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Novel·la d'escacs

Novel·la d'escacs

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Novel·la d'escacs

Bewertungen:
4.5/5 (31 Bewertungen)
Länge:
77 Seiten
1 Stunde
Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Jun 2, 2020
ISBN:
9788477276418
Format:
Buch

Beschreibung

Negat per qualsevol altra activitat intel·lectual, Mirko Czentovicz va revelar-se des de nen com un geni dels escacs, i ara n'és el campió del món. Però, en un viatge de Nova York a Buenos Aires, li sorgeix un contrincant enigmàtic: el senyor B., un noble vienès que fuig dels nazis. Un dels passatgers del vapor prova d'acostar-se a tots dos personatges, i així, junt amb ell, el lector en descobreix les històries i assiteix a la seva confrontació.

En aquesta "Novel·la d'escacs", doncs, se'ns presenta, d'una banda, l'enfrontament de dues naturaleses antagòniques i, de l'altra, la fragilitat i la força de la persona sotmesa a una pressió extraordinària. I tot això, en una història construïda amb art de mestre i amb bones dosis d'intriga.

"Les seixanta-quatre caselles i les trenta-dues peces són l'escenari d'un terrible malson que Zweig descriu amb total exactitud i sense concessions".
Julià Guillamon, Avui

"Novel·la d'escacs, l'últim llibre que escrigué Zweig, és l'exacerbació d'algun dels millors moments de la seva extensa obra".
Marc Soler, La Vanguardia

"Un text molt intel·ligent. Zweig va ser molt savi en abordar el tema a partir d'una partida d'escacs, perquè ens remet al fet que som éssers pensants i ens porta a preguntar-nos quin ús fem de la nostra intel·ligència".
Jordi Bosch

"Un relat en el qual els escacs es converteixen en una metàfora de la nostra capacitat per intentar sobreviure quan tot sembla conduir-nos cap a l'aniquilació i/o la bogeria".
Ramon Oliver, La Vanguardia

"Un singularíssim estudi psicològic sobre el teló de fons de l'Alemanya nazi".
Joaquín Aranda, Heraldo de Aragón

"Les paraules de Zweig fan especialment bé".
Pilar Martín, Levante

"Escrit en plena Segona Guerra Mundial i una de les obres mestres d'aquest subgènere literari".
Carlos Sala, La Razón

"Stefan Zweig ens deixa en aquest relat una exquisida pinzellada del seu art narratiu".
Antonio Ortega, Diario de Córdoba

"Una bella metàfora sobre la claudicació de la intel·ligència creadora enfront de la força bruta que, fent servir una lògica freda i corretjosa, es converteix en imparable piconadora".
Eugenio Fuentes, La Nueva España

"És un llibre que representa molt bé la crisi de valors d'una Europa que, just abans de la solució final, veu que els valor que la sustenten no acaben de funcionar. I encara som allà".
Iván Morales

"Novel·la curta, possiblement una de les millors de la seva creació, en la qual ofereix al lector el seu compromís crític contra el nazisme. Tota una lliçó d'ètica i principis del misteriós personatge, el senyor B.".
Francisco Vélez Nieto, ACE Andalucia

"Novel·la sobre els escacs? No. Novel·la sobre la tortura, el mal subtil, la vida com un somni, la construcció de vies de fuita vitals, l'observació? Sens dubte. I no arriba al centenar de pàgines".
Francisco García Pérez, La Nueva España

"Suggeridora metàfora sobre el moment històric i reflexió sobre la validesa del coneixement".
Pedro Sorela, Revista de Libros

"Zweig narra, en realitat, una història de supervivència".
J. Bordes, El Punt Avui

"Un relat de cicatrius emocionals i obsessions".
Juan Carlos Olivares, Time Out
Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Jun 2, 2020
ISBN:
9788477276418
Format:
Buch

Über den Autor

Stefan Zweig (* 28. November 1881 in Wien; † 23. Februar 1942 in Petrópolis, Bundesstaat Rio de Janeiro, Brasilien) war ein österreichischer Schriftsteller. (Wikipedia)


