‘Surely in chess there is just you, your opponent, the pieces, and – in Kasparovian terms – an examination of the truth of the position. I put the matter to Colin Crouch, a bearded and amiable International Master who holds one of the strangest records in the book: playing black in a tournament in London nine years ago, he made the highest number of consecutive checks in a documented game – forty-three in all – as he methodically chugged to victory. Crouch maintains that luck does exist, and of two kinds: the first is when your opponent misses something, or messes up his position to your benefit (though this might seem an imbalance of skill rather than the operation of hazard); and the second is when a position develops of enormous complication, which neither player properly understands or can see the advantage in but which they are nevertheless both obliged to play.’

Julian Barnes, ‘TDF: The World Chess Championship’
The New Yorker (December 1993)
reproduced in Letters from London 1990-1995
(Picador, 1995), pp.265-6


See also


A Game of Chance

Violence and intellectuality




The Living Game


Playing for Peanuts




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