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A History of Chess
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  1. The Immortal Game by David Shenk | iwojafevazyx.ml: Books
  2. Book Review: The Immortal Game
  3. Frequently bought together

I've recently become geeked out about chess. Most of the stuff I've read has felt as grueling as a textbook, but Shenk's book is engaging and enthusiastic. On my last trip to the library, I did something I almost never do: I chose a book simply because it sounded interesting. Because I can only accept so much spontaneity, however, I did verify that it had a decent Goodreads rating before taking a chance on it.

I wanted to listen to some nonfiction, so why not a history of a chess. Reader, I made the right choice. David Shenk finds that he has a personal connection to the game of chess, as one of his ancestors was a chessmaster. And so he delves int On my last trip to the library, I did something I almost never do: And so he delves into the history of the game and we are all the more enlightened for his sharing of his findings.

Shenk begins at the beginning, sifting through multiple origin stories, none of which can be the whole truth but all of which come together to evoke an appealing narrative of how the game was born, be it in India or Persia or both independently. We follow the game as it reaches Europe and evolves in the sort of cultural appropriation I would say cultural exchange, but it's not like the Europeans gave anything back to the brown people who invented the game that has peppered world history in the Shenk does not interrogate this aspect of the history of chess too deeply, though he does make an ironic observation about Christians playing chess during the Crusades to relax after slaughtering the Muslims who invented the game.

Tracking the game throughout world history was fascinating enough, but a large chunk of the book focuses on what the game means beyond those 32 carved pieces on a board. The obvious metaphorical implications and its connection to war. The strategies involved and how it helps us understand how the human brain works did you know chess is responsible for cognitive science as a field.

The basic philosophies of chess and its interpretation by artists in various media. It's just a simple game, but, as Shenk points out early on, what other game has endured for years? To tie the book together with a narrative backbone, Shenk takes us through the titular Immortal Game, a famous chess game played by Adolf Anderssen and Lionel Kieseritzky in London in Move by move, he explains how and why each player does what he does, in addition to expounding upon the rules and strategies of chess and their evolution and study through the years like entire books being written on opening moves [by which I mean a book on an opening move].

Mayer's audio recording is always engaging, finding the perfect balance of simple narration and personality, I did have some trouble following descriptions of chess moves; I assume the print book has accompanying visuals to guide the reader. Regardless, toward the end of game, I was literally cursing and shouting at the moves being made and screaming when a chapter ended on a cliffhanger. I've never been so fucking invested in a chess game, what the hell.

For anyone looking for a great nonfiction book that highlights both individuals and culture and touches on art and science while also giving a greater appreciation for a topic you've never thought too deeply about, I absolutely recommend The Immortal Game. It made me want to play some fucking chess for the first time in years, and I can't think of a better endorsement.

Nov 28, Opetoritse rated it really liked it. A brisk yet engaging tour through chess's long and storied history. Shenk gives ample attention to the intellectual, philosophical, and at times almost spiritual qualities of the game, accessibly illustrating how it has remained relevant for over 1, years. I was pleased that a fair amount of attention is given to the ancient Indian and Middle Eastern societies in which the game originated and flourished for the first third of its life. Shenk's inclusion of his personal journey with the game f A brisk yet engaging tour through chess's long and storied history.

Shenk's inclusion of his personal journey with the game further humanized the narrative, at times giving the impression that he is learning right along side you. His account of the eponymous Immortal Game is at times blended into the themes of the surrounding chapters, but at others feels choppy and of place. The appendix also contains many useful resources including Benjamin Franklin's "The Moral of Chess" and a selection of famous games.