Ähnlich wie Novel·la d'escacs

Buchvorschau

Novel·la d'escacs - Stefan Zweig

STEFAN ZWEIG

NOVE

L·L

A D’ESCACS

TRADUCCIÓ DE L’ALEMANY

DE MANUEL LOBO

QUADERNS CREMA

BARCELONA 2020

A bord del gran vapor que havia de salpar a mitjanit de Nova York amb rumb a Buenos Aires hi regnaven l’animació i el moviment propis de l’últim moment. Els hostes de terra s’empenyien per poder fer escorta als seus amics; els repartidors de telegrames, amb la gorra de gairell, feien ressonar els noms per les sales de reunió; hi havia un tragí de flors i maletes i d’infants que corrien escala amunt i escala avall tafanejant mentre l’orquestra amenitzava impertorbable el show de coberta. Jo estava de conversa amb un amic a la coberta de passeig, una mica a recer de tot aquell enrenou, quan un flash va llampeguejar dues o tres vegades intensament al costat nostre: sembla que els repòrters havien aprofitat els darrers instants abans de partir per interviuar i fotografiar alguna personalitat important. El meu amic hi va llençar una llambregada i va somriure:

—Teniu a bord un personatge ben curiós: Czentovic—i com que jo devia fer un posat de no entendre gaire de què em parlava, va afegir—: Mirko Czentovic, el campió del món d’escacs. Ha recorregut d’una banda a l’altra els Estats Units, participant en tots els torneigs, i ara es disposa a acréixer la seva glòria a l’Argentina.

Llavors em vaig recordar efectivament d’aquell jove campió del món i fins i tot d’algunes particularitats de la seva meteòrica carrera; el meu amic, lector de periòdics molt més aplicat que no pas jo, les va poder arrodonir amb tot un seguit d’anècdotes. Czentovic havia arribat a assolir feia cosa d’un any el nivell de les figures més consagrades de l’art dels escacs, com ara Allekhin, Capablanca, Tartakover, Lasker o Bogollubov. D’ençà de l’aparició, al torneig de Nova York de 1922, de l’infant prodigi de set anys Rzecevski, mai la irrupció d’una figura fins llavors desconeguda no havia suscitat una atenció tan general entre els membres de la gloriosa congregació. Perquè els dots inte

l·l

ectuals de Czentovic no semblava al principi que haguessin de propiciar una carrera tan brillant. Aviat va transcendir que el nostre campió era incapaç en la seva vida privada d’escriure una frase en qualsevol llengua sense fer faltes d’ortografia, i que, tal com deia amb despit un contrincant rancuniós, «la seva incultura era enciclopèdica».

Fill d’un miserable barquer iugoslau del Danubi, que una nit s’enfonsà amb la seva diminuta embarcació, envestit per un vapor de transport de cereals, el noi, que tenia llavors dotze anys, va ser recollit per compassió pel capellà d’aquell poblet llunyà; aquest bon home s’escarrassava perquè el vailet, mandrós, ample de front i curt d’enteniment, repassés a casa tot allò que no havia estat capaç d’aprendre a l’escola del poble.

Però tots aquests afanys foren debades. Mirko es quedava plantat davant tots aquells signes escrits que li havien explicat cent vegades, contemplant-los amb mirada buida i senyals d’estranyesa. Al seu cervell ensopit li mancava la capacitat de retenir fins els conceptes més elementals. A catorze anys havia de contar encara amb els dits, i llegir un llibre o un diari li costava al jovenet un esforç considerable. I no és que no hi posés voluntat, ni es pot dir que fos rebec; al contrari, era obedient i feia allò que li manaven, poava aigua, estellava llenya, ajudava a les feines del camp, endreçava la cuina i s’encarregava sens falta de fer qualsevol cosa que li encomanessin, per bé que amb una parsimònia irritant. Ara, allò que més exasperava el bon rector era l’absoluta manca d’iniciativa del jovenet capsigrany. No feia res si no li ho manaven explícitament, no preguntava mai res, no jugava amb altres vailets ni s’ocupava de fer res si no era per indicació expressa. Tan bon punt havia enllestit les feines de la casa, s’asseia a qualsevol racó de la seva habitació i es quedava amb la mirada buida que tenen les ovelles quan pasturen, sense participar en res d’allò que s’esdevenia al seu voltant. Al vespre, mentre el capellà jugava, tot fumant amb fruïció la seva pipa de pagès, les tres partidetes d’escacs habituals amb el brigada de la gendarmeria, el noiet de blens rossos seia al seu costat sense dir un mot, i les seves pesades parpelles amagaven una mirada que, aparentment ensopida i indiferent, restava fixa al tauler quadriculat dels escacs.

