How fast was your progress?

I became class a “B” player when I hit 14 (1670), was “A” class at 15 (1900), and reached mid-expert strength (2100) by the time I was 16.

What about your Complete Book of Chess Strategy?

It’s for players 1400 and below. It’s not necessarily a book to be read cover to cover (though one can gain a lot by doing so). It’s a reference work. Thus, if you have a question about isolated pawns, go to that section and it will give you a quick, easy to understand explanation. If you want to learn about mating patterns, go to that section and you will be given the keys to the universe. You can use this book whenever any chess question comes up and it will give you all the basic information you need in 2-4 pages.

What attracted you to a chess career?

The money and the women.

What do you think of the Polgar sisters?

I have met all three Polgar sisters, seeing them in Czech Republic (Susan and I were both playing in Pardubice), New York (Judit and I played with a draw resulting. Of course, she was only 2 at the time), Brazil (Sofia played in a junior event), England (Susan was very young but still made a powerful impression in the junior event she was playing in), Monte Carlo (Judit and Susan both competed in the Melody Amber), and Mazatlan, Mexico (all three sisters were present). I have found all of them to be highly talented, very nice people, lacking in the huge chess ego that most males carry around. I usually have no trouble roasting a fellow player (friend or foe), but I couldn’t find a negative thing to say about these young ladies if I tried.

What is the best order to read your books?

The answer depends on your strength. However, let’s say you are 1800 or below. In that case read the 4th edition of How to Reassess Your Chess to page 28, next read all of The Amateur’s Mind, then go back to How to Reassess Your Chess and read the whole thing cover to cover. While reading those two books, spend some time going through Silman’s Complete Endgame Course (only reading as far as your rating level).

What kind of study program did you use?

I mostly looked at endless master games (while simultaneously eating copious amounts of ice cream), sometimes going over several hundred in a single day (only stopping when I was slaphappy and drooling). Most young players I talk to don’t go over nearly enough master games, but now that databases are available there’s simply no excuse for this.

When did you become a master?

I moved to San Francisco when I was 19 (from San Diego) and instantly earned a master ranking, tying for first with U.S. Champion John Grefe (and drawing our individual game) in my first SF event.

When did you learn to play chess?

I learned how to move the pieces at the ripe old age of 12. I played in my first tournament two months later and walked away with a 1068 rating. I should add that I was overrated, since my one victory came from a man that actually grabbed my Rook and mated himself. He wanted the game to end so he could make an appointment! My real strength after my first event was around 900.

When do you intend to play again?

Never. I’m fully retired from chess combat. No more for me. Nada. Zip.

Who are your favorite players?

Alekhine, Lasker, Fischer, Larsen, Petrosian, and Karpov.

Who do you think are the top 10 players in history?

1) Fischer, 2) Lasker, 3) Kasparov, 4) Karpov, 5) Alekhine, 6) Capablanca, 7) Anand, 8) Botvinnik, 9) Spassky, 10) Petrosian.

Why did you create a site (www.silmansasianmoviereviews.com) about Asian movies?

I love movies, especially Asian cinema. Do I really need a reason other than that? Everyone has their own specific interests – some enjoy chess, others are into politics, stamp collecting, fine wines, and some live for their hunting rifles and fried squirrel. My thing is Asian film.

Why didn’t you ever get the grandmaster title?

Getting the title calls for a tremendous amount of talent, or a tremendous amount of work. I don’t have the talent to pick the title out of thin air, so complete devotion to chess would be the only way to accomplish this task. The usual way that guys like me get the grandmaster title is to play in several round robin (gm-norm) European events a year. You might bomb in four or five in a row, but eventually the stars will be in alignment and a norm will come your way. Then you repeat the process again and again until you obtain the required three norms. Unfortunately, I have interests outside of chess and am not willing to put in the necessary energy to accomplish this goal. In fact, it’s hard to get me out of my house! Having me fly to Europe over and over just isn’t going to happen.

Why review chess books?

It’s a very important service! Nowadays there’s a virtual flood of chess books on every aspect of the game. It’s overwhelming, and fans of chess books need an educated, honest voice to tell them what’s good, what sucks, or at the very least explain the books’ pros and cons in a way that allows them to make an informed opinion as to whether or not it’s for you.

Would you recommend chess as a profession?

In my day chess represented endless adventure and artistic expression. Today things have changed for the worse and I no longer view the game as an intelligent career move unless you get the grandmaster title at a very young age. Of course, I still view chess as one of the finest hobbies possible.

Your old site had all sorts of articles by Benjamin, Christiansen, and others. Is this new incarnation of jeremysilman.com going to continue that trend?

No, the new jeremysilman.com is about chess book reviews. However, I will eventually create archives for the old articles, just so people can enjoy them. But that’s going to take a while. But no new articles – just book reviews.