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Three Moves Ahead: What Chess Can Teach You About Business [Hardcover]

by Bob Rice
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 28, 2008 0470178213 978-0470178218 1
Three Moves Ahead shows how classic chess strategies address the #1 problem of Information Age executives: how to move quickly in the face of incalculable complexities and unexpected change. This witty and novel guide, written for non-players, is packed with scores of real-world examples showing how top CEOs use Grandmaster techniques to win on Wall Street. Readers will see how a "strong square" strategy drove Adobe’s rise from niche player to industry giant, as well as Western Union’s success through a hundred years of technology changes. They’ll learn how AOL has played a crucial "exchange sacrifice" to revive its fortunes, and how Google is taking turf from Microsoft with a "minority attack." Most importantly these days, they’ll find out "what to do when you don't know what to do," and avoid the fate of companies like Polaroid, Gateway, and our dearly departed Ma Bell.

"A fun ride from Apprentice to Business Grandmaster. Grab it!"—Donald Trump

Bob Rice (Short Hills, NJ) was a long-time partner at Wall Street's prestigious Milbank, Tweed, Hadley, and McCloy. He left to start a software venture that was purchased by Viewpoint, a NASDAQ company of which he later became CEO. He is currently a Managing Partner of Tangent Capital, which structures financial products for hedge funds, and a member of the "New York Angels" venture finance group. Along the way, Bob served as Commissioner of the Professional Chess Association, founded the Wall Street Chess Club, ran numerous international chess events and produced a successful "Speedchess" series for ESPN.

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Editorial Reviews


"In his thought-provoking, chess-themed book on business strategizing, Rice asserts that beginning and intermediate players tend to focus on which pieces are positioned to take or be taken, but when grandmasters examine the board they look at the squares. Rice makes fitting comparisons between chess pieces and actors in the corporate world. Lowest-level workers are compared to pawns, middle managers to knights, director-level executives to bishops and vice presidents to rooks. The central them of this book is that you have to have a plan, event if it's a bad one, to succeed in both chess and business. The idea is to adjust your plan as the game proceeds in response to the moves of the opposition."--McClatchy-Tribune News Service, April 26, 2008

From the Inside Flap

Three Moves Ahead

In today's fast-moving Information Age, traditional business-planning tools are rapidly becoming obsolete. Yet the competitive, ever-changing marketplace demands that executives move quickly or risk becoming relics.

In Three Moves Ahead, business leader and chess expert Bob Rice offers an entertaining, practical response to this modern dilemma. He shows how the world's top executives use chess tactics to thrive in the face of incalculable complexities and unexpected change. Written for nonplayers, this witty, smart guide is filled with real-world examples of how to win the game of business by applying chess strategies honed from over 1,000 years of competition.

With incisive prose, Rice clearly shows how to use these principles to attack competitors, defend turf, and crack new markets. He demonstrates how a "Strong Square" strategy drove Adobe's rise from niche player to industry powerhouse, how Kodak is reviving its fortunes with an "Exchange Sacrifice," and how Google is creating holes in Microsoft's position with a "Minority Attack." Most importantly, Three Moves Ahead also shows how to "Stay Ahead On the Clock" and avoid the fate of companies like Polaroid, Gateway, and our dearly departed Ma Bell.

Insightful and clever, Three Moves Ahead shows how anyone can navigate strategically through the most disruptive period in business history.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (March 28, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470178213
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470178218
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #567,746 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and Insightful April 4, 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is one of those rare business books that is both entertaining to read and offers valuable insight into how companies make decisions in today's faster paced business environment, particularly in the high tech world. I enjoyed learning about the limitations of strategic thinking shared by great chess players and great business executives. I'd recommend this book to both seasoned business executives and younger business people. It will remind veteran decisionmakers how to focus on what's ahead of them and provide younger managers (particularly young entrepreneurs) with context for why business plans most often have to change. A fun look at business strategy from a very unique perspective.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars great book...but not without its flaws October 23, 2010
This book most definitely lives up to its title. Mr. Rice does a great job of tying good chess playing techniques and analyses with excellent advice for developing successful business strategies. However much of Mr. Rice's advice can only be pursued by larger established businesses and corporations. So if you're an entrepreneur starting out with your own sole proprietorship, much of the author's advice will not apply.

This book could have used some additional proofing prior to publication. I found several small errors in the first few chapters. Not spelling errors mind you but phrases that were worded wrong and other mistakes that must have crept in while the book was being revised. There's a remark about Microsoft moving from XP to DOS, or text for a chess diagram that most certainly didn't apply to the diagram being shown. Errors such as these were frequent throughout the first half of the book. Chapters 6 thru 10 were relatively error free.

Being a big fan of chess, I very much enjoyed the tidbits of chess history drawn from the author's own experience. All in all, an excellent book. This is one of the rare works that can truly help you "improve your game"!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Instant and Profound December 23, 2008
This book gave me fresh perspective and permanently changed the way I think about business. I've read hundreds if not thousands of business books and until now, none has had this instant and profound effect. Maybe the chess analogy helped or maybe it's just some great ideas that are presented very well. Here are two ways my thinking has changed. First, I find myself thinking about the "board" (the market, points of weakness and strength) rather than focusing on the "pieces" (my business and its competitors). Second. I place a greater value on moving quickly in order to learn and improve on my plans. I highly recommend Three Moves Ahead to anyone seeking an edge in business.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely fantastic January 2, 2009
This book was truly fascinating. The witty writing style, combined with an outstanding barrage of real-world business examples, combined with very concise and clear applicability in the everyday business, made for some of the best reading I've had in a long time. Simply great stuff.

My own business is at a crossroads, a very crucial and challenging time, and that's actually why I read the book. I'm trying to digest and to act with wisdom and this material is probably the largest factor in the plans, from a strategic and tactical standpoint. My only concern right now is how to move quickly since, after all, I'm "On the Clock!"

And, believe it or not, it's been years (ahem, decades) since I played chess but I'm actually planning on buying at least a cheap board ASAP, after reading the book! I'll call that a business expense, actually, and a bona fide one at that. The title is true: you do NOT need to be a chess player to get immense benefit from the book. But, the game of chess is very, very comparable and from a mind-conditioning standpoint, I think some chess is worth my time.

I met the author of this book in NYC and heard him speak. Twas great and I was looking forward to reading the book. Very, very glad I did.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is an extraordinary work. Aside from being extremely well written (something that one can rarely say about business books), the central thesis here is that in a rapidly changing business environment it is no long sufficient to give 'cookbook' answers to solving problems. Instead, by apply chess theories (NOT 'rules'), Three Moves Ahead gives business executives (and particularly entrepreneurs with early stage companies) a framework for developing their overall business strategies in a world that is morphing faster than we can understand it. The concepts are rock solid, the 21st century examples to which they are applied are brilliant, and the result is a gem of a book that has the potential to reframe the entire discussion of success factors in business.
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