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Top 10 Chess Books to Read Without a Board (Fiction)
Bedtime reading, beach reading, hammock reading.

(March 2007) Bedtime reading, beach reading, hammock reading. Most chess books require a chess set and board to get the most out of them. Here are a selection of books, most of them novels, that can be read anywhere and where chess plays a central role.

1. 'The Queen's Gambit' by Walter Tevis

'Eight year-old orphan Beth Harmon is quiet, sullen, and by all appearances unremarkable. That is until she plays her first game of chess. Her senses grow sharper, her thinking clearer, and for the first time in her life she feels herself fully in control. By the age of sixteen, she's competing for the U.S. Open championship. But as she hones her skills on the professional circuit, the stakes get higher, her isolation grows more frightening, and the thought of escape becomes all the more tempting.' (from the inside flap)

2. 'The Eight' by Katherine Neville

'Computer expert Cat Velis is heading for a job to Algeria. Before she goes, a mysterious fortune teller warns her of danger, and an antique dealer asks her to search for pieces to a valuable chess set that has been missing for years. In the South of France in 1790 two convent girls hide valuable pieces of a chess set all over the world, because the game that can be played with them is too powerful.' (from the inside flap)

3. 'Chess Story' by Stefan Zweig (also known as 'The Royal Game')

'On a great ocean liner, the world champion of chess confronts a lawyer with a surprising talent for the game in a tense contest of wit and will. How the lawyer acquired his skill and at what terrible cost are the substance of a story, in which, at the same time, quietly but unmistakably, the death knell of the enlightenment is sounded.' (from the back cover)

4. 'The Flanders Panel' by Arturo Perez-Reverte

'A fifteenth-century painting by a Flemish master is about to be auctioned when Julia, a young art restorer, discovers a peculiar inscription hidden in a corner: Who killed the knight? In the painting, the Duke of Flanders and his knight are locked in a game of chess, and a dark lady lurks mysteriously in the background. Julia is determined to solve the five-hundred-year-old murder, but as she begins to look for clues, several of her friends in the art world are brutally murdered in quick succession.' (from the Amazon.com Book Description)

5. 'The Defense' by Vladimir Nabokov

'Nabokov's third novel, The Defense, is a chilling story of obsession and madness. As a young boy, Luzhin was unattractive, distracted, withdrawn, sullen--an enigma to his parents and an object of ridicule to his classmates. He takes up chess as a refuge from the anxiety of his everyday life. His talent is prodigious and he rises to the rank of grandmaster--but at a cost: in Luzhin' s obsessive mind, the game of chess gradually supplants the world of reality.' (from the inside flap)

6. 'The Chess Team' by James H. Sawaski

'Jim Berzchak has a gift. His capabilities in the game of chess are remarkable and his brain works at levels most people only dream about. However, a horrific blunder while playing at the high school state tournament costs his Escanaba Eskimos the team championship. Depressed, he slips into a world of solitude. His life stalls and although he studies chess aggressively and enhances his skills, other aspects to his well being become reclusive.' (from the Amazon.com Book Description)

7. 'The Luneburg Variation' by Paolo Maurensig

'At the opening of this amazing fiction, a cadaver is discovered, the body of a wealthy businessman from Vienna, apparently a suicide without plausible motivation. Next to the body is a chessboard made of rags with buttons for pieces whose positions on the board may hold the only clue.' (from the Amazon.com Book Description)

8. 'Pawn to Infinity' by Fred and Joan Saberhagen

'Wherever man goes, his wars go with him. And every culture has expressed itself in games that play at war--games of nerve and strategy in which the winner is he who best foresees the twists of his opponent's mind. Chess, the "game of kings," carries this mock conflict to its most sophisticated extreme. Here is a selection of stories from the finest writers of science fiction, all of whom understand how both glory and tragedy can be outlined on a checkered board.' (from the front page)

9. 'Alekhine's Anguish: A Novel of the Chess World' by Charles D. Yaffe

'Born into Russian nobility, Alekhine lost his family and nearly his life to the Bolsheviks before becoming the world's most powerful chess player. The coming of World War II placed the chess master in a difficult position, forcing him to collaborate with the Nazis and to produce anti-Semitic materials. The novel is told as fiction but is based on the actual people and events that were part of his triumphant career and troubled life.' (from the Amazon.com Book Description)

10. 'The Immortal Game' by Mark Coggins

'Meet Edwin Bishop: a multi-millionaire entrepreneur who has founded and taken public several very successful software game companies. Bishop has developed a software program to play chess against human opponents that he claims is the most advanced ever written, but before it is released, he finds that the software has been stolen when he stumbles across a vendor demonstrating the game at a trade show.' (from the Amazon.com Book Description)

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