Players And Pawns: How Chess Builds Community And Culture

Hardcover | August 6, 2015

byGary Alan Fine

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A chess match seems as solitary an endeavor as there is in sports: two minds, on their own, in fierce opposition. In contrast, Gary Alan Fine argues that chess is a social duet: two players in silent dialogue who always take each other into account in their play. Surrounding that one-on-one contest is a community life that can be nearly as dramatic and intense as the across-the-board confrontation.
 
Fine has spent years immersed in the communities of amateur and professional chess players, and with Players and Pawns he takes readers deep inside them, revealing a complex, brilliant, feisty world of commitment and conflict. Opening with a close look at a typical tournament in Atlantic City, Fine carries us from planning and setup through the climactic final day’s match-ups between the weekend’s top players, introducing us along the way to countless players and their relationships to the game. At tournaments like that one, as well as in locales as diverse as collegiate matches and community chess clubs, players find themselves part of what Fine terms a “soft community,” an open, welcoming space built on their shared commitment to the game. Within that community, chess players find both support and challenges, all amid a shared interest in and love of the long-standing traditions of the game, traditions that help chess players build a communal identity.
 
Full of idiosyncratic characters and dramatic gameplay, Players and Pawns is a celebration of the ever-fascinating world of serious chess.

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A chess match seems as solitary an endeavor as there is in sports: two minds, on their own, in fierce opposition. In contrast, Gary Alan Fine argues that chess is a social duet: two players in silent dialogue who always take each other into account in their play. Surrounding that one-on-one contest is a community life that can be nearl...

Gary Alan Fine is professor of sociology at Northwestern University and the author of numerous books.

other books by Gary Alan Fine

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:288 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.2 inPublished:August 6, 2015Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022626498X

ISBN - 13:9780226264981

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Table of Contents

Prologue: A Tournament Revealed
Introduction: First Moves
Chapter One: The Mind, the Body, and the Soul of Chess
Chapter Two: Doing Chess
Chapter Three: Temporal Tapestries
Chapter Four: Shared Pasts and Sticky Culture
Chapter Five: The Worlds of Chess
Chapter Six: Status Games and Soft Community
Chapter Seven: Chess in the World
Conclusion: Piece Work
Acknowledgments
Notes
Index

Editorial Reviews

“A traditional ethnography, Players and Pawns combines rigor with a wry lightness of touch. Even those for whom chess has always seemed a bizarre mixture of obsession, paranoia, and sublime mastery, will see it revealed as a wondrously diverse landscape of contrasting temperaments, climates, and folkways.”