Jeremy Silman

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Jeremy Silman

Jeremy Silman (born August 28, 1954) is an American International Master of chess. He has won the US Open, the American Open, and the National Open, and was the coach of the US junior national chess team. Silman has authored over 35 books, mostly on chess but also on casino gambling, and served as a chess consultant on the 2001 Harry Potter film Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.[1] He has given lessons to many top players of the game and has contributed to chess magazines such as New in Chess.[2] Silman is known for his instructional books for lower-rated chess players. He has also authored many chess mentoring puzzles on the website.

In his books, Silman evaluates positions according to the "imbalances", or differences, which exist in every position, and advocates that players plan their play according to these. A good plan according to Silman is one which highlights the positive imbalances in the position. The imbalances are, in rough descending order of importance according to Dana Mackenzie:[3]

  • superior minor piece, which refers to the relative strength of the knights and bishops;
  • pawn structure;
  • spatial control;
  • material; in his Chess Life series The Art of Planning, Silman called this the most important imbalance because it had an impact on every phase of the game;[4]
  • control of open files, diagonals, and squares;
  • development;
  • initiative; Silman notes that this (along with superior development) is a dynamic imbalance that must be used quickly if the advantage is not to fade away.

Silman was a regular contributor to Chess Life, writing educational columns for amateur players. In many cases he included games played by amateurs, pointing out the mistaken thought processes such players make. His annotations are known for the candor, and occasional harshness, for example The Amateur's Mind chastises a student with "This incoherent litany shows why he doesn't do well in tournaments".[5] Silman has directed this harshness towards his own play as well, for example annotating the game Silman-Delaune, he wrote that having won material, he thought the game would win itself, and that "With this terrible mental attitude, White ceased to think, refused the draw offer, and coasted along mindlessly, making one awful move after another".[4]

Silman's thinking technique[edit]

Silman proposes in How to reassess your Chess a five-fold procedure, which you should use.

  1. Figure out the positive and negative imbalances for both sides.
  2. Figure out the side of the board you wish to play on. You can only play when a favourable imbalance or the possibility of creating a favourable imbalance exists.
  3. Don't calculate! Instead, dream up a various fantasy positions, i.e., the positions you would most like to achieve.
  4. Once you find a fantasy position that makes you happy, you must figure out if you can reach it. If you find that your choice was not possible to implement, you must create another dream position that is easier to achieve.
  5. Only now do you look at the moves you wish calculate (called candidate moves). The candidate moves are all the moves that lead to our dream position.

The list makes sense, but to many it probably seems quite advanced. Masses would probably prefer the thinking method of Michael de la Maza,[6] which is basically all about threats and calculation. The work of de la Maza was in turn bashed [7] by Silman himself.


  • "Autobiography of a Goat", 2013, 252 pages, Maelstrom Press, ISBN 978-0989928908.
  • "How to Reassess your Chess (4th edition): Chess Mastery through Chess Imbalances", 2010, 658 pages, Siles Press, ISBN 978-1890085131.
  • "Silman's Complete Endgame Course: From Beginner To Master", 2007, 530 pages, Siles Press, ISBN 978-1890085100.
  • "Pal Benko: My Life, Games and Compositions", with Pal Benko and John L. Watson, 2004, 520 pages, Siles Press, ISBN 978-1890085087.
  • "Gambits in the Slav" with John W. Donaldson, 2003, 160 pages, Chess Enterprises, ISBN 978-0945470397.
  • "The Reassess your Chess Workbook : How to Master Chess Imbalances", 2001, 400 pages, Siles Press, ISBN 978-1890085056.
  • "The Amateur's Mind (2nd edition): Turning Chess Misconceptions into Chess Mastery", 1999, 443 pages, Siles Press, ISBN 978-1890085025.
  • "Accelerated Dragons (2nd edition)" with John W. Donaldson, 1998, 320 pages, Everyman Chess, ISBN 978-1857442083.
  • "The Complete Book of Chess Strategy: Grandmaster Techniques from A to Z", 1998, 360 pages, Siles Press, ISBN 978-1890085018.
  • "Winning with the Sicilian Defense (2nd edition): A Complete Repertoire against 1.e4", 1998, 353 pages, Chess Digest, ISBN 978-0875681986.
  • "How to Reassess your Chess (3rd edition, new printing): A Complete Chess Mastery Course", 1997, 402 pages, Siles Press, ISBN 978-1890085001.
  • "The Amateur's Mind (1st edition): Turning Chess Misconceptions into Chess Mastery", 1995, 274 pages, Summit Publishing, ISBN 978-0945806134.
  • "How to Reassess your Chess (3rd edition): A Complete Chess Mastery Course", 1993, 402 pages, Summit Publishing, ISBN 978-0945806103.
  • "Essential Chess Endings Explained Move by Move Volume One: Novice thru Intermediate", 1992, 223 pages, Chess Digest, ISBN 978-0875681726.
  • "How to Reassess your Chess (2nd edition)", 1991, 225 pages, Thinker's Press, ISBN 978-0938650539.
  • "The Dynamic Caro-Kann: The Bronstein Larsen and the Original Caro Systems", 1990, 182 pages, Summit Publishing, ISBN 978-0945806028.
  • "A Complete Black Repertoire", 1986, 126 pages, Chess Digest, ISBN 978-0875681634.
  • "How to Reassess your Chess (1st edition): A Book of Thinking Techniques", 1986, 179 pages, Thinker's Press, ISBN 978-0938659402.


  1. ^ Harry Potter's Chess Teacher Robert Coontz, The Muse Fan Page, September 2002
  2. ^ Jeremy Silman - Articles New in Chess
  3. ^ Mackenzie, Dana (May 2008). "Don't Just Reassess Your Chess--IMPLODe It!". Chess Life. 
  4. ^ a b Silman, Jeremy (October 1990). "The Art of Making Plans -- Part V: The Imbalance of Material)". Chess Life. 
  5. ^ Jeffreys, Michael (February 2002). "Interview with Author/Teacher Jeremy Silman". Chess Life.  The quote is according to the interview from p.87 of The Amateur's Mind
  6. ^ Rapid Chess Improvement, Michael de la Maza, Everyman 2002.
  7. ^

External links[edit]