Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Marcel Duchamp's Chess Partner

I'm always fascinated by Marcel Duchamp, who spent years secretly working on art projects while claiming he did nothing but play chess. So of course I liked the reference to him in the N.Y.Times obituary of Andor Lilienthal, Chess Grandmaster, who just died at age 99:

Coffeehouses were natural haunts for many of the best players. In his book, “Chess Was My Life,” Mr. Lilienthal described encounters in 1929 with Mr. Capablanca, in the Café Central in Vienna, and with Mr. Lasker and Alexander Alekhine, the fourth world champion, at the Café König in Berlin in October 1929.

At the Café de la Régence in Paris, once the epicenter of chess in Europe, Mr. Lilienthal regularly played with great players like Savielly Tartakower, but also people better known in other fields, including the artist Marcel Duchamp, who Mr. Lilienthal said was “the most talented French player,” and the composer Sergei Prokofiev, who was of master strength, according to Mr. Lilienthal.

Thanks, Elaine, for the suggestion that I read this.

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