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The Immortal Game: A History of Chess Paperback – 2 Oct 2007
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Description for The Immortal Game: A History of Chess
Praise for David Shenk’s The Immortal Game
“Elegant . . . A true page-turner, and a superb introduction to the game of chess.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Clear, elegant, sophisticated and easy to understand. . . . Just the thing to get you in the thrall of this ancient game.” —Los Angeles Times
“Shenk, a spry writer. . . . [Offers] a strong case for the game’s bewitching power.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Shenk’s book possesses an almost inestimable advantage over the many other publications about chess. . . . You can be an utter novice, just a simple wood-pusher, and enjoy the author’s engaging prose, honest self-deprecation (he’s a lousy player), and the charm of his personal connection to the game.” —The Washington Post
“Fresh and fascinating . . . A world-spanning story [Shenk] relates with skill and verve.” —Chicago Sun-Times
About the Author
David Shenk is the nationally bestselling author of six books, including The Genius in All of Us, The Immortal Game, The Forgetting, and Data Smog. He has written for The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Harper’s, National Geographic, Slate, NPR, and PBS, among others. He lives in Brooklyn.See all Description for The Immortal Game: A History of Chess
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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. 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.
The book begins by looking at the origins of the game in the 600s in India. The original game was called "chaturanga." The game spread to Persia where it evolved into "shatranj." Because of trade, the game spread all across Europe. Eventually the modern rules were standardized and became known in English as "chess."
The game was played by nobility, but its popularity was spread across the masses. 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. In 1997, the IBM sponsored Deep Blue beat reigning world champion Garry Kasparov in a match.
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.
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. 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.