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Chess can be an obsession that takes over your life, whether you are
a wood-pushing novice or a superstar grandmaster. British journalist
Sarah Hurst was infected with chess fever at the age of 20 and spent
seven years exploring the mysterious world of the amateur and
professional player. In pursuit of interviews she slid down an icy hill in
Hastings to catch a Chinese women's world champion, chased Garry
Kasparov around London, chatted cheerfully with a manic depressive
in Budapest, and roamed the Russian steppe with Kalmyk Buddhists.
When a newspaper editor Larisa Yudina was murdered within a mile or two of City
Chess, the pet project of millionaire dictator Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, Hurst began to
expose the darker side of chess politics. She urged professional players to boycott
the World Chess Olympiad, pointing to Ilyumzhinov's corruption and possible
involvement in the murder. But chess players had no desire to reject the millions of
dollars Ilyumzhinov was pouring into prize funds, and the boycott campaign failed.
The historical articles in this book show that chess, insanity and politics have always
been inextricably connected. Nikolai Krylenko, the founder of the Soviet chess
movement, was a public prosecutor at Stalin's show trials. One of the greatest
players of all time, Alexander Alekhine, was an alcoholic who wrote anti-Semitic
articles in Nazi newspapers. America's chess hero, Bobby Fischer, the world
champion who single-handedly defeated the Soviet chess battalions, gave up the
game after his victory and only resurfaced to break sanctions in Serbia.
You will be captivated by Hurst's insights and observations. "The lasting impression
of Sarah is of a fearless and humorous person for whom no challenge is
insurmountable." Ken Whyld