Parents of the ten-year-old Luzhin by the end of the summer finally decide to tell their son that after returning from the village to Petersburg he will go to school. Afraid of the impending change in his life, little Luzhin runs off the station back to the estate before the arrival of the train and hides in the attic, where among other uncomplicated things he sees a chessboard with a crack. A boy is found, and a black-bearded man carries him from the attic to the stroller.
Luzhin senior wrote books, they constantly flashed the image of a blond boy who became a violinist or painter. He often thought that he could get out of his son, whose remarkableness was unquestionable, but unsolved. And his father hoped that his son’s abilities would be revealed in the school, especially famous for attentiveness to the so-called “inner” life of the students. But a month later my father heard cold words from the tutor, proving that his son is even less understood in school than himself: “The boy certainly has abilities, but there is a certain lethargy.”
During the changes Luzhin does not participate in general childish games and always sits alone. In addition, peers find it strange fun to laugh at Luzhin about his father’s books, calling him by the name of one of the heroes of Antosha. When parents’ homes pester their son with questions about the school, a terrible thing happens: he, like a madman, turns a cup and saucer on the table.
Only in April there comes for the boy a day when he has a hobby, on which all his life is doomed. On the musical evening, a bored aunt, mother’s second cousin, gives him the simplest chess lesson.
A few days later at school, Luzhin observes the chess game of his classmates and feels that he somehow understands the game better than the players, although he does not know all of its rules.
Luzhin begins to miss classes – instead of school he goes to his aunt to play chess. So a week passes. The teacher calls home to find out what’s wrong with him. The father approaches the phone. Shocked parents ask the son for an explanation. He is bored to say anything, he yawns, listening to his father’s admonitory speech. The boy is sent to his room. Mother sobs and says that she is deceived by both father and son. Father thinks with sadness about how difficult it is to discharge a duty, not to go wherever it drags uncontrollably, and then there are these oddities with his son…
Luzhin wins with the old man, who often comes to his aunt with flowers. For the first time, faced with such early abilities, the old man prophesies to the boy: “Walk far.” He also explains a simple system of designations, and Luzhin without figures and boards can already play the parts listed in the magazine, like a musician reading the score.
Once the father, after explaining to his mother about his long absence (she suspects him of infidelity), offers his son to sit with him and play, for example, in chess. Luzhin wins four parties from his father and at the very beginning of the latter he comments on one move with a child’s voice: “The worst answer.” Chigorin advises taking a pawn. ” After his departure, the father sits thinking, his son’s passion for chess amazes him. “In vain she encouraged him,” he thinks of his aunt and immediately recalls his explanations with his wife with anguish…
The next day the father leads a doctor who plays better than him, but the doctor also loses to his son the party for the party. And from that time on, the passion for chess closes the rest of the world for Luzhin. After one club performance in the capital’s magazine appears a picture of Luzhin. He refuses to attend school. He is begged for a week. Everything is solved by itself. When Luzhin runs from the house to his aunt, he meets her in mourning: “Your old partner is dead.” Come with me. ” Luzhin runs away and does not remember if he saw in the coffin a dead old man who once beat Chigorin – pictures of the outer life flash in his mind, turning into delirium. After a long illness, parents take him abroad. Mother returns to Russia before,... alone. Once Luzhin sees his father in the company of a lady – and is very surprised that this lady is his Petersburg aunt.
Luzhin plays in all major cities of Russia and Europe with the best chess players. He is accompanied by his father and Mr. Valentinov, who organizes tournaments. There is a war, a revolution, which led to a legitimate deportation abroad. In the twenty-eighth year, sitting in a Berlin coffee house, my father unexpectedly returns to the idea of a story about a brilliant chess player who must die young. Before that, the endless trips for his son did not allow him to realize this plan, and now Luzhin the elder thinks that he is ready to work. But the book, thought over to trifles, is not written, although the author presents it, already ready, in their hands. After one of the country walks, wet under a shower, the father falls ill and dies.
Luzhin continues tournaments around the world. He plays with brilliance, gives sessions and is close to playing with the champion. In one of the resorts where he lives before the Berlin tournament, he meets his future wife, the only daughter of Russian emigrants. Despite the insecurity of Luzhin before the circumstances of life and external clumsiness, the girl guessed in it a closed, secret artistry, which she refers to the properties of genius. They become a husband and wife, a strange couple in the eyes of everyone around them. At the tournament Luzhin, ahead of all, meets with his old rival Italian Turati. The game is interrupted in a draw. From overstrain Luzhin is seriously ill. The wife arranges life in such a way that no reminder of chess bothered Luzhin, but no one can change his sense of self, Woven from the chess images and pictures of the outside world. The long-missing Valentinov is ringing on the phone, and the wife tries to prevent the meeting of this man with Luzhin, referring to his illness. Several times my wife reminds Luzhin that it’s time to visit my father’s grave. They plan to do it in the near future.
Inflamed brain Luzhin is busy solving the unfinished party with Turati. Luzhin is exhausted by his condition, he can not free himself for a moment from people, from himself, from his thoughts, which are repeated in him, like the once-made moves. Repetition – in memories, chess combinations, flickering faces of people – becomes for Luzhin the most painful phenomenon. He “shalet with terror before the inevitability of the next repetition” and comes up with protection from a mysterious opponent. The main method of defense is to voluntarily, deliberately commit some absurd, unexpected action, falling out of the general plan of life, and thus introduce confusion into the combination of moves conceived by the enemy.
Accompanying his wife and mother-in-law for shopping, Luzhin comes up with an excuse (visiting the dentist) to leave them. “It’s a little maneuver,” he grins in the taxi, stops the car and walks on foot, Luzhin seems to have done it all before, and he walks into the store, which suddenly turns out to be a hairdresser’s, in order to avoid a complete repetition. He waits for Valentinov, who offers Luzhin to appear in a film about a chess player, in which real grandmasters take part, Luzhin feels that cinema is an excuse for a repeat trap, in which the next move is clear… “But this move will not be made.”
He returns home, with a concentrated and solemn expression, quickly walks through the rooms accompanied by a weeping wife, stops in front of her, lays out the contents of her pockets, kisses her hands and says: “The only way out. We need to drop out of the game.” “We will play?” the wife asks. The guests are about to arrive. Luzhin locked himself in the bathroom. He breaks the window and struggles to climb into the frame. It remains only to let go of what he is holding, and he is saved. At the door there is a knocking, the voice of the wife from the neighboring bedroom window is clearly heard: “Luzhin, Luzhin.” The abyss under it breaks up into pale and dark squares, and he lets go of his hands.
“The door was knocked out.” Alexander Ivanovich, Alexander Ivanovich? “- Several voices roared.
But there was no Alexander Ivanovich. “