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All the Wrong Moves: A Memoir about Chess, Love, and Ruining Everything
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All the Wrong Moves: A Memoir about Chess, Love, and Ruining Everything

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  100 ratings  ·  27 reviews
Sasha Chapin is a victim of chess. Like countless amateurs before him--Albert Einstein, Humphrey Bogart, Marcel Duchamp--the game has consumed his life and his mind. First captivated by it as a member of his high school chess club, his passion was rekindled during an accidental encounter with chess hustlers on the streets of Kathmandu. In its aftermath, he forgot how to ca ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published August 13th 2019 by Doubleday Books
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Average rating 4.02  · 
Rating details
 ·  100 ratings  ·  27 reviews

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Aug 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Honza Prchal
May 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaways
Educated, neurotic Central European boy who writes like a dream and is forever going on with the self-deprecating jokes. Sound familiar?
Well, Sasha Chapin manages to make it fresh. This isn't just because he is unlike Woody Allen, in that Chapin is humane, sympathetic, and not much of a jerk. This is because he's ... Canadian! Seriously, though, I am not sure why, but I suspect it is because despite his hippie high school and his occasional drug use, he's rather a gentleman. He's certainly not
May 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
All the Wrong Moves is a touching and brilliant portrait of masculinity. Chapin writes with arresting honesty. He humiliates himself in all the right ways. His descriptions of chess and players are luminous and profound and hysterical. He captures the manner in which none of us are truly in control of our personalities. And we explain our idiocies and achievements in hindsight with a philosophy we hope gives them meaning. We watch Chapin’s obsession with amateur chess talk him into derailing his ...more
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Sasha Chapin tames the unruliness of the memoir with an 8x8 grid, while chess kicks his ass.
The conventions of the game are used to bring meaning to the obsessions, impulses, and indignities
that are experienced universally, but are most acute when struggling against ones own mediocracy.

Chapin's prose are humorous and self deprecating, As they have to be to describe the humility that comes with learning and struggling to reach ones potential. Chapin is beaten by young children one minute and, old
Benjamin Deeb
May 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
All the Wrong Moves is a sharp, clever, and meaningful story from an author who has exactly the right tools to tell it. Chapin’s account of his journey, compelling on its own, is broken up by asides that effortlessly blend knowledge with narrative. These give the reader an inside look at the professional chess world and offer a robust history of the game.

Luckily, Chapin’s passion for chess is infectious, and you’ll find yourself enthralled with the subject even if you’d never played before. When
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Devoured it within a day of receiving it. I enjoyed the hell out of this delightful book. It had such a perfect balance of new-to-me knowledge, human insight, and wicked humour all the way through. For a memoir about a game, I was moved by the depth of Chapin's insights into himself and the people around him (the healthy dose of self-deprecation added to the overall feeling of honesty). I enjoyed every literary reference and every well-drawn character (his master chess teacher was a scream). It ...more
Victoria Lynn
May 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read the entirety of this book in an afternoon. I carried it around with me while I made tea, and took it into the bath, and curled up with it at night. I dog-eared a good 30% of the pages & kept revisiting passages over and over again. It's just one of those reads.

I was surprised by how funny it was. And it's like... really hard for a book to make me laugh? Which made the ending all the more poignant, when it sort of socked me in the guts with its profundity.

This book does that to you w
John Bastin
Sep 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Many people who read this book seem to think it's some kind of wonderful; I couldn't get there. To me, it seems like a frivolous description of a period of his life centered around playing bad chess.

I play chess, I can appreciate his description of the attraction of the game. I've played tournament chess, he does a pretty accurate characterization of the time in the game when things seem to be going well, right before you make the blunder that kills your chances. Like him, I've been there and I
Amber Daugherty
Sep 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I wanted to live in this book forever. It was hilarious, endearing, self-aware and honestly just really interesting. Sasha wanted to be a chess genius - someone who picked up the game and impressed everyone around him with his crazy skills, learned very quickly or perhaps just unlocked from somewhere in his deep subconscious. But when he starts playing - in Bangkok, St. Louis, India, LA, he realizes that his story is not that one and if he wants to be good, he has to play the long game, study an ...more
Sep 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
i love chess books (not instruction but fiction or memoirs) so i'm giving this five altho there were parts i could have done w/o and i really did not love it. but there were paragraphs that i loved enough to photograph and send to my son, so...a five
Timothy Ha
Sep 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this to learn the secret of chess, and a little bit more

