How to Play Chess: Lessons from an International Master

Course No. 9411
Jeremy Silman, International Chess Master
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Course No. 9411
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Course Overview

Chess is a sport, a science, and an art. For more than a thousand years, people around the world have enjoyed this game of skill and tactics and intellectual prowess. From Parisian nightclubs to Hollywood films to everyday dining rooms and dens, you can find people furrowing their brows in concentration over their next strategic move. The fun of the game is that anyone can play, and there is always something more to learn—especially with the right guide.

From the basics of the game to advanced strategy and tactics, and everything in between, How to Play Chess: Lessons from an International Master is any chess enthusiast’s opportunity to enhance your understanding of the game. Taught by International Master and renowned chess teacher Jeremy Silman, these 24 engaging lessons walk you through every aspect of the game. After grounding you in the rules of chess, Mr. Silman offers strategic insight into openings and endgames, shows you typical pitfalls to avoid, and examines an array of famous gambits, positions, defenses, mates, and more.

One of the most rewarding aspects of chess is that amateurs and professionals alike can unlock new secrets, discover fresh patterns, and sharpen their skills as players. Amateurs may wonder:

  • Where do I even begin?
  • How do all the pieces move?
  • Which pieces are more valuable?
  • What are the key “rookie mistakes” to avoid?

The rules are simple to learn, but the game is vastly complex. Therefore, even seasoned players with many years of experience always have more to learn. For instance:

  • When does the en passant rule apply?
  • How do I make more effective combinations?
  • How does pawn structure point toward the best next move?
  • Is it possible to secure a checkmate with just a king and a pawn?

Whether you’re a chess novice or a long-time player, this course will help you see the game in a whole new way. Striking visual examples from some of the most famous—and infamous—matches in history offer a wealth of strategic insight. You’ll also explore the game’s history and meet some noted and flamboyant players, from André Philidor to Bobby Fischer to Garry Kasparov. How to Play Chess: Lessons from an International Master is your guide to becoming a formidable chess opponent.

Improve Your Game—No Matter Your Skill Level

From kings to commoners and coast to coast around the world, chess is a universal game that anyone can enjoy, regardless of language or nationality or social class. And it’s a game that anyone can learn. Mr. Silman reviews everything from how pieces move and basic notation to advanced strategy and complex combinations. Players at all levels will find something of value here, and a wealth of interactive examples make every lesson worth revisiting to mine key information.

Among the many topics Mr. Silman covers are:

Game Fundamentals: Review how all the pieces move, and discover a few surprises—such as that the humble pawn is actually the most complex piece on the board. Then examine the basics of notation and etiquette during the game.

Tactical Patterns: Pins, skewers, forks, decoys, double attacks, and more—build your skills with every piece to help you trap your opponent and unleash carnage on the board.

Strategic Planning: From pawn structure to imbalances in position to cat-and-mouse combinations, learn to read the board and determine the best series of moves—for you and your opponent.

Open vs. Closed Positions: Should you play in the center or go for the wings? When should you rely on knight,s or bishops? When should you sacrifice a pawn? Find out how to navigate any mid-game setup.

Statics vs. Dynamics: Chess relies on strategic thinking and long-term planning, but it also requires the ability to strike at weaknesses and wage battle. Hone your skills in all types of play.

Endgames: It might not be as sexy as tactical strikes, but learning a few basic endgame strategies can give you a powerful edge over your competition. With a wealth of examples, Mr. Silman shows you how to win—and makes the study of endgames fun.

Study Classic Games for Lessons in Technique and Style

One of the joys of this course is that Mr. Silman takes you beyond the board and explores the history of the game. He transports you to old-time chess clubs (which were known in 18th century Paris as “dens of iniquity”) and introduces you to many of the game’s colorful characters and International Masters—players who changed the game and serve as models for today’s aspiring players. Among others, you will meet:

  • Alexander Alekhine
  • André Philidor
  • Vera Menchik
  • José Raúl Capablanca
  • Bobby Fischer
  • Garry Kasparov

In addition to revealing personalities and presenting biographical details, Mr. Silman reviews many classic—often heated—games, offering a play-by-play to show how these chess heroes have trapped and mated each other and forced resignations. You’ll delight in discovering different styles of play, from cautious development to hyper-aggressive tactics to surprising mates—and learn much from studying these games. And you’ll come away with a trove of masters you can look to as models for your own game.

Indeed, one of the most important ways to improve your game is to play often. Mr. Silman gives you plenty of opportunities to spot the next best move or discover weaknesses in these fast-paced games. Thanks to detailed custom graphics that make each chess move come alive, you’ll learn to spot patterns and make connections. You also learn to read the board and become fluent in chess notation, which will change the way you view the game.

Learn from an International Master

As an International Master and a well-regarded author of numerous chess books and articles, Mr. Silman is an ideal guide to help you build your skills. Using clear examples and a step-by-step approach, these lessons feel more like an intimate tutorial than a series of lectures. The course is intensively illustrated, helping you follow each move as it plays out.

With his deep knowledge of chess history and the chess community, Mr. Silman also gives you an insider’s take on many of the more intriguing aspects of the game, including simultaneous exhibitions, blindfolded chess, computers, and chess engines. Computers in particular play an intriguing role in today’s game. Mr. Silman offers recommendations for how to use chess engines to improve your tactical abilities, but he also gives a useful perspective on the limits of artificial intelligence.

Ultimately, chess is a human game, and an enjoyable pastime. It’s about more than rote memorization and brute-force calculations. In How to Play Chess: Lessons from an International Master, you’ll encounter more than a prescription for better play. You’ll discover the romance and joy of the game—and become a better thinker to approach any chess match or strategic thinking challenge with confidence.

