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Chess Story

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  68,907 ratings  ·  4,928 reviews
Czentowic, champion d'échecs arrogant, esprit borné à outrance, inculte et étonnamment stupide, occupe le premier plan jusqu'à l'entrée en scène de Monsieur B. Dès lors que cet aristocrate autrichien s'intéresse à la partie livrée entre le champion et les passagers amateurs, la direction du texte bascule.Par un effet de symétrie, la narration se transforme en un face à fac ...more
Paperback, 104 pages
Published December 9th 2005 by NYRB Classics (first published 1943)
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bxa Thanks - I read your comment only after finishing the book myself. And it is exactly the sentence you mentioned (and the following one) that I stood o…moreThanks - I read your comment only after finishing the book myself. And it is exactly the sentence you mentioned (and the following one) that I stood out to me and which I highlighted.(less)

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 ·  68,907 ratings  ·  4,928 reviews

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Glenn Russell
Aug 10, 2015 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 life’s mysterie
Jeffrey Keeten
Jan 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
”My pleasure in playing became a desire to play, a mania, a frenzy, which permeated not only my waking hours but gradually my sleep too. Chess was all I could think about, chess moves, chess problems were the only form my thoughts could take; sometimes I awoke with a sweaty brow and understood that I must have unconsciously gone on playing even while I slept, and if I dreamt of people, all they did was move like the bishop or the rook, or hopscotch like the knight.”

 photo Chess Board_zps0leviioh.jpg

We never are formally intr
Jun 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Alejandro by: Florencia
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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.

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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.

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Besides my interest to try this author, I was intrig
Jun 21, 2012 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
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
We Are Never Alone

With astounding concision in a short story about chess, Zweig outlines a profound psychological theory: that a human being’s greatest resource - the ability to reflect upon himself and his actions - is also his greatest vulnerability.

Experience alone, without the capacity to reflect upon it, provides rigid rules for responding to situations which never quite repeat themselves. Reflective ability creates the ability to cope with entirely novel conditions through the power to re
Ahmad Sharabiani
Schachnovelle = Le jaueur d'echecs = Chess Story = The Royal Game, Stefan Zweig
The Royal Game is a novella by Austrian author Stefan Zweig first published in 1941, just before the author's death by suicide. In some editions, the title is used for a collection that also includes "Amok", "Burning Secret", "Fear", and "Letter From an Unknown Woman". Driven to mental anguish as the result of total isolation by the National Socialists, Dr B, a monarchist hiding valuable assets of the nobility from t

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’
Stefan Zweig created an extraordinary, exciting, thought provoking novel in a typical, virtuosic self-writing style.
“He would cast a single, seemingly cursory glance at the board before each move, looking past us as indifferently as if we ourselves were lifeless wooden pieces.”

This novella is my introduction to Austrian writer Stefan Zweig. He’s not entirely unknown to me, however, as I’ve seen numerous reviews of his work and have been interested in reading him myself for quite some time. It’s important to understand a bit of his background before reading this story. Zweig was born in Austria and then fled t
Apr 22, 2014 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
...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
Stefan Zweig

Before the start of review, let me put across a warning to all probable readers of this novella that this book has two active beings- one is the reader of course but other one is the author himself, he keeps on following you or rather your moves right to end of the book or the game more appropriately. It may sound strange- so it is and Zweig is but only pleasantly, more you will come to know through the course of this review. Chess, the ‘Royal Game’ is not just a book it’s a gam

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 psychological study,
Jul 27, 2013 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
Steven Godin
Dec 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
My my, how times do change, they don't make um like this anymore. As for time, what a way to spend an hour. Exceptional!

Stefan Zweig’s final achievement, and what an 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 champi
One gets the sense that Zweig was projecting his inner turmoil, his insanity, into the character of Dr B. This projection was much too real, too disturbing to be fiction. Dr B's mental frailty was brought on by mental torture, total isolation, at the hands of Germany's Gestapo. Zweig's was troubled by the isolation from his country (Austria), his people, his culture. Dr B found his relief in the game of Chess, Zweig found his in writing. Quite a powerful story to be packed into 84 pages. 4.5 sta ...more
Jul 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those containing Black and White
Recommended to Dolors by: Garima
Shelves: dost, 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
Manuel Antão
Nov 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2002
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Me vs. Karjakin: "Schachnovelle" by Stefan Zweig

(Original Review from the German and English editions, 2002-06-01)

My lichens rating has gone down the proverbial toilet. I went from 1800 to 1600. Been losing simple games. I hate it when I get ahead and then lose. The other day I even managed to fuck up a text book draw with opposite bishops. I think of myself as a club level Karjakin but Sergey appears in my dreams and asks me to stop s
Feb 02, 2015 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
May 03, 2016 rated it liked it
Chess Story or the Royal Game is Stephan Zweig's autobiographical short story detailing how he used chess as a way to escape boredom while imprisoned by the Nazis. A mere 84 pages in length, Chess Story is the last book Zweig wrote before he and his wife committed suicide. In its pages, he details his relationship with the royal game of chess.

We first meet grand champion Czentovic when he is orphaned at age 14 and living in a parsonage. A reclusive teen, he uses chess to get ahead and eventuall
Richard Derus
Nov 18, 2010 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
Apr 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, for-kindle, 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
Megan Baxter
Apr 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
The emotional wallop of this book is far out of proportion to its size. At 84 pages, I read it in less than an hour. But that hour was filled with pain and hurt and hope and human persistence and human degradation and it hurt to read.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the recent changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook
Wow, this is powerful!

Austrian author Stefan Zweig (1891 – 1942) wrote Chess Story in 1941, the year before his and his second wife’s death by suicide. He was of Jewish background. With Hitler’ rise in power he and his wife had left Austria for England, had moved on to the US and then to Brazil, where the novella was completed. It is the only one of Zweig’s books that deals directly with Nazism.

A steamboat travelling from New York to Buenos Aires has on board a handful of chess enthusiasts. The
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,
David Gustafson
Oct 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have long considered Thomas Mann's novella, "Death in Venice," to be one of the great masterpieces of the twentieth century, a foreboding of the doom awaiting the European bourgeoise intellectual living in an alternate universe from the revolutionary and reactionary forces about to set that continent afire.

Stefan Zweig's riveting "Chess Story" is a page burner that represents the impact of the post traumatic syndrome of that conflagration upon Europe's civilized psyche.

Since I am a history n
With Zweig, I apparently started at the end : “Chess” was sent to his publisher just days before he took his own life. At first glance, it is the story of a handful of passengers on a ship to Buenos Aires who find out that a cold and condescending chess champion is on board, and challenge him to a game in the hopes of beating him. They all fail, of course, until a mysterious man shows up to give them a little advice on how the game is played. Intrigued, the unnamed narrator decides to ask him ho ...more
Apr 24, 2014 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
Apr 24, 2014 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
Sep 19, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: german, fiction
To make sense, it might be better to read this story as a parable of the human mind than a psychological sketch grounded in realism, though I suspect this is not what Zweig had intended.

As with the rest of his novels, the narration is superb and eminently readable, especially when he expounds on the tragedy of one Dr. B and his capture that eventually led him into creating a mental defence mechanism to survive the nothingness of solitary confinement. Chess, the king of games, or the game of kin
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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 an Unknown Woman, and Mary, Queen of Scotland and the Isles. He and his second wife committed suicide in 1942.

Zweig studied in Austria, France

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You know the saying: There's no time like the present...unless you're looking for a distraction from the current moment. In that case, we can't...
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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?” 154 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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