Zugzwang eBook Ò Hardcover


10 thoughts on “Zugzwang

  1. Ken-ichi Ken-ichi says:

    A fun thriller even for those like me with no knowledge of Russian history The story concerns a psychotherapist in Tsarist Russia who becomes embroiled in plots of chess conspiracy murder and of course steamy historical sex It's not uite a page turner but it's very well written and I learned a teensy bit about Russian history I didn't know Russia had such an extensive secret police system prior to CommunismAlso some fun wordszugzwang n a position in chess where every move can only worsen the situationpriapism n a continuous non sexual erection; lascivious behavior or displaycyanotic adj blue skin coloration due to inadeuate oxygenation of the blood


  2. Barbara ★ Barbara ★ says:

    I might have enjoyed this if I had an inkling of Russian politics The situation isn't adeuately described The main protagonists aren't identified other than by name It was almost impossible to figure out who was who and why things were happening And throw in the whole chess thing chess is beyond my scope of understanding so the boards and moves described in the book were pointless to me and I was totally cluelessThe events didn't happen in seuence which is very confusing For instance at one point two rough men with guns enter Otto's office after hours And the next sentence starts Two weeks ago and contains totally different characters It took a little getting used to Not a bad book but hard to understand Though it did have a few surprises and some great betrayals


  3. Corny Corny says:

    While the plot is somewhat farfetched the writing is interesting and the pacing is good The best part is the setting of Pre Revolutionary St Petersburg meticulously rendered by the author whose research is evident and if not evident then minutely detailed at the end of the bookThe central character seems a bit naive for a psychoanalyst but perhaps he like his patients is out of contact with the real world until the events of the book begin to shatter his lifeBennett has also written the Castrophist which was a finalist for the Booker Prize He is an Irish Writer with an ear for dialogue which was one of the other principal enjoyments of the book


  4. Ayesha Khalid Ayesha Khalid says:

    Politics Chess History Not even my thing And somehow I knew I'd love this love the moment my eyes landed on this What a page turner Kept me curious until the very last page for real An amalgamation of all the interesting things this kid likes to read about; mystery psychology murder thrill and much


  5. m. m. says:

    It feels mean to describe a book as competently diverting but I think that's all this one was really aspiring to


  6. Ron Ron says:

    Surprisingly interesting The plot goes on at a rapid pace and the psychologist’s perspective is interesting I enjoyed this than I had expected


  7. Peter Peter says:

    Zugzwang is a term used in chess to describe a position in which a player is reduced to a state of utter helplessness He is obliged to move but every makes his position worseThis book is set in 1914 pre revolution St Petersburg where Dr Otto Spethmann is a prominent psychoanalyst and widower living a comfortable life with his daughter Catherine Otto is apolitical but when a newspaper editor is murdered in broad daylight and an apparent car accident turns out to be a murder he is drawn into a world of political manoeuvring and intrigue when his business card is found on one of the victims The novel's action takes place over a few days' time during which Spethmann meets a bewildering array of characters ranging from police officers and undercover agents of the Interior ministry to Bolshevik party activists and oligarchs with their own ulterior motivesMeanwhile Otto's personal life is undergoing a major upheaval life due to two of his patients One Anna Petrovna a married woman with whom he is falling in love with and developing an unprofessional relationship The other Avrom Rozental a Jewish chess master visiting the city from Poland for a major chess tournament Rozental is on the verge of a mental breakdown and fixated on his up coming matches but for some reason the police seem to be unduly interested in his movementsZugzwang is a thriller that centres on the choices that Otto must make as he and his daughter are buffeted by forces that are far out of their control All the choices they make seem to put them and at personal riskRunning throughout the book is a long running chess game played between Otto and a friend Otto contemplates the moves and counter moves that his opponents will play As events in the novel heat up so does the chess game This is a side dish that will no doubt thrill chess enthusiasts but should not be enough to put off non players from enjoying this novel I found it well written and fast paced with plenty of twists and turns a few too many for my taste but if I'm honest it didn't have enough about it to really stand out from the crowd


