King's Gambit: A Son, A Father, and the World's Most Dangerous Game

King's Gambit: A Son, A Father, and the World's Most Dangerous Game

Language: English

Pages: 448

ISBN: 1401300979

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


As a young man, Paul Hoffman was a brilliant chess player . . . until the pressures of competition drove him to the brink of madness.

In King's Gambit, he interweaves a gripping overview of the history of the game and an in-depth look at the state of modern chess into the story of his own attempt to get his game back up to master level--without losing his mind. It's also a father and son story, as Hoffman grapples with the bizarre legacy of his own dad, who haunts Hoffman's game and life.

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nervous as she showed Kasparov how she overlooked a simple threat and blundered away a rook for a bishop. The thirteenth world champion was supportive. “I understand why you blundered,” he said. “You were better the whole game. This was the first time she had a threat. She had played passively move after move and you forgot that she could attack.” Changes of pace, he explained, are difficult even for seasoned pros. “What would a woman play in this position?” Truong piped up, trying to be funny.

I could turn to him to get an answer. It was immensely satisfying to know, while I was enmeshed in bewildering complications at the chessboard, that there would be clarity and wisdom later that day. I could also talk to him unguardedly about my chess neuroses because he had shared his own mental demons. It was comforting to have a good friend in the lonely and often hostile world of chess: someone who understood firsthand that even at the amateur level the game was as stressful as it was

spend their country’s money on the game without answering to anyone are an endangered species in the twenty-first century. Chess players, who by their very nature are always thinking one move ahead, are understandably worried that Ilyumzhinov is running out of friends who can fund their magnificent obsession. WHEN I ENTERED MY FIRST RATED TOURNAMENT, IN 1970, MY FATHER WAS the editor of Lithopinion, a handsome graphic arts and public affairs quarterly that the lithographers union published in

year, but he let this one get under his skin from the start. Machines like Deep Blue are typically very materialistic—they’ll happily grab a pawn or a piece, even if they have to wait out a blistering attack, provided they don’t foresee themselves actually getting mated. A human grandmaster, on the other hand, will generally avoid snatching material if the price is being on the defensive for a dozen moves—he knows that a single oversight may lead quickly and irrevocably to checkmate. It’s like

life is more balanced.” UNLIKE JENNIFER’S LIFE, IRINA’S REVOLVES AROUND THE GAME. “I AM VERY chessy,” she told me. Irina is uncomfortable giving interviews—she’d rather be playing chess than talking about the game. But one morning at 3:00 A.M., when I was driving home from a tournament with her and Pascal, she was unusually philosophical. Of all the top players I know, she is the most idealistic about the power of chess to give meaning to life. “Chess is a gift that civilization handed us,”

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