The Greenbecker Gambit by Ben Graff

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Kevin Thurlow
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The Greenbecker Gambit by Ben Graff

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Fri May 01, 2020 1:08 pm

The title derives from a (presumably imaginary!) variation of the King's Gambit. The book is written from the point of view of Tennessee Greenbecker, a down and out, obsessed with chess and starting fires. As we get to know him, it becomes clearer that he is getting increasing paranoid, and delusional. He claims to once have been a star chess player, but was that true? He remembers conversations and analysis with Fischer and Kasparov. He says the state and the ECF are out to get him. As the story progresses, everything seems less likely to be true, and as you read, you start to wonder if he ever played chess at the level he claimed. Is anything true? That question is answered near the end of the book. He talks of how badly behaved his family have been, but undermines this with reports of what happened. There are parts that are sad and parts that are really funny. There are a fair number of chess references, but non-chess players should not be put off by that – they maybe would not get a couple of the chess-related bits, but overall, the story could be about an artist or musician etc., you would still understand the obsession. The only worry from a chess player’s point of view is that the outside world thinks we are weird anyway, this might just confirm it. I did recognise characteristics of some players in Greenbecker’s behaviour. The book is fast-paced and the author manages somehow to encourage the reader to sympathise with Greenbecker to some extent, as the character is truly awful at times. My only mild complaint is that there were a few typos, “discrete” instead of “discreet”, “chest of draws”, “practice” (as a verb), but I'm obsessive about things like that...
Overall, I thought it was really good. It’s just under 350 pages and I read it in a couple of days.

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JustinHorton
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Re: The Greenbecker Gambit by Ben Graff

Post by JustinHorton » Fri May 01, 2020 1:29 pm

Kevin Thurlow wrote:
Fri May 01, 2020 1:08 pm
The book is written from the point of view of Tennessee Greenbecker
Say what
"Do you play chess?"
"Yes, but I prefer a game with a better chance of cheating."

lostontime.blogspot.com

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: The Greenbecker Gambit by Ben Graff

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Fri May 01, 2020 5:19 pm

Tennessee Greenbecker is the leading character. Information about his name comes later, but may count as a "spoiler".

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MJMcCready
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Re: The Greenbecker Gambit by Ben Graff

Post by MJMcCready » Sat May 09, 2020 3:38 am

The real problem is that chess literature on the whole is decadent because people who can't write or communicate well generally have short cuts courtesy of a title worthless outside its field which also does not denote any level of education. At a rough guess, I'd say the chances of a book on chess being worth reading is about 1000-1...oh and there's also the issue of purchase in the first place. No one needs books, some are handy sometimes but that's all. I think not buying chess books and using that money saved to have the snip is a better option.

John McKenna
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Re: The Greenbecker Gambit by Ben Graff

Post by John McKenna » Sat May 09, 2020 3:23 pm

Not sure what's being advocated immediately above a -
"small but significant and non-transitory increase in price (SSNIP)" or saving up for a vasectomy?!

Kevin Thurlow wrote:
Fri May 01, 2020 5:19 pm
Tennessee Greenbecker is the leading character. Information about his name comes later, but may count as a "spoiler".
Incidentaly in the real world there is a player named -

Dustin Tennessee Opasiak

And, another review -

https://www.englishchess.org.uk/chess-novel/
To find a for(u)m that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now. (Samuel Beckett)

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: The Greenbecker Gambit by Ben Graff

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Sat May 09, 2020 3:59 pm

"Incidentaly in the real world there is a player named -

Dustin Tennessee Opasiak"

Of course, I knew it rang a bell, he played in Reykjavik 2018. I was slightly puzzled that he wasn't appearing under an American flag.

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MJMcCready
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Re: The Greenbecker Gambit by Ben Graff

Post by MJMcCready » Sun May 10, 2020 6:29 am

I suspected his rating must have been tremendously high given the association Tennesse has with chess excellence. I'd imagine his opponents mostly expected to lose.

I remember in the 80;s people used to joke if your opponents name ends in ov, add 200 Elo points onto his rating.

