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The Seven Deadly Chess Sins [Paperback]

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Item description for The Seven Deadly Chess Sins by Jonathan Rowson...

Everyone loses chess games occasionally, but all too often we lose a game due to moves that, deep down, we knew were flawed. Why do we commit these chess-board sins? Are they the result of general misconceptions about chess and how it should be played better? In this thought-provoking and entertaining book, Jonathan Rowson investigates, in his inimitable style, the main reasons why chess-players sometimes go horribly astray. He focuses on several underlying psychological pitfalls: Thinking (unneceessary or erroneous); Blinking (missing opportunities; lack of resolution); Wanting (too much concern with the result of the game); Materialism (lack of attention to non-material factors); Egoism (insufficient awareness of the opponent and his ideas); Perfectionism (running short of time; trying too hard); and Looseness ("losing the plot"; drifting; poor concentration). A great book for readers interested in understanding why they sometimes make the mistakes that frustrate their efforts at winning!

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Item Specifications...

Pages   207
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 7" Height: 9.75"
Weight:   0.85 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Dec 1, 2000
Publisher   Gambit Publications
ISBN  1901983366  
ISBN13  9781901983364  

Availability  0 units.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Games > Board Games > Chess
2Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Games > General

Reviews - What do customers think about The Seven Deadly Chess Sins?

The right blend of Kierkegaard and Chess  Apr 28, 2008
After reading many chess books, it's clear that they are written for many different reasons. Some are written to make money, others are written to educate from the perspective of the long-time teacher (Soltis and Beim .. both excellent!) and others are written from the perspective of the student. The later is the approach from a very young Jonathon Rowson, Scotland's youngest GM (so says the cover of the book, I wonder if they'll still put that on there in 30 years when he also might be the oldest!).

In any case, Rowson does an excellent job explaining what he believes are the most important lessons in chess through the use of weaknesses or deficiencies that we all have (and need to fess up to). The book is very much written as a self-examination with very obvious academic references pulled in that most likely the author experience in his non-chess education at the same time he was maturing as a chess player. The end result is a very fine work with many very well annotated games with just the right pauses to consider points not often considered in the every day annotation. He also references other GMs with the reverence one has for a fine teacher and attempts to translate that wisdom to the hopefully sponge-like reader.

The bottom line is that most of it works quite well and the material is probably most effective if you're of a somewhat advanced player. Even lower rank players can benefit from this book if they truly want to dig a bit past the general result of a loss.

The book has plenty of diagrams and can be read without a chess board. The production of the book is wonderful and if you get past a bit of the pretentiousness and the gimmicky nature of something like "Seven Deadly Chess Sins", you'll find a very instructive book. I will add though that the book is mainly targeted at the middle game but full games are almost always given. The book lacked a bit in explanation of technique in some cases in winning, but one really should look to other books for finishing games off with good technique (Soltis' book for example).

The four stars (rather than five) really has to do with some of the material including antecdotes, examples and other explanations a bit too far from the theme that he was trying to achieve. The biggest problem was the lack of synthesis of the deadly sins. Some minor cross references were given but rarely was any real explanation given for the presence of multiple sins (or faults) and how they play together. The book would have worked much better if he cut the chapters in half and then went through illustrative examples using an approach of synthesis of all sins.

In any case, the reader who wants a bit of something different with high instructive value should definitely consider this book. It certainly is worth the money.
Chess outside the 64 squares  Dec 22, 2007
Rowson has created a very interesting and insightful work. Having been a sales manager, CEO, and owner of my own business during the course of my career, these 7 deadly sins can be applied to most anything.

I think what Rowson is trying to say is that in addition to hard work one must also be able to look deep within themselves and decide how bad they really want to improve their results. Do you want to be a better father, husband, employee, Chess player, whatever. Chessplayers, much like obese people, look for hope in every fad book, or fad diet. The answer lies in working hard and having the discipline to hone your craft. "Disciplined people; discipline thought; disciplined action." (Good To Great, Collins, J.)

