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The 64-Square Madhouse

Published in Worlds of If, May 1962.

The 64-Square Madhouse is a fairly straightforward story about the first chess-playing computer at a chess tournament. Written in 1962, chess-playing computers had been around since the 1950s, however at the time they were only good enough to beat amateurs. The first computer to be entered into a tournament occurred in 1967.1) It wasn't until the late eighties that computers could compete with grandmasters though.

Is The 64-Square Madhouse science-fiction? It is fiction based off of a very real scientific premise, even if it was soon to become reality. More importantly, it is a story about chess and the people that play it–and it is here that it shines with its very rich cast of characters and behind the scenes look at the chess-world.

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Autobiographical Elements

There seems to be a little bit of Leiber in the character, Dr. Krakatower, a has-been chess master who also writes fiction and describes himself as an antique womanizer. At this point in his life though, Leiber would have only been 51 years of age.

Pet Themes

  • Chess

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