Ernst Krenek’s Chess Set

Have you also already joined the international lockdown- and quarantine-trend and retrieved your old chess set from the attic or did you immediately give it a go with online chess?

Like many other musicians – for example, Arnold Schoenberg with his coalition or alliance chess for four players or the legendary match between Sergei Prokofiev and David Oistrach, come to mind – Ernst Krenek had a great fascination for the tradition-steeped game with the seemingly infinite combinations of moves on only sixty-four squares.

Even though Krenek found “the mere thought of chance and risk in every context to be repugnant,” and could therefore take little pleasure in gambling, he had developed great enthusiasm for chess already while in high school.


“I was only little more interested in drawing room games, until I discovered chess during these same years.  This became a real passion with me, and I studied it as systematically as anything else, with the aid of a comprehensive textbook.  I think I acquired remarkable dexterity in playing chess, but during the war, under the pressure of more important obligations, my zeal petered out, and now I am only a mediocre player, although I am still fascinated by this unbelievable ingenious game.”

Ernst Krenek, Memoires


Consistent with his personality, Krenek felt himself attracted by the diverse combinations of precision and creativity.
A few references are also found in his diary entries: Thus, on 10 June 1938, he wrote: “In the evening I played chess with Clement, lost twice, very downcast. I believe that nothing more will succeed.” Yet, the very next day, the tide suddenly turned on the chess board and he noted: “I won in chess.”



Black’s move. Checkmate in four moves.
Harry Potter fans will easily find the solution for this position devised by chess-author Jeremy Silman! Note: Harry (bishop on A3) has to survive.

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