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MatPlus.Net Forum Promenade Problem Chess in Literature
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(1) Posted by Hauke Reddmann [Tuesday, May 28, 2019 13:21]

Problem Chess in Literature

--- Feel free to add, also other media ---

Frankly, offhand I know only one work (excluding the usual suspects):
"The Emperor of Ocean Park" by Stephen L. Carter. Being a lazy git,
here is my recension from INSELSCHACH 113 (+Google Translate+workover).

Black is OK.
Anyway, so says GM Adorjan, and who would I be to talk back to him.
(An FM, if anyone cares.)
But it is not that easy. Even if one has a technically equal chance as Black,
White always comes first. And this means a psychological barrier, a constant,
slight sense of inferiority, even if one belongs to the upper class of the
United States.
Haaa-ha. Fooled you. Did anyone think I was talking about chess? :P
Carter's descriptions of the black upper class are so precise that I would
quite freely call him a color-reversed John Updike. The whole thing opens
as a political thriller, so you can accuse the author, however, of the slight
reproach that he drops too few "clues".
But in a chess problem the author does not drop them, either.
A problem composer, too, is the father of Talcott "Tal" Garland, the
first-person narrator (called Misha, guess why ;-). Or, was - because he died
of a heart attack. Or was it murder?

Because the father was a judge at the Supreme Court of the United States -
where politics is involved, you get a bag of conspiracy theories on a dime.
But soon shady characters run among the place, proofs (but for what?) disappear,
and Misha chases after the ghosts of the past as aimlessly as HR's figures in a game.
Is he just a pawn in the game of political chessmasters? I hear a rumoring from the
grave of John Brunner :-)
Unfortunately one notices that the problem chess knowledge of the author is only
read-on, if he e.g. (not eg :-) calls the Nowotny theme, "in which two black figures
prevent each other from covering important fields". Although N. also exists as
noble N., Finnish N., Yugoslavian N., Russian N. and Aldebaranian N., that
definition is as oversize as Shine's ... but let's leave it at that. But of course this
is nagging for the specialists, since Joe Blowfish does not even vaguely suspect what
a Nowotny is. [Offer of free drink for correct definition void on this forum :-)]
Actually, the assignments of the problem topics to the chapters is somewhat esoteric -
I wish the author would explain exactly how the action is analogous to a Nowotny,
Turton or uncovered escape field.
But this is finally a novel where chess players are not bizarre types (and problemists
bizarre cubed). And the slight criticism should not prevent anyone to read this
absolutely readable novel.
(Read Only)pid=17414
(2) Posted by Rewan Demontay (Real Name: James Malcom) [Tuesday, May 28, 2019 13:38]

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(3) Posted by shankar ram [Tuesday, May 28, 2019 16:36]

Vladimir Nabokov:
- Speak, Memory (problems)
- The Luzhin defence (game)
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(4) Posted by Marjan Kovačević [Tuesday, May 28, 2019 20:16]

Although about a chess player, The Luzhin Defense has some important links with chess composition, too. According to Nabokov, the whole structure of story was inspired by retro analyze in chess composition.
My favourite little part is when Luzhin's wife tries to "cure" him from chess, and engages him in reading together newspapers, instead. He quickly spots a chess problem on one page, memorize the diagram and keeps pretending to listen his wife's reading of senseless political news, while solving blindly and enjoying the brilliant solution ...
(Read Only)pid=17418
(5) Posted by Joose Norri [Tuesday, May 28, 2019 21:11]

Arturo Pérez-Reverte's The Flanders Panel features retroanalysis as a central motif in a murder mystery - not one hundred percent correct, but they still find out the killer.
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(6) Posted by Michael McDowell [Tuesday, May 28, 2019 21:24]

The Bishop Murder Case, one of S.S.van Dine’s Philo Vance mysteries, features a game Pardee v Rubinstein.

(= 4+5 )

Pardee resigns in the above position because he sees 45.Rxc2 Sxc2 46.Kxc2 b1Q+ 47.Kxb1 Kd3 48.Ka1 Kc2 49.d3 Bb2 mate.

If you don't recognise that finish shame on you!
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(7) Posted by Hauke Reddmann [Wednesday, May 29, 2019 10:44]

@Shankar: That was what I meant with "usual suspects" :-)

@Michael: You inspired me to another of my
brilliant-yet-half-assed ideas. Of course I immediately
recognized it, but I couldn't remember the composer (there
are too many great study composers) due to old age :-)
And then I was enlightened: Problem chess is like
Science Fiction. There you also remember *much* more
"ideas" than the people who invented them. (Or so I claim.
Of course it doesn't hold for the stuff of legends which
is forever connected with the artist's name.)

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(8) Posted by Rewan Demontay (Real Name: James Malcom) [Wednesday, May 29, 2019 17:01]

This might not exactly be entirely chess or entirely literature, but I remember this interesting puzzle on Puzzle Stack Exchange:
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(9) Posted by Hauke Reddmann [Wednesday, May 29, 2019 20:35]

In that case I might the also doubly-not-entirely
items by puzzle profi Raymond Smullyan. :-)
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(10) Posted by Arpad Rusz [Wednesday, May 29, 2019 23:54]

GM György Bakcsi has two books with detective stories based on chess problems. The main character is Detective En Passant.
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(11) Posted by Peter Wong [Tuesday, Jun 11, 2019 13:22]; edited by Peter Wong [19-06-11]

While doing a bit of research for a blog, 'Vladimir Nabokov in The Problemist', I came across this article called 'Chess and Chess Problems' in a reference book on Nabokov. The article mentions that his novel 'The Gift' features a chess problem composer as the main character. Apparently chess doesn't play a big role in this novel, though, unlike 'The Defense'.

Check out my blog: and the article which you can read on Google Books:
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(12) Posted by Joost de Heer [Tuesday, Jun 11, 2019 16:20]

Tim Krabbé - Master Jacobson (

(FYI: The task referenced in that story is
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MatPlus.Net Forum Promenade Problem Chess in Literature