Counterplay: An Anthropologist at the Chessboard by Robert R. Desjarlais

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By Robert R. Desjarlais

Chess will get a carry of a few humans, like a pandemic or a drug, writes Robert Desjarlais during this soaking up booklet. Drawing on his lifelong fascination with the sport, Desjarlais publications readers into the realm of twenty-first-century chess to aid us comprehend its targeted pleasures and demanding situations, and to boost a brand new "anthropology of passion." Immersing us at once in chess's elaborate tradition, he interweaves small dramas, heavily saw info, illuminating insights, colourful anecdotes, and unforgettable biographical sketches to clarify the sport and to bare what is going on within the minds of skilled gamers after they face off over the board. Counterplay deals a compelling tackle the intrigues of chess and indicates how issues of play, attractiveness, festival, dependancy, fanciful cognition, and intersubjective engagement form the lives of these who soak up this such a lot alluring of video games.

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Extra resources for Counterplay: An Anthropologist at the Chessboard

Sample text

You're not sure how much English you r opponent knows, so when you meet him at the board you nod and smile on ly, and he does the same. At least he's not the gruff, unfriendly type. Vlad i m i r Grech i k h i n is his name. He's wea ring a blue d ress shirt unbuttoned at the collar, looks to be i n his ea rly sixties, and has the sturdy build of someone who has done manual labor during his l i fe . He's rated 2200, which i s the baseline for a master's rating. You suspect he has seen better days at the chessboard, that he's not playing at the level he was once capable of.

I n the wistfu l words of A lexander Alekhine, the fourth world cha mpion , which he w rote in the preface to a r929 book by a composer of chess puzzles, " I wou ld l i ke t o b e able t o create alone, without the necessity, as i n games , of adj usting my plans to those of the opponent, in order to create some­ thing that will rem a i n . Oh! This opponent, this collaborator aga i nst h i s w i l l , whose notion o f Beauty a lways d i ffers from yours and whose means (strengt h , i magination , techn ique) a re often too l i m ited to help you effec­ tively !

T he opponent i s a lways very a n noy i ng! " said Bent L a rsen, a Danish grandmaster and one of the world's best players i n the l ate r96os. It's enough to m a ke one detest an opponent's presence , to wish his for m out of existence . Chess is at once playful and cutthroat. There's a persistent tension between the competitive thrust of the game and the fact that friendly ties can crop up a mong chess players. Chess encounters can also bring hea lthy exposure to otherness and d i f­ ference.

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