Move by Move Book Summary - Move by Move Book explained in key points
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Move by Move summary

Maurice Ashley

Life Lessons on and Off the Chessboard

4.6 (157 ratings)
17 mins
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    Move by Move
    Summary of 4 key ideas

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    A life of continuous improvement

    With over 605 million enthusiasts worldwide, chess isn't just a game; it's also a profound teacher of life's most essential skills. 

    One of the first lessons it can teach us is the importance of embracing a childlike curiosity

    Age and experience can provide wisdom, but only if you let them. One of the pitfalls of gaining experience is that the things that once inspired and delighted us can begin to lose their luster over time. As we spend years becoming masters of our craft, we can start to feel like it all becomes more of the same. That’s why, even as your mastery grows, it’s vital to long-term success that you maintain a level of wonder and fascination for what you do.

    The most elite performers are well aware of the power of nurturing a childlike wonder. To remain on top, we have to keep that spark alive. Mikhail Tal was the eighth world chess champion.  He found inspiration by going back to the beginning and taking beginners' chess classes.

    Tiger Woods also understood the power of adopting a beginner's mindset to unlock new possibilities. When he was at the very top of his game, he went back to basics, deconstructing his swing and building it back up from the ground up.

    This is something that has been understood for quite some time. There’s even a Zen parable about a master and his student. When pouring the student tea, the master lets the cup overflow until it is spilling onto the ground. The point being: You can’t grow if your mind is full of preconceptions and you think you know it all. And make no mistake, learning is a lifelong process.

    Before we go any further, let’s debunk an unhelpful myth. Many are under the mistaken belief that the great chess players can see dozens of steps ahead. But nothing could be further from the truth. Chess is far too complex. There are too many possible moves. In fact, there are more potential moves than atoms in the observable universe! So it would be utterly futile for a player to try to predict how a game will unfold.

    Instead, we should be more like Magnus Carlsen, the 2013 World Chess Champion, who is all about finding ways to adapt. Flexibility is the real hallmark of an elite performer. And there are few games that are better than chess at showing how we can demonstrate flexibility in the face of complexity.

    Learning in chess, as in life, demands continual adaptation. Chess isn’t about memorization or calculation. It’s about intuition and understanding and embracing the complexity. In that way, a great chess player is like an improvisational jazz musician. They understand their craft in such a well-rounded way that they can instinctively pivot in any direction at a moment’s notice.

    This is what makes Carlsen such a great champion. As another player puts it, “Whatever situation you drop him in, his promptness to react is brilliant.” He might come in with a game plan, but if that strategy isn’t working, he’ll quickly shift into a new plan. Flexibility is a challenging trait to nurture, but it’s one of the best strengths we can develop.

    Chess also points us toward strategies for developing other talents. In particular, we have the method of disaggregated learning. This is the strategy of breaking down all aspects of the game into isolated, manageable parts. 

    Sometimes these parts aren’t even in the game you’re training for. The NBA champion Steph Curry practices disaggregated learning when he spends time during practice dribbling two basketballs at the same time. This exercise increases his coordination and his confidence, even if he’ll never be playing a game with two basketballs in his hands.

    Another chess methodology comes from Wilhelm Steinitz, and it’s called the Theory of Accumulation of Small Advantages. Steinitz was a chess player in the nineteenth century, and he believed that the best approach to winning came not by being aggressive, but by being patient and methodical. In short: If you gain a slight advantage with every move, you’ll eventually build up an overwhelming, winning position.

    This theory of accumulation can be used practically by focusing on daily progress. Rather than trying to improve yourself in big leaps and bounds, make a small, manageable one percent improvement each and every day.

    Chess can teach us a philosophy of growth and discipline, one that helps us foster resilience in a world that is often focused on instant gratification. True wisdom lies in knowing that there is more to learn, no matter if you’re an amateur player or a grandmaster.

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    What is Move by Move about?

    Move by Move (2024) explores the profound lessons learned from over four decades playing chess, illustrating how the game fosters critical thinking, resilience, and strategic acumen. It reveals how chess transcends mere gameplay, offering invaluable wisdom applicable to navigating life's challenges and pursuing success.

    Move by Move Review

    Move by Move (2020) by Maurice Ashley is a captivating guide to improving your chess game through strategic thinking. Here's why this book is a gem:

    • It breaks down chess moves into clear, step-by-step explanations that are easy to follow, helping beginners and experienced players alike enhance their skills.
    • The book includes insights from a grandmaster, providing valuable perspectives and expert tips to elevate your game to the next level.
    • With its interactive approach and focus on practical application, readers are actively engaged in the learning process, ensuring an exciting and educational experience.

    Who should read Move by Move?

    • Chess aficionados
    • Sports fanatics
    • People eager to raise their game in life

    About the Author

    Maurice Ashley is an esteemed chess grandmaster, commentator, and coach with over four decades of experience in the game. He made history in 1999 by becoming the first African-American to attain the title of grandmaster. Renowned for his engaging commentary and commitment to promoting chess worldwide, Ashley has dedicated his career to sharing the game's transformative power and strategic insights with audiences of all ages.

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    Move by Move FAQs 

    What is the main message of Move by Move?

    The main message of Move by Move is mastering the art of strategic thinking and decision-making in chess.

    How long does it take to read Move by Move?

    Reading Move by Move requires a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Move by Move a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Move by Move is a must-read for chess enthusiasts, providing valuable insights into improving tactical skills and overall gameplay.

    Who is the author of Move by Move?

    The author of Move by Move is Maurice Ashley.

    What to read after Move by Move?

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