Arnold Schoenberg played four-way chess

Arnold Schoenberg played four-way chess

Daily Comfort Zone

norman lebrecht

November 20, 2022

The pianist Volker Ahmels has put on a festival in Schwerin, northern Germany, honouring the life and work of Arnold Schoenberg and challenging visitors to play one of the composer’s inventions, a game of chess for four people that he called “Coalition Chess”.

Try this at home.

Article here (in English).


  • Greg Bottini says:

    I’ve played a bit of chess in my younger days, but I was never into chess variants.
    My dad was an excellent player. He once beat the great George Koltanowsky in a game. (Of course, Koltanowsky was simultaneously playing 39 other players, and he beat most of the others.)
    My dad also beat Humphrey Bogart, and Bogart was no mean player.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    (continuation of previous comment)
    Who was George Koltanowsky? He wrote the daily chess column in the San Francisco Chronicle, and was a Grandmaster. He was famous for playing simultaneous exhibitions.
    (I know none of this has anything to do with Schoenberg, but that’s the way it goes.)

  • Gary Freer says:

    Presumably the board was adapted to have twelve rows?

  • Gene Gaudette says:

    He INVENTED the version shown! Four way chess with diplomacy. Sounds like a game for our time…

  • ER says:

    It’s a pleasure yo ear him speaking.

  • Peter San Diego says:

    Schoenberg claims that photography could never produce works of artistic merit. Did he ever bother to familiarize himself with the medium or its greatest practitioners?

    As for the history of non-naturalistic depiction of the human form, it has long struck me that from paleolithic cave paintings through pre-classical Greek art, depictions of the human form are extremely stylized or schematic, while depictions of the natural world are realistic. I don’t know if that’s a universal characteristic of the development of art (or imagery) or only an occasional manifestation, but it’s something that might be worth pondering…

  • Larry Schoenberg says:

    There is additional information of the Schoenberg Coalition Chess on the 2024 padlet