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Sofonisba Anguissola, “Portrait of the Artist’s Sisters Playing Chess” (1555), oil on canvas, 72 x 97 cm, Muzeum Narodowe, Poznan (image via Web Gallery of Art)

Today is the 100th birthday of Hungarian chess grandmaster László Szabó (1917-1998).

Chess is as elaborate a waste of human intelligence as you can find outside an advertising agency.

—Raymond Chandler

Chess can be described as the movement of pieces eating one another.

—Marcel Duchamp

A lot of people think international relations is like a game of chess. But it’s not a game of chess, where people sit quietly, thinking out their strategy, taking their time between moves. It’s more like a game of billiards, with a bunch of balls clustered together.

—Madeleine Albright

When the men on the chessboard get up and tell you where to go
And you’ve just had some kind of mushroom, and your mind is moving low

—Grace Slick, “White Rabbit”

A chess genius is a human being who focuses vast, little-understood mental gifts and labors on an ultimately trivial human enterprise.

—George Steiner

Chess is a foolish expedient for making idle people believe they are doing something very clever when they are only wasting their time.

—George Bernard Shaw

Chess is ruthless: you’ve got to be prepared to kill people.

—Nigel Short

A great chessplayer is not a great man, for he leaves the world as he found it.
—William Hazlitt, “Essay on Men and Manners”

What have we achieved in mowing down mountain ranges, harnessing the energy of mighty rivers, or moving whole populations about like chess pieces, if we ourselves remain the same restless, miserable, frustrated creatures we were before?

—Henry Miller

I feel as if I were a piece in a game of chess, when my opponent says of it: That piece cannot be moved.

—Soren Kierkegaard

I will, therefore, take occasion to assert that the higher powers of the reflective intellect are more decidedly and more usefully tasked by the unostentatious game of draughts than by a the elaborate frivolity of chess.

—Edgar Allan Poe, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”

And perhaps it was precisely because she knew nothing at all about chess that chess for her was not simply a parlor game or a pleasant pastime, but a mysterious art equal to all the recognized arts.

—Vladimir Nabokov, The Luzhin Defense

One cannot play chess if one becomes aware of the pieces as living souls and of the fact that the Whites and the Blacks have more in common with each other than with the players. Suddenly one loses all interest in who will be champion.

—Anatol Rapoport

Yo, can’t be playin’ no checkers on a chess board.

—David Simon, The Wire, spoken by D’Angelo Barksdale

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