Chess in Culture

Chess in Culture

Humphrey Bogart considering his next move in Casablanca
Game of Chess, 1555 by Sofonisba Anguisciol

Avoid the crowd. Do your own thinking independently. Be the chess player, not the chess piece. 

– Ralph Charell

Ideal for Adult Beginner Groups or Secondary School Transition year classes, the Chess in Culture program provides an entertaining and stimulating snapshot of the important role that chess has played down through the ages in politics, government, art, literature, cinema, commerce and technology. Each 90 mins session is divided into two parts. The first involves a short multimedia lecture on a theme such as ‘Chess and Politics’ followed by a group discussion. Each lecture considers chess in a larger historical and cultural context, exploring how the game has entered and influenced and continues to impact virtually every facet of contemporary life. There will be plenty of close readings of texts that feature chess and excerpts from feature films where the Royal Game adds to the drama, not to mention anecdotes and pithy observations from historical and fictional entities galore.

“Holmes: A five minute game?
Moriarty: If you think you can manage it.
Holmes: We both have two bishops. I may be absent from the room but my methods are not.
Moriarty: You can’t mean Dr. Watson, surely. That doesn’t seem fair.”
– From Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows Dir. Guy Ritchie

After the group discussion concludes, in the second part of the class, we get down to the business of Mark’s beginners course drawing on the games of famous historical figures. You will learn all the chess basics in addition to analysing the games of historical figures such as Napoleon, Karl Marx, Humphrey Bogart and Marcel Duchamp amongst others. 

What conclusions can we draw about Karl Marx from his predeliction for the King’s Gambit? Is Marx’s carefree romantic chess style and willingness to sacrifice material reconcilable with the economic theories he espouses in Das Kapital? Where did it all go wrong for Murphy in Samuel Beckett’s novel of the same name? ‘How much ‘chess nous’ can we really gain from movies such as ‘The Luzhin Defence’ (2000) or ‘Pawn Sacrifice’ (2014). 

In the final part of the lesson, the members of the group will take part in a friendly all-play-all competition with trophies and medals for the winners at the end of the course.

Mark’s Literary Background

A published author and literary critic, IM Mark Quinn holds a PhD in Modern American Literature and was a Tutor and Junior Lecturer in the School of English, Drama and Film during the course of his PhD from 2005-2010. For an example of Mark’s literary criticism click on the following link to view an article on Thomas Pynchon’s Encyclopedic Novel Gravity’s Rainbow (1973). Seeing the Wood for the Trees

Ten x 90 minute weekly classes online
€100 per person

Enrol in the Chess in Culture Course using secure PayPal. If you would like to join the course midway email and he will invoice you for the correct amount based on the remaining classes.

Comments are closed.