Looking for quotes about chess.
May 23, 2014 5:48 AM   Subscribe

I'm trying to find particularly insightful or interesting quotes (or other pieces of evidence) about chess. Not only on it as an art form, but also about its psychological effects and also as the giant cultural phenomenon it has been over the past two centuries.

Thanks, MeFites!
posted by Quilford to Grab Bag (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Duchamp, who eventually became obsessed with it, said, "While all artists are not chess players, all chess players are artists.” Not sure if that's what you're looking for. Here's a little thing from the NYT about a Duchamp and Chess exhibition.
posted by thursdaystoo at 5:52 AM on May 23, 2014

"...chess is a mere amusement of a very inferior character, which robs the mind of valuable time that might be devoted to nobler acquirements, while at the same time it affords no benefit whatever to the body..." -- Why Chess Will Destroy Your Mind
posted by devnull at 5:58 AM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Von Goom's Gambit
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:59 AM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

P.J. O'Rourke (rightwing/libertarian humor writer), when talking about Russia's societal failures, likes to mention that, "...and it's not like the Russians are stupid. This is a country where chess is a spectator sport".
posted by Hatashran at 6:07 AM on May 23, 2014

If you've never read The Flander's Panel by Arturo Perez-Reverte you should. It's full of chess problems and stories. It combines chess and art restoration into a murder mystery that centuries old (and current). The ending is a bit weak, but I love the book nonetheless.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:13 AM on May 23, 2014

The first few paragraphs of Edgar Allan Poe's The Murders in the Rue Morgue deal with the analytical aspects of chess vs those of other games.
posted by littlegreen at 6:24 AM on May 23, 2014

There's always the '80s musical. The one song that really talks about the game and the surrounding phenomenon is, appropriately, called Endgame (YT).
posted by graymouser at 6:26 AM on May 23, 2014

Chessquotes.com seems like it'd be helpful.
posted by thursdaystoo at 6:29 AM on May 23, 2014

‘… I set out the chess board. I filled a pipe, paraded the chessmen and inspected them for French shaves and loose buttons, and played a championship tournament game between Gortchakoff and Meninkin, seventy-two moves to a draw, a prize specimen of the irresistible force meeting the immovable object, a battle without armour, a war without blood, and as elaborate a waste of human intelligence as you could find anywhere outside an advertising agency.’—Raymond Chandler, The Long Good-bye.
posted by misteraitch at 6:51 AM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's a fictional quote, but one I came across the other day and I absolutely love it;
He hated games that made the world look too simple. Chess, in particular, had always annoyed him. It was the dumb way the pawns went off and slaughtered their fellow pawns while the king lounged about doing nothing. If only the pawns would've united, maybe talked the rooks round, the whole board could've been a republic in about a dozen moves.
- Terry Pratchett, "Thud"
posted by Jimbob at 6:53 AM on May 23, 2014

My favorite chess quotes are by Savielly Tartakower. Two good ones, which capture the psychological feel of the game for me, are (translated as):

"The winner in chess is the player who makes the next-to-last mistake"


"A game of chess is divided into three stages: the first in which we hope to stand better, the second in which we're sure we stand better, and the third in which it's clear we stand to lose".
posted by rollin at 7:13 AM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Several of the above are from Dr. Tartakower, who was the most quotable of all chess masters.
posted by thelonius at 7:15 AM on May 23, 2014

I don't have my copy to hand, but Nabokov's The Defense is about a chess grandmaster who slowly goes mad through the course of the book.
posted by Diablevert at 7:17 AM on May 23, 2014

Take a straight and stronger course to the corner of your life
Make the white queen run so fast she hasn't got time to make you a wife

'Cause it's time is time in time with your time and
It's news is captured... for the queen to use!
Move me on to any black square
Use me anytime you want
Just remember that the goal
Is for us all to capture all we want
(Move me on to any black square)

Don't surround yourself with yourself
Move on back two squares
Send an instant comment to me
Initial it with loving care
(Don't surround yourself)

'Cause it's time is time in time with your time and
It's news is captured... for the queen to use!

I've Seen All Good People (Part 1 - Your Move) by Yes
posted by Rob Rockets at 7:35 AM on May 23, 2014

“Whenever people say that there’s a lesson to be learned whenever you lose, it’s just a load of bullshit. Seriously. Because you’re already trying as hard as you can.” – Patrick Johnston, 7th grade chess player, from the excellent chess documentary, Brooklyn Castle, 2012.
posted by alex1965 at 8:24 AM on May 23, 2014

There's this old chestnut from /usr/bin/fortune:
The Soviet pre-eminence in chess can be traced to the average Russian's readiness to brood obsessively over anything, even the arrangement of some pieces of wood. Indeed, the Russians' predisposition for quiet reflection followed by sudden preventive action explains why they led the field for many years in both chess and ax murders. It is well known that as early as 1970, the U.S.S.R., aware of what a defeat at Reykjavik would do to national prestige, implemented a vigorous program of preparation and incentive. Every day for an entire year, a team of psychologists, chess analysts and coaches met with the top three Russian grand masters and threatened them with a pointy stick. That these tactics proved fruitless is now a part of chess history and a further testament to the American way, which provides that if you want something badly enough, you can always go to Iceland and get it from the Russians.
— Marshall Brickman, Playboy, April, 1973
posted by ceribus peribus at 11:19 AM on May 23, 2014

Dr. Tartakower also said "No one ever won a game by resigning."
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:12 PM on May 23, 2014

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