The Royal Game (also known as Chess Story; in the original German Schachnovelle, "Chess Novella") is a novella by the Austrian author Stefan Zweig written in 1941. Stefan Zweig completed the work shortly before his death on 23 February 1942. The first edition was released in the same year and the book became one of Zweig’s most popular works.
In some editions, the title is used for a collection that also includes "Amok", "Burning Secret", "Fear", and "Letter From an Unknown Woman"
The plot of The Royal Game revolves around a chess match on board a ship between two bitter rivals. The passenger known anonymously as Dr. B. battles against the world champion in chess, Mirko Czentovic, who plays with an almost machine-like automatism. Dr. B.’s knowledge of chess is based on his own oppressive experiences. He was held for months by the Gestapo for interrogation, and only survived the ordeal of detention by surreptitiously pilfering a chess handbook whose matches he re-enacted in his mind with increasing pathological fervour. The match against Czentovic opens up the old wounds of his former “chess intoxication”. Incessantly anticipating new moves in his mind, Dr. B. has to end the game. Ultimately he declares that he will never play chess again – the resigned capitulation of a broken human being who has succumbed to a soulless adversary.
Famous works of the author Stefan Zweig: Letter from an Unknown Woman, Amok, Moonbeam Alley, Fear, Confusion, Twenty-Four Hours in the Life of a Woman, Buchmendel, Beware of Pity, The Royal Game, The Post Office Girl.