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Chess Story

4.24  ·  Rating Details  ·  21,063 Ratings  ·  1,177 Reviews
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 fin
Paperback, 104 pages
Published December 9th 2005 by NYRB Classics (first published 1941)
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Best German/Austrian Literature
30th out of 609 books — 761 voters
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New York Review Books - Classics
2nd out of 423 books — 510 voters

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Dec 16, 2015 Alejandro rated it really liked it
Recommended to Alejandro by: Florencia
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
Feb 20, 2013 s.penkevich rated it really liked it
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
Glenn Russell
Aug 22, 2015 Glenn Russell rated it it was amazing

I detect strong parallels between reading a novel and the game of chess: there is the author sitting on one side, playing white, the reader on the other side, playing black; instead of the chess board and chess pieces there is the novel; the author’s opening chapter is the chess player’s opening, the middle of the novel is, of course, the middle game, and the closing chapter is the end game. If both author and reader expand their literary horizons and deepen their appreciation of lif

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’
Mar 28, 2016 Afshar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Afshar by: Shayan
بعضی وقت ها تک تک خط های کتابی را درک می کنیم ولی دریغ از فهمیدن خط اصلی کتاب
یعنی آن چیزی که نویسنده را واداشته تا چنین کتابی را بنویسد
چیزی که می خواهد به ما بگوید
نمی توانستم باور کنم که کسی بتواند تمام وجود و روح و روانش را در دایره ی این بازی محدود کند


اینجاست که باید بری سراغ نویسنده و اوضاع اجتماعی و دنیایی که او در آن زندگی کرده است
مخصوصا چنین کتابی که روز بعد از اتمام آن، استیفن تسوایگ و لوته(همسرش) محلول کشنده ورونال را سر کشیدند


کتاب شطرنج را در کشوی میزکارش پیدا کردند و سال بعد در استکهل
Jun 25, 2014 Garima rated it it was amazing

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
Feb 03, 2016 Γκέλλυ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, classics, 2016
Έχω χρησιμοποιήσει ελάχιστες φορές την λέξη Αριστούργημα για ένα βιβλίο, σήμερα θα ήθελα να μου επιτραπεί να την χρησιμοποιήσω. Η «Σκακιστική νουβέλα» ήταν Αριστούργημα.

Στο πλοίο, με δρομολόγιο από τη Νέα Υόρκη στο Ρίο και το Μπουένος Άιρες, ο δρ. Μπ. αντιμετωπίζει σε μια παρτίδα σκακιού τον παγκόσμιο πρωταθλητή Τσέντοβιτς. Ο δρ. Μπ. έχει ήδη υποστεί από τους ναζί φυλάκιση σ' ένα εντελώς άδειο δωμάτιο ξενοδοχείου, χωρίς τίποτα να μπορεί ν' απασχολήσει το μυαλό του, μέχρι που ανακαλύπτει ένα βιβ
Apr 22, 2014 Manny rated it liked it
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
May 21, 2014 Agnieszka rated it it was amazing