  8. Monica Carter Monica Carter says:

    zug zwang –noun Chess a situation in which a player is limited to moves that cost pieces or have a damaging positional effect I will readily admit that after reading Nabokov's The Defenseor the newer title The Luzhin Defense I am fascinated by chess novels which almost categorically leads to a Russian novel With my predilection for Russian writers as well as the automatic intellectual bent of a novel using the game of chess as an allegory or metaphor it was difficult for me for me to be subjective when the jacket cover tells me that I am going to read a novel brimming with chess Russia and 'whoops I'm a psychoanalyst who is suddenly involved in a murder' In the case of Zugzwang by Irish novelist Ronan Bennett we are given almost that a novel set in St Petersburg on the eve of World War I that follows the events in Dr Otto Spethamnn's life days after he begins treating a rising star in the chess scene Avrom Chilowicz Rozenthal Dr Spethmann comes to treat Rozenthal through an introduction by his long time friend and famous classical violinist Kopelzon Already this couldn't get Russian unless of course Spethmann treated his patients in a bread line while drinking vodka Dr Spethmann our laconic psychoanalyst is middle aged man who lives with his college age daughter after the loss of his wife a couple of years prior He is a good yet common man as he describes himself here With my patients I am the good father attentive kind calm fair strict unreproachful and present It would dismay them to discover that the man to who the impute almost preternatural wisdom and serenity is in reality no immune than they to anxiety or excitement or other turbulent and dangerous emotions But this is the truth of me Here is a man who spends most of his time treating his patients pondering over his chess matches with Kopelzon whom he has never beaten and furtively eyeing Anna Petrovna who just happens to be gorgeous rich married and his patient And those are just some of the major characters This novel is filled with characters who the reader meets over an extended period of time of for short stints but with no less effect One of the components of a good thriller is that it is not evident at the onset of the novel who is the good and who is bad the gradations of good and evil unfold in each character throughout the novel so that it focuses on the motivation of the character as opposed to merely being an obstacle for the protagonist Bennett does this well and he does well while he unravels a labyrinthine complex plot that uses the political fibers of the time effectively The two political fibers being Bolshevism and the Okhrana Bennett uses history well to set the tone and as well the proper amounts and types of description We get the chilling cold of the Soviet Union the immensity of the architecture of the city the paranoia present in an politically oppressed society Throughout the novel we learn that most of the people he knows are somehow involved in the war between the revolutionaries ad the repressive government either wittingly or unwittingly From the beginning for instance we know that Petrov a patient of Spethmann's is going to factor somehow into to the story but we don't know how and he plays it well because we meet him in the context of a psychoanalyst's office who is neither for or against him Petrov was a member of the Bolshevik faction of the Social Democrats The party was notorious bare legal in Russia and subject to police surveillance and repression In the absence of Lenin its exiled leader Petrov was its de facto chief The strains involved in this alone would account for his mental and physical exhaustion but in Petrov's case there was something else Something tormented his soul He wanted to tell me to tell someone and yet he could not As with Anna as with all my resistant patients I had fallen back on the principal ally of psychoanalysts everywhere time; I was never in a hurry This psychological element strengthened by the first person narrative deepens the characters and their motivations without sacrificing any of the plot Actually even though we may think we know the characters better it is still difficult to guess who is going to fall on the good or bad side of morality Bennett introduces the relationship between Spethmann and Lychev local police chief immediately and shockingly by demanding to see him and his daughter for their possible connection to the murder of a man named Yastrebov who was in the possession of Spethmann's carte de visite when he died Bennett uses so well the tactical element of chess in plotting that he must be a chess player himself and a good one at that More fascinating though is his own history that itself reads like a international thriller Accused of murdering a police inspector during a bank robbery claimed by the IRA he spent time in jail before his conviction being overturned He moved to London where he was accused of conspiring to cause explosions and spent time in prison He defended himself and was acuitted While reading his work it did occur to me that the political and religious parallels between Ireland and the Soviet Union made his story that much plausible Also it adds a healthy dose of reality to the imprisoned musings of Spethmann since Bennett had himself endured imprisonment Later obtaining his degree in history the plotting is taut and well researched No wonder The Guardian excerpted weekly each chapter form this bookit also doesn't hurt that his wife is assistant editor I admit it I got involved in finding out as much as I could about Ronan Bennett because he is so fascinating and because of the comparisons to Graham Greene which are well warranted Fans of Graham Greene will appreciate Bennett's locales in his other novels as well as his direct narrative style I recommend reading any of his novels but also reading about the author himself Two great interviews worth checking out are a 1999 interview with Salon magazine and a 2007 interviewwith audio from Morning Edition on NPR