Dec 20, Lew Watts rated it really liked it. There are more books with the title "The Immortal Game" than seems possible, but this is the one you should choose Like many, I went through a chess phase in my late teens, about the time I would read poetry books in public places and wore clear-lensed spectacles to 'impress' my intellect and seriousness on strangers. But even then, despite a shallow understanding of chess, I'd heard and read about the "immortal game" that took place There are more books with the title "The Immortal Game" than seems possible, but this is the one you should choose But even then, despite a shallow understanding of chess, I'd heard and read about the "immortal game" that took place between Adolf Anderssen and Lionel Kieseritzky, a warm-up game that featured increasingly daring and outrageous moves until the stunning finale.

Reading David Shenk's book brought all that back and more. If you are not into chess, however, you are likely to be disappointed. Beyond the game itself, there seems to be a lack of energy and the personal, although how difficult it would be to shine against the brilliance of the match itself. Apr 07, Rebecca Jones rated it really liked it.

A successful juggling act. I don't know why I picked up this book had doubts on whether I'd read it. The title and opening were significant enough hooks to keep me reading until the narratives started to unfold. The time spent on earlier civilizations, gave me a vested interest. I am not a chess player. From early in my youth I purposefully disdained from chess playing.

I had access to books and willing adversaries. But it was not an easy thing. From the first game it became apparent that being go A successful juggling act.

The Immortal Game by David Shenk | iwojafevazyx.ml: Books

From the first game it became apparent that being good would take work. Like the writer I was lazy. There were so many other things to engage my time with then spend endless hours in becoming mediocre in a game that meant nothing. I, at the time of reading, felt inspired for the first time in my life to learn something of chess. Maybe it is the history. The richness of the metaphors that have evolved to fit the politics of the time. Perhaps the passion and grandness he bestowed on not just the game but specific games.

Chess, in this book became more then a noun. It became the protagonist. I was rooting for it when Muslims were trying to ban it. When time and ideology seemed on the brink of burying it. By midgame I had given the game, an intellect, a personality. It was simultaneously the Turing test and it had passed. Jan 25, Sean rated it really liked it. It has a very interdisciplinary approach, which I liked, and the play-by-play of "the immortal game" a chess game between two blokes in midth century London is nail-biting.

May 25, Graham Lee rated it really liked it Shelves: Enjoyable, but much too brief. I feel like every chapter could've been deeper and longer and it would still be an engaging book. Dec 28, Erik Hanberg rated it it was amazing. A quick read about both the history of chess and a single game in London in the s.

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I enjoyed it a lot. Aug 06, Daniel Creviston rated it really liked it. I used to play chess with my dad when I was a kid and he taught me the basics. We'd usually play on Sundays after church and lunch when we had some time to devote to it. As I got older I played less but recently picked up again and have been playing online. I introduced my dad to a chess app and now we're playing each other again. We're much more balanced in skill now, but he still manages to beat me more than half the time. Getting back into playing sparked my interest in the topic and my library I used to play chess with my dad when I was a kid and he taught me the basics.

Getting back into playing sparked my interest in the topic and my library had this audiobook available and it was really enjoyable. I loved learning about the history of chess a game nearly years old! A few other things I learned: One variant of chess was played with dice Many religions throughout the ages have both promoted and banned chess. The queen became the most powerful piece on the board after one or two powerful midieval became powerful world leaders.

Benjamin Franklin was an avid chess player and used it in a tool for diplomacy. There are more possible chess board positions that there are electrons in the universe. And so much more Even if you don't like chess, you'll find this book an easy and interesting read. This is the first book I read about the history of chess, and it was a great experience.

I am a fan of chess but I am a novice player, and I am very likely to stay that way as I am not interested in reading chess theory, openings, endgames or strategy. I do find quite entertaining to see other people play beautiful and ingenious moves, and I am as most people are always in awe of people playing blitz or blindfold chess.

This book not only narrates the vast history of chess, but also many other This is the first book I read about the history of chess, and it was a great experience. This book not only narrates the vast history of chess, but also many other aspects related to it, like memory, machines, politics and wars, anecdotes of famous people etc. It also narrates move by move the "Immortal game", a chess match played by Anderssen and Kieseritzky in This was not my favorite part, but nonetheless it was described in a really instructive and entertaining way.

