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Players and Pawns: How Chess Builds Community and Culture

Gary Alan Fine



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Chicago University Press
26 April 2019
Sociology; Hobbies, quizzes & games; Chess
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. Within their 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 fascinating world of serious chess.
By:   Gary Alan Fine
Imprint:   Chicago University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 228mm,  Width: 153mm,  Spine: 17mm
Weight:   432g
ISBN:   9780226639864
ISBN 10:   022663986X
Pages:   288
Publication Date:   26 April 2019
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Unspecified

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

Reviews for Players and Pawns: How Chess Builds Community and Culture

A rich account of community norms, values, boundaries, status systems, and organization. --Les Gofton, teaching fellow in sociology, Durham University American Journal of Sociology Fine demonstrates above all that chess is not an individualized activity, but rather a communal one. The logic of chess is not impersonal, but embodied and social. It is not merely a game, but an important part of the way that many people make their lives together. It is a significant and masterful achievement. --Mark Jacobs, George Mason University Whether you are a casual player or a grandmaster you will find something of interest in this book, which takes a bemused look at the extensive activity that goes into making chess communities. Even if you have never played chess, you will still learn a lot about social life from this book, the best yet by this prolific author. --James M. Jasper, author of The Art of Moral Protest 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. --Les Gofton, teaching fellow in sociology, Durham University Times Higher Education Players and Pawns would make an excellent addition to a game studies course at either the undergraduate or graduate level. . . .That said, the concepts Fine develops are useful to folklorists working with other subcultural groups, and the book should be of interest far beyond game studies. --Les Gofton, teaching fellow in sociology, Durham University Journal of American Folklore

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