As the quote on page 66, says: "It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; It is because we do not dare that things are difficult."

How often have we decided to put off practice (in whatever capacity) until the next day? How often do we concern ourselves with the end result while not enjoying the journey? How many of us have skipped a tournament because we were "unprepared." It is these points that Rowson is making, and he does so brilliantly when he ties them into the chosen chess games within the book.

If you want a book that can help you look at Chess from a whole new perspective, this is the one. If you are looking for a theoretical chess training guide you can look elsewhere. The bottom line is that this book belongs in your chess library, provided you are at least 1800 and old enough to grasp some of the deeper messages that are captured within.
Real chess mind-expansion.  Nov 12, 2007
One of the most enjoyable and thought provoking chess books I have ever read, and certainly one of the few that, if I was forced to give up most of my collection, would remain with me.

This book is not for all chess players. It is not a book about tactics, combinations, opening, middle-game or end-game strategy. It is also not a book containing analysis of "famous" games. This book re-examines the intangible and cloudy thought process that the player goes through during a match, and proposes a new methodology ("approach" may be a better word) for "thinking" and "feeling" by identifying what the author considers the major mental "traps" of the chess player (hence the title "The Seven Deadly Chess Sins"). It is more philosophical and abstract in nature and is not really designed to improve your chess from a technical perspective. It does however, in great detail, show you how to re-evaluate how to "think" about chess. And in that sense this book is a delightful rarity and extremely valuable.

What are the seven deadly sins? "Thinking", (yes, Rowson tells us you can think too much in chess!), "Blinking", "Wanting", "Materialism", "Egosim", "Perfectionism", and "Looseness". In a nutshell, Rowson explains that emotion is much more involved in our chess thinking than we would care to admit, and that emotion can manifest itself in these various "sins" without us ever realizing or caring to acknowledge it.

The author has a great writing style that exudes his love for the game, that is one of the books biggest appeals. Perhaps it is his Scottish lineage which makes for some interesting quips, like this one: "Black may point to them and say `Look! Weak pawns: doubled and isolated!' But that is a bit like pointing to a mole on Cindy Crawford's face and saying `Look! Black spot; obvious and protruding!' As with any face, you miss much if you look at the parts seperate from the whole". The book is full of dry and humurous analogies like this one which make for a pleasurable read.

It is true, as one reviewer noted, that Rowson delves into subject matter which may not be his area of expertise, but so what? His insights are interesting and in most cases quite relevant. A few reviewers have also said, they liked the book but claimed it wouldn't help their chess. I submit that, just as with concentrated study of chess "theory", this book will help, but first you must open your mind to Rowson's theories and "practice" them as you would any other technique. Chess is not for the lazy and applying Rowson's ideas are no different.

There are hundreds of thousands of chess books available to choose from, but to me this one is a diamond in the rough. Simply put, if you love chess, you will love this book.
Profound and entertaining  Dec 26, 2005
Not surprisingly, there are some mixed reviews about this book. It is clearly written for more serious players - you can truly appreciate it after you've "been there" a few times. Reading through it is a revelation. It's not a "how to" manual - yet it makes you reconsider certain aspects of the game and , hopefully, identify new ways to improve. I can't wait to read Rowson's next book, Chess for Zebras, which also sounds like a must.
Enjoyable and unhelpful  May 30, 2005
I agree with the other reviewer who commented this book was a good read but wouldn't improve their chess. I feel the same. I am a relatively newer, but serious chess player. Books like The Amateur's Mind by Silman were many times over more helpful to my playing. Rowson's book is more like...chess entertainment. The majority of the book is annotated grandmaster games, intertwined with quotes from famous philosophers. I like this book, it just isn't helpful to my game. When it boils down and I am in the middle of a real game, I am thinking back to Silman's book for ideas, never Rowson's - his book is just too abstract for me.

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