Una nit d’hivern, mentre els dos contrincants es trobaven immersos en la seva partida diària, se sentí el repic cada cop més proper de la campaneta d’un trineu que venia pel carrer del poble. Un pagès amb la gorra empolsimada de neu va entrar, espolsant-se nerviosament les botes. Que la seva mare estava agonitzant, que si el senyor rector volia fer el favor d’afanyar-se perquè poguessin ser a temps d’administrar-li l’extremunció. El capellà el va seguir sense vaci

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ació. El brigada de la gendarmeria, que encara no s’havia acabat de beure la seva gerra de cervesa, va encendre una darrera pipa de comiat, i es disposava ja a calçar-se les seves feixugues botes altes quan li va cridar l’atenció la mirada de Mirko, encara fixa al tauler amb la partida començada.

—¿Què, vols acabar-la?—li va dir en to de broma, plenament convençut que aquell noiet ensonyat no seria capaç de moure correctament ni una sola peça. El vailet li llençà un esguard tímid, assentí amb el cap i s’assegué al lloc del capellà. Al termini de catorze jugades ja havia derrotat el brigada, que hagué d’admetre, a més, que la seva derrota no es devia a cap error que hagués comès per distracció. La segona partida no va acabar altrament.

—L’ase de Balaam!—va exclamar-se amb sorpresa el capellà quan va arribar, i va aclarir al brigada, no gaire versat en temes bíblics, que feia dos mil anys ja s’havia produït un miracle semblant, quan una criatura muda havia trobat tot d’una la veu de la saviesa. Malgrat l’hora tan tardana, el capellà no es va saber estar de desafiar el seu pupil semianalfabet a una partida. Mirko el va guanyar també amb facilitat. Tenia un joc tenaç, lent, impertorbable. Capcot, no aixecava mai del tauler el seu ample front, però jugava amb una seguretat irresistible. Ni el brigada ni el capellà foren capaços durant els dies següents de guanyar-li ni una sola partida. Al capellà,

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4.4
31 Bewertungen / 31 Rezensionen
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Leser-Rezensionen

  • (4/5)
    This little novella is a lot of things - a study of torture and PTSD, a confrontation between very different characters with a shared interest, a masterpiece of prose. Two masters of chess meet each other, and although one of them - the Austrian Dr. B who achieved his mastery by studying famous matches in order to deal with his solitary confinement - gets much more page time, these characters have some striking similarities in the way they're damaged and are unable to function well in society. How obsessed does one have to be to achieve that kind of mastery, what is lost during the process, and how aware can one be of this loss? Not much is happening in this story, and still it's an amazing read.
  • (5/5)
    The entire action of this brief, taut novella takes place over the course of a few days a cruise ship from New York to Buenos Aires. Ultimately, it portrays the battle of two very different types of character and genius facing off against each other in a game of chess.

    The first to be introduced is a wily Slavonian peasant who was discovered as an instant and natural chess genius when he completed a game left by a priest despite never having been taught anything. He is mostly focused on playing chess for money and, secondarily, glory and despite being defeating all of the world's champions cannot play blind chess--he needs to see the actual pieces.

    At first he is playing against a collections of passengers from the ship, when a mysterious man comes along who helps them fight to a draw. The mystery is deepened when the man states that he has not played chess for twenty years and even then was a mediocre player. Eventually his story comes out, but suffice it to say that it entails becoming increasingly focused on visualizing chess games without the help of a board or pieces--a deeply cerebral approach that is the opposite of the more crude and natural style of the Slavonian player.

    Eventually the two of them meet for a solo match and the book depicts a fascinating and respectful clash between these two titans.

