Originally Posted by sun surfer
And finally, Czentovic himself. He is presented the entire story as this oaf of a man who has this strange brilliance for chess and chess alone. As someone who is an almost complete imbecile except for the complexities of chess movements. And yet, then, at the end of the story, what happens? He makes an astute psychological observation! It had nothing to do with chess movements and everything to do with a more keen, insightful intelligence. If he were the same lumbering Czentovic that we'd been presented with in the story up to that point, then he would've just altogether not paid any attention to whatever Dr. B did and only concentrated on the moves.
So why did Zweig do this? Was it something that he himself didn't notice? In his zeal to get the right allegorical story down, he didn't notice these subtle exceptions to the rules? Whatever the reason though, they're there in the story and that is what we are left with, and whether he meant them or not, I think that they're what really make the story.
You stated that much
better than I did. This is actually where I derived the majority of my respect for Czentovic. I still maintain that he was like a machine/computer that required a game or two to learn and could then consistently defeat that player. But the fact that he could take the input outside of the game itself was fascinating and, as you've mentioned, contrary to the impressions given of him previously. This is a man who required the board in front of him to play - and yet he can take input from an opponent's own psychological state and use that against him? Impressive and a little confusing when you already have a fairly set view of the character.