  9. Monica Carter Monica Carter says:

    zug zwang –noun Chess a situation in which a player is limited to moves that cost pieces or have a damaging positional effect I will readily admit that after reading Nabokov's The Defenseor the newer title The Luzhin Defense I am fascinated by chess novels which almost categorically leads to a Russian novel With my predilection for Russian writers as well as the automatic intellectual bent of a novel using the game of chess as an allegory or metaphor it was difficult for me for me to be subjective when the jacket cover tells me that I am going to read a novel brimming with chess Russia and 'whoops I'm a psychoanalyst who is suddenly involved in a murder' In the case of Zugzwang by Irish novelist Ronan Bennett we are given almost that a novel set in St Petersburg on the eve of World War I that follows these events in Dr Otto Spethamnn's life days after he begins treating a rising star in the chess scene Avrom Chilowicz Rozenthal Dr Spethmann comes to treat Rozenthal through an introduction by his long time friend and famous classical violinist Kopelzon Already this couldn't get Russian unless of course Spethmann treated his patients in a bread line while drinking vodka Dr Spethmann our laconic psychoanalyst is middle aged man who lives with his college age daughter after the loss of his wife a couple of years prior He is a good yet common man as he describes himself here With my patients I am the good father attentive kind calm fair strict unreproachful and present It would dismay them to discover that the man to who the impute almost preternatural wisdom and serenity is in reality no immune than they to anxiety or excitement or other turbulent and dangerous emotions But this is the truth of meHe is a He spends most of his time treating his patients pondering over his chess matches with Kopelzon whom he has never beaten and furtively eye Anna Petrovna who just happens to be gorgeous rich married and his patient And those are just some of the major characters This novel is filled with characters who the reader meets over an extended period of time of for short stints but with no less effect One of the components of a good thriller is that it is not evident at the onset of the novel who is the good and who is bad the gradations of good and evil unfold in each character throughout the novel so that it focuses on the motivation of the character as opposed to merely being an obstacle for the protagonist Bennett does this well and he does well while he unravels a labyrinthine complex plot that uses the political fibers of the time effectively The two political fibers being Bolshevism and the Okhrana Bennett uses history well to set the tone and as well the proper amounts and types of description We get the chilling cold of the Soviet Union the immensity of the architecture of the city the paranoia present in an politically oppressed society Throughout the novel we learn that most of the people he knows are somehow involved in the war between the revolutionaries ad the repressive government either wittingly or unwittingly From the beginning for instance we know that Petrov a patient of Spethmann's is going to factor somehow into to the story but we don't know how and he plays it well because we meet him in the context of a psychoanalyst's office who is neither for or against him Petrov was a member of the Bolshevik faction of the Social Democrats The party was notorious bare legal in Russia and subject to police surveillance and repression In the absence of Lenin its exiled leader Petrov was its de facto chief The strains involved in this alone would account for his mental and physical exhaustion but in Petrov's case there was something else Something tormented his soul He wanted to tell me to tell someone and yet he could not As with Anna as with all my resistant patients I had fallen back on the principal ally of psychoanalysts everywhere time; I was never in a hurryThis psychological element strengthened by the first person narrative deepens the characters and their motivations without sacrificing any of the plot Actually even though we may think we know the characters better it is still difficult to guess who is going to fall on the good or bad side of morality Bennett introduces the relationship between Spethmann and Lychev local police chief immediately and shockingly by demanding to see him and his daughter for their possible connection to the murder of a man named Yastrebov who was in the possession of Spethmann's carte de visite when he died Bennett uses so well the tactical element of chess in plotting that he must be a chess player himself and a good one at that More fascinating though is his own history that itself reads like a international thriller Accused of murdering a police inspector during a bank robbery claimed by the IRA he spent time in jail before his conviction being overturned He moved to London where he was accused of conspiring to cause explosions and spent time in prison He defended himself and was acuitted While reading his work it did occur to me that the political and religious parallels between Ireland and the Soviet Union made his story that much plausible Also it adds a healthy dose of reality to the imprisoned musings of Spethmann since Bennett had himself endured imprisonment Later obtaining his degree in history the plotting is taut and well researched No wonder The Guardian excerpted weekly each chapter form this bookit also doesn't hurt that his wife is assistant editor I admit it I got involved in finding out as much as I could about Ronan Bennett because he is so fascinating and because of the comparisons to Graham Greene which are well warranted Fans of Graham Greene will appreciate Bennett's locales in his other novels as well as his direct narrative style I recommend reading any of his novels but also reading about the author himself