    An underappreciated modern classic.
  • (4/5)
    I read this and Kawabata's The Master of Go back-to-back, and was very happy that I did. Both deal with the psychological effects of obsessing over complex boardgames, and explore a central character whose life has been consumed by such obsession. Despite the fact that Chess Story takes a fictional approach, while Kawabata's book is based on an actual person, there were many parallels between the two works, and each highlighted aspects of the other that otherwise I might have missed. While both books on their own are probably only worth three stars, the resonance created by reading them one after the other magnified my enjoyment so much that I'm giving both four stars.
  • (4/5)
    Beautiful novella. I'm always interested in stories that feature games, and Chess Story is definitely a good example of that. Two different men - a chess grandmaster and a nobody - meet at a chess board and the results are... explosive. Much of the book is devoted to the extraordinary background of the Dr. B, his experiences in the Nazi-occupied Austria. Magical book.
  • (4/5)
    Well told entertaining story with some interesting information on pre-war nazist methods and torture technique.
  • (3/5)
    Leuke, intens geschreven novelle over een ultiem schaakspel tussen de Hongaarse lichtautistische wereldkampioen, en een toevallige passant op een pakketboot, die de schaakmeester 1 keer verslaat maar dan bezwijkt onder de druk. "Onschuldig" verbonden met de Gestapopraktijken van het Naziregime. Gaat eigenlijk over obsessie.
  • (4/5)
    A quick read and one that is riveting from the get-go. Zweig can certainly relate a good story. His tone, always for me, is one as if a very close and trusted friend is sitting in a chair in front of me and letting me into something important I may not have known or heard of lately. Quite a talent. I read a different translation than this book, a collection of his shorter works, and titled The Royal Game.
  • (5/5)
    A wonderful novella, a commentary on the Nazi occupation of Austria and a discussion on how there is no one way to achieve a goal, which of course is a commentary on Nazism itself, no? And chess, of course. The chess is well done, which it often isn't in novels. Great characters. .
  • (3/5)
    A little piece of brain candy. There's some shadowy allegory of fascism and totalitarianism in here, although the mental drama and the battlefields of chess are exciting reads.
  • (4/5)
    This book kind of makes you go, oh shit man! So if you like that kind of thing, I would guess you might like it. It is very suspenseful and mysterious and WEIGHTY. The central action is around a match-off between two characters one of whom (peasant, generally dull but sly like a fox!) is a chess master but can only play with the physical pieces in front of him for some weird idiot-savant reason. The other (relic of the currently-being-decimated European aristocracy, sensitive, cultured, anxious, tortured) has (for HORRIFIC reasons) only played chess in his own mind, against himself, and never on an actual board against another opponent. Look out when these two face off, because it might be an allegory or something. Anyway, I actually really liked this book. I'll probably regret saying this when I'm not drunk, but it is kind of like The Magic Mountain if that were more of a thriller.
  • (5/5)
    This is a book about totalitarianism, strategy and the control of the mind. The story is plotted like a game of chess, with moves and counter moves, resolving into a formal check mate. It is a tale of high melodrama on the high seas. The idea of chess itself does not fare well in the story - it is portrayed as a somewhat pointless source of madness and escape that even the most dull human being can grasp.The book is full of sharp, incisive ideas.
  • (4/5)
    Well written story about man obsessed with chess. Previously saw a play based on this book, and that made the story more vivid for me.
  • (4/5)
    Excellent story that I found strangely relatable. The version I read had a forward by Peter Gay that I recommend being read after the text--or not at all. It only provided spoilers without adding much backward to the work. I also think chess players would enjoy this book more than non-chess players. Although the game is used mostly as a vehicle.
  • (5/5)
    Powerful psychological novella about a man, Dr. B. and the nature of obsession or mania. The action takes place on board a ship heading for Buenos Aires. Dr. B. plays two games against a savant, a world chess champion, Mirko Czentovic. Dr. B. hasn't played chess for 20-25 years. Aires, Dr. B. tells his story to the unnamed narrator when the narrator has cornered him on deck. The tension was exquisite and this novella was a masterpiece of short fiction. I am no chess player [or a very bad one] but I feel anyone can enjoy this story.
  • (5/5)
    This fascinating book is about a business man who was arrested by the Gestapo for a period of one year. While imprisoned, he taught himself chess which serves him well when he comes up against a bona fide grand master. The final twist, upon reflection, digs quite deep into the characters' psyche. I highly recommend this last book by Stefan Zweig before he and his wife committed suicide.
