Fool’s Mate: Or, My Big Chess Porn Problem

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I’ve never been very comfortable with the fact that I’m crap at chess. As a lad I self-identified as a smart kid, but when I stepped up to the board, I had nothin’. I just told myself I had other strengths and went back to drawing Thor on my math notebook. But an uncomfortable feeling lingered.

Despite this, or maybe because of it, I have a vicarious chess-porn thing: books about chess, movies about chess, whatever you got, it all works for me. I once even went to a professional match and pretended I knew what the hell was going on. Though granted there was also free booze, and it was a match between Irina Krush and Almira Skripchenko. Still, I felt creepy.

My current chess-porn of choice: Michael Weinreb’s The Kings of New York, out this coming March, a very engaging group portrait of the top-ranked chess team at Edward R. Murrow high school, which is half high-ranking Russian immigrants and half ghetto prodigies. On the back Chuck Klosterman calls it “the Friday Night Lights of high school chess,” so there you go.

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