Raymond Chandler? Philip Marlowe? Apocryphal?
Dear Quote Investigator: A famous writer of detective novels apparently described chess as an enormous waste of human intelligence. My memory is not precise. He may have been talking about poker instead of chess. Would you please explore this topic?
Quote Investigator: Raymond Chandler’s 1953 novel “The Long Goodbye” contained a scene in which the protagonist detective Philip Marlowe set up a chessboard to reenact a memorable game from a past tournament. The exercise was a form of relaxation and contemplation for Marlowe, and the context showed that the iconic gumshoe viewed chess favorably. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1
. . . played a championship tournament game between Gortchakoff and Meninkin, seventy-two moves to a draw, a prize specimen of the irresistible force meeting the immovable object, a battle without armor, a war without blood, and as elaborate a waste of human intelligence as you could find anywhere outside an advertising agency.
QI has not yet located evidence that this game was played in the veridical world. The two chess masters apparently were fictional.
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 1953 Copyright (1971 Reprint), The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler, Chapter 24, Quote Page 153, Ballantine Books, New York. (Verified with scans) ↩