Book Review: The Immortal Game

The Immortal Game: A History of Chess, or How 32 Carved Pieces on a Board Illuminated Our Understanding of War, Art, Science and the Human Brain is an awesome book for chess nuts, borderline chess nuts, or people simply curious at why so many national hereos, presidents, and intellectuals have become obsessed (or insane) in their love of chess.

I played competitive chess as a kid and once a year would watch “Searching for Bobby Ficher”, one of my all-time favorite movies, before heading to the big state tournament. I haven’t played seriously the past few years, although I’m getting back into it, mostly through RedHotPawn correspondance chess (I’m “cazzy123” if you want to challenge me to a game).

The Immortal Game makes me even more fired up to re-enage with chess: In addition to convincing me that chess (1,400 years old) is fantastic brain food / intellectual stimulation, the book also got me thinking about the crossover between chess strategy and life strategy.

The best section from The Immortal Game is an excerpt from a Seinfeld episode:

(George is playing chess with girlfriend)

George: Well, you got no place to go. I’ll tell you what your problem is: You brought your Queen out too fast. What do you think? She’s one of these feminists looking to get out of the house? No, the Queen is old fashioned. Likes to stay home. Cook. Take care of her man. Make sure he feels good.

Liz: Checkmate.

George: I don’t think we should see each other anymore.

(Next scene.)

Jerry: And you broke up with her because she beat you at chess? That’s pretty sick.

George: I don’t see how I could perform sexually in a situation after something like that. I was completely emasculated.

2 comments on “Book Review: The Immortal Game
  • Great review. I, too, used to play tournament chess for a few years and was actually addicted to this wonderful at one point. I haven’t played seriously in years but have just started playing again — even going over some systems. Let’s play on of these days, eh?

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