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The Amateur's Mind: Turning Chess Misconceptions into Chess Mastery Paperback – October 1, 1999

4.2 out of 5 stars 124 customer reviews

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  • The Amateur's Mind: Turning Chess Misconceptions into Chess Mastery
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 and up
  • Paperback: 443 pages
  • Publisher: Siles Press; 2 Sub edition (October 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1890085022
  • ISBN-13: 978-1890085025
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (124 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #88,291 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jeremy Silman is an International Master and a world-class teacher, writer, and player who has won the American Open, the National Open, and the U.S. Open. Considered by many to be the game's preeminent instructive writer, he is the author of over thirty-six popular books, including How to Reassess Your Chess (universally accepted as a modern classic), The Amateur's Mind, The Complete Book of Chess Strategy, and The Reassess Your Chess Workbook. Fans of the game instruction, book reviews, theoretical articles, and details of his work in the creation of the chess scene in the movie Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
If your no good, you won't like it. If your too good, you won't like it. If you've been playing chess for at least two years and are struggling to get any better... you will find it absolutely amazing. Chess will begin to make sense. Silman focuses on one topic at a time... He then shows you a problem position. He shows these positions to some of his students of different strenghts and asks them to play against him but to think aloud as they play. He comments on what they are doing poorly and well. He teaches you how to think, not just how to play. At the end of the book there are 24 problem positions for you to tackle. He then provides you with a 3-5 page analysis of what his student did and why. This cements knowledge you learnt in the previous pages. I read this book slowly and meticulously and have improved in a big way. No book I have seen is similar to this one in style and usefulness.
Comment 44 of 45 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
Most chess books introduce a topic (e.g., weak pawns) and show some example games without really explaining the idea behind each move. Maybe this is adequate for a master, but I never got much out of that approach. Silman, on the other hand, explains what he terms an "imbalance", demonstrates how to take advantage of an imbalance, and then shows examples of how his students played the same position. He explains the thought behind each move as do his students when they play a position. This alone made this book one of the best. However, what I liked best about this book (even more than "Reassess Your Chess") is that when the students where given a position, Silman played the other side and demonstrated how to take advantage of inferior play. I think this aspect of the book most separates it from other chess books. Since I am not a master, my opponents don't play the best possible move each time. It's good to find a book that demonstrates how to take advantage of the moves that amatures make. That is, not blunders, but the positional mistakes that causes ones game to slowly fall apart and leave you wondering where you went wrong.
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Format: Paperback
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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