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Gambit (Nero Wolfe #37)

4.09  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,388 Ratings  ·  67 Reviews
Jerin was a mental freak—one of those eerily brilliant geniuses who could play a dozen games of chess at once and win every one of them. Blount was a millionaire fanatic with a fiendishly ingenious plan for beating Jerin at his favorite pastime. It was up to Nero Wolfe and Archie to prove that Blount’s plan hadn’t included murder… (Publisher’s description)
Mass Market Paperback, 155 pages
Published August 1973 by Bantam Books (first published 1962)
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Apr 13, 2015 Evgeny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Review updated on 4/13/2015.

The book is not about this Gambit:
Gambit of the X-Men
It is about this type of gambit:
Gambit in Chess
Just for fun do an image search for the term and see which one would come up first (hint: the X-Men character).

A murder happened right in the plain view of a lot of people: a chess master is killed in the middle of his simultaneous play with twelve members of an exclusive club. A man is arrested, he is the only person who was able to commit the crime - it was physically impossible for everybody else.
Bill  Kerwin
Mar 11, 2015 Bill Kerwin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

A chess whiz is fatally poisoned during a blindfold match and the club member who brought him the pot of hot chocolate is arrested and charged with murder. His daughter hires Wolfe to clear her father, and soon we are absorbed in another fine Rex Stout mystery.

Fans of the series take note: this is the novel that opens with the not-to-be-missed scene of Wolfe burning Webster's Third International Dictionary a page at a time.
GAMBIT. (1962). Rex Stout. ***.
A murder occurs at a prestigious chess club in the city. Only well-to-do men are allowed to participate in membership. When it is arranged for a chess maven to visit as a guest and to challenge twelve members simultaneously an unexpected event occurs: the visiting chess master suddenly falls over during play, clutching his throat, and dies. It is later determined that he died of arsenic poisoning. The police determine that the arsenic was somehow introduced into hi
This was a fun Nero Wolfe mystery. As far as I am concerned they are all fun. My favorite ones are the titles that were written in the 1930's and 1940's. They give a good picture of the New York city of a bygone era, a time when men all wore hats, and you could get a spaghetti dinner at an Italian restaurant for $1.60.
This one was published In 1962.

The premise: a man (Paul Jerin) alone in a room, playing 12 games of chess with the boards and players in another room. Paul Jerin is drinking hot c
Richard Hemingway
Nero Wolfe, “the grand master of detection” will always solve the unsolvable. But before he does his loyal legman – Archie Goodwin – will do all the hard work and take all the chances. He also must convince Mr. Wolfe to take the case and convince all the suspects that they have to go to Mr. Wolfe’s townhouse for questions from the great detective. In-between expect to find out about Mr. Wolfe’s Manhattan townhouse complete with five star cook, Gardenias that Mr. Wolfe is obsessed with and the b ...more
Aug 09, 2015 Syrdarya rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, new-york
Nero Wolfe is hired by Sarah "Sally" Blount to find out who really murdered a chess player. Her father is currently in jail, accused of the crime.

I found this book to be really dry. We listened to an audiobook of it, and I think it would be preferable in print form, because some of the conversations were meant to be quick-paced; something not desirable in an audiobook which must be read much more slowly, and then the conversations drag on for too long. I had a difficult time keeping any of the
Tedde Bear
Dec 21, 2013 Tedde Bear rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rex Stout did not write classic, Ellery Queen-type "whodunits" - his mystery plotting was often pedestrian. We visit West Thirty-fifth Street not for intricate plotting, but to visit a wonderful mise en scene for homicides to be resolved (a place up there with the Quai des Orfevres of Simenon's Maigret).

I could say something that would be a spoiler - but I won't.

