The Queen's Gambit

Roger Bissell

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"The Queen's Gambit" is the title of a Walter Tevis novel that I read a few years ago and enjoyed very much. The hero(ine) is a young girl (to woman) who becomes a very good chess player, while overcoming various serious personal difficulties. Enough said to those who might be interested in reading it...


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Michael -- Walter Tevis's high-quality but woefully small-quantity literary output usually includes some struggle by the heroes with problems of chemical substance abuse or addiction. The Hustler and The Color of Money are good examples. Two other books by him (titles forgotten) also deal with this, as does The Queen's Gambit.

Even though I never had to engage in this struggle, I found the stories gripping in large part because of the psychological depth of characterization required to make the struggles realistic -- which they were. And I found the characters all the more heroic, because they had feet of clay, but rose above them -- not without zig-zags in their recovery or success, which added to the drama, of course.

Since I had my own addictive behavior problems -- referred to in 12 Step programs as "co-dependence" (obsession with and improper focus on a significant other's behavior and/or addictive problems) -- I drew the obvious parallel and got inspiration from it, as well as several really satisfying reads. It's a tragedy that Tevis didn't write more books than he did (maybe half a dozen novels), but one could say the same about Rand. Instead, I guess we should be grateful for the high quality of what they did write.


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