How to Play Chess
Lessons from an International Master

The Great Courses
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24 episodes in this series

Episode 1 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…
Episode 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…
Episode 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 some astonishing aspects…
Episode 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,…
Episode 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…
Episode 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…
Episode 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…
Episode 8 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:…
Episode 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…
Episode 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…
Episode 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…
Episode 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…
Episode 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.…
Episode 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…
Episode 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…
Episode 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.…
Episode 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,…
Episode 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…
Episode 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…
Episode 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…
Episode 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…
Episode 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…
Episode 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…
Episode 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…

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