Chessays: Travels Through The World Of Chess


A collection of thought-provoking essays on a wide range of chess-related issues which Howard Burton encountered while being a “tourist” in the chess world during the production of the 4-part docuseries, Through the Mirror of Chess: A Cultural Exploration.

These essays provide insightful and playful reflections on the (ab)uses of the history of chess to the birth of the modern game. Howard questions several of the long-held assumptions about its widely acclaimed benefits while highlighting the many surprising contemporary applications of chess to AI, prison reform, social inequality, and more and makes sharp observations on what chess reveals about current attitudes to gender, technology, sports, entertainment and the nature of play.


Praise for Chessays:

“In an age where cookie-cutter chess books are a dime a dozen, Burton’s Chessays is a refreshingly different read. The collection is well researched and entertaining, simultaneously (and expertly) giving the perspective of an insider and a newcomer to the chess world.” – GM David Smerdon, University of Queensland

Chessays is one of the most profound, interesting, entertaining, humorous, and thought-provoking books I have ever read. Not only if we are talking about chess books, but about books in general.” – Vjekoslav Nemec, Chessentials Best Books of 2022

I was left most impressed by both Howard’s extensive research and understanding of complex issues within the chess community while highlighting practical ways that our chess community can expand the reach and impact of chess.” – Russ Makofsky, The Gift of Chess

Burton is new to this world which allows him to approach the arena of chess with a fresh perspective and enables him to debunk in his typically humorous and sardonic style many of the long-held assumptions about the game.” – GM Daniel Gormally

“Reading Chessays is very much like having a chatty and delightful dinner guest provide entertaining and sharp philosophic insights. ” – Wang-Sheng Lee, Monash University

The essays are well written and well structured. The substance of the essays is intriguing and most readers, both chess players and others, will find many points of interest.” – John Knott, co-author of Blindfold Chess