IM Jeremy Silman responds to the question, "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.

Does one simply just take in the patterns that the masters play? How can one learn like this?

Wouldn't it be better to look at maybe ten games in a scrupulous manner?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Phonon, SmallChess, Herb Wolfe, GloriaVictis, Ywapom Feb 21 '18 at 22:09

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    Keep in mind that Silman 'does' chess for a living. He can go over hundreds of games because he doesn't have a commute, emails to answer, meetings to go to, policies to read etc. – user1108 Feb 19 '18 at 12:13
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    @bad_bishop this does not answer the question. Assuming someone also has a similar amount of free time (doesn't have a commute, emails to answer, meetings to go to, policies to read etc), how is this possible? Keep in mind that hundreds of master games a day rounds out to about five minutes a game. – Jossie Calderon Feb 19 '18 at 17:20
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    In fairness it wasn't meant to be an answer :-). But, I remember reading somewhere (maybe Andrew Soltis, but couldn't find a quote in Studying Chess Made Easy) that one way to study games is to flick through them quickly on a screen. The idea is that it is subconscious studying and trains your intuition – user1108 Feb 19 '18 at 19:39

That depends on what you want from the games.

If you are looking for deep human style analysis, it is of course not possible.

If you are interested in shallow computer automated analysis (like lichess evaluation graph), then it’s possible.

If you are interested in opening theories, it’s possible again. For example, a French player would skip Ruy Lopez games.

Professional players generally don’t study chess games randomly. They would have an objective like rook endgames with two pawns down. Good database search would be useful.

Please define what you want from the games.


Hundreds of games in one day is a HUGE amount to be scrutinizing in detail. However, what might be good to do is go through the games fairly quickly, but be looking for pawn structure patterns, or tactical setups, or something else specific. That way you can go through 100 games easily without blowing your brain ;)


Maybe Silman literally did not mean it that way. He is also known for his tongue-in-cheek attitude:

Q: What attracts you to chess?

A: The money and the women.

It is most likely that he looked at many games and took away one lesson, tactic, strategy etc. from them.


Only after one has reach a certain strength and knowledge level can you get anything from zipping through a bunch of games in a day. For example, lets say you did a thorough study of the French Exchange Variation (1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 exd5) You learned basic lines ideas, etc. Now, you can look at a ton of games in that line and you should be able to spot the new ideas or novelties, etc.

This kind of thing is done mostly by seconds to the elite players who have to be aware of all new ideas.

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