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How to Play Chess: Lessons from an International Master

Make "check" and "mate" part of your everyday chess vocabulary, with help from an international master of the game.
How to Play Chess: Lessons from an International Master is rated 4.7 out of 5 by 340.
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Rated 2 out of 5 by from Very Boring It is very Boring to watch even though I am a chess addict.
Date published: 2022-06-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from More than the basics. Instructor Silman cover the moves and continues with strategies and dynamics of playing the game. And as the title states, this is learning from the master.
Date published: 2022-06-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent series of lectures I have not played chess for more than 46 years since I was soundly beaten by my brother in law in a few swift moves. When I saw this course I decided to give it a try. He shows how these quick defeats can happen and can be avoided and then gives a complete series of lectures that have me winning against my computer app. I now need to find a human opponent
Date published: 2022-05-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from How to play chess Great lecture with info for beginners through accomplished amateurs. Helped me immensely. Can use as reference to brush up on technique as time allows.
Date published: 2022-05-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Highly engaging. All things chess presented in an engaging and entertaining fashion by likely the best chess teacher in the world. The early 20th century chess loft set up in the studio brings mystery and drama to a presentation that could be dry and 'mathematical'. I'm stoked about chess after a 20 year hiatus. Mr. Silman's enthusiasm enthusiasm and deep chess experience is contagious!
Date published: 2022-04-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent guide to bettering your chess game. I am slowly working my way through this course, but I find it excellent. I was initially put off by his bypassing named openings, etc., but as I work through the book, I think that is the right choice. One can memorize any number of openings, but this course teaches you how to approach openings, middle game, and end game, which is a far better skill for someone who does not aspire to being a grandmaster. I learned to play with my grandfather, a rated player in the NY Chess Club, but without a lot of explanation, etc. beyond, "No don't do that." Mr. Silman is full of explanations and as a result, I learned a lot from each of his lectures and from playing out his examples. As a result, my game has improved noticably. The comment on blasphemy can be interpreted as a posting by someone who will be offended by pretty much everything. Nowhere in this course was any material I deemed offensive, disrespectful, anti-religion, etc. If you want to learn more about chess and how to play it better, you should get this course.
Date published: 2022-04-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well, that was humbling. Mr. Silman's course is superb. Background: so you can judge if this review is of any value to you: I played chess as youngster and being a jerk , enjoyed hammering adults. Stopped playing as I met some, I think, rated players who I could not beat a lot, who convinced the kid that the key was memorization.... well, if that's what it's about, forget it. Got the course, not intending to take it through to the end but rather to see how a member of the elite's brain works. After all these decades, it just didn't make sense that these characters were memorizers, somebody had to come up with what the hoi polloi were memorizing. Well, surprise…. pattern recognition, cool, just like deep math & theoretical physics....feels like home. Bottomline: I can't presume to gauge how this course is for someone who hasn't played but for someone with a bit of time in play, especially if you are delusional and think you're pretty good, it is a wonderful ride. With great charm, Mr. Silman takes you down a well thought out path of insight. It was only after going through a few lectures a second time that I realized how carefully he had crafted the flow of examples/games to build upon each other and instill key concepts & motifs. You will "get it" in the end on why some of these great games are not just Brilliancies but works of art. The course's backstory, is focused on the character and lives of key great players. Some will give you a smile and some are truly tragic. Mr. Silman's empathy comes through in the later. But don’t be too fooled, on occasion in the lectures you can see the fangs and get a quick glimpse of Silman the predator sitting on the other side of the board. You might say the course has a 2x 'depth-value', as the coursebook is not a restatement of the lectures but rather for each lecture it is a parallel flow of information encapsulated within the context of problems. If you are serious about the subject matter, I would suggest that you also purchase the lecture transcript. When one works through the examples/game/problems in the lectures, it provides the lecture in text to refer to while you move with the flow on a board in front of you and of course while trying to find a reason Silman is wrong. In the end, you get the distillation of a lifetime of honed skill and the resulting structure of thought laid out for you with Silman hoping it will imprint and done in a style void of arrogance or subtle bragging about Mr. Silman's own skill & triumphs. Oh and by the way, he appears to like cats so he gets extra points for that. I came away feeling like I'd ripped Silman off and that I should send him some money. And for some reason, the phrase from George Santayana's masterwork on Epistemology kept coming to mind: "The shock of recognition." .... patterns, don't ya know. So, thanks Silman, just what I needed, another addiction and a bunch of Kasparov books. I'm not going to send you money but I did buy your Reassess Your Chess Workbook, so we're even. Lar Vertal
Date published: 2022-04-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great tool for learning and a great recourse. I have only had this course for a short while and I am slowly going through it. I am a beginner and have almost no experience. I am slowly learning things. The instructor is extremely knowledgeable and very patient. The DVD's and guidebook will provide help for years to come.
Date published: 2022-04-21
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Whether you're a novice or a seasoned player, these 24 lessons on gameplay and strategies will boost your skills and turn you into a more formidable chess player.


