Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Schachnovelle” as Want to Read:
Blank 133x176
Stefan Zweig
Rate this book
Clear rating


4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  13,971 ratings  ·  739 reviews
Le narrateur, un Autrichien en partance pour l’Argentine, est informé de la présence à bord du champion mondial des échecs, Mirko Czentovic. Comme il est un homme intelligent et passionné par la psychologie, il se met en tête de comprendre ce curieux personnage qu'est Czentovic.
Paperback, 200 pages
Published October 2nd 1986 by Routledge (first published 1942)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Feb 20, 2013 s.penkevich rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to s.penkevich by: The review titled 'If suicidal, don't read this'
The more one limits oneself, the closer one is to the infinite; these people, as unworldly as they seem, burrow like termites into their own particular material to construct, in miniature, a strange and utterly individual image of the world.

Chess, the ‘Royal Game’, ‘regally eschews the tyranny of chance and awards its palms of victory only to the intellect, or rather to a certain type of intellectual gift.’ Stefan Zweig plunges the reader into this cold, calculating world through a simple prem
Jun 10, 2014 Cheryl rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of interpretive fiction
Zweig's final words to his faithful readers tells the story of a chess game played aboard an oceanliner to Brazil between the World Champion and his unlikely opponent who hasn't played the game in decades.

Or, is the author describing what his life has been like since 1933 when Hitler came to power? Does the Royal Game played out in this 84 page layered novella reveal what it has meant to Europeans to lose their freedoms, rights and privileges under the iron fist of a brutal dictator?

Zweig's sub
Steve Sckenda
Chess may be the royal game, but some play it with soul force while others play it with plodding brutality. Chess can be a game “that fortifies the spirit.” Sixty-four black and white squares are home to 32 pieces with different powers and abilities. Chess may be limited to rules within a fixed geometric boundary, but the game yields unlimited permutations, and it rewards the imaginative. It is not a game for the faint of heart.

Dr. B plays chess with his soul. Who is this stranger? Where did th

This book is about the workings of the mind.

But before I go into that, let me start by saying that to me the name of Stefan Zweig evokes a feeling of nostalgia. Of course, this is foremost due to the title of his famous memoirs, and because we know that he belonged to a world that was disappearing. And probably because he realized this he decided to depart from it.

But for me it creates an additional longing. It makes me yearn for a world in which I did not yet exist, a world that followed Zweig’
e4 e5 2. Nf3 d6

An interesting short story that it's one of the most famous works by the writer Stefan Zweig that even sadly was published after his suicide.

d4 Bg4

When a story is presented in another language, some elements are lost in the translation, and I think that while Chess Story is a pretty good title, its original title was "The Royal Game" that I think it gives to the story an air of refinement, class and elegance.

dxe5 Bxf3

Besides my interest to try this author, I was intrigued ab

If you want to experience the wonders of a powerful novella without compromising much on time front but at the same instant ready for a deep emotional involvement which would accelerate your heartbeat, if not at a fatal but abnormal rate then Chess Story is for you. A gripping work of fiction with unique characters and an impeccable narration that would not only make the fascination about the game of chess come alive but also convey the dynamics of human mind during the most testing times which
...nothing on earth exerts such pressure on the human soul as a void. (19)


Black. White. Which is it? Which one is our nature? We can be good, we can be cruel. We praise ourselves saying being human entails being good. We have daily proofs that is not necessary the case. If we are meant to be good and we are not, our mind have lost the battle against a deviation. Or against our true nature.
Now that is a depressing thought.

I had this book on my to-read shelf for months. And I wasn't going to re
The chessplayer and the non-chessplayer will read this classic novella in different ways. The non-chessplayer sees it as a tragedy where the noble but unworldly Dr. B is defeated by the oafish but practical Czentovic. Chess is used to symbolize the pure world of the mind, where Dr. B should triumph due to his superior intellectual powers, but discovers that his opponent's ruthlessness and greed are stronger. Czentovic cannot win fairly, but is perfectly happy to cheat.

The chessplayer would like
Yet how difficult, how impossible it is to imagine the life of an intellectually active person who reduces the world to a shuttle between black and white, who seeks fulfillment in a mere to-and-fro, forward-and-back of thirty-two pieces, someone for whom a new opening that allows the knight to be advanced instead of the pawn is in itself a great accomplished and a meager little piece of immortality in a corner of a chess book— someone, someone with a brain in his head, who, without going mad, c

I always considered chess the most boring game in the world . Two people sitting opposite each other, and between them chessboard with these funny figures that players move after few minutes cogitation . It seemed as exciting as snail racing .

Apparently I was wrong . Chess Story centres around two extraordinary men , being opposites in every term , personality , background , approaching to life . A chance meeting on an ocean liner gives them possibility to chess duel . It’s a great psychologi
If I didn’t have some weird neurotic rule against short stories and novellas qualifying for space on my “thrill me chill me fulfill me” shelf, this book would have totally gotten five stars from me. It really is that good.