A fascinating journey following the development of chess, the rules, its impact on society, and emerging strategies, as recounted by an interested observer of the game who understands the principles but admits to struggling to deploying them in practice with whom I can identify! Very easy to read, a little heavy on examples of chess analogies, a little light on the big epochs of chess other than the romantics fascinatingly interspersed with analysis of the "Immortal Game" between Anders A fascinating journey following the development of chess, the rules, its impact on society, and emerging strategies, as recounted by an interested observer of the game who understands the principles but admits to struggling to deploying them in practice with whom I can identify!

Very easy to read, a little heavy on examples of chess analogies, a little light on the big epochs of chess other than the romantics fascinatingly interspersed with analysis of the "Immortal Game" between Anderssen and Kieseritzky and anecdotes about the author's champion predecessor. In addition to the eponymous game, the appendix contains the full move list with some annotations for several other notable matches. I look forward to a follow up in which Shenk uses games like these to explain the history and strategy perhaps behind the key openings, tactics, and features of each of the other great epochs of chess: Romantic; Scientific; Hypermodern; New Dynamism.

Not sure when I began reading this book so the dates might be a bit off. Perhaps this was to lengthen the book, I don't know. Anyway, I really enjoyed the intermezzos in which the author describes the so-called Immortal Game move by move. Although not a perfect book, it has managed to rekindle a long-dormant interest in chess within me, and for that I am satisfied to have picked it up.

Oct 24, Bobby Jones rated it it was amazing. This book presents a really fun and interesting history of chess, from its shadowy beginnings in the Indus Valley to its role in the development of thinking machines.

The Immortal Game: A History of Chess, or How 32 Carved Piec

Shenk's writing is good and he manages to weave personal anecdotes and technical details throughout the history. His choice of a famous game the eponymous 'Immortal Game' as a sort of framing mechanism between the chapters has a certain amount of charm and, despite it easily being the most intimidating portion to the laymen, he m This book presents a really fun and interesting history of chess, from its shadowy beginnings in the Indus Valley to its role in the development of thinking machines.

His choice of a famous game the eponymous 'Immortal Game' as a sort of framing mechanism between the chapters has a certain amount of charm and, despite it easily being the most intimidating portion to the laymen, he manages to keep it riveting till the end. I would have liked to have seen more from Shenk on how computer chess has changed the game, but the end he turns the book towards is enjoyable in its own right. I would recommend this book even to those who do not have an interest in chess. Oct 22, Mishehu rated it it was amazing. Fascinating game, fascinating popular history.

If you're a serious student of chess history, you probably won't find much new in this book. If you, like me, are a complete dabbler though, and the idea of 32 pieces skittering across a substantial chunk of recorded human history tweaks your interest, and if, perhaps, you also recall the excitement of Cold War chess conflicts, and remember some of the great chess figures of our or any age in whom madness and genius so palpably and publicly strugg Fascinating game, fascinating popular history.

If you, like me, are a complete dabbler though, and the idea of 32 pieces skittering across a substantial chunk of recorded human history tweaks your interest, and if, perhaps, you also recall the excitement of Cold War chess conflicts, and remember some of the great chess figures of our or any age in whom madness and genius so palpably and publicly struggled make occasional appearances on the nightly news -- you might like this book.

Shenk convinced me that chess is a game and more than a game. I was especially interested to learn a bit about how the history of chess play itself has evolved through the ages. Oct 14, Aaron Arnold rated it really liked it Shelves: At this point in my life, I'm comfortable with the idea that I'll be a patzer forever. I like chess a lot, but the idea of sitting down with a book of openings and studying it seriously, like it was for a test, somehow makes the game seem too much like work, even though it's impossible to become even a mediocre player without giving chess some real thought.

