What I’m Reading: Play Winning Chess

Play Winning Chess is the first in a seven-book series by former US chess champion Yasser Seirawan and international grand master Jeremy Silman. The series as a whole is highly recommended in a number of chess reviews, and they all agree you should start with the first book, even if you think it might be too basic, because it introduces you to Seirawan’s system and anyway, even an intermediate player could still pick something up.

And that’s pretty much what I concluded–it was a little too basic overall for where I am, yet I still learned a few things. Especially helpful was the chapter on pawns. I knew about things like pawn chains and doubled pawns already, but Seirawan provided a more systematic way of looking at your pawn structure. I especially liked a little diagram he included about how to make sure your pawn is the one that passes and becomes a queen when two pawn masses meet.

Other helpful tidbits included some good advice on using your knights to work your way into your opponents line, how to counter an opponent who’s brought out his queen too early, and some interesting profiles of famous chess masters from the past.

I would highly recommend this book to a beginning chess player who wants to improve–this is a great place to start. For an intermediate player, you will almost certainly learn some things, and I’m assured this volume will prepare you for Seirawan’s more advanced books to come. Indeed, I’ve already started the second book in the series, on tactics, and find it is much more challenging for my level.

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