Chess by Stefan Zweig
On a cruise ship bound for Buenos Aires, a wealthy passenger challenges the world chess champion to a match. He accepts with a sneer. He will beat anyone, he says. But only if the stakes are high. Soon, the chess board is surrounded. At first, the challenger crumbles before the mind of the master. But then, a soft-spoken voice from the crowd begins to whisper nervous suggestions. Perfect moves, brilliant predictions. The speaker has not played a game for more than twenty years, he says. He is wholly unknown. But somehow, he is also entirely formidable
Well this book was very much a wild card for me. I spotted this book hidden on a bookshelf of much bigger books whilst on holiday in Hay on Wye and although I had never heard of the author I felt drawn to the story. At only 76 pages this book was a quick read for me that I completed in one sitting and it was an interesting read.
The narrator of the book is an Austrian who is on the cruise ship bound for Buenos Aires. The cruise ship also has on board a world famous chess player called Czentovic who will happily play a game of chess if the money is right. The narrator tells us of how Czentovic is challenged by a wealthy man and so the game of chess begins. However, just as it looks like Czentovic has won, a stranger lends some helpful advice to the wealthy man. After that the narrator finds out all about the stranger and why he is so good at chess.
This short story is beautifully written and is concise and just the right length. I sometimes find that a short story feels rushed and leaves you wanting a longer story but this one is paced perfectly and leaves you satisfied you have read a short story with no details missing. I really enjoyed this story and I plan on reading more books by Zweig. I give this book 4 out of 5 Dragons.
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About the author
Stefan Zweig was one of the world’s most famous writers during the 1920s and 1930s, especially in the U.S., South America, and Europe. He produced novels, plays, biographies, and journalist pieces. Among his most famous works are Beware of Pity, Letter from an Unknown Woman, and Mary, Queen of Scotland and the Isles. He and his second wife committed suicide in 1942.