This attitude probably says something about how I view games as a whole, and in fact maybe even about my view on life in general, and Shenk, At this point in my life, I'm comfortable with the idea that I'll be a patzer forever. This attitude probably says something about how I view games as a whole, and in fact maybe even about my view on life in general, and Shenk, who's descended from marginally famous 19th century master Samuel Rosenthal, would agree whole-heartedly that your attitude towards chess says a lot about you.

Chess metaphors are nearly ubiquitous in many fields of life, and no other game has captured the enthusiasm as well as the imagination of people. In fact, that's a constant theme of the book, which traces the history of chess as well as its role as a sort of mirror for many literary, artistic, or cultural movements. The title is a reference to one of the most famous chess games in history, which film buffs will recognize from its appearance in Blade Runner.

Shenk describes the players' moves and strategies in short chunks of a few moves at a time, interweaving episodes from the development of the game with broader changes in society. Yet chess has been a favorite pastime of so many influential people that he can write that the development of the Hypermodern style was "closely connected to the early twentieth-century intellectual ferment that spawned the fiction of Joyce, Proust, and Kafka, the theater of Brecht and Pirandello, the fabulist tales of Jorge Luis Borges, the slapstick of Charlie Chaplin and the Marx Brothers, the experimental music of John Cage, and the conceptual art of Marcel Duchamp" and not be exaggerating.

Interspersed with funny examples of chess in history, like Benjamin Franklin's chess diplomacy in London trying to prevent the Revolutionary War, are a few mini-biographies of some expected greats I personally will never cease being fascinated with Bobby Fischer's saddening descent into ludicrous anti-Semitism , and also some really interesting stories I had never heard before.

When discussing the nature-nurture question of whether chess genius can be taught or is merely an inborn endowment, Shenk relates the story of Laszlo Polgar: There, in the late s, psychologist Laszlo Polgar embarked on an unusual experiment in order to prove that any healthy baby can be nurtured into a genius: He and his wife forged a plan to school their children at home and focus them intensely on a few favorite disciplines - among them chess. Lo and behold, they all became chess "geniuses. Judit, the youngest, became at age fifteen the youngest grandmaster in history a record previously held by Bobby Fischer , and was considered a strong candidate to eventually become world chess champion.

The later parts of the book concentrate on the relationship between chess programs and AI. From Alan Turing onwards, many of the most prominent AI researchers have used the problem of chess to focus on different aspects of artificial intelligence, and many now-fundamental techniques such as alpha-beta pruning were given test runs in chess programs. Shenk discusses the question of what exactly Deep Blue's victory over Kasparov means in terms of "true" AI - given the rise in Freestyle competition, which he doesn't mention, I personally don't see that the rise of computers means people are obsolete at all - but it's an interesting question to ponder.

Games like checkers have been definitely solved to where AIs can't lose, but no one would argue that AI success in one domain means that it's "smarter" than people. That will take a lot more sophistication on a computer's part, and I don't expect there to be a bright line. Chess, as Shenk movingly and convincingly shows in this book, may be an excellent metaphor for all kinds of things, but it is also our tool, as are the computers that play it, even if our attitude towards it reveals more about us than we might like.

Here's the second half of Borges' poem The Game of Chess: They do not know it is the artful hand Of the player that rules their fate, They do not know that an adamant rigor Subdues their free will and their span. But the player likewise is a prisoner The maxim is Omar's on another board Of dead-black nights and of white days. God moves the player and he, the piece. What god behind God originates the scheme Of dust and time and dream and agony?

Nov 07, Larry Coleman rated it really liked it. This isn't so much a history book as it is a collection of different essays about chess throughout history. This is actually a good thing: Many times, he ends up discussing the impact of chess on history rather than chess history, and to me this was a good thing.

If you're looking for an academic text on the history of chess, this isn't your book. However, if you're looking to be entertained and educa This isn't so much a history book as it is a collection of different essays about chess throughout history. For example, there is less than a page discussing the Polgar Sisters, and that only discussing the way their chess was developed as children. Nothing about their glass ceiling shattering careers. The Soviet "chess machine" is, predictably, criticized.