Last week I saw The Grand Budapest Hotel and even though I was majorly disappointed, there was a blurb at the end about how the movie was based on the writings of Stefan Zweig, whom I had heard of but didn’t know a great deal about. Then someone (I forget who) told me that Wes
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 3.5* of five

The Publisher Says: Chess Story, also known as The Royal Game, is the Austrian master Stefan Zweig's final achievement, completed in Brazilian exile and sent off to his American publisher only days before his suicide in 1942. It is the only story in which Zweig looks at Nazism, and he does so with characteristic emphasis on the psychological.

Travelers by ship from New York to Buenos Aires find that on board with them is the world champion of chess, an arrogant and unfriendly
May 04, 2014 Dolors rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those containing Black and White
Recommended to Dolors by: Garima
A chessboard with sixty-four squares hidden in the folds of a checkered pattern bedspread represents much more than a mere pastime in Zweig’s short novella.
The dichotomy of black and white pieces of divided consciousness locked inside a man struggling to keep sanity over mental torture.
Chess moves, chess problems, imaginary games played in frenzied compulsion, both ruin and salvation of someone who has been deprived of the warmth of humanity, become the only means of creating meaning out of th
Barring time constraints (which I don't have at the moment), I would've written this review before now. Something is holding me back, most likely the brilliant reviews my GR friends have already written about this brilliant novella, which by its end brought to my mind a perfect example of the form, Bartleby, the Scrivener.

I don't know how to play chess, so I'm sure I missed some analogies, especially political ones with the references to the royal game. But, for me, not only the physical but the
I never won a single chess match against my father. He was kind like that, subtly teaching a victory unearned is a success undeserved. No truer words could have been said nor as easily forgotten, for after all those years, whether by natural imprint of innumerable defeats that leaves a sad ennui on the human soul or by my inherent lackadaisical treatment of this royal game of chess, with its defined sixty-four squares faithfully clinging to white and black, black and white, bored me, until now. ...more
Coming to Zweig by way of chums Proustitute and Jacob (thank you!) is one of the so many reasons why I love Goodreads. It's possible that I would have come across Zweig at some point in the future, but it's so much better to read him now. Delayed gratification in the world of the written word is a premise I prefer to leave unexplored.

Knowing that this novella was written during the last years of Zweig's life only make the austere, humanistic style of writing more profound. In 1942, Zweig and his
A flowing, engaging, gripping, hefty, accessible, masterful novella. Effortless/seamless old-timey Austrian structure: a narrator tells a story that includes someone's third-person account about one major character and a longish first-person account by another major character. The two chess players are well drawn and absolutely differentiated: one's a stoic idiot-savant peasant, the other's an anxious intellectual from a highly regarded Viennese family. Really worth spending the hour or so it ta ...more
There are battles being fought; and yet to be fought. There is the battle for the human soul. To know who I am. And then there are other people. The battle there is over simple understanding. I have witnessed retreat. Go away. Go away. In isolation I have studied the possible moves. Some win; some lose. Sometimes a draw. And then I think I'm ready to play again. Even knowing how it always ends.

So they placed the board on the table. And fitted the figures, black and white. And Stefan Zweig sat do
Mar 26, 2015 FeReSHte rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: strongly to all
Shelves: german, lovely
همه چیز این اثر محشر بود...کم حجم و قوی
داستانش بسیار جالب و بدیع بود
بسیار بسیار زیاد دوستش داشتم و از خواندش لذت بردم! بلی

شخصیت پردازی ها عالی بودند هر چند شخصیت دکتر ب بسیار کارشده تر به نظر می اومد.بدون شک تسوایک، نویسنده ی این اثر هم طرفدار همان گروهیست که دکتر ب سمبلشون در نظر گرفته شده: اشرافی و وابسته به اطریش امپراطوری و باشخصیت و باسواد و بافرهنگ و خلاصه همه چیز تمام!!!

از بس که توصیفات ریزبینانه و ملموس بود،احتمالن بنده نیز به اندازه ی دکتر ب از دوره ی سلول انفرادیش رنج کشیدم و تا مرز ج
For, it is well known, nothing on earth puts more pressure on the human mind than nothing.

This is the first of Zweig's works that I have read (definitely not the last). When I read the sentence above I began to wonder if it could have added meaning outside this text, in his own life. Perhaps Zweig felt, in light of all that he had lost in Europe and the ongoing war, that his life had become a nothing-ness and this became too much pressure for his mind. How sad for the world.

Wonderful writing sty
Andrew Smith
I cant remember who taught me to play chess, but I learnt quite young. I use the word ‘play’ in the loosest sense; I knew the rules and enjoyed playing but at no stage did I ever absorb the subtleties of the game. When I played there was no recognisable opening, no middle game strategy and the end game was usually a wild chase around the board with both players holding just a few pieces.

Sixty-four squares on an eight by eight grid, sixteen pieces for each player and the possibility of a win, los
Chess Story (also known as The Royal Game is Stefan Zweig's final novella, published posthumously in 1942. Zweig took his own life because of Hitler's rise to power and annexation of his native Austria, and his last work can be seen as a poignant farewell both to his lost country and the world of yesterday.

