Rating

9

Qualities

  • Innovative
  • Applicable

Recommendation

This slim volume, which draws life and business lessons from the game of chess, is one of the better self-help and self-improvement books you’re likely to pick up. At only 115 pages, double-spaced, and a mere 20,000 words, the entire book is about the length of a chapter in most other books in its category. Author Bruce Pandolfini includes just enough chess lore to keep the book relevant to chess, but not so much as to overwhelm a chess-averse reader. He writes concisely, as a chess player plays, with a great deal of concentration and quick, quiet decisions expressed in single sentences. The book offers several fine aphorisms, the sort you will remember long after you have put it down. But it’s not the kind of book you will want to put down. Fortunately, getAbstract is glad to note, it is small enough to fit into a purse or computer bag along with everything else you carry.

Summary

Think on the Diagonal

Physicist Niels Bohr noted that the opposite of one truth is often not error but a different and greater truth. Chess reminds us of this over and over. A weak king can be an offensive weapon. A pawn, which has almost no power, can capture a queen. A pawn can even become a queen. You discover a principle, and then find it doesn’t apply, because you hit upon an exception. Your defeat is certain, and suddenly you make an ingenious move and your victory becomes certain, and suddenly something changes and you have to worry about a draw.

Less is more, farther is nearer, later is earlier and either side of a bet is equally good or equally bad to a chess player. Chess players don’t only think outside the box, they think on the slant. They think on the diagonal. You can see, on a chessboard, that squares of the same color make diagonal stripes. Pick the right diagonal path and you’ll find it faster than any other route to your goal.

Every question has at least two answers, opposite but equally valid. Chess players must master both what is clear and what is ambiguous, and they must know the difference. They must recognize that what is ambiguous...

About the Author

Bruce Pandolfini is one of today’s most sought-after chess teachers and most widely read chess writers. He is a regular columnist for Chess Life and was PBS analyst for the 1972 match between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky.


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