Playing Chess With Kubrick


Jeremy Bernstein (a professor of physics and occasional journalist) brings us a nice recollection of playing chess with Stanley Kubrick, covering the Fischer/Spassky chess match for Playboy using a pseudonym, and ultimately the Deep Blue match (in which IBM's chess-playing computer beat Garry Kasparov) which was presaged by a scene in Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. This is a quick, delightful read -- you should check it out if you're interested in chess, Kubrick, or recent history. Here's a snippet:

...[A]s soon as Kubrick opened the door I felt an immediate kindred spirit. He looked and acted like every obsessive theoretical physicist I have ever known. His obsession at that moment was whether or not anything could go faster than the speed of light. I explained to him that according to the theory of relativity no information bearing signal could go faster. We conversed like that for about an hour when I looked at my watch and realized I had to go. "Why?" he asked, seeing no reason why a conversation that he was finding interesting should stop. I told him I had a date with a chess hustler in Washington Square Park to play for money. Kubrick wanted the name. "Fred Duval" I said. Duval was a Haitian who claimed to be related to Francois Duvalier. I was absolutely positive that the name would mean nothing to Kubrick. His next remark nearly floored me. "Duval is a patzer," is what he said. Unless you have been around chess players you cannot imagine what an insult this is. Moreover, Duval and I were playing just about even. What did that make me?

Read the rest from the New York Review of Books.

(Via Daring Fireball.)