'Chess gets a hold of some people, like a virus or a drug', writes Robert Desjarlais in this absorbing book.
Drawing on his lifelong fascination with the game, Desjarlais guides readers in to the world of twenty-first-century chess to help us understand its unique pleasures and challenges and to advance a new 'anthropology of passion'.
Immersing us directly in chess's intricate culture, he interweaves personal stories, keen observations, expert narrative, and unforgettable biographical sketches to elucidate the game and to reveal what goes on in the minds of experienced players when they face off over the board.
Counterplay offers a compelling take on the intrigues of chess and shows themes of play, beauty, competition, addiction, fanciful cognition, and intersubjective engagement shape the lives of those who take up this most captivating of games.
Robert Desjarlais is Professor of Anthropology at Sarah Lawrence College
Contents: 1. Blitzkrieg Bop ...1 2. Notes on a Swindle ...26 3. Psych-Out ...55 4. Sveshnikov Intrigues ...82 5. Son of Sorrow ...103 6. Ambivalence ...126 7. Cyberchess ..152 8. 24/7 on the ICC ...184
Endgame ...203 Appendix 1. Note on Chess Annotation ...213 Appendix 2. "Life is touch-move" ...217 Notes ...225 Glossary ...239 Acknowledgments ...245 Index ...247
Jonathan Rowson, PhD, Grandmaster and British Chess Champion (2004-2006): 'Counterplay explores the inner world of a chess player and examines how we attempt to make meaning from the game and the forms of life that surround it.
Desjarlais's personal account skillfully illustrates the absorbing, enchanting, and exacting qualities of chess, while also highlighting the penury, disillusion, and pettiness that regretfully permeate the game.'
Michael D. Jackson, author of "The Palm at the End of the Mind": This book is replete with deeply researched and closely observed details, small dramas, intriguing insights, compelling anecdotes, and potted biographies all interwoven with great authorial skill and intelligence.
This is a superb introduction to the 'lifeworld' of chess that affords glimpses into the psychology of players and touches on the social and political dimensions of competitive chess."
Publishers Weekly: "An informative and penetrating survey of the game today."