Sunday, 4 April 2010

Review: Silman's Complete Endgame Course from Beginner to Master

If you are like me -- or like most of the chess players who buy books -- your bookshelves are full of chess opening books. The opening books seem to promise us a quick fix needed for the rapid improvement of the tournament results or for being able to get a higher chess rating. At least I have dozens of books that promise to teach me how to win with Sicilian Najdorf, closed Sicilian or some other opening.

Unfortunately, those chess books have not been able to get my rating to the level where I would like it to be. Most probably my opening repertoire is already good enough for my level. The improvement must be sought in two distinct areas of the game: middlegame tactics and endgames.

I have always felt overwhelmed by some of the greatest endgame books. I have tried to study the classic endgame manuals by Yuri Averbakh, but I never had enough time to grasp the nuances I thought to be necessary for understanding anything about the endgame. Karsten Müller's and Frank Lamprecht's Fundamental Chess Endings was equally demanding for a patzer like me.

Finally, I found Jeremy Silman's Complete Endgame Course from Beginner to Master. It really is the best endgame book written for ordinary club and weekend players like me and you. Finally a book that does not expect me to learn to win the endgame K+N+B vs K -- Silman concentrates on practical results and not on learning endgames one very rarely encounters in practice. In fact, I can't remember having ever had to play the aforementioned difficult endgame during the last three decades, be it in a club evening, in a tournament or on an internet chess server.

The material in this book is organized according to the level of the chess player. Silman understands that the beginner needs to grasp the basics and that is impossible to learn the more difficult pawn and rook endings if one has not learned to play the simple endgames first.

In this way, I was able to jump directly to the section written for my rating group, class B. After mastering this material I should know everything I need to know in order to reach a class A rating. Finally I have a book that not only explains me what a master level player should know about the endgames but what I should next learn. Thus this book gives me clear advice about the next action needed in my chess improvement plan. It seems my work should now be directed to the rook endgames for Class A.

If I can follow the guidance provided by Jeremy Silman I might finally reach my goal: to have a rating of Chess Expert.

Rating: *****

Jeremy Silman: Silman's Complete Endgame Course from Beginner to Master. Siles Press 2007.530 pages. Order the book from Amazon now!

1 comment:

  1. You'd be surprised at how many grandmasters don't know the basics. One GM couldn't win Q v R, and I think the theory of those games is useful in general. I know the two weeks I spent studying nothing but Q+P endings has paid huge dividends (centralize the QUEEN), but only a fulltime player can afford to get that specific without his game becoming lopsided. I had all the major endgame books at the time, and Silman's How To Reassess Your Chess, which explained how titled players see the board.