The Silman Project

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Several years back, I did something that I called The Quality Chess Project. For a year, I read nothing at all other than books published by Quality Chess. The idea was that books by QC should be good enough that they are all one needs to become a master.

That may be true (and likely is), but one year was not enough time to get there from wherever I was in the 1700s. I knew this going in, but I wanted to see the results. The overall results weren’t great, but I would put that on the fact that I wasn’t exactly hitting the books hard. The artificiality of things like a one-year period didn’t help either.

With The Silman Project, my plan is quite different. I plan to ignore timelines and also to allow myself to read other materials, but for the next however long it takes, I will do the following:

  • Read the following books:
    • Reassess Your Chess 4th Edition
    • The Amateur’s Mind
    • Silman’s Complete Endgame Course
  • Play through 10,000 games in Chessbase.

The books are mostly self-explanatory, so let’s discuss the second point first.

Many times over the years, Silman would recommend playing through “tens of thousands” of master games as quickly as possible.

Here is a quote from a review he did of Agdestein’s book about Magnus:

“I always recommend playing over tens of thousands of games as quickly as you can, since the subconscious mind will absorb the pawn structures and how the pieces are placed when those structures arise. You’ll also absorb tactical patterns, opening patterns, and endgames too. Many tell me I’m wrong and get quite upset by this (everyone wants to be great, but few are willing to do the work). However, a quote from Agdestein will put this into perspective: ‘In Norway we say that it takes 10,000 hours to become world-class in something.'”

Here is an article where he goes a bit deeper on the “why” of the question.

For my game selection, I grabbed every game in my database from 1955 to 1985 as I was unsure how many games that would be. As it turns out, a bit over 55,000. So I trimmed it down by just grabbing 10,000 from 1970 to 1976.

To go through them, I will do precisely as Silman advises. 20-40 seconds per game, max. I will resist the urge to go through them in any detail.

Depending on how long it takes me to get through the 10,000, I may go back for more.

As for the books, I am starting with Reassess Your Chess. I would start with The Amateur’s Mind, but I can’t find my copy. I may need to order a new copy.

As I mentioned earlier, I will not be holding myself to any timeline for this project. Instead, I will post as I go and update on my progress. The fact is that I have been playing quite well lately, and I want to find what it takes to get over the next hump of 1900.

Let’s go on a journey here.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott