Bite off your thumb: Czech chess fiction
"But something didn’t add up. If they had really wanted to train me to be a future chess master (and if that was the reason they had kidnapped me, locked me away in The Well, and put me through that torture of darkness and isolation), they would have had to start with me sooner than age thirteen. Not to mention the fact that my talent for chess wasn’t all that convincing. I took a certain pleasure in combination moves, just as I had always enjoyed mathematical puzzles, logical rebuses, and inventing all sorts of boyish games of my own. But I wasn’t some dynamic natural talent who just couldn’t live without chess. And I definitely wouldn’t have let someone bite off my thumb in exchange for the pleasure of a game of chess, as Jacques Plancheur did at the court of Louis XIII (as the Grandmaster once told me, in an exceptionally voluble moment). Besides that, I was starting to feel extremely disappointed: surely this couldn’t have been the mission I was dreaming of as I lay there cocooned in darkness! No, no, there had to be something else to it. The only tolerable explanation was that I was still just in a more advanced stage of preparation!"
Jiří Kratochvil, trans. Christopher Harwood