Chess was one of Samuel Beckett’s great obsessions, touching everything from Murphy to Endgame. Perhaps this game of fierce purity and life-or-death stakes is the key to all his workI am something of an interloper at the Samuel Beckett festival in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. While the Beckettians are here to venerate the master and his works – concentrated, intense, elliptical – I have come for the chess, which is why on Sunday afternoon I find myself in the high street playing a game on a giant chess set against the man who created it, local sculptor Alan Milligan.It is a monumental struggle, or would be if Milligan were any good at chess. Even though he designed the set, with bronze pieces modelled on Beckett’s characters and pawns representing props used in his plays (boots and carrots from Waiting for Godot, a banana from Krapp’s Last Tape, the pistol from Happy Days), he knows little about the game. In anticipation of playing me, he has been studying a book optimistically called Learn to Play Chess in a Weekend, but I still checkmate him in 20 moves. Don’t give up, I tell him. Fail again. Fail better.The set was supposed to be …read more

Via: The Guardian | Books