Carl Haffner's Love of the Draw

Carl Haffner’s Love of the Draw
Carl Haffner's Love of the Draw cover.png
UK paperback edition
AuthorThomas Glavinic
Original titleCarl Haffners Liebe zum Unentschieden
TranslatorJohn Brownjohn
Cover artistMark Pennington
GenreLiterary fiction
PublisherVolk und Welt (Germany)
Harvill Press (UK)
Publication date
Published in English
Media typePrint (hardcover and paperback)
Pages228 (Germany)
248 (UK)
Followed byHerr Susi 

Carl Haffner's Love of the Draw (German: Carl Haffners Liebe zum Unentschieden) is a 1998 chess novel by Austrian writer Thomas Glavinic. It was Glavinic's first novel[1] and is about a shy and withdrawn Viennese chess master who in 1910 challenges the World Champion for his title.[2] The book was translated into English in 1999 by John Brownjohn for London-based publisher Harvill Press.[3]

Plot summary[edit]

The novel is set mainly in Vienna in 1910. It presents a fictionalised account of a famous 1910 World Chess Championship match between Austrian grandmaster Carl Schlechter and the reigning German champion Emanuel Lasker. The eponymous Carl Haffner, closely based on Schlechter, is a withdrawn character with an eccentric preference for drawing games instead of winning. The narrative switches between the ten games of the 1910 World Championship and Haffner's psychological development in childhood and adolescence, showing how he used chess to overcome poverty.[2]

Critical reception[edit]

The UK edition received a range of positive reviews in the mainstream UK press. The Guardian called it "strikingly good" and said that it was "one of chess's finest novels, sitting comfortably alongside Nabokov's The Luzhin Defense and Paolo Maurensig's The Lüneburg Variation".[4] The Times Literary Supplement said: "Glavinic's novel achieves its considerable emotional impact slowly and subtly ... [he] writes about a game as if it were a poem or a painting".[5] The Scotsman claimed that the book was "a brisk and powerful portrait of a chess prodigy" presented with "a combination of lyricism, philosophy and edginess".[1]

The novel made the 1999 Daily Telegraph book of the year list and was nominated for the 2001 International Dublin Literary Award.[6][7]


  1. ^ a b "Book review: Night Work by Thomas Glavinic". The Scotsman. 13 July 2008. Retrieved 21 June 2011.
  2. ^ a b "Carl Haffner's Love of the Draw". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 23 June 2011.
  3. ^ Glavinic, Thomas (12 October 1999), Carl Haffner’s Love of the Draw (1st ed.), London: Harvill Press, ISBN 978-1-86046-676-2
  4. ^ Evers, Stuart (28 August 2009). "Why chess is a perfect game for fiction". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 21 June 2011.
  5. ^ "Carl Haffner's Love of the Draw review summaries". complete review. Retrieved 21 June 2011.
  6. ^ "Thomas Glavinic author profile". Canongate Books. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  7. ^ "Books nominated for the 2001 award". International Dublin Literary Award. Archived from the original on 25 May 2011. Retrieved 21 June 2011.

External links[edit]