Originally Posted by Hamlet53
I thought that Issybird hit it on the nail describing Zweig as seeing good versus evil in terms of social class. The upper class and petty bourgeoisie good, and the lower proletariat class “evil”. The contempt and resentment that the narrator (Zweig) holds for Czentovic for thinking that he [Czentovic] should think of himself as equal to or even superior to his social betters. Also that Czentovic should treat chess as a vocation to obtain wealth and improved social standing, instead of treating the game as something that has enough merit as a purely intellectual exercise. In real life I imagine that Zweig felt the same about the Nazis and how many anti-intellectual commoners were able to achieve such positions of power.
It's funny because as much as I read this and appreciate the observation - especially as I hadn't really thought in these terms myself, it's still hard for me to digest fully - mainly because Zweig ends up demonstrating the eventual victory of Czentovic in the story and the eventual weakness of Dr B. In a story of good vs evil, I can understand that there isn't a necessity for good to triumph in the end. However, at the same time it's hard to reconcile a feeling of contempt for Czentovic with the cleverness of his triumph.
Perhaps I would adjust the view slightly to say that the story might represent a sour and grudging recognition of the strength of the lower classes despite any feeling of contempt that might exist. We are superior and they are dogs - but look how they can crush us. That kind of thing.