Le Joueur d’échecs Book reviews


Author(s): Stefan ZweigDownload  


Qui est cet inconnu capable d’en remontrer au grand Czentovic, le champion mondial des échecs, véritable prodige aussi fruste qu’antipathique? Peut-on croire, comme il l’affirme, qu’il n’a pas joué depuis plus de vingt ans? Voilà un mystère que les passagers oisifs de ce paquebot de luxe aimeraient bien percer.Le narrateur y parviendra. Les circonstances dans lesquelles l’inconnu a acquis cette science sont terribles. Elles nous reportent aux expérimentations nazies sur les effets de l’isolement absolu, lorsque, aux frontières de la folie, entre deux interrogatoires, le cerveau humain parvient à déployer ses facultés les plus étranges.Une fable inquiétante, fantastique, qui, comme le dit le personnage avec une ironie douloureuse, “pourrait servir d’illustration à la charmante époque où nous vivons”.

Some Reviews: 4817 in Goodreads.com


Garima rated it      

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 proves that the struggle to find compassion and reason amidst oppression, competition and obsession becomes inevitable for survival.

Highly Recommended with an easy Five/5 Stars.


Duane rated it     

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 stars.

Manuel Antão

Manuel Antão rated it     

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 sullying his good name.


Seemita rated it      

“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 itself.

A World Chess Champion, heralded as one of the best ever to play the game, in his casual quest of pocketing a few dollars, enroute to a tournament, encounters a sudden change of fortune, when a remarkable twist of moves from a rather ordinary looking, albeit a tad hysterical, middle-aged man, hands him his first defeat in many years. Shocked, quietly brazen and visibly inquisitive, he challenges his unknown victor to another game. Nothing more worthwhile to regain lost blood. On the insistence of the vociferous enthusiasts on the cruise, our unknown hero accepts the challenge.

Thus begins the artistic assembly of this man’s life, Dr.B as we come to call him. Zwieg lends Dr.B an ordinary mind, with an extraordinary resilience. The human desire to overcome his limitations despite their crippling, almost strangling nature, is beautifully depicted in the little cell where Dr.B draws the most intelligent game, all within the confines of his mind. In the stunning recollection of the bygone era, Dr.B casts a dreamy net which holds layers of frantic moves, with the kings and pawns running helter-skelter, but never away from the shrewd line of sight of their master.

What happens when one genius meets another in the climax, of course, is as mind-boggling as your mind can make of it! But I wish I held a front-line ticket with a power to hop onto the thought train while it passed through these masterminds’ terrain.

Megan Baxter

Megan Baxter rated 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


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