  • (4/5)
    Beware ‘chess poisoning’! :) This is a strong novella which starts with those on a cruise ship to Buenos Aires recognizing that the world chess champion is on board, and the narrator so curious to talk to him that he lures him into a game of chess. Zweig does a great job of painting an interesting portrait of this champion, who is not all that bright in other aspects of life, but is somehow a prodigy in chess. He then completely surprised me with the background of another person on board who begins playing him, but I won’t say anything more. There is a mania to the story, the mania perhaps necessary to excel in such a cerebral game. Aside from an interesting little story, it probes what genius is made of, and how it can be flawed. It’s interesting that it was written the year before Zweig committed suicide, after he had fled Hitler, and it seems to underscore his own mental torture, and ultimate resignation.
  • (5/5)
    The psychological game between the inhuman chess automaton Czentovic and the fragile Dr. B., who was imprisoned by the Gestapo for months in solitary confinement and still feels the psychological effects of torture and suffers from it, makes it clear how important human consciousness is for our lives and what dangers it poses is. The main themes of the chess novella are: "Chess as a war", "Hitler and the Nazi period", "Dr. B.'s fate "," Dr. B. against Czentovic "," The Psychological Game "and" Isolation and Chess Poisoning ".Even though the book does not have many pages, there is a linguistic variety of sentence structure and vocabulary in which one can not find his own again so quickly. [[Stefan Zweig]] was a virtuoso in terms of language.This is a must-read for me.
  • (4/5)
    This is a fascinating book. It starts off innocently enough with a description of the Chess champion. It starts innocently enough with a description of the first game, and the history of the bystander. Then, when the duel between the champion and the bystander starts, the book gets really fascinatingThe mental duel has been described brilliantly, and the manner in which the champion wears down his opponent is brilliant. The moves that his opponent studied while in jail are brilliant in their execution, yet theoretical knowledge cannot by itself compete with mental toughness and mind games of the real world.The book captures the tension and the ultimate breakdown brilliantly. Highly recommended
  • (5/5)
    The action in this novella takes place during World War II, on a cruise ship heading from NYC to Buenos Aires. On board is the world chess champion Mirko Czentovic, who is on tour to play the best chessmasters of South America. The nameless narrator is intrigued by Czentovic, a monomaniac whose aloof manner hides the fact that he is an otherwise ignorant and uneducated peasant. In an effort to meet Czentovic, the narrator plays chess with an arrogant and wealthy businessman, who ultimately persuades Czentovic to play him for money. The game is witnessed by many of the passengers, and Czentovic handily trounces the businessman in several games. However, a stranger provides tactical advice to the businessman, who manages to battle the champion to a draw. Czentovic challenges the stranger, Dr. B., to a game the following day, and the narrator is able to learn more about Dr. B's dark secret, and how he was able to match the champion even though he had not played chess in over two decades. The battle royale takes place the next afternoon, and is both a tactical and psychological battle of wills.Unfortunately this was the last published complete work by Zweig, a Jew who fled his native Austria before the Nazi occupation, and committed suicide with his wife in 1942, due to his despair with the demise of European culture under the Nazis. It is a brilliant work, and is highly recommended.
  • (5/5)
    during world war II, passengers on a ship en route to Argentina discover that on board with them is a world chess champion. he is taciturn, haughty, and unfriendly but for a price, allowed himself to be challenged to a game against a wealthy passenger and some amateur chess lovers. with nary an effort on his part, his opponents lose one game to the next -- that is, until a mysterious passenger spoke up in the middle of one game telling the amateurs what moves they had to make. the game resulted in a draw -- and there the story begins. Dr. B, the mysterious man, reveals his identity to the narrator and tells him how he came to possess his extraordinary ability in the game, and the price he had to pay to gain it. therein lies the heart of this short but powerful work -- the resistance as well as the vulnerability of the human mind in the face of extreme ordeal, and how tyranny scars forever those it manages to avoid killing. spare in prose, the effect is visceral as the intense psychological drama builds up to an almost painful end. stunning and unforgettable, i highly recommend this!
  • (5/5)