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Alan Ruffle
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Re: The Greenbecker Gambit by Ben Graff

Post by Alan Ruffle » Sat Jun 06, 2020 12:37 pm

Tennessee Greenbecker leaves behind him a trail of. Anti-social behaviour, criminal damage and arson. He demonstrates an inability to look after himself.

He leaves behind him a number of victims. Abused family members. Property owners, who are required to tidy up after him and who are also out of pocket, and numerous members of the public who are left with hurt feelings, frustrated and angry.

Tennessee Greenbecker is narcissistic to a degree that allows him to deny to himself any responsibility for the mayhem he has caused.

“The Greenbecker Gambit” provides a sound argument for the reintroduction of “Secure Hospital Accommodation” for people with mental illness.

Tennessee Greenbecker is convinced he is a world class chess player.

The reader is not required to be able to play chess. Chess is a thin thread of connected thought throughout the book. it shows the strong mindedness and singleness of purpose, that serious chess players, of any standard, suffer from.

I suggest that this book is worthy of consideration for conversion into a. “One man”. stage play

I Know Ben Graff by sight only, I have never had a conversation with him. We played a tournament match at “Shropshire” a few years ago.

Yours Sincerely.

Alan Ruffle

Simon Rogers
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Re: The Greenbecker Gambit by Ben Graff

Post by Simon Rogers » Wed Sep 02, 2020 10:02 pm

Sounds like an excellent book.
Perhaps I can get a signed copy from the author.

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Adam Raoof
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Re: The Greenbecker Gambit by Ben Graff

Post by Adam Raoof » Thu Sep 03, 2020 1:08 pm

I have just published an interview with Ben here

https://anchor.fm/thechesscircuit/episo ... bit-eiumco

Adam
Adam Raoof IA, IO
The Chess Circuit - https://chesscircuit.substack.com/
Tornelo - https://tornelo.com/chess/orgs/chess-england
Simon Williams "The Ginger GM" - https://gingergm.com/ref/106.html
Don’t stop playing chess!

Simon Rogers
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Re: The Greenbecker Gambit by Ben Graff

Post by Simon Rogers » Sun Sep 06, 2020 11:36 am

An excellent interview.
I would recommend all forum members listen to it.
I didn't realise Ben had also written a biography called :
Find Another Place.
Adam's podcast Chess Circuit is also excellent.
Two great people.

John Upham
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The Greenbecker Gambit

Post by John Upham » Mon Oct 12, 2020 11:00 am

Something that does not come along very often : chess fiction

The Greenbecker Gambit

See : https://britishchessnews.com/2020/10/12 ... er-gambit/ for a review

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The Greenbecker Gambit by Ben Graff
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Ben Graff
A1U8QklmchL._SY600_.jpg (61.4 KiB) Viewed 462 times
British Chess News : britishchessnews.com
Twitter: @BritishChess
Facebook: facebook.com/groups/britishchess :D

Geoff Chandler
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Re: The Greenbecker Gambit

Post by Geoff Chandler » Mon Oct 12, 2020 12:36 pm

Hi John,

This was mentioned here: viewtopic.php?f=49&t=10768

Do you have it, read it...is it any good.

John Upham
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Re: The Greenbecker Gambit

Post by John Upham » Mon Oct 12, 2020 3:15 pm

Geoff Chandler wrote:
Mon Oct 12, 2020 12:36 pm
Hi John,

This was mentioned here: viewtopic.php?f=49&t=10768

Do you have it, read it...is it any good.
I have it but have not had time to read it. Looks good though.
British Chess News : britishchessnews.com
Twitter: @BritishChess
Facebook: facebook.com/groups/britishchess :D

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Carl Hibbard
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Re: The Greenbecker Gambit

Post by Carl Hibbard » Tue Oct 13, 2020 10:46 am

Geoff Chandler wrote:
Mon Oct 12, 2020 12:36 pm
Hi John,

This was mentioned here: viewtopic.php?f=49&t=10768

Do you have it, read it...is it any good.
I merged the two together.
Cheers
Carl Hibbard

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