Jeremy Silman

On the surface, a chess piece might seem to be a simple piece of wood or plastic with easily grasped movements. However, under the surface of each piece's facade is more than a thousand years of history, evolution, and specific strategies.

Jeremy Silman is an International Master and a world-class chess teacher, writer, and player who has won the U.S. Open (1981), the National Open (1990), and the American Open (1992). Considered by many to be the game's preeminent instructive writer, Mr. Silman is the author or coauthor of 39 books, including How to Reassess Your Chess: Chess Mastery through Chess Imbalances (winner of the Guardian Chess Book of the Year award), Silman's Complete Endgame Course: From Beginner to Master (winner of the Book of the Year award), and Pal Benko: My Life, Games and Compositions (the only chess book to have won all three of the major chess book awards). He also has served as a chess consultant for television shows (Monk, Malcolm in the Middle, Criminal Minds, and HBO's Arliss) and movies (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and Pawn Sacrifice). Other writings include content for websites; a screenplay that was optioned by LMK Productions; a novel entitled Autobiography of a Goat; and hundreds of articles for a variety of chess magazines, including Chess Life, the Dutch magazine New in Chess, the British Chess Magazine, Chess Chow, and many more. Mr. Silman also has lectured and given simultaneous exhibitions in Tokyo, Japan. His chess career has taken him to all of western and eastern Europe, Brazil, Argentina, India, China, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, New Zealand, and all over the United States (including Alaska), Canada, and Mexico. Mr. Silman's chess website ( offers reviews that take an honest look at many of the significant chess books from the past and bring much-needed guidance to the avalanche of new books coming out every month.

By This Expert

How to Play Chess: Lessons from an International Master
How to Play Chess: Lessons from an International Master


The World of Chess

01: The World of Chess

Crossing lines of social class, language barriers, and national boundaries, played in family living rooms and local chess parlors and online games around the world, chess is a truly universal pastime. Discover the basics of the game and how it began; what each piece is worth and how it moves; and the mathematical notation that allows players to record games, learn from mistakes, and improve....

34 min
Secrets of the Pawns and Knights

02: Secrets of the Pawns and Knights

Although humble, pawns are the most complex pieces on the chessboard. Meanwhile, the leaping knights are perhaps the strangest pieces. Learn how these two pieces move and what strategies to employ with them to control the board. Look at a few situations that test what you've learned....

32 min
Castling, Checkmate, Chess Engines, Draws

03: Castling, Checkmate, Chess Engines, Draws

Complete your review of the basics of chess-including how to castle, the difference between checkmate and stalemate, and the etiquette of play. Then shift your attention to some astonishing aspects of the game and find out about simultaneous exhibitions, blindfolded play, and chess computers....

37 min
Must-Know Tactical Patterns in Chess

04: Must-Know Tactical Patterns in Chess

Build your arsenal of tactical skills by looking for winning patterns on the board. After covering three go-to punches-pins, skewers, and forks-Mr. Silman turns to decoys, double attacks, discovered attacks, and more. Armed with these patterns of play, you now have a major tactical advantage....

27 min
Chess Combinations and Kings in Check

05: Chess Combinations and Kings in Check

Continue your study of patterns-this time with combination moves that require crafty calculations. Whether you're wondering when (and why) to sacrifice a piece, or you're looking to trap kings in tight corners, or you simply want to unleash a torrent of carnage on the board, the tactics from this lesson will help you become a more formidable player....

34 min
Checkmate! Back-Rank, Smothered, and More

06: Checkmate! Back-Rank, Smothered, and More

Delve into the world of "piece collaboration" -using two or more pieces to win a checkmate. Mr. Silman shows you a number of classic mates that have delighted fans for generations. Not only are these mating patterns flashy and exciting, they will also give you a far deeper understanding of the game as a whole....

30 min
Checkmate against a Castled King

07: Checkmate against a Castled King

Castling is an excellent strategy, but a castled king is not invincible. Explore some of the patterns that can be used to checkmate a castled king-particularly using square h7. Look at when to sacrifice a bishop, how to use your queen to go on the hunt, and how pieces must work in partnership for success....

31 min
Legendary Attacking Greats of Chess

08: Legendary Attacking Greats of Chess

Famous chess players are some of the most fascinating figures in history. Enrich your understanding of tactics by learning about four of the most famous attacking players who ever lived: Paul Morphy, Alexander Alekhine, Mikhail Tal and Garry Kasparov. Examine several of their games to get a feel for their playing style....

32 min
A Cascade of Short, Brutal Chess Games!

09: A Cascade of Short, Brutal Chess Games!

Errors are common among players at all levels. We fall into traps, walk headfirst into an opponent's tactic, or simply miss a good move or hidden vulnerability. Review several ways a game can go wrong, from the quick "fool's mate" to many of the short, brutal takedowns from famous matches....

34 min
Chess Heroes of the Romantic Age

10: Chess Heroes of the Romantic Age

Step back to an era of gaslights and chess cafes in old Europe. The "romantic era of chess" of the 18th and 19th century was filled with raucous characters who employed swashbuckling tactics to please a crowd. Meet three famous players-Joseph Henry Blackburne, Adolph Anderssen, and Baron Ignatz von Kolisch-and learn what made their games so memorable....