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24 lectures
 |  31 minutes each
  • 1
    The World of Chess
    From kings and queens to ordinary workers, from family living rooms and local chess parlors to online gamers around the world, chess is a truly universal pastime. Discover the basics of the game, what each piece is worth and how it moves, and the mathematical notation that allows people to connect across social class, language barriers, and national boundaries. x
  • 2
    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. x
  • 3
    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 the mythic side of the game and find out about simultaneous exhibitions, blindfolded play, and chess computers. x
  • 4
    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. x
  • 5
    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. x
  • 6
    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." x
  • 7
    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. x
  • 8
    Legendary Attacking Greats of Chess
    Famous chess players are some of the most fascinating figures in history. Pause from the tactics of the game to learn about four of the most famous 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. x
  • 9
    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." x
  • 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 study their games." x
  • 11
    Open Files and the Positional Rook
    So far the course has focused on 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. x
  • 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, and more." x
  • 13
    Positional Weaknesses and Targets in Chess
    Continue your study of pawn movements by examining a number of potential weaknesses. Mr. Silman will help 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. x
  • 14
    Closed and Open Positions on the Chessboard
    One very important strategy in any game is to develop your pieces as quickly as possible. 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. x
  • 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 of development and positional advantage, while dynamic play is all about tactics and aggressive attacks. Find out when to rely on each approach - and when you need to create a dynamic situation. x
  • 16
    Using Chessboard Imbalances to Create Plans
    This course has covered much ground, and in this lesson, you'll begin putting all the pieces together. 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 the amateurs from the players." x
  • 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 their style of play. x
  • 18
    Chess Endgames and the King's Magical Powers
    While you must know tactics to be a formidable chess player, learning the strategy behind a successful endgame is crucial to bringing your skills 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. x
  • 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 movements. x
  • 20
    Triangulation and Two Critical Rook Endgames
    Round out your study of endgames with an examination of triangulation, a key tactic for gaining the opposition in a king-versus-king standoff. Then turn to two common endgames: the Lucena Position and the Philidor Position. Mr. Silman offers several general rules for handling these situations. x
  • 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. x
  • 22
    Chess Psychology and the Known Unknown
    Chess is riddled with psychological traps - particularly if you find yourself playing a superior 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 24
    Picking a Chess Hero
    As you've seen throughout the course, the chess greats all have a unique approach to the game and a sense of style. Round out the course by studying four final champions - José Raúl Capablanca, Vera Menchik, Bobby Fischer, and Hou Yifan - to analyze their style of play and begin thinking about your own favorite chess hero. x

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  • 24 lectures on 4 DVDs
  • 408-page printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
  • Closed captioning available

What Does The Course Guidebook Include?

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Course Guidebook Details:
  • Diagrams of gameplay
  • Key People
  • Key Terms

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Your professor

Jeremy  Silman

About Your Professor

Jeremy Silman, International Chess Master
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...
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Reviews

How to Play Chess: Lessons from an International Master is rated 4.8 out of 5 by 174.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great for beginners I have played a little chess, never getting to the point of strategy, basically knowing how the pieces move and the object of the game. I have just started this course and have learned a couple of things already. The professor is engaging as is the material. I doubt an advanced chess player would get much from this course but like I said I am only just starting it.
Date published: 2018-07-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Great Course and a lot of Fun! I bought this course to improve my chess game, and I'm glad I did. Though it starts from the beginning of explaining the rules of the game, it quickly becomes clear that this course will be best utilized by those who play regularly and are looking to improve their game. It's full of great tips and strategies, as well as colorful quotes and stories from chess greats of days gone by that keep it light and entertaining as well as highly instructional. After each episode, you will want to put to use what you learned. Highly recommended for teens and adults.
Date published: 2018-07-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome chess lessons These classes are so great. I’m on number seventeen, and my jaw is dropping every seven minutes. Even if my game doesn’t improve at all I’m getting my money’s worth just by watching and being entertained. So of course I have to go over everything three times. I pause and study the board and try to understand what the heck just happened. I like the teacher’s descriptive language. “All out to kill,” “the manly Bishop H7 check,” “It’s like swiss cheese,” “hunting parties,” “the Hammer of Thor,” “kiss and tell,” “raw chessic violence,” “a game from Mars,” “fueling his decisions on fumes,” “lizard brain,” “diced and sliced,” “pure gibberish,” “The Cask of Amontillado,” “lovefest of destruction,” “gaping wound,” “hitting granite,” “gasping for breath,” “fall to their knees,” “take off your tie and leap,” and the unforgettable “edible bits.” Mr. Silman adopts a hectoring tone when he is trying to warn the student away from well-known mistakes. One gets the sense that he has had students who were slow learners. And he hasn’t given up yet, bless him. Lots of fascinating chess history with step by step illustrations of famous games by famous players of the past. I love the 1940s jazz club setting and music too. If Bogie and Bacall played chess. Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys the game. And to anyone who wants a better game.
Date published: 2018-07-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Comprehensive Sillman did an excellent job with this series of lectures. The package included everything for anyone, from beginner to expert level. Topics did not just cover openings, endgames, tactics & strategy, but also history, psychology, and great players of the past.
Date published: 2018-07-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful course. This lecture series really me a good overview of how to play chess along with anecdotes from the great players from history. I really enjoyed it!
Date published: 2018-07-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good presenter, nice flow I was looking for a course to take me beyond my novice status in chess. I like the conversational style of the presenter, and the general flow of the information. It is also nice that he includes chess puzzles to test your learning.
Date published: 2018-07-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Instructor I am a real beginner at Chess so I have to stop the video and set up my board. Luckily I can back up and replay as often as I need to understand the moves.
Date published: 2018-07-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent My daughter started beating me at chess and getting money for evertime she wins. We are subscribing for more courses. We can’t thank you enough.
Date published: 2018-07-03
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