The article analyzes a set of literary works by Machado de Assis, including short stories, chronicles and novels, in which the game of chess is mentioned or discussed, as well as reinterprets certain moments of the author’s life in order to contextualize and clarify the presence of the game in his work. Starting from the first chess tournament held in Rio de Janeiro, in 1880, in which Machado participates alongside the pianist and friend Arthur Napoleão - probably his chess teacher -, as well as the essay by Herculano Gomes Mathias on Machado’s relationship with chess published already in 1952, the present article proposes a hypothesis according to which, through the notions of calculation and enigma, chess gradually ceases to be a mere literary theme and starts to constitute the very structure and reasoning of Machado’s fiction. It is then that chess starts to be played no longer just between the characters of the plot but between author and reader, in crossed and simultaneous plans. The tournament held in 1880 could, in this sense, be taken as a biographical landmark of this change.
Machado de Assis; Chess Game; Puzzle; Calculation