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The Poetry of Everyday LifeStorytelling and the Art of Awareness$
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Steve Zeitlin

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781501702358

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501702358.001.0001

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Days of Chess and Backgammon

Days of Chess and Backgammon

Life’s Game Board

(p.63) 5 Days of Chess and Backgammon
The Poetry of Everyday Life

Steve Zeitlin

Cornell University Press

The author here considers the games of chess and backgammon. The author shares how he became fascinated by chess, intrigued by its philosophical side. He was twelve years old in 1959, when Bobby Fischer won the United States Chess Championship. As a folklorist, he did field research on chess havens in New York's West Village, interviewing the players in Washington Square Park and at the two warring chess clubs on Thompson Street, Chess Forum and the Village Chess Shop. He talks about the Capablanca table; José Raúl Capablanca, world chess champion from 1921 to 1927, is said to have won the World Chess Championship on that table. Fischer also played on that table, in New York in 1965. Chess, the author observes, seems to lend itself to grandiose metaphors. Metaphors abound in the down-and-dirty trash talk exchanged by the chess players in New York City parks. The author concludes by recalling how he and his father would engage in a gentle competition playing online backgammon games.

Keywords:   chess, backgammon, Bobby Fischer, chess clubs, Capablanca table, José Raúl Capablanca, metaphors, chess players, New York City

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