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The Immortal Game: A History of Chess Paperback – October 2, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Those curious about chess and wishing to learn more about the game (but not too much more) will welcome this accessible, nontechnical introduction. Shenk (The Forgetting) succinctly surveys the game's history from its origins in fifth- or sixth-century Persia up to the present, touching along the way on such subjects as his own amateurish pursuit of the game, erratic geniuses like Paul Morphy and Bobby Fischer, chess in schools today, computer chess and his great-great-grandfather Samuel Rosenthal, who was an eminent player in late 19th-century Europe. To heighten the drama, Shenk intersperses the text with the moves of the so-called "immortal game," a brilliant example of "romantic" chess played between Adolf Anderssen and Lionel Kieseritzky in London in 1851. Appendixes include transcripts of five other great games, along with Benjamin Franklin's brief essay "The Morals of Chess." Readers will come away from this entertaining book with a strong sense of why chess has remained so popular over the ages and why its study still has much to tell us about the workings of the human mind. 50 b&w illus. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Bookmarks Magazine
David Shenk is the author of four previous books, including The Forgetting, an acclaimed study of Alzheimer's, and Data Smog, about information overload in the Internet age. The greatest asset of The Immortal Game is its accessibility. Through an educated layperson's knowledge of chess, Shenk focuses on his subject's more intriguing points and leaves arcane rehashes of famous games for more technical texts. (An appendix obliges those who revel in such details.) At its most engaging, the book meditates on the ways that chess can enrich lives. Given its brevity, Shenk's overview sometimes sacrifices depth to coverage, though such an approach barely decreases the pleasure even an interested "wood-pusher"chess slang for a weak playermight take away from this passionate and well-researched history.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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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.