Overall, a patzer of a book. I've played chess off and on in my life but never really felt confident about my chess ability. I bought this book to learn more about the history of the game and to try to gain a better understanding of the importance of chess. It surprised me that the book was so well-written and entertaining as I read it. The book gives the history of the game as far as possible and outlines the evolution of the pieces and rules until the end of the 15th century when chess became what we know it as today.

The author does a great job of telling the history of chess factually and with stories about the game in antiquity. After the solidification of chess David Shenk goes on to describe the progression of chess theory in broad strokes and outlines the different chess schools; Romantic, Scientific, and Hypermodern. As a novice, I found the descriptions of this progression to be fascinating.

Book Review: The Immortal Game

He did a magnificent job conveying the ideas of tactics and strategy as applied to chess games. The book also does a good job describing not only the development of chess in history, but also the development of chess games in terms of opening, middle game, and end game. The entire book contains a thread based on the Immortal Game and gives the moves and structure of that match throughout. It was amazing as a novice to catch the excitement of that game to the point where I couldn't just read the book linearly, I had to jump ahead to see how the game ended!

If you have an interest in the history and importance of chess in the world, I highly recommend this book. It was fascinating throughout and makes me want to study chess a bit more seriously in the future. Kindle Edition Verified Purchase. Does a good job of wrapping entertaining trivia about chess around a well annotated move by move play out of the well known immortal game of Andersen. The majority of early chess - history is from Murray's History of chess.

This is not a book about the history of chess play or technique, or about famous chess players per say.


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There are some interesting background stories about computer chess, chess and psychology and Soviet chess. It was fun to read but I learned less than expected. The history of chess goes back more than 1, years. As the book explains, it is a game of near infinite possibilities. It is simple enough that even small children can learn the rules to play the game, yet exceedingly complex to stump grandmasters. It is these qualities that has allowed chess to endure for so long across so many cultures.

The book begins by looking at the origins of the game in the s in India. The original game was called "chaturanga. Eventually the modern rules were standardized and became known in English as "chess. Eventually, people started to analyze the game more deeply giving rise to famous chess-related names like Ruy Lopez and Philidor. Even Benjamin Franklin was known to be an avid chess player.

During the nineteenth century, the old ways of the Romantic era gave way to the Scientific era and more positional play. The book examines how chess has been used to exercise the mind, both with good and bad results. In the more modern era, the Soviet Union dominated the chess world during the Cold War era.

Also during the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, computer chess became better. Computer scientists were interested in how it might be possible to use a computer to play excellent chess against a human and even use the idea to develop a form of artificial intelligence. I found this book to be an interesting look at the history of chess and the role it has sometimes played in history. I would recommend this book to anyone who has played chess that is interested in the origins and history of the game. This is the book I always thought, "interesting but I have a lot to read.

Well, as I found when I got it on my Kindle it was both.

It traces the history of Chess through the ages. It also gives an in-depth study of the famous Immortal Game a notable game played between two masters in a London Gentleman's Club , with illustrations and analysis of every move, which is great as I simply don't have the gift of making a mind picture out of notation. The book is written in an engaging style and gives charming anecdotes. It is not written in a the style of a typical chess manuel but in a way an average reader can comprehend and enjoy.

The book is hardly perfect and I have noticed flaws about general history. But that is pedantry; perfection is impossible.

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What the book gives is well worth it. What it gives is a rich tapestry of the lore of the Game of Kings is what makes the book worth reading. The book, on the whole is just what I wanted. A history of chess and chess folklore written in a charming manner. I love the type of book that traces the history and legends surrounding some particular commodity or item and have been wanting something about chess for a long time. Chess is so much a thing of legend that it begs for a book like this. And this is one I have long waited for. In short this book was a great windfall, one I was lucky to find.

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