After the author lamented the frequent appearing of the name of Tarrasch in his book, quoting Tarrasch could be unfair, but that quote is, “Chess, like love, like music, has the power to make people happy.” This book was a great love story of an amateur with chess, and the story, as much as I wanted it to continue, has an ending, like any game of chess, and all three possible results - win, loss or draw - are ok.
Sep 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Engaging, eloquent and Unique
Just finished the book and I found it absolutely wonderful. It really resonated with me. I too have struggled with the burden and self-loathing resulting from being addicted to chess but possessing no natural raw talent at all. This book is witty, compelling and even profound at times. And you don't have to be a chess player or know anything about chess to enjoy it. His conclusions and musings eloquently expressed. Highly recommend and enjoyable.
Sep 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It's mostly fine.
Aug 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Despite a busy life juggling two kids under 5 and farming, I plowed (p the p) through this little book in less than 20 hours. Chapin’s witticisms and sharp insights never got old, and I had to dog ear a couple of pages. Honest, surprisingly thrilling and all in all a worthwhile and feel good read. No need to play chess to appreciate, just a pulse.
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a brutally (beautifully?) honest memoir of the drama I never thought would be drama: Chess addiction.

Thank you Sasha for every time I laughed aloud while sitting at the cafe reading this, hoping someone would realize how much fun I was having.
Sep 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Chapin's book made me happy that I took up chess later in life (age 40 or so, though I have known how the pieces move since youth), because I have now gone through a lesser version of the mind-f%^& that he cycles through in this book several times.

I suck. I'm amazing. I suck. This is me, intertwined with I quit, I will try again, I quit.

So in this way, the book was a salve to crazy as chess has made me at times, I never went as far as he did, probably because I am nowhere near his
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As someone who's personal experience with chess was being an aggressive and impatient school champion who crumbled under more patient players, I was surprised at how much I related to a memoir about a game of which I've played maybe a dozen games since high school. But maybe I'm not relating to the game itself, but more the realization that we're not all special and somehow we are all just anecdotes in other people's stories, and that's absolutely ok. Bravo, Sasha.
Andy Klein
Sep 13, 2019 rated it did not like it
Totally didn’t capture my attention or interest. The author’s alleged chess obsession didn’t seem like much of an obsession. He played in a few tournaments at out of the way places and took some lessons and had a few girlfriends. He never bothered to tell us if things worked out the Catharine or what he did with his spare time after chess or how his real career progressed. In fact, I just took this down to a single star.
Robert Brown
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Sasha Chaplin is a funny, smart writer and his personality shines brightly in this quick read thats deeper than its surface. It’s at first a story about a man in love with chess but not being very good at it (in his eyes) but throughout the book, his stories become much more deeper than just a board game. I loved this book and the pacing and recommend it to anyone that enjoys the game of chess and/or just wants to read a good book about hard truths.
Sep 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Energetic writing style. Quoting from William Dury's review, "A nicely written addiction memoir" and, quoting from Glynis' review, "No need to play chess to appreciate."
Sep 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Good book by an interesting, somewhat self-destructive writer. Having been bit by the chess bug myself, Chapin does a great job of describing how that particular addiction takes over your consciousness.
Oct 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Interesting journey into a man's obsession with chess. Just the right length, and I liked the format of the last chapter. Thanks Howard Stern for the recommendation.
Miki Hodge
Sep 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
Skipped many sections - not my style of memoir. I did enjoy some of the history of the game.
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Interesting memoir on the dangers of being addicted to the game of chess. Who knew?
Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
William Dury
Aug 21, 2019 rated it liked it
A man obsessed with chess. Problem is, he’s not very good at it, at least not good enough to achieve the level of ability that would satisfy him. The couch picker wants to be Blind Blake kinda deal. Or play Blind Blake to a draw, I guess.* Interestingly, he talks quite a bit about starting very young, and learning the basic strategies, but not so much about natural talent, the question that comes up in music and sports. Anyway, If I recall correctly, his goal is to beat a 2000 level player, like ...more
Bill Smith
Sep 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
You don’t need to be a tournament chess player to appreciate this fun and engaging book though an open, interested mind helps.
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