Malzberg’s chess playing character David in the novel seems to be the blueprint for Sheldon Cooper, the hyper-educated but generally clueless about the world, PhD physicist on the CBS comedy ‘The Big Bang Theory’. In David’s mind everything is ordered and totally explainable based on his perception of reality but ultimately he lives a self-deluded existence within his own invented world.
“Chess…is afflicted with a madness which has skewered masters of all generations…chess masters are commonly considered to be among the least stable individuals. Perhaps as a group only science-fiction writers have a similar collective insanity.” (p. 72-73)
“Most good chess players…are snivelling, maladjusted wrecks, and the only thing they can do at all is play chess well. If they didn’t have that they’d go crazy.” (p 118)
“It’s only a game, a silly trivial game.” “No it isn’t. It’s war. It’s life.” (p. 118)
“Does chess make any less sense than God?” (p. 119)