“The Luzhin Defense is far and away the best novel written about chess players. It deals with chess and madness, which is an intriguing topic, because it’s often said that chess grandmasters have a propensity to insanity. Statistically, it’s probably not true, but, nonetheless, people think about Fischer, they think about Steinitz, the first undisputed world champion who went insane, and there were others as well, such as Morphy and Rubinstein. The great mystery to me, which this book touches on, is that it’s often said that these people are driven mad by chess, when actually it might have been the other way around – chess was the only thing that kept them from going off the deep end. It’s when they get away from chess, or try to break away from it, that their characters disintegrate. Fischer’s lunacy, if that’s what it was, broke out in full force when he abandoned playing the game. Within chess he was sublimely rational. They are often people who can be slightly awkward outside chess, but in chess are completely balanced.” Read more...
The Best Books About Chess