Just trust me, the atmosphere of Nero Wolfe's brownstone, the chivalrous conduct of sharp-witted man-of-action Archie Goodwin, the infu
Apr 27, 2015 Susan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-new-york
Sally Blount wants to hire Nero Wolfe to free her father, in jail on a murder charge. While several people had the opportunity to kill chess prodigy Paul Jerin, but he's the only one with even a trace of a motive. Blount is confident, however; he has a piece of information, shared with only one other person, which he's sure will clear him. But what if the other person is murdered, too? Archie is neck-and-neck with Wolfe when it comes to identifying the murderer, but only Wolfe can figure out a w ...more
Listening, perhaps even more than reading Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe books, can be a lesson in vocabulary. It happens that the intro of this story involves Wolfe actually burning a dictionary that offended displeased him - Archie comments that Wolfe knew he was going to burn it, since he didn't buy the leather-bound edition. But as I listen, I am struck by the precision of some of Rex Stout's word choices, ones I expect involved a lot of strike-outs similar to mine in this paragraph, which was done ...more
The Gambit Club is an exclusive New York establishment for men interested in the strategic board game. Paul Jerin, a non-member, chess expert, is invited to take on twelve members of the club in simultaneous "blind-fold" games. In other words, he will sit in a room separate from all the players--with no boards in front of him--and relay his moves through messengers to the players in a central room. During the course of the evening, Jerin is served hot chocolate--his drink of choice--and becomes ...more
Brenda Mengeling
Jan 03, 2012 Brenda Mengeling rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, fiction, ebook, 48
The Nero Wolfe mysteries by Rex Stout are some of my all time favorites, and Gambit is a good one. The story opens with Wolfe trying to get out of an appointment for a job because he is busy burning, page by page, the new, third edition of Webster's New International Dictionary, Unabridged. It is subversive. But since his appointment, Miss Sally Blount, agrees with Wolfe that "infer" and "imply" may not be used interchangeably, he agrees to take her case (she also refers to him as a wizard who c ...more
Carl Alves
Gambit is the first Nero Wolfe mystery that I've read. The thing that I found most interesting about it were the characters. Nero Wolfe is every bit the enigmatic genius that he is purported to be. It was hard to imagine a private detective who never leaves his house, and has another detective who does all of his leg work, but Wolfe manages to make it work. I also enjoyed the character of Cramer, who comes off as the cool, tough guy. He's a bit more stereotypical than Wolfe, but he is still well ...more
Adam Graham
Dec 05, 2011 Adam Graham rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A prominent citizen is accused of murdering one of his daughter's suitors by poisoning his drink while he's engaged in a blindfolded chess match with 12 different chess players. Wolfe is hired by the daughter of the accused who believes that her father's lawyer is up to no good due to being in love with her mother. The lawyer opposes hiring Wolfe which means Wolfe must free his client's father without his cooperation.

The language of Chess figures prominently in the story. Indeed, the title of th
Marilyn Maya
This is a hard review to write because I loved the characters of the book and the writing and even the mystery is a well plotted on yet I can't give it more stars because of the old fashioned and even contemptible idea of women.
I was born in 1962 but was too young to realize that women were not expected to be able to handle money their husband leaves them or work in any meaningful way and worse are judged solely by how good looking and witchy they are with men.
Yes, Nero Wolfe hates women but t
In the early 2000s there was a show on A&E called A Nero Wolfe Mystery (or sometimes just, Nero Wolfe) starring Maury Chaykin and Timothy Hutton. I was a loyal watcher of the show, not only for the acting and writing, but also because of the general look of the show. The costumes and sets were amazing. The show also had an usual set up in that while the main characters and the actors playing them stayed the same from week to week, the rest of the cast played a different character each week d ...more
Feb 11, 2015 Debbie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery, historical
"Gambit" is a mystery set in 1962 in New York. This is a clue-based puzzle mystery, and Archie actually puts the puzzle together before Wolfe. I figured whodunit and how out at the same time as Archie (and he doesn't reveal the name until he and Wolfe discuss the latest clue). Then it's up to Wolfe to devise a clever trap as there's no way to legally prove whodunit. As always, Archie's humorous view of events is fun to read.

There was no sex. These was a fair amount of bad language. Overall, I'd
Jul 30, 2015 Adi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought that the first novel about Nero Wolfe, which I read (The Doorbell Rang), was really weird, because the detective didn't even go out of his house. His assistant, Archie Goodwin, was the one, who visited the crime scenes and looked for clues. Having said that, I got used to Wolfe's way of work, and I found this second novel amazing. I loved how the mystery was unfolded, and how both of them reached their final conclusion. It kept me guessing until the very end.
David Miller
May 31, 2015 David Miller rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A first-rate effort - a nice twist on a locked-room mystery. When a man is poisoned in such a way that only one person could have poisoned him - can that man be innocent? As always it's interesting to see how society has changed; the first Nero Wolfe mystery was written 25 years before this one. Archie doesn't talk about going out on the town dancing any more; almost a decade of TV (this book is from 1962) has already changed how people interact.
Feb 14, 2014 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Positive her father is innocent of murdering one of his associates at a chess club, a young manhattan socialite engages Nero Wolfe to prove his innocence. But why does her mother wish her to fire Wolfe? And her father's attorney wish the same? And virtually ALL of her father's associates? and … even her father? Another fun whodunnit with all of the flummery and lip-exorcises one expects from Stout's private detective team of Wolfe and Goodwin.
Steven Vaughan-Nichols
This, unlike the other mystery I just read, is as familiar as an old, comfortable pair of boots. This is one of the better, dark Nero Wolfe mysteries. Chess is the motif, but the real core of the story is solving a mystery where, at both first glance there appears to be no mystery at all. Nero moans about that Archie should have stopped him from taking this impossible assignment, but we, the readers, can all be glad that he didn't.
Norbert Barth
Oct 24, 2015 Norbert Barth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first aim was to read the most important books related to chess. Gambit is a method in chess, where one player sacrifice a pawn to gain other advantages. In this novel one chessplayer is murdered, but who poisoned the player and why. At the beginning the motives are not that obvious.The criminal story is well constructed and the dialogues are realistic.
James Saunders
Jan 18, 2015 James Saunders rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

