An enthralling journey into the world of chess--a story of heartbreak, obsession, failure, and the hunger for greatness.
Sasha Chapin is a victim of chess. Like countless amateurs before him--Albert Einstein, Humphrey Bogart, and Marcel Duchamp among them--the game has consumed his life and his mind. First captivated by it as a member of his high school chess club, he found his passion rekindled during an accidental encounter with chess hustlers on the streets of Kathmandu. In its aftermath, he forgot to care about anything else. Like a spurned lover, he tried to move on, but he found the game more seductive the more he resisted it.
And so, he reasons, if he can't defeat his addiction, he will try instead to master the game.
All the Wrong Moves traces Chapin's rollicking two-year journey around the globe in search of glory. He travels to tournaments in Bangkok and Hyderabad. He seeks out a mentor in St. Louis, a grandmaster whose personality is half rabbi and half monk, and who offers cryptic wisdom and caustic insults ("you're the best player in your chair.") His story builds toward the Los Angeles Open, where Chapin is clearly outmatched and yet determined not to lose.
Stylish, inventive, and laugh-out-loud funny, All the Wrong Moves is more than a work of history or autobiography. It is a chronicle of the highs and lows of obsession, of love pursued to its limits, and of a life driven by lust, terror, and the elusive possibility of victory.
In this thoughtful and clever memoir, journalist Chapin chronicles his two-year submersion into the world of chess. Bored with life in Toronto, he "became obsessed with chess after I ran away to Thailand with a stripper I just met." She returned to Canada, but Chapin traveled and got hooked on the game by Nepalese street players in Kathmandu. He returned to Bangkok and descended "into an Internet chess wormhole," playing with a club and entering tournaments. Throughout, Chapin describes the highs of playing well and the lows of when his "incompetence was outstanding." After a few months he moved back to Toronto and fell in love with his magazine editor, Katherine, who distracted him from his chess obsession. In order to fully commit to Katherine he decided to play one last tournament for a chance to compete against a high-ranked player at the Los Angeles Open and began training with a chess coach. Leading up to the tournament, he fluidly explains the intricacies of chess, and through his training he comes to realize that, win or lose, his "place in humanity" is not as a chess champion but to be with Katherine. Chapin's sincere memoir of self-discovery will charm chess enthusiasts, as well as those searching for their next move in life.