"The Chess Artist is a chess book like no other, irreverent, insightful and funny." The Chicago Tribune
"Finding Bobby Fischer, Sadly" The Los Angeles Times
"The Planning Intellect" Chess Life
"The Umstead Attack" Chess Life (Registration Required)
"The Chess-Go Continuum" Chess Life (Registration Required)
"Trouble Starts With 'T," Rhymes With 'C," Stands for Chess" Chess Life (Registration Required)
Hallman first met chess master Glenn Umstead in a dealer break room deep in the bowels of an Atlantic City casino. The two became friends, Hallman tagging along as Umstead performed blindfold chess exhibitions or gave lessons to young students. Umstead was obsessed with the game: a chess monk. Shortly after the odd friendship began, oligarch and ex-chess prodigy Kirsan Ilyumzhinov took control of Kalmykia, a poor autonomous region of the Russian Federation. Ilyumzhinov immediately established chess as the small country’s national pastime. This completed the basic ingredient list for The Chess Artist.
The true story of Hallman’s friendship with Umstead wanders from interviews with chess-playing murderers to encounters with Nobel Prize-winning scholars to speed chess matches with Mongolian girl champions and finally to the office-cum-throne room of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, a dictator sometimes mentioned in the same breath with Saddam Hussein and Muammar Qaddafi, who tells them of his plan to turn chess into a religion.