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What chess can teach us about life

Grandmaster Jonathan Rowson reflects on his life as a successful underachiever

By David Edmonds   March 2020
A game of two halves: Source: Creative Commons

A game of two halves: Source: Creative Commons

Whatever your level of expertise in a particular domain, the chances are that there will be others who are better. Jonathan Rowson is exceptionally brilliant in one micro-domain: chess. But though a strong grandmaster and three times British champion, he could not break into the super-elite—the top two-dozen players who make a healthy living from chess.

Part of his memoir The Moves that Matter is about “successful underachievement.” The realisation that, as he puts it,…

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