Reality Check

Reality Check is a business & career guidebook for leveraging competitive gaming strategy, using chess as a model, in order to meaningfully obtain goals within the established institutional and corporate landscapes. It offers an intimate insight into the thought process of a chess master, and converts that thought process into a framework for success.

Recognizing that mastering a game has many parallels to mastering goal-oriented aspects of our lives - such as university admissions and career choices - Reality Check draws on dynamic competitive strategy as explained by an international female chess master who is also a corporate lawyer. It also draws on lessons from philosophy and cognitive psychology, and the author's personal experiences as an immigrant navigating the American institutional system.

The over-arching theme of Reality Check is awareness of our role in a given community or "world." The chapters focus on strategies for selecting a fulfilling community, and thriving in it by eliminating mental impediments as they appear in different stages of our lives - childhood influences, the junction at which we choose a career, and decision-making - in order to optimize our present goals. The book provides validation for alternative views, while at the same time offering concrete advice on how to succeed within a chosen path.

Without the typical "dumbing down" of self-help books, Reality Check introduces a sophisticated discussion of high-level existential questions, paired with concrete, strategic advice. The first section presents the importance of the competitive mindset and which factors, unbeknownst until reflected upon, inhibit adopting the mindset. The next chapters present examples of social conventions or habits - that if not dealt with - could reinforce poor decision-making. This section also features a candid discussion, without alienating the male audience, of the inherent conventions and biases holding women back from ultimate success in male-dominated fields, and of course, strategies for persevering.

The last chapters highlight the ultimate opponent - ourselves. It explores internal emotions that may inhibit the optimal execution of strategy even after all information is accessed and refined. These final strategic chapters offer practical tips for implementing broad-based gaming strategy in various social and professional contexts.


"I didn't know what to expect when I first opened this remarkable book. I soon found out that I had entered the realm of an innovative thinker. While playing off the elements of chess in a way anyone could understand, Alisa Melekhina limns higher principles applying to business, science, art, and life itself. I read it one time to explore, a second time to understand, and a third time to learn and think some more. It's that kind of book."

- Bruce Pandolfini, World-Renowned Chess Teacher and Author, author of Every Move Must Have a Purpose: Strategies from Chess for Business and Life

"Drawing on her unique perspective as someone who has achieved an objective level of "mastery" in more than one field, Alisa Melekhina has produced an important expose of the absurdity of many of the "moves" that we make and the cultural/societal and cognitive biases that all people - "players" - are subject to. Chess players and non-chess players alike will benefit from her thought-provoking insights and be able to raise their playing level in the ultimate game - life itself - if they really reflect upon her thoughts and change their strategy accordingly"

- Martin C. Glass, Corporate Partner at Jenner & Block LLP

"Alisa's debut book serves as much more than a guide on how to solve efficiently and effectively problems across the various spectra of business, life, and, of course, chess; for me, it served as a reminder of the interconnected nature of earnest pursuits. I honestly can't remember the last time I read a book so densely interspersed with nuggets of timeless wisdom. A must-read for those on the journey of success-oriented life"

- Schuster Tanger, Managing Member of Lucus Advisors LLC

"Alisa's insight into what it takes to succeed at an early age will be interesting to educators, parents as well as ambitious kids themselves. Her precocious and simultaneous success in chess, academics and entrepreneurship should be especially inspiring to young people and women."

- WGM Jennifer Shahade, 2-time U.S. Women's Chess Champion, top female poker player, author of Chess Bitch

"Can the ancient game of chess help you understand the modern world? In this amazing book, Alisa Melekhina shows that it can, using her mastery of the game of kings to develop insights about the game of life."

- Kermit Roosevelt III, Constitutional Law Professor at University of Pennsylvania Law School, author of Allegiance

"With Reality Check, Alisa Melekhina brings to light the Socratic statement, 'the unexamined life is not worth living'. Like speakers of every generation, she presents the uniqueness of her millennial cohort by offering the rigor of intellectual analysis to the varied and seemingly disparate aspects of modern life. At that, she never neglects the context and conditions from which these events arise. In doing so, Alisa offers us all an examined life, a life worth living."

- Thomas E. Clark, MFT, Psychotherapist