"All I want to do, ever, is to play chess."
Bobby Fischer, Harper's Magazine, 1962
"I love all positions. Give me a difficult positional game, I will play it. Give me a bad position, I will defend it. Openings, endgames, complicated positions, dull draws, I love them and I will do my very best. But totally won positions, I cannot stand them."
Hein Donner, Clubblad DD, 1950
"The process of rating players can be compared to the measurement of the position of a cork bobbing up and down on the surface of agitated water with a yard stick tied to a rope and which is swaying in the wind."
Arpad Elo, Chess Life, 1962
"If one would cancel all traffic rules and switch off all traffic lights, watching city traffic on TV would be also awfully interesting!"
Oleg Romanishin on FIDE's efforts to make chess a TV spectator sport, quoted by Rustam Kasimdzhanov in Chess Today
"The fact that the 7 hours time control allows us to play a great deep game is not of great importance for mass-media."
Alexei Shirov, 2000, open letter to the FIDE
"In blitz, the knight is stronger than the bishop."
"Chess is so inspiring that I do not believe a good player is capable of having an evil thought during the game."
Wilhelm Steinitz, interview with J. Moquette, 1896
"Dazzling combinations are for the many, shifting wood is for the few."
Georg Kieninger, Deutsche Schachhefte, 1950
"I already came upon the world as a extraordinary human being; to my parents' great horror, I was equipped with a clubfoot which, however, did not hamper my rapid progress."
Siegbert Tarrasch, Dreihundert Schachpartien, 1894
"Oh! this opponent, this collaborator against his will, whose notion of Beauty always differs from yours and whose means (strength, imagination, technique) are often too limited to help you effectively! What torment, to have your thinking and your phantasy tied down by another person!"
Alexander Alekhine, foreword to Mes Problèmes et études d'échecs, Fred. Lazard, 1929
"The profuse phallic symbolism of chess provides some fantasy gratification of the homosexual wish, particularly the desire for mutual masturbation."
Reuben Fine, The Psychology of the Chess Player, 1956
"We like to think."
Gary Kasparov, asked by Hans Ree why he and Karpov get into time trouble so often.
"My life has been determined by the move e2-e1N."
Johan Barendregt, interview with Max Pam, 1972
"When you absolutely don't know what to do anymore, it is time to panic."
John van der Wiel
"I have not given any drawn or lost games, because I thought them inadequate to the purpose of the book."
Jose Capablanca, My Chess Career, 1920
"And the rigidity of the material with which we have to compose, is a more formidable opponent than Lasker or Capablanca. Because these lifeless opponents do not have any moments of human weakness!"
Henri Weenink, Het Schaakprobleem, 1921
"Checkers is for tramps."
"Yes, I have played a blitz game once. It was on a train, in 1929."
Mikhail Botvinnik, interviewed by Genna Sosonko in 1989
"Previously, Oberhansli was practically unknown even in his own country."
Moritz Henneberger, Alpine Chess, 1921
"They asked me what year it was, what month it was, etc. I easily answered these stupid questions."
Bobby Fischer, I was Tortured in the Pasadena Jailhouse!, 1982
"With a name like that, he must be Catholic, right?"
Burt Hochberg, about Fischer's remark that John Nunn must be Jewish because his brother's name is David, 1999
"Poor Capablanca! Thou wert a brilliant technician, but no philosopher. Thou wert not capable of believing that in chess, another style could be victorious than the absolutely correct one."
Max Euwe, Tijdschrift van den Nederlandschen Schaakbond, 1942
"Chess problems demand from the composer the same virtues that characterize all worthwile art: originality, invention, conciseness, harmony, complexity, and splendid insincerity."
Vladimir Nabokov, Poems and Problems, 1969
"Chess and theatre often lead to madness."
Arrabal, Sur Fischer, 1974
"You know, comrade Pachman, I don't enjoy being a Minister, I would rather play chess like you, or make a revolution in Venezuela."
Che Guevara, quoted in Ludek Pachman, Checkmate in Prague, 1975
"I won't play with you anymore. You have insulted my friend."
Miguel Najdorf, at blitz, when an opponent cursed himself for a blunder.
"Now I have the pawn and the compensation."
Roman Dzindzichashvili, playing blitz.
"The middle game, where the struggle is really fought, will take a variable number of moves, and will be named so until the certainty of mate for one of the two players is ninety percent."
Madame Flash, Je gagne aux éches, Marabout-Flash 1963
"Two passed pawns on the sixth beat everything, up to a royal flush."
Ian Rogers, 2007
"In chess, as it is played by masters, chance is practically eliminated."
Emanuel Lasker, Brettspiele der Völker, 1930
"And his six pawns were scattered like the ships of the Armada that should have conquered England; the Lord blew, and they were all isolated."
Hans Kmoch, Groningen 1946 tournament book
"It is always better to sacrifice your opponent's men."
"Nowadays, when you're not a grandmaster at 14, you can forget about it."
"For me, this personality, notwithstanding his fundamentally optimistic attitude, had a tragic note. The enormous mental resilience, without which no chess player can exist, was so much taken up by chess that he could never free his mind of this game, even when he was occupied by philosophical and humanitarian questions."
Albert Einstein, in his foreword to Hannak's biography of Emanuel Lasker
"In a very strongly played match between Mrs. Brookman and C. Deen, White was able to place a fork, whereby Black lost his one rook, and shed a piece of exchange. This loss put Black under heavy pressure and tried to achieve a better position in the defense, but White continued strongly with her attacking play and was able to finish the game surprisingly by mate, to her advantage, 1-0."
Hoogeveense Courant, 5 april 1991
"Chess is so interesting in itself, as not to need the view of gain to induce engaging in it; and thence it is never played for money."
Benjamin Franklin, Chess made easy, 1802
"It is one of the insights of modern players, and especially of the best ones, that one has to play the position itself, not some abstract idea of the position."
John Watson, Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy, 1998
"The only thing chess players have in common is chess."
Lodewijk Prins, interview with Max Pam, 1972
"The passion for playing chess is one of the most unaccountable in the world. It slaps the theory of natural selection in the face. It is the most absorbing of occupations. The least satisfying of desires. A nameless excrescence upon life. It annihilates a man. You have, let us say, a promising politician, a rising artist that you wish to destroy. Dagger or bomb are archaic and unreliable - but teach him, inoculate him with chess."
H.G. Wells, Certain Personal Matters, 1898
"A sensation, hidden in the depths of my emotional memory, was suddenly revived: what if... What if for me The Variation is not dead? If The Variation is alive?!"
Lev Polugayevsky, Grandmaster Preparation, 1981
"Chess is thriving. There are ever less round robin tournaments and ever more World Champions."
Robert Hübner, Schach, december 2000
"A computer beat me in chess, but it was no match when it came to kickboxing"
Comedian Emo Philips