The Chess Artist is the extraordinary tale of two journeys taken, one into the eccentric fraternity of international chess masters, and the other across the tattered landscape of the former Soviet Union to the improbable little land of Kalmykia. With a keen eye for telling detail, and a wonderfully understated and generous wit, Hallman takes us into worlds where obsession and dysfunction exist in surprisingly natural alliance, each lending strength—and a certain comedy—to the other.” Scott Anderson, author of Lawrence in Arabia

“This is a quirky, thoroughly enjoyable travelogue on the often surreal world of competitive chess—with stops at big-city tournaments, a chess-mad Asian satrapy, and a prison. J.C. Hallman does a nimble job of weaving chess folklore with his own observations about the different kinds of obsession over the game.” Andy Soltis, Grandmaster, chess journalist, and author of Karl Marx Plays Chess

“Hallman is a talented writer whose vivid prose and keen journalistic eye offer chess culture the compliment of intelligent impressionistic portraiture, full of powerful, haunting images of the ‘demonic gods’ of the chess Olympus and the chess underworld.” Cathy Forbes, chess journalist, and author of Meet the Masters

“The whole history of chess is here, from the Crusades through the Internet, and its byzantine, mad, and fascinating story—rendered by J.C. Hallman with deft clarity and an unrelenting display of wit—culminates in a broken-down Russian republic where even warlords play the game. If Dostoevsky had written a book about chess having been a form of religious fanaticism, The Chess Artist certainly would have been it.” Tom Grimes, author of City of God

“J.C. Hallman has written an important book about the place of chess in contemporary society. In elegant and accessible prose, he covers the history of chess, the Russian obsession with the game, and the competitive perils of professional players. This book should be read by anyone who has ever pushed a pawn forward. A crucial addition to the literature of chess.” Chris Offutt, author of No Heroes