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The Immortal Game by David Shenk

The Immortal Game (edition 2006)

by David Shenk

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4101325,944 (3.72)8
Title:The Immortal Game
Authors:David Shenk
Info:Doubleday Books (2006), Hardcover
Collections:Your library
Tags:non-fiction, chess

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The Immortal Game: A History of Chess, or How 32 Carved Pieces on a Board Illuminated Our Understanding of War, Art, Science and the Human Brain by David Shenk



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Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
I read this book upon a friend's insistence, and was happy I did. The book details the history of chess quite finely, and does it through the lens of a much-heralded match in the game's storied past. There were two bits of information I found illuminating: 1) The queen increased her power via new moves in response to historical female figures gaining and exertion of power, 2) the "en passant" move, which I had not previously known. While reading the book, I played some chess games online and downloaded an app, and summarily got my keister whupped. I still enjoy chess, but mastery is far off. I'll continue my quest for domination in the Scrabble realm. ( )
  MartinBodek | Jun 11, 2015 |
The Immortal Game is an excellent debut novel. Right out of the gate Joannah Miley hooked me. I immediately identified with Ruby, the main character. Her loneliness and drive to make it through college, study and get good grades at the expense of her social life, makes her sympathetic.

Then she plays a simple game of Chess with the handsome boy all the other college girls are crushing on. That simple game plays out throughout the book. Just like a chess master is god over the chessmen so might we have gods who ‘move’ us. Soon we learn of the ancient gods, some of who are among us, who have chosen to place Mt. Olympus “above” Mt. Olympus in Washington State.

The setting is unobtrusive and lived in, the Pacific Northwest setting is a near future place where the world’s wars have once again come to the North American continent.

As Ruby learns of the gods and finds that her relationship may be as a pawn in game of gods and goddesses we follow her, understanding why she makes her choices even when we don’t like them.

There is a calm interlude in the book where everything is and heavenly, I found myself wanting some action. Then all Hell broke loose and I was left wishing for the quiet vistas, lovely settings, the calm coffee shop and the ambrosia bars. Enjoy the calm while you have it. Don't worry. Things will get worse!

The book crosses a number of genre’s Young Adult, Romance, Paranormal/Fantasy/Science Fiction. It has some sexy scenes, but they are tame and not especially explicit.

Favorite moment: In regards to remembering her Greek Mythology: “Who could have known that would be the important class?”

I love the juxtaposition of Love and War, two very traditional topics when interacting with the gods. Though Miley has suggested this is the first book in a series, this book works as a total standalone. Thanks for that, Joannah.

Write on. ( )
  RobertLSlater | Nov 20, 2013 |
Ambitious history of chess with well-synthesized social/political/psychological context, plus analysis of the "immortal game" played by Anderssen and Kieseritsky in London, June 21, 1851. ( )
  rsubber | Nov 10, 2012 |
Very enjoyable account of the history of Western chess, framed in a blow by blow account of a famous encounter between Adolph Anderssen and Lionel Kieseritsky in London (1861). ( )
  markbstephenson | Dec 24, 2011 |
A good mixture between a plain but well documntd history of th Chess game, the vary basic concepts to understand Chess theory over time and also the personal exprience of the writer, grandson of an American master himself. I would recommend the book specially to those not understanding how this ancient game can still hook people from all ages in the XXI century. ( )
  qgil | Feb 24, 2009 |
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Caliph Ar-Radi was walking in the country, and stopped in a lovely garden, replete with lawns and flowers. His courtiers immediately began to dilate on the wonders of the garden, to extol its beauty, and to place it above all the wonders of the world.

"Stop," cried the Caliph, "As-Suli's skill at chess charms me more."
--al-Masudi, tenth century
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(Prologue): Think of a virus so advanced, it infects not the blood but the thoughts of its human host.
(Introduction): Large rocks, severed heads, and flaming pots of oil rained down on Baghdad, capital of the vast Islamic Empire, as its weary defenders scrambled to reinforce gates, ditches, and the massive stone walls surrounding the city's many brick and teak palaces.
Stories do not exist to tell the facts, but to convey the truth.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385510101, Hardcover)

Why has one game, alone among the thousands of games invented and played throughout human history, not only survived but thrived within every culture it has touched? What is it about its thirty-two figurative pieces, moving about its sixty-four black and white squares according to very simple rules, that has captivated people for nearly 1,500 years? Why has it driven some of its greatest players into paranoia and madness, and yet is hailed as a remarkably powerful intellectual tool?

Nearly everyone has played chess at some point in their lives. Its rules and pieces have served as a metaphor for society, influencing military strategy, mathematics, artificial intelligence, and literature and the arts. It has been condemned as the devil’s game by popes, rabbis, and imams, and lauded as a guide to proper living by other popes, rabbis, and imams. Marcel Duchamp was so absorbed in the game that he ignored his wife on their honeymoon. Caliph Muhammad al-Amin lost his throne (and his head) trying to checkmate a courtier. Ben Franklin used the game as a cover for secret diplomacy.

In his wide-ranging and ever-fascinating examination of chess, David Shenk gleefully unearths the hidden history of a game that seems so simple yet contains infinity. From its invention somewhere in India around 500 A.D., to its enthusiastic adoption by the Persians and its spread by Islamic warriors, to its remarkable use as a moral guide in the Middle Ages and its political utility in the Enlightenment, to its crucial importance in the birth of cognitive science and its key role in the aesthetic of modernism in twentieth-century art, to its twenty-first-century importance in the development of artificial intelligence and use as a teaching tool in inner-city America, chess has been a remarkably omnipresent factor in the development of civilization.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:45 -0400)

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A history of chess explains how the game, its rules, and its pieces have had a profound influence on military strategy, literature, the arts, mathematics, and the development of artificial intelligence.

(summary from another edition)

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