Saturday, May 20, 2023

Walter Tevis

Credit: see link below

The same publication, The Nation, sometimes writes about chess - although usually in a metaphor for politics. On the other hand, one example of actually writing about chess is in its investigation of the Walter Tevis revival due to the Netflix adaptation of The Queen's Gambit. The article argues that "the problems with Tevis' books is the problems with addiction." One is reminded of Edward Winter's review of the book, which noted it "traces the elevation of Beth Harmon, a prodigy in chess, drink and drugs, to the loftiest heights of the first-named vice."

Canetti - A Tribute


Elias Canetti. Credit: see link below

We have just mentioned in this blog Elias Canetti's chess-related work. By sheer chance, The Nation had just published an appreciation of him, "Elias Canetti: The Last Cosmopolitan." While chess is not mentioned in the article (unsurprisingly), it is well worth reading. 

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Chess and the Rosenbergs' Trial

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In Ilene Philipson's Ethel Rosenberg: Beyond the Myths, (New York/Toronto: Franklin Watts, 1988), there is a curious reference to Chess. On page 301, Ethel Rosenberg and her husband, Julius Rosenberg, have just been convicted of espionage, as was Morton Sobell. They were joined by Morton's wife, Helen Sobell, and their legal teams. 

Morton Sobell's recollection is that one of his attorneys "passed around a recent newspaper clipping which referred to his chess triumphs at the turn of the century." Does anyone know who this chess-playing attorney might have been?

Chess and the Nobel Prize for Literature

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There is, of course, no Nobel prize for chess. But chess appears in the work of Nobel prize winning authors. The most famous example is, of course, Stefan Zweig's The Royal Game. But a lesser-known example is Elias Canetti's Auto-da-Fe, which features the chess-playing dwarf Fischerle as a major character. By the way, there is no relationship to Robert "Bobby" Fischer -- the novel was published in 1935. 

Above is the cover page of the Hebrew edition (1979: Zmora-Bitan), which has an obvious chess motif. It is named Sanverim [The Blinding], a literal translation of the original German title, Die Blendung

P. S.

Nabokov's The Defense is perhaps better known, but Nabokov never won the Nobel prize...