Chess Story by Stefan Zweig - Book Review

Chess Story

Chess Story by Stefan Zweig - Book Review

It seems that every time a literary or cinematic work tries to depict a chess game, it always creates this fierce game where victory, loss, and aptness are outlined, but what makes Chess Story different is the new perspective Zweig uses to look at chess.

It isn’t about big confrontations between good and evil or life or death. In chess story, the characters don’t play for their lives—the way Charles Xavier and Eric Lensherr do in X-men— but they contest because that is all they ever knew and ever will know.

Chess Story offers three perspectives to the royal game: the champion, the amateur, and the outsider. Mirko Czentovic is the expert who knows nothing but to manipulate the chessboard to his favors. He has been doing this ever since he was a child. On the other hand, there is the enigmatic Dr. B, who has astonishing skills in playing chess.

Yet, he is not as renowned as his peer Czentovic. Lastly, there is the narrator, who offers us his angle of the story and knows how to play chess, but he only plays the game for fun, unlike the other two men.

Book Details

Title: Chess Story
Format: Paperback
Author: Stefan Zweig
Language : English
Publisher : NYRB Classics
ISBN: 1590171691

Before the big confrontation between Czentovic and Dr. B, Zweig introduces us to Czentovic the unfriendly, dense, and even violent man whose instincts and intuition guide him to win every chess game he played. He also gives us a background for Dr. B, who gained through the isolation imposed on him by the Nazis.

As intriguing as Czentovic’s background story was, the psychological torture that Dr. B suffered resulted in him living in a constant frenzy, which Czentovic spots and uses against him to win the game. The madness of Dr. B rears its ugly head and he loses in the second match.

Zweig manages to encapsulate the human nature in the characters of Chess story, instead of focusing on showcasing intellect in an emotionless chess game. Chess story will change every time you read it and will be difficult to digest with how the two great minds clash and intermingle at the end of the story, but definitely worth reading.

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Updated 3 years ago