35 min
Open Files and the Positional Rook

11: Open Files and the Positional Rook

Almost everyone enjoys tactics, but tactics are not the most important element of the game. Begin the first of several lessons on positional play and chess strategy, starting with the rooks. Learn why and how to create an open file and employ your rooks to best advantage. See examples of these mighty pieces at work....

26 min
Pawns: The Positional Soul of Chess

12: Pawns: The Positional Soul of Chess

In this lesson, you'll find out why "pawns are the soul of chess." Train your eye to see the pawn structures of a game and their strategic implications. After honing your ability to read a position and see patterns, study a few strategies for making the most out of the pawns-including pawn chains, the passed pawn, the Grünfeld Defense center, and more....

31 min
Positional Weaknesses and Targets in Chess

13: Positional Weaknesses and Targets in Chess

Continue your study of pawn movements by examining a number of potential weaknesses. Mr. Silman helps you notice and make use of vulnerabilities such as isolated pawns and doubled pawns. By sharpening your powers of observation, your chess game will take a giant leap forward....

32 min
Closed and Open Positions on the Chessboard

14: Closed and Open Positions on the Chessboard

It's always important to develop your pieces as quickly as possible, but once developed, open and closed board positions require very different strategic approaches. Study these differences and find out how to use your knights, bishops, or rooks for greatest success-and how best to get those pieces into play....

31 min
Chess Statics vs. Dynamics: An Eternal Battle

15: Chess Statics vs. Dynamics: An Eternal Battle

Much of chess boils down to the tension between static play versus dynamic play. Static play encompasses the long game and positional advantage, while dynamic play is all about tactics and aggressive attacks. Find out when to rely on each approach....

35 min
Using Chessboard Imbalances to Create Plans

16: Using Chessboard Imbalances to Create Plans

In this lesson, you'll begin putting all the pieces together from previous lessons. Learn to read the board for imbalances, and then discover how to put those imbalances to work. A wealth of examples teaches you to understand "the body language of the board"-a skill that separates successful players from their defeated opponents....

27 min
Legendary Teachers Who Transformed Chess

17: Legendary Teachers Who Transformed Chess

Meet several key players who advanced the game from the Romantic to the Modern era. In addition to learning about the personalities of players such as Andre Philidor, Wilhelm Steinitz, Siegbert Tarrasch, and Aron Nimzowitsch, you'll study some of their most interesting games to get a feel for how chess became much deeper than before....

35 min
Chess Endgames and the King's Magical Powers

18: Chess Endgames and the King's Magical Powers

While you must have tactical and positional skills to be a formidable chess player, learning the strategy behind a successful endgame is crucial to bringing your understanding of chess to the next level. This first of three lessons on oft-neglected endgame strategy introduces you to the powers of the king. Mr. Silman shows you how the kings can take over the chessboard....

31 min
Kings and Pawns in Next-Level Endgames

19: Kings and Pawns in Next-Level Endgames

Continue your study of endgames, especially those involving the king and one or more pawns. Here you'll find out how to avoid-or create-stalemates and draws, as well as the critical techniques for getting pawns to the end of the board-or blocking those dangerous pawn advances....

26 min
Triangulation and Two Critical Rook Endgames

20: Triangulation and Two Critical Rook Endgames

Round out your study of endgames with an examination of triangulation, a key tactic for gaining control (called "the opposition") in a king-versus-king standoff. Then turn to two common rook endgames: the Lucena Position and the Philidor Position. Mr. Silman offers several general rules for handling these situations....

31 min
Chess Openings: The Right and Wrong Way

21: Chess Openings: The Right and Wrong Way

Many people believe openings are the most important part of the game, but as you'll learn in this lesson, this belief is wrong on many levels. Here, you'll encounter a few simple strategies for developing your pieces and getting to the middle of the game. Learn Mr. Silman's recommended opening repertoire so you can successfully get through the opening with minimum memorization....

31 min
Chess Psychology and the Known Unknown

22: Chess Psychology and the Known Unknown

Chess is riddled with psychological traps-particularly if you find yourself playing a daunting opponent. Mr. Silman offers insight into several of these traps and helps you maintain your confidence, whether you're playing a peer on your level or one of the most sophisticated computers on the planet....

30 min
The Chess Amateur's Mind

23: The Chess Amateur's Mind

See how amateur chess players tend to approach the game-giving away pieces and neglecting to defend against enemy attacks. By studying several common amateur mistakes, you'll strengthen your own chess skills and get into the mindset of thinking through your opponent's best reply to every move....

27 min
Picking a Chess Hero

24: Picking a Chess Hero

As you've seen throughout the course, the chess greats all have a unique approach to the game, often rooted in how they understand other players. Round out the course by studying four final champions-Jose Raúl Capablanca, Vera Menchik, Bobby Fischer, and Hou Yifan-to analyze their style of play and enjoy the benefits of thinking about your own favorite chess hero....

38 min