cover image Move by Move: Life Lessons on and off the Chessboard

Move by Move: Life Lessons on and off the Chessboard

Maurice Ashley. Chronicle Prism, $22.95 (176p) ISBN 978-1-797223-65-0

Ashley (The Most Valuable Skills in Chess), the first Black chess grandmaster, mines his career for lucid advice on success, problem-solving, and risk-taking. Framing loss as a teaching tool, Ashley describes how repeated losses to “tactical wizard” Ronnie Simpson motivated him to zero in on his opponent’s weaknesses, devise a winning counterattack, and develop the skills that helped him achieve grandmaster status in 1999. Elsewhere, Ashley notes how some champions observe beginners at play in order to open their own minds to a “higher level of awareness”; debunks the importance of momentum for success, citing instances when players became overconfident after a strong opener and were subsequently defeated; and pushes back on the notion that there exists a single optimal move at any given point in a match—after only four moves per player, “more than 288 billion different possible positions can arise,” he notes. Ashley’s pedagogic expertise makes for elegant and accessible insights, including how to sacrifice valuable pieces to make way for ultimate triumph. Readers need not be chess players to benefit from Ashley’s solid wisdom and inspiring dedication to the game. (Apr.)