Book Review

πŸ˜πŸ˜•πŸ˜± ‘The Moves That Matter’ – Jonathan Rowson (Bloomsbury 2019). HB. p 352. cp Β£20.

Subtitled ‘A Chess Grandmaster on the Game of Life’, this is a chess publication like no other. To draw comparisons I would have to wander into other fields which is hardly the idea hereabouts and beyond my experience anyway. Having spent about seven or eight hours with this remarkable tome what follows is more of a reaction than a deadpan review.

When I bought my copy in Waterstone’s in Reading the lady said it was not shelved with other chess books and I am not surprised. It merits its own glass case as this is special but not to my taste. How the sales will pan out I have no idea. I imagine quite well as with ‘The Rookie’ by Stephen Moss, also a Bloomsbury. Moss’s book was an outsider’s view looking inwards. Rowson writes as an insider yet jumps (outside!) around seemingly not getting over himself. International travel, tournament success, marriage, maturity and great academic success have failed to bring him the answers he seemingly requires, the reader will bleed with him. His pain is now ours.

In a closing chapter, putting flesh on very intricate bones, he gives 19 annotated games. No diagrams that I spotted but should that matter? Here is philosophy offered in scholarly form, a life journey, as all the best autobiographies try to be. But I just was not entertained or instructed. It did, however, tell me all about this chess master.

The author is a largely retired Scottish Grandmaster.

James Pratt

Basingstoke, 2020

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