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
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
Apr 06, 2014 Jason rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-kindle, reviewed, 2014
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
Rinda Elwakil
Jan 11, 2016 Rinda Elwakil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pdf_ebub_tablet
و إن لم تكن قد قرأت لاعب الشطرنج لستيفن زفايج، فأنا أنصحك أن تقرأ لاعب الشطرنج لستيفن زفايج.
May 04, 2014 Dolors rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those containing Black and White
Recommended to Dolors by: Garima
Shelves: read-in-2014
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
Jun 07, 2016 Cody rated it really liked it
Shelves: nyrb
A dark but enjoyable story about the human spirit’s restlessness, the dangers of obsession and the easy allure of arrogance. On a macro scale, “Chess Story” also attacks Nazi socialism and the futility of trying to take away liberty. At least, that’s what I got out of it. It’s such a short read, and the writing is so straight forward, that maybe I’m just grasping at straws trying to take something out of this. The author submitted this novella just days before his suicide, so I’m sure he wanted ...more
Richard Derus
Apr 30, 2013 Richard Derus rated it liked it
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 14, 2016 tyranus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
* Yapıt, gerilim dozu yüksek bir dramdır aslında. Hikayenin kahramanı olan Dr.B., naziler tarafından günlerce tecride terkedilir. Hiçbir fiziki ve sözlü şiddete maruz kalmaz; ne filistin askısına çekilir, ne kafası içi su dolu kovaya batırılır, ne de bedenine elektrik verilir. Bunların yerine daha etkili bir yöntem geliştirmişlerdir; psikoloijk işkence. Mahkum, sorgulamalar bitene kadar aylarca boş bir odada yaşamaya zorlanır. "Ne var ki bunda" demeyin. Dikkatinizi dağıtacak en ufak bir cisim, ...more
Apr 25, 2014 Teresa rated it really liked it
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
Nov 04, 2015 Seemita rated it it was amazing
"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
Jun 09, 2014 Jareed rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Jareed by: Kalliope
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
Jul 07, 2012 Lee rated it it was amazing
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
Και αν ο Φρουντ εγραφε λογοτεχνια ?? Καπως ετσι θα εμοιαζε αυτη του η αποπειρα. Ο Zweig ευσυνοπτα, πυρετικα και με ευστοχη και γλαφυρη παρατηρητικοτητα μας παρασυρει σε μια αεναη στο χρονο παλη με τον εαυτο μας. Το μοτιβο του σκακιου λειτουργει μονο ως προφαση για να εξερευνησει την μονομανια, την προσπαθεια του ατομου να πιαστουν οι σκεψεις του σε ενα αγκυροβολι, για να μην κανουν ανουσιους κυκλους.
Η αωνια παλη απεναντι στη μοναξια που μας παγιδευει στο απειρο του χρονου και του χωρου, ακομα κ
Dec 27, 2014 Tony rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 21, 2014 Brian rated it it was amazing
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
Chara_ MimL
Jun 14, 2016 Chara_ MimL rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-love
Sweet mother of Jesus, what a masterpiece. There is no way i can possibly describe how masterfully this book is given to us. It's about chess and the human ability to survive and endure pretty much anything, it's about greatness and it's about madness. Stefan Zweig achieved in a grand way to write this story about a battle between a highly spiritual, a highly intelligent, troubled human and a disarmingly, completely uneducated and only logical thinking person. This book is amazing. Definitely gi ...more
Maria Thomarey
May 06, 2016 Maria Thomarey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: readathon2016
Μονο αγάπη και αστέρια για τον Τσβαιχ ..... Έχω την υποψία πως ο Γερμανός μέγας συγγραφέας που επικαλείται ο Μπολανιο στο 2666, ο ήρωας του τροπο τινά είναι ο Τσβαιχ
Apr 26, 2014 Sue rated it really liked it
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
Jan 11, 2015 Maciek rated it really liked it
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
Nov 06, 2015 Chris_P rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-star-diamonds
I have to go with the public opinion here. "Chess Story" is an amazing short story which, in about 120 pages, says it all. After I finished it, I caught myself looking at the book, thinking "how can it be that such a small object can have such great power?" I mean, it's just a bundle of pages filled with words formed by letters, and yet it has the power to move you, shake you, make you wonder, make you think. "Doesn't this apply to a whole lot of books", one may ask. Sure, but only a few can stu ...more
May 17, 2016 Τζο rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Η σκακιστική νουβέλα ήταν το τελευταίο διήγημα του συγγραφέα και εκδόθηκε μετά την αυτοκτονία του. Είναι το πρώτο δικό του βιβλίο που διαβάζω και με κέρδισε η γραφή του. Είναι σημάδι εξαιρετικού συγγραφέα να μπορεί να στήνει μια ολοκληρωμένη ιστορία σε τόσες λίγες σελίδες.
Το θέμα της ιστορίας δεν είναι ξεκάθαρο. Δεν μπορώ να καταλάβω τι είναι αυτό που θέλει να μας μεταδώσει μέσα από τις σελίδες ο Stefan Sweig, αν και νομίζω πως αυτό που θέλει να δείξει είναι ότι ο αγώνας ενός ανθρώπου να βρει έ
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Around the Year i...: Chess Story, by Stefan Zweig 1 13 Feb 22, 2016 07:25PM  
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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...

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“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?” 61 likes
“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.”
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