A Chess Classic: 'The Immortal Game' In 1851, two chess masters sat down for a practice game in London. What should have been a throwaway game intensified and was quickly dubbed "the immortal game." David Shenk, author of a new history of chess called The Immortal Game, describes the historic match.

A Chess Classic: 'The Immortal Game'

A Chess Classic: 'The Immortal Game'

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David Shenk chronicles the history of chess in The Immortal Game. hide caption

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Excerpted from The Immortal Game by David Shenk. Copyright (c) 2006 by David Shenk. Excerpted by permission of Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Even in this era of Game Boys and PlayStations, you can still read an account of Hezbollah's raid across the Israeli border as "Nasrallah's gambit," and you can find descriptions of the response it provoked as "Israel's endgame."

Chess vocabulary forms a metaphorical bridge between a harmless board game of strategy and the strategies of real-life war.

The history of chess is recounted in The Immortal Game, a new book by David Shenk.

To serious chess players, the book's title has an obvious double meaning: It refers to the game itself and also to a particular match that was played by two masters -- Adolf Anderssen and Lionel Kieseritzky -- in London in 1851.

Shenk weaves the story of that match, move by move, throughout the larger story.