Sorry, this episode is not currently available on BBC iPlayer Radio

From King to Pawn

Chess is known as the game of kings, but has an amazingly wide and enduring appeal, it cuts across so much that can divide us: age, class, nationality, race. It's a logical game often played in an abstract, notated form, and yet the fact that the pieces have characters and distinct roles somehow catches our imagination. This personification causes the game to be of interest even to those who don't play, necessarily, and it's often been depicted in art and fiction, many times as a metaphor. How does chess mirror life?

The novelist and occasional chess player David Szalay presents an examination of chess as an artistic metaphor in literature and modern art, and how powerful personalities in the game embodied the ideals and beliefs of their time. The trajectory of the game itself has been from the palace to the laptop, for the game is now most commonly played on computers or the internet.

With Nigel Short, Dr Irving Finkel, Frederic Friedel, Marilyn Yalom, John Healy, Dr David Hopkins, William Hartston.

Archive: Bobby Fischer, Boris Spassky, Dr Alekhine, Kasparov.

Music by Arthur Bliss.

Release date:

45 minutes

Last on

Sun 19 Dec 2010 21:30

Six Secret Smuggled Books

Nelson mandela

Six classic works of literature we wouldn't have read if they hadn't been smuggled...



Seven images inspired by the grid

World Music collector, Sir David Attenborough

JS114374909 attenborough large trans K8oq TXSPAJ0t21o ESlo XRk CIv3505 E63j Nj QF1 Hma4

The field recordings Attenborough of music performances around the world.

Attenborough's field recordings

Attenborough's field recordings

The unlikely music performances captured while searching for exotic animals to film.