründig ist. Einem ambitionierten Anfänger oder auch fortgeschrittenen Spieler würde
ich dieses Buch allerwärmstens empfehlen...

Jeremy Silman hat mit diesem Band ein wahres Meisterwerk abgeliefert. Chapeau!
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am 22. Oktober 1999
I read "How to Reassess Your Chess" during the summer. I had great results and insight from it. While running my chess academy, I was looking for books that would support my instruction to the students. Well, I read this book and decided that this needs to accompany "Reassess Your Chess". I use REASSESS as the text book, but I use AMATEUR to simplify my delivery to the scholastic players. BTW, this is for my top level class.
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