Chess Stories: Short Stories About Chess

Chess plays a significant part in these short stories. They feature scenes with gameplay and characters who talk about chess.

Chess Stories

“Rules of the Game” by Amy Tan

Lindo is a mother and a Chinese immigrant. Her daughter, Waverly, is American born. Their mother/daughter relationship is explored as the daughter learns to play chess and progresses from her first tournament at age eight and continues as she becomes a stronger player. (Summary and analysis)

Read “Rules of the Game”

“Grace” by Darcie Little Badger

The narrator recounts an incident from eighth grade. It started her first day in a new school. She stood out as being different, being of Lipan Apache descent. She joined the chess club and ended up playing with Brandon. It became a regular thing.

“Grace” is the first story in the Amazon preview of Take the Mic: Fictional Stories of Everyday Resistance.

“A Bad Night For Burglars” by Lawrence Block

A burglar is rifling through a drawer in the bedroom. He’s too distracted to hear the homeowner, Archer Trebizond, approaching from behind. He’s surprised, not just at being caught, but at the sight of a gun in Trebizond’s hand. The burglar has had a bad run of luck lately.

This story can be read in the preview of Enough Rope(7% in)

chess stories short
Chess Stories

“The Royal Game” (“Chess Story”) by Stefan Zweig

Two friends are sailing from New York to Buenos Aires. Among the passengers is Mirko Czentovik, the world chess champion. His only ability lies in chess; he’s intellectually stunted in every other area. Czentovik is proud of his chess powers. He limits his conversation to avoid saying anything stupid. One of the men wants to talk to him during the voyage but can’t find an opportunity. He finds another man, McConnor, to play chess with. When Czentovik’s presence is brought to McConnor’s attention, he wants to play a game with the champion.

“The Royal Game” is a novella-length story. If you enjoy chess, it’s well worth the time.

“Chess” by Spencer Holst

In a chess club in Russia, two old men are stronger players than everyone else. They seem equal, and the members are divided on who is the superior player. They devise a test to find out who is the one champion.

“Checkmate” by Jeffrey Archer

A beautiful woman in a tight black dress shows up at a chess tournament. She surprises the club captain by entering the tournament. He’s distracted by her during his games, but he still manages to win. After, he makes sure he gets a chance to talk to her before she leaves.

“A Chess Problem” by Agatha Christie

In a game between a prominent Russian and American chess player, the American player suddenly dies, presumably of heart failure. Inspector Japp suspects poisoning and is awaiting the autopsy results. He also thinks the poison was meant for the Russian. He enlists the help of his friend, Hercule Poirot.

“Moxon’s Master” by Ambrose Bierce

The narrator and Moxon discuss whether machines can think. Moxon is convinced they can. They also discuss the definition of life. Later that night, the narrator finds Moxon playing chess against a surprising opponent.

Read “Moxon’s Master”

“All the King’s Horses” by Kurt Vonnegut

Colonel Bryan Kelly is led back to his cell. There are fifteen others waiting for him—his wife and twin sons, the pilot and co-pilot, and ten enlisted men. They had all been flying to a military posting when they were blown off course and crash-landed in territory controlled by a guerilla chief, Pi Ying. Kelly has just found out what is to be done with the sixteen of them, and he’s rattled.

Read “All the King’s Horses”

“Check and Mate” by Ramendra Kumar

Vikas overhears his father, Suresh, talking to his uncle. His uncle’s son has just won the inter-state swimming championship. Suresh is disappointed that Vikas can’t be a great runner like he was—Vikas lost his left leg in an accident. Soon after, his math teacher introduces him to chess.

I’ll keep adding chess stories as I find more.