By Stefan Zweig
On a cruiseship sure for Buenos Aires, a filthy rich passenger demanding situations the area chess champion to a fit. He accepts with a sneer. he'll beat someone, he says. yet provided that the stakes are excessive. quickly, the chess board is surrounded. in the beginning, the challenger crumbles earlier than the brain of the grasp. yet then, a soft-spoken voice from the group starts off to whisper apprehensive feedback. There are excellent strikes and very good predictions. The speaker has now not performed a online game for greater than two decades, he says. he's entirely unknown. yet someway, he's additionally totally ambitious!
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But you would have seen faces, you could have stared at a field, a cart, a tree, a star, something, anything, while here you were always surrounded by the same things, always the same, always the terrible same. There was nothing here to distract me from my thoughts, my delusions, my morbid recapitulations. And that was exactly what they intended – I was to retch and retch on my own thoughts until they choked me, and in the end I had no choice but to spew them out, no choice but to tell them everything, all they were after, handing over the information and the human beings they wanted at last.
What did I say yesterday? What must I say next time? ‘This truly unspeakable state of affairs lasted four months. Four months – it’s easy to write down: just under a dozen characters! It’s easy to say: four months – two syllables. Your lips can articulate such a sound in a quarter of a second: four months! But no one can describe, assess, demonstrate to himself or anyone else how long a given period lasts in a timeless, spaceless void, and you can’t explain to anyone how it gnaws away at you and destroys you, nothing, nothing, nothing around you, only the same table and bed and washbasin and wallpaper, and always that silence, always the same jailer handing in food without looking at you, always the same thoughts circling around the same object in the void until you go mad.
He immediately became excited, forgot about our game, and his ambitious heart began thudding almost audibly. He’d had no idea, he said, that Czentovic was on board. Czentovic absolutely must play him. He had never in his life played a champion, except once at a simultaneous match with forty others; even that had been extremely exciting, and he had almost won then. Did I know the champion personally? I said no. Wouldn’t I speak to him and ask him to join us? I declined, on the grounds that to the best of my knowledge Czentovic wasn’t very willing to make new acquaintances.