    This is short. Very short: I read it in about an hour. Yet Zweig packs the story with detail without revealing too much, and keeps the suspense flowing right until the end. The story is set on a liner, making a journey from New York to Buenos Aires, and runs at a fast pace from the start. The protraits of the two main characters are sketched in detail building up to the climactic encounter between them at the end of the book. These two character sketches are no mere interludes, though, and form in many ways the meat of the work, particularly the second, in which the enigmatically named Dr. B recounts his history to the narrator. The tension and psychological dramas built up in this way provide the impetus for the final scene and a brilliant ending for the work as a whole
  • (5/5)
    This one was snagged from Kidzdoc’s thread (Darryl) and sent to me by Stasia for Mark’s Christmas Secret Santa book swap. I loved it!! Thanks guys. : )This is a very short story (84 pages), but the story is big. Two chess champions meet on a boat. They have wildly differing stories as to how they became masters of the game. One is the World Champion and the other an unknown. Their histories come to light through the voice of a secondary narrator. One tale involves the holocaust under Hitler. This is not a tale of violence, but rather of psychology. In fact, Zweig was a huge fan of Freud (and vice versa) so this comes as no surprise. Zweig writes beautifully: I love his sentence construction, word choice, and narrator point of view. I longed to follow one of the characters past the ending of the book! I am so taken with this author that I need to find "Twenty-Four Hours in the Life of a Woman", one that Freud called a “little masterpiece.” Highly recommended.An excerpt of Zweig's description of chess: "...mechanically constituted and yet an activity of the imagination alone, limited to a fixed geometric area but unlimited in its permutations, constantly evolving and yet sterile, a cogitation producing nothing, a mathematics calculating nothing, an art without an artwork...and yet demonstrably more durable in its essence and actual form than all books and works, the only game that belongs to all people and eras, while no one knows what god put it on earth to deaden boredom, sharpen the mind, and fortify the spirit?"And one more: "And that was exactly what they wanted--that I should go on gagging on my thoughts until I choked on them and had no choice but to spit them out, to inform, to tell everything, to finally hand over the evidence and the people they wanted."
  • (5/5)
    "But is it not already an insult to call chess anything so narrow as a game? Is it not also a science, an art, hovering between these categories like Mohammad's coffin between heaven and earth, a unique yoking of opposites, ancient and yet eternally new, mechanically constituted and yet an activity of imagination alone, limited to a fixed geometric area but unlimited in its permutations, constantly evolving and yet sterile, a cogitation producing nothing, a mathematics calculating nothing, an art without an artwork, an architecture without substance and yet demonstrably more durable in its essence and actual form than all books and works, the only game that belongs to all peoples and all eras, while no one knows what god put it on earth to deaden boredom, sharpen the mind, and fortify the spirit?"A world champion chess player is among the passengers on a ship traveling from New York to Buenos Aires. One of the passengers hopes to learn more about this enigmatic champion but soon discovers that the only way to observe him up close is to challenge him to a game of chess - for a price of $250 per game. Another passenger is willing to pay the fee and thus the champion, Czentovic, agrees to play against the rest of the passengers - they will be allowed ten minutes to confer for each move. After losing the first game, the passenger team is interrupted during a move in the second game by a mysterious man who appears to be just what they need - a chess master. Between the second and third games, the narrator of the story learns the backstory of the mysterious man who knows so much about chess. It turns out that he was once a prisoner of the Third Reich. How does he know so much about chess and why is he so hesitant to face the champion alone for the third game?At a mere 84 pages, this book is small, but its story is not. The writing is beautiful and will draw you in from the very first pages and keep you entranced until the last. I had not read anything by this author before, but I will be reading him again.
  • (5/5)
    The entire action of this brief, taut novella takes place over the course of a few days a cruise ship from New York to Buenos Aires. Ultimately, it portrays the battle of two very different types of character and genius facing off against each other in a game of chess.The first to be introduced is a wily Slavonian peasant who was discovered as an instant and natural chess genius when he completed a game left by a priest despite never having been taught anything. He is mostly focused on playing chess for money and, secondarily, glory and despite being defeating all of the world's champions cannot play blind chess--he needs to see the actual pieces.At first he is playing against a collections of passengers from the ship, when a mysterious man comes along who helps them fight to a draw. The mystery is deepened when the man states that he has not played chess for twenty years and even then was a mediocre player. Eventually his story comes out, but suffice it to say that it entails becoming increasingly focused on visualizing chess games without the help of a board or pieces--a deeply cerebral approach that is the opposite of the more crude and natural style of the Slavonian player.Eventually the two of them meet for a solo match and the book depicts a fascinating and respectful clash between these two titans.An underappreciated modern classic.