A splendid book. I read a review that compared one of Rex Stout's techniques to P. G. Storehouse. Both create complete worlds of their own and invite you in. The world's remain intact throughout his books. Res Stout is a superb author and I have enjoyed every book he has so far written.
Dec 29, 2015 Michael rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: detective, audio, 1960s
Sometimes I think I oughta go back and dock every Nero Wolfe a star. They're generally entertaining, but there's no denying that they have more than a whiff of hackwork about them, and that they are in a lot of ways the same damn story fifty times. Like most of 'em, this one is emphatically pretty good.
Aug 07, 2012 Ed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
#36 of the Nero Wolfe series. The story opens with Wolfe in the front room burning Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, 3rd Edition because, among other atrocities, it says that "infer" and "imply" may be used interchangeably. In typical byplay with Archie Goodwin, Wolfe asks if the buckram covers will burn. Archie replies that they will and accuses Wolfe of knowing when he bought the dictionary that he was going to burn it, or he would have purchased the leather binding.

Nero Wolfe series - A chess
Feb 24, 2015 Jen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Quite good. One of my favorite Nero Wolfe novels because of how on-fire Archie's narration was. For once I actually anticipated how the crime was done--even before Wolfe had an inkling!
Jul 31, 2013 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An enjoyable locked-room mystery that takes a couple ingenious turns. The setup itself is a bit on the contrived side and the characters somewhat on the cardboard side: this is a puzzle book, not a character or ensemble book, at heart. Still, it's very clever and the puzzle itself works well (even if the solution is a tad flimsy, in my opinion).

It has one of the funniest openings of a Wolfe book -- Wolfe seated in front of an open fire (despite the stultifying effects on the intellect) tearing p
Aug 09, 2015 Tiina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nero Wolfe demonstrates his genius in a very cool way. I would have given five stars, but I'd read this before and remembered too much of the plot. Highly recommended!
Nan Silvernail
Apr 20, 2012 Nan Silvernail rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Paul Jerin, Chess Master planned to show up 12 foes simultaneously at "blindfold" chess - meaning he would have to keep 12 games in his head at once. He was sequestered in the library of The Gambit Club with runners to carry news of the moves back and forth and a fortifying pot of hot chocolate. But there was a 13th game that he lost - with Death, for in the middle of this amazing feat, he was poisoned. The daughter of the man accused comes to Nero Wolfe. It looks hopeless. The police have it al ...more
Steve Freeman
Feb 02, 2016 Steve Freeman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
This was a complicated scenario with a twist that showed they were wrong and pointed to the solution, but Wolfe had no evidence to support his knowledge.
Dec 27, 2009 Sun rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookaweek2009
One should never play chess blindfolded against 12 men and drink hot chocolate at the same time. Paul Jerin did and died from arsenic poisoning. The police arrest Matthew Blount, president of a textiles corporation. Bount's daughter Sally hires Nero Wolfe to prove her father's innocence.

This is one of those cases where it's impossible to prove anything but Wolfe takes a good stab at the probabilities. Interesting snippets are: the figure of Mrs Blount, a recipe for skewered kidneys, and the boo
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Rex Todhunter Stout (December 1, 1886 – October 27, 1975) was an American crime writer, best known as the creator of the larger-than-life fictional detective Nero Wolfe, described by reviewer Will Cuppy as "that Falstaff of detectives." Wolfe's assistant Archie Goodwin recorded the cases of the detective genius from 1934 (Fer-de-Lance) to 1975 (A Family Affair).

The Nero Wolfe corpus was nominated
More about Rex Stout...

Other Books in the Series

Nero Wolfe (1 - 10 of 47 books)
  • Fer-de-Lance (Nero Wolfe, #1)
  • The League of Frightened Men (Nero Wolfe, #2)
  • The Rubber Band (Nero Wolfe, #3)
  • The Red Box (Nero Wolfe, #4)
  • Too Many Cooks (Nero Wolfe, #5)
  • Some Buried Caesar (Nero Wolfe, #6)
  • Over My Dead Body (Nero Wolfe, #7)
  • Where There's a Will (Nero Wolfe, #8)
  • Black Orchids (Nero Wolfe, #9)
  • Not Quite Dead Enough (Nero Wolfe, #10)

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