Chess Story uses Zweig's favorite frame technique - his first person narrator is an unnamed man aboard the steamship from Buenos Aires to New York, reflecting Zweig's own personal journey. But
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
Mirko Czentovic, at age 20, is the world chess champion. He had humble beginnings, an orphan who was cared for by a priest after his impoverished father, a boatman, died in an accident. At an early age he had shown signs of stupidity. He failed at school, couldn't write sentences in any language without committing mistakes and spoke very little. Then, by accident, his talent for chess was discovered.

Even when he was already world champion his character remained the same. He was still the same "c
Adrift at sea on a ship to South America, a brutal idiot savant and an aristocratic but battered intellectual match wits on the chess board. Dr. B.'s chess ability was refined in secret while he was held in isolation in the Hotel Metropole in Vienna, which actually was the site of a Grand Hotel turned into a prison with high profile inmates such as Louis Rothschild. The chess game brings to mind Naphta dueling the humanist Settembrini in Mann's Doctor Faustus. Zweig had watched helplessly as Naz ...more
"Wanting to play chess against yourself is a paradox, like jumping over your own shadow."

But what fun is life if words like manic, insanity, paradox and contradiction are not put to test once in a while? Even at the cost of years of discipline and rationality?

Stefen Zweig surely put his own constructs up the wall when he created this ingenious piece of art. Yes, it was pure art; outrightly splendid form of art that overwhelms the realms of conventional thinking and forces the mind to stretch its
Oct 06, 2014 Pablo rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who have ever thought going to jail probably wouldn't be that bad if one could still read.
A brilliant short story of what the mind is capable of and what its cognitive potential is, of what it can do when its only outlet is itself, from the complexities of the game of Chess to the silly roll of a water drop.

So I had something new and different to look at, something different at last for my starved eyes, which clutched greedily at every detail. I observed every fold of those coats, I noticed, for instance, a drop of water dangling from one of the wet collars, and absurd as it may sou
Dhanaraj Rajan
Two ways to read this book:

1. A normal story with an interesting plot - the world champion in chess is challenged by an 'amateur' and what happens next is told with some interesting psychological insights and embellished all the more with some revealing reflections on the game, Chess itself. The world champion is arrogant and the other is presented as one among the normal people. And so as a reader one becomes immediately attached to the amateur and as the novella progresses the reader also long
Perhaps the best chess story ever written, perhaps the best about any game. Never mind that you may never have moved a pawn to king four; the story will grip you. Zweig’s ability to carry the reader along through summarized lives, long monologues and stories within stories is remarkable, and it becomes an urgent, passionate read. There are highly immersive scenes of solitary imprisonment brimming with a psychological richness which leaks all the way through the story to its pleasing, disturbing ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
با این که بیش از چهل سال از خواندن این داستان میگذرد هر بار ببینم کسی شطرنج گسترده یاد داستان آقای ب میافتم و این داستان، به نظرم شاهکاریست خواندنی
The love fest that has been heaped on this novella makes it almost a crime to not have swooned in delirious ecstasy at its confrontation of Evil vs Good. But I just walked away from it feeling really ambivalent.

First of all, it’s a one idea story. It’s like those pulp stories from the Golden Age of Science Fiction. You don’t need character, you don’t need plot, you just hang it all on one really good idea. And if it’s a really POW! idea, like Nightfall, it works. This idea, not so POW!

Second o
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
NYRB Classics: Chess Story, by Stefan Zweig 1 19 Oct 19, 2013 11:09AM  
  • Fräulein Else
  • Jakob von Gunten
  • Der Richter und sein Henker
  • Fabian. Die Geschichte eines Moralisten
  • Jugend ohne Gott
  • The Lord Chandos Letter: And Other Writings
  • Job
  • Death In Rome
  • A Sorrow Beyond Dreams
  • Draußen vor der Tür
  • Homo Faber
  • Transit
  • The German Lesson
  • Concrete
  • Irretrievable
  • Der Untertan (Das Kaiserreich, #1)
  • Soul of Wood
  • The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum
Stefan Zweig was one of the world's most famous writers during the 1920s and 1930s, especially in the U.S., South America and Europe. He produced novels, plays, biographies and journalist pieces. Among his most famous works are Beware of Pity, Letter from and Unknown Woman and Mary, Queen of Scotland and the Isles. He and his second wife committed suicide in 1942.

Zweig studied in Austria, France,
More about Stefan Zweig...
Beware of Pity The World of Yesterday Amok and Other Stories The Post-Office Girl Vingt-quatre heures de la vie d'une femme

Share This Book

“In chess, as a purely intellectual game, where randomness is excluded, - for someone to play against himself is absurd ...
It is as paradoxical, as attempting to jump over his own shadow.”
“Besides, isn't it confoundedly easy to think you're a great man if you aren't burdened with the slightest idea that Rembrandt, Beethoven, Dante or Napoleon ever lived?” 40 likes
More quotes…