The danish existentialist philosopher Soren Kierkegaard lived from 1813 to 1855.

He writes in one of his journals (21st of May 1839):

Original Danish

Jeg lever i denne Tid omtrent som en Brik i Schakspil maa være tilmode, naar Modspilleren siger: den Brik kan ikke røres – som en ørkesløs Tilskuer, da min Tid endnu ikke er kommen.

Translation by google:

I live at this time just like a piece of chess must be, Allowing the opponent to say: that piece cannot be moved - like an idle spectator, because my time has not yet come

Alternative translation:

I feel as if I were a piece in a game of chess, when my oppenent says of it:That piece cannot be moved! like a useless bystander, since my time has not yet come.

  • Here is an expanded interpretation of the quote: quora.com/…
    – MOLAP
    Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 8:58
  • I think this question is a bit off-topic. It might be more appropriate by asking if there is some record of a game played by Kierkegaard or something on that line.
    – lodebari
    Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 21:34

1 Answer 1


Did the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard play chess?

The answer is a resounding maybe.

Firstly, he has no games established in Fritz database. Of course this doesn't mean he didn't play chess, just that there isn't evidence recorded in the database.

However it must be remembered that chess was invented in the 6th century and is one of the most popular and famous board games of all time. It is reasonable to assume that he either played casually at least once or knew enough about the game to inform his writing.

  • 2
    In conclusion is must be fair to assume that Kierkegaard did know about the game and probably could play it since he uses it as a metaphor in a number of places, but we can also conclude that he probably not devoted a lot of time to it.
    – MOLAP
    Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 13:02

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