  • (4/5)
    The Book Report: Lumpenproletarian chess prodigy Czentovic, a boorish and unsympathetic figure, meets noble Jewish Dr. B. on a cruise. The good doctor is escaping the Nazis after a horrific torture-by-isolation. Czentovic is off to new triumphs as the world's greatest living chess master. Dr. B. survived his horrible isolation by reading and re-reading and memorizing and repeatedly playing in his mind great chess games from a book he stole from one of his torturers. The stage is set...the grisly Grand Master meets the gruesomely treated noble spirit in a chess battle for the ages, and is defeated. The doctor retires from the scene, completely unmanned by reliving his horrible confinement through his victory over the taciturn, unintelligent idiot savant Czentovic.My Review: Zweig committed suicide after completing this book. I see why. It's the least optimistic, most hopeless, depressing, and horrifyingly bleak thing I've read in years. Four hankies won't do to stanch the helpless, hopeless weeping induced by reading the book, and a pistol is too heavy to hold in fingers gone too numb to clench even slightly.It's one long flashback. The "action" of the chess match takes on an almost lurid and pornographic tinge after the grim tale Dr. B. tells of his time with the Nazis. It's dreadful. It's downbeat. It stinks of freshly-opened coffins and crematory ovens. If there is a redeeming value in having read it, it's that one need never, ever, ever touch it again, and I ASSURE you I will not.
  • (3/5)
    This book is intended for adults but would be suitable for teens to read. The novella deals with literary tropes and ideas that would be discussed in any high school English class.
  • (5/5)
    a fast moving novella about a chess match between 2 unlikely masters. One is an idiot savant who has an inate ability to learn chess while being almost illiterate about all else. He becomes the world champion and soon develops an air of supremacy and conceit. All is good for him until he takes a fateful ship cruise on its way to Buenos Aires. Aboard the ship is another chess master who learned the game while imprisoned in solitary confinement and all he had to maintain his sanity was a chess manual he memorized and the games within played out in his mind with no chess board nor peices.the ensuing match betwenn these two is compelling, narrated quickly with good pace and characterization. this is the 1st Zweig piece i have read and i am sure to look at his other stories.
  • (5/5)
    I would rather not go into too many details about the book because I would hate to ruin it for someone else. I will merely say that it is a meandering psychological story, reminiscent of Dostoevsky, that pits two brilliant foes against each other in a game of chess.Zweig uses the back stories of these two foes as a metaphor for his overall theme that the infinite can best be discovered by one who limits himself. This theme is also carried out through the chess board itself, which has just sixty-four squares and sixteen pieces, but has infinite permutations.
  • (5/5)
    Another stellar psychological treatise by Stefan Zweig! This novella offers the reader a powerful glimpse into the world of obsession and monomania. The manuscript was found in 1942 in the author's home in Brazil after he and his wife committed suicide, and the reader cannot help but wonder if this insightful interior scrutiny reflected some of the suffering of Zweig prior to his death. The primary themes include: the power of obsession, the power of solitude, and the ability of both to destroy the psyche. Clearly there is a treatise on Hitler and his monomania in this story as well. All in 84 pages!
  • (5/5)
    On board a cruise ship to Argentina, a world chess champion is challenged to a game of chess by a group of amateurs. Despite his lowly background and reknown ignorance for all matters besides chess, this chess champion is arrogant and dismissive of the group, and plays only for a hefty fee. However, on a rematch, a whispering voice in the background suddenly advises the challenger on moves that take the chess champion by surprise and the 2nd game is a draw. A challenge is issued by the world chess champion to this pale stranger to a game the following day.What unfolds before this game, is the stranger's story and in it, we are introduced to another form of torture during WWII - that of mental and emotional torture when one is placed in a void, bereft of any human contact, books or even a window to look out of for mental stimulation.This is a story of the strength of one man who manages to devise a strategy to survive this mental torture, but in his triumph against his torturers he falls victim to his own device.The final chess game provides the stage for one to show mental acuity and another, the scars that never heal.