  10. Peter Hagen Peter Hagen says:

    A fascinating plot and curiously and interestingly somewhat displaced in time Is it really set in 1914? There are overtones of modern times making this book almost a contemporary possibility What annoyed me slightly as an amateur chess player in the Bloomsbury edition I have was the incorrect chess diagrams particularly the diagram marked at 44Ke7 Both ueens are in the wrong place and the white king is wrongly placed as well The commentator that gave up the book at this point should have examined the game carefully as the end game described is a fascinatingly subtle end game which allegorically describes the end of the book in a wonderfully apt way I would love for the publishers to correct the many diagrams that are wrong or superfluous The diagram at 46 c7 is also substantially incorrect In any case little knowledge of chess does not really mater as reading this book is very rewarding but for the amateur chess player to examine the game in detail is even rewarding than the book


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Zugzwang Zugzwang A chess term used to describe a position in which a player is reduced to utter helplessless he is obliged to move but every move serves to make his position even worseThe breakout book from a celebrated literary writer a thriller set in St Petersburg in 1914 amid an international chess tournament and a series of mysterious murders Ronan Bennett's new masterpiece of literary suspense unfolds in a city on the verge of revolution On a blustery April day a respected St Petersburg newspaper editor is murdered in front of a shocked crowd Five days later Dr Otto Spethmann the celebrated psychoanalyst receives a visit from the police There has been another murder in the city and somehow he is implicated The doctor is mystified and deeply worried as much for his young spirited daughter as for himself Meanwhile he finds himself preoccupied by two new patients Anna Petrovna a society beauty plagued with nightmares with whom he is inappropriately falling in love and the troubled genius Rozental a brilliant but fragile chess master on the verge of a complete breakdown As Dr Spethmann is drawn deeper into the murderous intrigue he finds that he his patients and his daughter may all be pawns in a game larger in scope than anything he could have imagined Punctuated with board by board illustrations of a chess match that plays out through the book Zugzwang is a masterfully written novel packed with cliffhangers romance unforgettable characters and a plot that keeps readers guessing to the very end

  • Hardcover
  • 288 pages
  • Zugzwang
  • Ronan Bennett
  • English
  • 19 February 2015
  • 9780747587118

About the Author: Ronan Bennett

Ronan Bennett is a novelist and screenwriter who was born and brought up in Northern Ireland and now lives in London His third novel The Catastrophist was nominated for the Whibread award in 1998 Havoc in Its Third Year 2004 was listed for the Booker prize Havoc has been adapted into a motion picture to be released later in 2012 His latest novel is Zugzwang His television drama Top Boy w